Abstract

We provide a record of global sea-level (eustatic) variations of the Late Cretaceous (99–65 Ma) greenhouse world. Ocean Drilling Program Leg 174AX provided a record of 11–14 Upper Cretaceous sequences in the New Jersey Coastal Plain that were dated by integrating Sr isotopic stratigraphy and biostratigraphy. Backstripping yielded a Late Cretaceous eustatic estimate for these sequences, taking into account sediment loading, compaction, paleowater depth, and basin subsidence. We show that Late Cretaceous sea-level changes were large (>25 m) and rapid (≪1 m.y.), suggesting a glacioeustatic control. Three large δ18O increases are linked to sequence boundaries (others lack sufficient δ18O data), consistent with a glacioeustatic cause and with the development of small (<106 km3) ephemeral ice sheets in Antarctica. Our sequence boundaries correlate with sea-level falls recorded by Exxon Production Research and sections from northwest Europe and Russia, indicating a global cause, although the Exxon record differs from backstripped estimates in amplitude and shape.

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