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Atemwurzeln (Pneumatophoren) der Mangrovenart Avicennia marina besiedelt von kalkproduzierenden Organismen, Abu Dhabi Lagune, VAE, Foto: Dominik Hennhöfer

Carbonate Research

Palaeoenvironmental analysis of marine sedimentary sequences during episodes of extreme climatic change

Project description

Carbonate sediment sequences from the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman offer promising geoscientific research as these were deposited on the edge of the tropical Tethys Ocean, with few interruptions from the early Mesozoic Era 250 million years ago (Ma) until around 30 Ma ago.

The Triassic period, for instance, is bracketed by two of the ‘big five’ mass extinctions in the Phanerozoic, the Permian-Triassic and the Triassic-Jurassic extinctions. Although long considered a period of relative climatic stability, recent data suggest multiple climate fluctuations and at least one significant ecological crisis. In the Upper Triassic (Carnian to Rhaetian), several significant extinction events are known to have forced the radiation of new life forms. In the United Arab Emirates, this interval occurs as a relatively continuous and thick sequence of siliciclastic-carbonate sedimentary deposits. To date, a detailed palaeoenvironmental analysis and stratigraphy are missing for the Triassic rock formations. Newly accessible outcrops from the Upper Triassic provide a detailed look at environmental conditions during this time interval. Geochemical and mineralogical, paleontological as well as cyclo- and chemostratigraphic approaches aim to generate a novel description of this time interval from a palaeo-tropical perspective.

The early Palaeogene hosts one of the largest climate events in recent Earth history, with global ocean temperatures experiencing a long-term warming trend in the Late Palaeocene. The Early Eocene saw a persistent greenhouse climate and the absence of continental ice sheets (Early Eocene Climatic Optimum), documented globally by fossils and a variety of geochemical climate proxies. Palaeocene to Eocene sediments from the UAE crop out as a relatively thick carbonate succession. These sedimentary rocks, as well as the enclosed fossils, serve as the basis for a detailed reconstruction of the tropical depositional areas, ocean chemistry, and climatic conditions at that time.

This research aims to investigate these global events of the geological past and modern carbonates by studying sedimentary sequences of Arabia. It will contribute to a better global understanding of extinctions and mechanisms of extreme climate changes.

Responsible for the project at the Landesmuseum:

Dr. Dominik Hennhöfer

Silikatverwitterung von aufgeschlossenem Tiefengestein Pegmatit aus dem Erdmantel reagiert mit atmophärischem CO2 zu Magnesiumkarbonat (Magnesit) Fujairah, VAE, Foto: Dominik Hennhöfer

Project partners

Khalifa University Abu Dhabi, Vereinigte Arabische Emirate

Die Haupthalle im Eingangsbereich des Hessischen Landesmuseums

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