Abstract

The relative importance of tectonism in the stratigraphic record should be more clearly expressed during greenhouse times of Earth history due to the lack of overmasking effects of high-frequency and high-amplitude sea-level changes typical for icehouse periods. Establishment of the importance of tectonism, especially at temporal scales comparable to durations of typical transgressive-regressive cycles, has been plagued by poor temporal resolution. Our outcrop and subsurface-based study of a Cenomanian shallow-marine siliciclastic interval, constrained by bentonite-based geochronology and detailed biostratigraphy, examines this problem. In a 2.2 m.y. interval, we identified four tectonically driven erosional surfaces that dominate preserved stratigraphy. Biostratigraphic correlation to a sea-level curve for the Cenomanian—where coeval high-frequency low- amplitude eustatic cyclicity has been demonstrated—allows the first direct comparison of the effects of eustasy and tectonics at temporal scales of hundreds of thousands of years during a global greenhouse time. We suggest that minor tectonic pulses locally overshadow the effects of eustasy and exert the dominant control over preserved stratigraphy. While subtle tectonic control on sedimentation has been documented throughout the Cretaceous Western Interior, the results of this study suggest that much of that deformation occurred at sub-million-year frequencies and at time scales comparable to eustatic transgressive- regressive cycles.

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