Astronomical pacing of relative sea level during Oceanic Anoxic Event 2: Preliminary studies of the expanded SH#1 Core, Utah, USA

Matthew M. Jones, Bradley B. Sageman, Rosie L. Oakes, Amanda L. Parker, R. Mark Leckie, Timothy J. Bralower, Julio Sepúlveda, Victoria Fortiz

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19 Scopus citations


Proximal marine strata of the North American Western Interior Basin (WIB) preserve a rich record of biotic turnover during Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2; ca. 94 Ma), a pronounced Late Cretaceous carbon cycle perturbation interpreted to reflect global warming, widespread hypoxia, and possible ocean acidification. To develop a more robust synthesis of paleobiologic and geochemical data sets spanning this Earth-life transition, we drilled the 131 m Smoky Hollow #1 Core (SH#1), on the Kaiparowits Plateau of southern Utah, USA, recovering the Cenomanian- Turonian Boundary (CTB) interval in the Tropic Shale Formation. A 17.5 m positive excursion in high-resolution bulk carbon isotope chemostratigraphy (δ13Corg) of SH#1 characterizes the most expanded OAE2 record recovered from the mid-latitudes of the WIB. Depleted values in a paired carbonate carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) chemostratigraphy cyclically punctuate the OAE2 excursion. These depletions correspond to intervals in the core with a higher degree of carbonate diagenesis and correlate well to an existing sequence stratigraphic framework of flooding surfaces in the shoreface facies of the Markagunt Plateau (~100 km west). We detect statistically significant evidence for astronomical cycles in the δ13Ccarb data set, imparted by diagenesis at flooding surfaces, and develop a floating astronomical time scale (ATS) for the study interval. Stable eccentricity cycles (405 k.y.) align with stratigraphic sequences and associated trends in sedimentation rate, and short eccentricity cycles (~100 k.y.) pace nested parasequences. These results confirm an astronomical signal and, therefore, climatic forcing of relative sea level during OAE2 in the WIB. Furthermore, cross-basin correlation of the ATS and expanded δ13C chemostratigraphy of SH#1 suggests that these transgressive-regressive parasequences modulated siliciclastic sediment delivery in the seaway and contributed to deposition of prominent rhythmically bedded CTB units across the WIB, including the Bridge Creek Limestone. The presented approach to analysis of these proximal offshore siliciclastic facies links early diagenetic influences on chemostratigraphy to astronomically modulated sequence stratigraphic horizons, and helps to resolve rates of paleobiologic and paleoenvironmental change during a significant Mesozoic carbon cycle perturbation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1702-1722
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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