A molecular recorder of methane hydrate destabilization

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Abstract

[1] The magnitude and timing of temporal variation of δ13C recorded in benthic and planktic foraminifera from the Santa Barbara Basin strongly suggest episodic events of methane hydrate destabilization during the Late Quaternary [Kennett et al., 2000]. However, this and similar evidence from earlier in the geologic past are indirect and therefore not unambiguous. Here I report a direct geochemical response to elevated levels of methane in the Late Quaternary Santa Barbara Basin. Molecular paleontological data provide clear-cut evidence for strongly elevated concentrations of methane in bottom waters at times coinciding with diagnostic foraminiferal assemblages and carbon isotopic compositions.

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