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Abstract

Sequence stratigraphy of third-order cycles is not determined by global eustasy but by local and regional tectonics interplaying with long-wavelength sea-level change. We can discern no mechanism that can cause the necessary short-wavelength, large-amplitude sea-level changes implicit in globally synchronous eustatic third-order cycles. Some mechanisms have the required amplitude but far too long a wavelength, some the necessary short wavelength but insufficient amplitude. Continental glaciation gives the correct amplitude/wavelength combination but did not operate for long periods of earth history. Much circular reasoning has been used to ‘establish’ eustatic third-order cycles. We believe that the magnitudes have been overestimated and that biostratigraphic correlation cannot be achieved to the necessary precision. The value of sequence stratigraphy lies not in its supposed relationship with global eustasy but as a basis for our understanding of basin dynamics. Long-term sea-level change is related to the episodic assembly, dismemberment and dispersal of supercontinents, which controls long-term sea-floor spreading rates, hydrography, climate, and the surficial geomorphic/stratigraphic evolution of the earth.

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