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Oxygen Isotope Record of Ice-Volume History: 100 Million Years of Glacio-Eustatic Sea-level Fluctuation

R.K. Matthews
R.K. Matthews
Brown University Providence, Rhode Island
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January 01, 1984


The decade of the 1970s saw great progress in documentation of Pleistocene glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuations. An important fall-out of this work has been documentation that the deep-sea planktic foraminiferal δ180 record from many oceanographically stable regions of the world is primarily a record of global ice-volume fluctuation, and thereby a record of glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuation.

The deep-sea δ180 technology and interpretation schemes developed for the late Quaternary can be applied to the Tertiary and Upper Cretaceous record as well. The data suggest an ice-free world at approximately 100 m.y. before present with sporadic increases in ice-volume throughout the Paleogene.

A working hypothesis for a 100-m.y. eustatic sea-level curve is compiled from three independent data sets according to explicit rules. First, calculations concerning change in sea level attributable to change in sea-floor spreading rate are taken to define a generally regressive sea-level curve for the last 100 m.y. Second, ice volume effects are estimated from the deep-sea, low-latitude, shallow-dwelling planktic foraminiferal δ180 record. Third, in the absence of detailed information from the δ180 record, the timing of Cretaceous and Paleogene major regressive events is taken from the published “relative sea-level curve” compiled from seismic stratigraphy. Finally, Neogene structure of the seismic stratigraphy curve is rescaled in accordance with experience where δ180 and seismic stratigraphy records overlap.

The general pattern of eustatic regression throughout the Paleogene appears to have been punctuated by several relatively abrupt glacio-eustatic sea-level lowerings. Assuming typical values for basin subsidence, these glacio-eustatic events should be responsible for unconformities representing non-trivial amounts of geologic time.

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AAPG Memoir

Interregional Unconformities and Hydrocarbon Accumulation

John S. Schlee
John S. Schlee
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1984




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