A six-fold increase in the rate of accumulation of Al2O3 in north and central Atlantic and Pacific Ocean sediments indicates vastly increased denudation of the continents during the past 15 m.y. The increase is more apparent in hemipelagic than pelagic sites, demonstrating widely distributed local controls. Similarities in the rate of increase in the Atlantic and Pacific show that tectonic elevation is not responsible for the difference in sedimentation rate. Also, similarities in the difference at sites of low and high latitude suggest that glaciation is not the most significant source. A lack of correspondence between sedimentation rates and Vail's sea-level curve similarly rule out that effect. The conclusion drawn here is that worldwide climatic deterioration during the late Tertiary is the explanation for the striking increase in detrital sedimentation in the world ocean.