• Miocene C4 Grassland Expansion as Recorded by the Indus Fan

      Feakins, Sarah J.; Liddy, Hannah M.; Tauxe, Lisa; Galy, Valier; Feng, Xiaojuan; Tierney, Jessica E.; Miao, Yunfa; Warny, Sophie; Univ Arizona, Dept Geosci (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2020-05-07)
      In the late Miocene, grasslands spread across the forested floodplains of the Himalayan foreland, but the causes of the ecological transition are still debated. Recent seafloor drilling by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) provides an opportunity to study the transition across a larger region as archived in the Indus submarine fan. We present a multiproxy study of past vegetation change based on analyses of the carbon isotopic composition (delta C-13) of bulk organic carbon, plant waxn-alkanes andn-alkanoic acids, and quantification of lignin phenols, charcoal, and pollen. We analyze the hydrogen isotopic composition (delta D) of plant wax to reconstruct precipitation delta D. We use the Branched and Isoprenoid Tetraether (BIT) index to diagnose shifts between terrestrial versus marine lipid inputs between turbidite and hemipelagic sediments. We reconstruct ocean temperatures using the TEX(86)index only where marine lipids dominate. We find evidence for the late Miocene grassland expansion in both facies, confirming this was a regional ecosystem transformation. Turbidites contain dominantly terrestrial matter from the Indus catchment (D-depleted plant wax), delivered via fluvial transport as shown by the presence of lignin. In contrast, hemipelagic sediments lack lignin and bear D-enriched plant wax consistent with wind-blown inputs from the Indian peninsula; these show a 7.4-7.2 Ma expansion of C(4)grasslands on the Indian subcontinent. Within each facies, we find no clear change in delta D values across the late Miocene C(4)expansion, implying consistent distillation of rainfall by monsoon dynamics. Yet, a cooling in the Arabian Sea is coincident with the C(4)expansion.