Published:April 14, 2020
A review of short-term (<3 myr: c. 100 kyr to 2.4 myr) Cretaceous sea-level fluctuations of several tens of metres indicates recent fundamental progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms for eustasy, both in timing and in correlation. Cretaceous third- and fourth-order hothouse sea-level changes, the sequence-stratigraphic framework, are linked to Milankovitch-type climate cycles, especially the longer-period sequence-building bands of 405 kyr and 1.2 myr. In the absence of continental ice sheets during Cretaceous hothouse phases (e.g. Cenomanian–Turonian), growing evidence indicates groundwater-related sea-level cycles: (1) the existence of Milankovitch-type humid-arid climate oscillations, proven via intense humid weathering records during times of regression and sea-level lowstands; (2) missing or inverse relationships of sea-level and the marine δ18O archives, i.e. the lack of a pronounced positive excursion, cooling signal during sea-level lowstands; and (3) the anti-phase relationship of sea and lake levels, attesting to high groundwater levels and charged continental aquifers during sea-level lowstands. This substantiates the aquifer-eustasy hypothesis. Rates of aquifer-eustatic sea-level change remain hard to decipher; however, reconstructions range from a very conservative minimum estimate of 0.04 mm a−1 (longer time intervals) to 0.7 mm a−1 (shorter, probably asymmetric cycles). Remarkably, aquifer-eustasy is recognized as a significant component for the Anthropocene sea-level budget.
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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.