Orbital control on the timing of oceanic anoxia in the Late Cretaceous

  • The organic rich Livello Bonarelli formed as a result of oxygen deficiency and carbonate dissolution in the oceans during the Cenomanian/Turonian (C/T) transition. During this Ocean Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2), a combination of factors caused increased productivity, incomplete decomposition of organic matter and widespread deposition of black shales. Although these sediments are extensively studied, the exact extent, cause, timing and duration of oceanic anoxia are debated (Sinton and Duncan, 1997; Mitchell et al., 2008). Contrasting causal mechanisms have been suggested, including stratification of the water column (Lanci et al., 2010) versus intensification of the hydrological cycle driving a dynamic ocean circulation (Trabucho-Alexandre et al., 2010). Studies on trace-elemental and (radiogenic) isotope compositions of Cenomanian marine successions have suggested a volcanic origin of OAE2, by delivering nutrients to the semi-enclosed proto-North Atlantic (Zheng et al., 2013, and references therein; Du Vivier et al., 2014). Deciphering the importance of volcanic and oceanographic processes requires tight constraints on their relative timing. Regularly occurring black cherts and shales below the Livello Bonarelli demonstrate that oceanic conditions in the Umbria-Marche Basin were punctuated by episodes of regional anoxia from the mid-Cenomanian onwards. Their hierarchical stacking pattern suggests an orbital control on the deposition of organic rich horizons (Mitchell et al., 2008; Lanci et al., 2010). Stable carbon isotope data reveal that long-term 15 variations in eccentricity paced the carbon cycle (Sprovieri et al., 2013) and sea level changes (Voigt et al., 2006) of the Late Cretaceous. Here we investigate the role of orbital forcing on climate and the carbon cycle, and, specifically, on organic-rich sedimentation prior, during, and after OAE2. We also explore the potential for establishing an anchored astrochronology for the C/T interval in Europe. Recent improvements in the astronomical solution (La2011; Laskar et al., 2011b) and in the intercalibration of radiometric and astronomical dating techniques (Kuiper et al., 2008; Renne et al., 2013) allow the extension of the astronomical time scale into the Cretaceous. The C/T boundary in the Western Interior (USA) has been dated at 93.90 ± 0.15 Ma by intercalibration of radio-isotopic and astrochronologic time scales (Meyers et al., 2012b). Also, reinterpretation of proxy records spanning the C/T interval seems to resolve discrepancies in reported durations of the OAE2 (Sageman et al., 2006; Meyers et al., 2012a). The well-documented Italian rhythmic successions, reference sections for climatic processes in the Tethyan realm, need to be tied in with the absolute time scale. Biostratigraphic correlation to radioisotopically-dated ash beds in the Western Interior is complicated by the provinciality of faunas and floras. However, δ13C stratigraphy provides a reliable correlation tool (Gale et al., 2005) and we present a new 40Ar/39Ar age for the Thatcher bentonite from the Western Interior occurring within the mid-Cenomanian δ13C event (MCE). This study integrates the well-developed cyclostratigraphy from the Umbria-Marche Basin with radioisotopic ages from the Western Interior and derives a numerical timescale for this critical interval in Earth’s history.

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Author:Sietske J. Batenburg, David De Vleeschouwer, Mario Sprovieri, Frederik J. Hilgen, Andrew S. Gale, Brad S. Singer, Christian Köberl, Rodolfo Coccioni, Philippe Claeys, Alessandro Montanari
DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2015-182, 2016
Parent Title (English):Climate of the past discussions
Publisher:European Geosciences Union
Place of publication:Katlenburg-Lindau.
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2016/12/14
Date of first Publication:2016/01/26
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/12/14
Page Number:23
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0