A multi-proxy geochemical investigation of the early Paleocene (Danian) continental palaeoclimate at the Fontllonga-3 site (South Central Pyrenees, Spain)

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López Martínez, Nieves
Soler Gijón, Rodrigo
Grimes, Stephen T.
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Chronologically well constrained non-marine deposits across the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary (KTb) are exceptionally rare. The Fontllonga section (Tremp Formation, South Central Pyrenees, Lleida, Spain) constitutes one of these rare global records. Stable isotope (δ18OCO3 and δ13C) analyses have been performed on the carbonate fraction of 29 samples from diverse skeletal micro-remains (charophyte gyrogonites, gastropod shells, ostracod valves and isolated skeletal remains of lepisosteids and pycnodonts) from the earliest Danian site, Fontllonga-3. A mean Ba/Ca water palaeotemperature of 28.0 ± 6.7 °C has been obtained from the ganoine of 25 lepisosteid scales. This mean palaeotemperature is comparable with the temperature tolerance range for extant relatives of fossil osteoglossiform fish found at Fontllonga-3, which require a temperature range of 24°–35 °C (mean annual temperature 27–30 °C) to survive. Using the temperature range provided by the Ba/Ca palaeothermometer (21.3–34.7 °C), it is possible to determine δ18Owater values from the isotopic content of charophyte gyrogonites, gastropod shells, ostracod valves and fish remains (mean δ18OCO3 = − 5.00 ‰, σ = 0.21). δ18Owater values of between − 4.01 and − 0.95‰ (VSMOW) are calculated, which, when combined with (La/Yb)N versus (La/Sm)N plots, are in good agreement with the sedimentary interpretation of the site as an estuarine environment. Based upon a comparison with modern day meteorical conditions these isotopic values are relatively high for subtropical freshwaters, suggesting a low precipitation rate (amount effect, high evaporation rate and/or long residence time). When combined with other isotopic, palaeobotanical and mineralogical studies carried out in the Pyrenean and Tethys realms this first geochemical study of an early Paleocene site is consistent with there being a subtropical seasonally dry climate in the South Central Pyrenees at this time.
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