The time scale of the Late Triassic Epoch has a divergence of age models, especially for the durations of competing definitions for its Rhaetian Stage (uppermost Triassic). The astrochronology derived from relative depth of lacustrine-bearing clastic successions and astronomically tuned geomagnetic polarity time scale (APTS) of the Newark Supergroup of eastern North America provides a basis for the Late Triassic time scale. However, the Newark APTS has been challenged regarding its age scale and completeness; therefore an independent astronomical-tuned magnetic polarity zonation is required to verify the upper Newark APTS reference scale. We compiled a 6.5 million year (myr) APTS with magnetic stratigraphy from four sections of the lacustrine-fluvial, dinosaur-track-bearing Xujiahe Formation in the Sichuan Basin of South China that also has dating from detrital zircons and regional biostratigraphy. Variations in natural gamma-ray and magnetic susceptibility that reflect variable continental weathering in the source regions of the Xujiahe Formation are paced by Milankovitch cycles, especially the 100-kyr short eccentricity and 405-kyr long eccentricity. The cycle-tuned magnetostratigraphy of the Xujiahe Formation is compared directly via the magnetic-polarity zones to the depth ranks of the Newark Supergroup that are indicative of relative depths of lacustrine facies. The Sichuan APTS indicates that there is no significant hiatus between the sedimentary succession and the basalt flows at the top of the Newark Supergroup. The Sichuan APTS is compatible with the magnetostratigraphy from the candidate Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the Norian–Rhaetian boundary interval at the Pignola–Abriola of South Italy, but does not extend downward to the proposed GSSP in Austria associated with the longer Rhaetian option. The earliest dinosaur tracks in China are from the middle of this Xujiahe Formation, therefore are implied to be middle Rhaetian in age. This Sichuan APTS helps to resolve the controversy about the completeness and reliability of the Newark-APTS, and can be used in the future to verify if isotopic excursions in organic carbon recorded in the Italian sections that are proposed as possible secondary markers for a base-Rhaetian definition are global in nature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science