Published:April 14, 2020
The International Geoscience Programme Project IGCP 609 addressed correlation, causes and consequences of short-term sea-level fluctuations during the Cretaceous. Processes causing several ka to several Ma (third- to fourth-order) sea-level oscillations during the Cretaceous are so far poorly understood. IGCP 609 proved the existence of sea-level cycles during potential ice sheet-free greenhouse to hothouse climate phases. These sea-level fluctuations were most probably controlled by aquifer-eustasy that is altering land-water storage owing to groundwater aquifer charge and discharge. The project investigated Cretaceous sea-level cycles in detail in order to differentiate and quantify both short- and long-term records based on orbital cyclicity. High-resolution sea-level records were correlated to the geological timescale resulting in a hierarchy of sea-level cycles in the longer Milankovitch band, especially in the 100 ka, 405 ka, 1.2 Ma and 2.4 Ma range. The relation of sea-level highs and lows to palaeoclimate events, palaeoenvironments and biota was also investigated using multiproxy studies. For a hothouse Earth such as the mid-Cretaceous, humid–arid climate cycles controlling groundwater-related sea-level change were evidenced by stable isotope data, correlation to continental lake-level records and humid–arid weathering cycles.
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Cretaceous Climate Events and Short-Term Sea-Level Changes
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Sea-level constitutes a critical planetary boundary for both geological processes and human life. Sea-level fluctuations during major greenhouse phases are still enigmatic and widely discussed in terms of changing climate systems. The geological record of the Cretaceous greenhouse period provides a deep-time view on greenhouse-phase Earth system processes that facilitates a much better understanding of the causes and consequences of global, geologically short-term, sea-level changes. In particular, Cretaceous hothouse periods can serve as a laboratory to better understand a near-future greenhouse Earth. This volume presents high-resolution sea-level records from globally distributed sedimentary archives of the Cretaceous involving a large group of scientists from the International Geoscience Programme IGCP 609. Marine to non-marine sedimentary successions were analysed for revised age constraints, the correlation of global palaeoclimate shifts and sea-level changes, tested for climate-driven cyclicities, and correlated within a high-resolution stratigraphic framework of the Geological Timescale. For hothouse periods, the hypothesis of significant global groundwater-related sea-level change, i.e. aquifer-eustasy as a major process, is reviewed and substantiated.