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Abstract

The application of sedimentary cycles in geochronology goes back into the 19th century, when Gilbert (1895) correctly linked repetitive limestone-shale alternations to the astronomical cycle of precession to determine the absolute duration of part of the Cretaceous. However, because of the of ten poor age control, geologists remained reluctant to link such repetitive changes to cyclic processes with identifiable time periods and often considered them to result from stochastic processes. As a consequence,the term sedimentary cycle was often defined in a purely descriptive sense to indicate “… recurrent sequences of strata each consisting of several lithologically distinctive members arranged in the same order” (Weller 1960).

However, owing to improved age control and break through studies of Pleistocene glacial cyclicity in marine cores, we now can use sedimentary cycles and cyclic changes in climatic proxy records with identifiable time periods for improving the resolution and accuracy of the geological time scale and for understanding natural climate variability. The cyclic changes in the sedimentary record referred to above are related to climate variations that are ultimately controlled by variations in the shape of the Earth’s orbit and the inclination of its rotational axis. They are often called Milankovitch cycles, after the Serbian astronomer Milutan Milankovitch for his milestone contribution in linking orbital variation to the climatic changes of the Earth (Milankovitch, 1941).

At about the same time as the revival of Milankovitch cyclicity, the increasing concern about man-induced global warming spurred a host of detailed paleoclimatic

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