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Abstract

The mid-Cretaceous (Albian) deep-water sediments (coccolith-globigerinacean marls) of the Umbria-Marche Apennines show complex rhythmic bedding. We integrated earlier work with a time-series study of a digitized and image-processed photographic log of the Piobbico core. A drab facies is viewed as recording normal stratified conditions, and a red facies as the product of downwelling warm saline (halothermal) waters. Both are pervaded by orbital (Milankovitch) rhythms. These reflect fluctuations in the composition and abundance of the calcareous plankton in the upper waters. The drab facies is overprinted by redox oscillations on the bottom, including episodic precessional anaerobic pulses (PAPs). Contrasts between the individual beds representing the alternate phases of the precessional rhythm rose and fell with orbital eccentricity, in the classical pattern of Berger’s climatic precession or precession index curve, varyingly complicated by the obliquity rhythm. We conclude that greenhouse oceans in general, and perhaps this area in particular, were very sensitive to orbital forcing. Our count of 29 406-ky eccentricity cycles yields an Albian duration of 11.8 ± 0.4 My.

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