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Mid-Cretaceous seafloor spreading pulse; fact or fiction?

Maria Seton, C. Gaina, R. D. Mueller and C. Heine
Mid-Cretaceous seafloor spreading pulse; fact or fiction?
Geology (Boulder) (August 2009) 37 (8): 687-690


Two main hypotheses compete to explain the mid-Cretaceous global sea-level highstand: a massive pulse of oceanic crustal production that occurred during the Cretaceous Normal Superchron (CNS) and the "supercontinent breakup effect," which resulted in the creation of the mid-Atlantic and Indian ocean ridges at the expense of subducting old ocean floor in the Tethys and the Pacific. We have used global oceanic paleo-age grids, including now subducted ocean floor and two alternative time scales, to test these hypotheses. Our models show that a high average seafloor spreading rate of 92 mm/a in the Early Cretaceous that decreased to 60 mm/a during the Tertiary, with peaks of 86 mm/a and 70 mm/a at 105 Ma and 75 Ma ago, respectively, correspond to the two observed sea-level highstands in the Cretaceous. Calculations using GTS2004 produce lower seafloor spreading rates during the same period and diminish the mid-Cretaceous spreading pulse. Global ridge lengths increased in the earliest Cretaceous but stayed relatively constant through time. However, we find that the average age of the ocean basins through time is only weakly dependent on the choice of time scale. The expansive mid- and Late Cretaceous epicontinental seas, coupled with warm climates and oxygen-poor water masses, were ultimately driven by the younger average age of the Cretaceous seafloor and faster seafloor spreading rather than a vast increase in mid-ocean ridge length due to the breakup of Pangea or solely by higher seafloor spreading rates, as suggested previously.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 37
Serial Issue: 8
Title: Mid-Cretaceous seafloor spreading pulse; fact or fiction?
Affiliation: University of Sydney, EarthByte Group, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia
Pages: 687-690
Published: 200908
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 41
Accession Number: 2009-072356
Categories: Solid-earth geophysicsStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2009166
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: Geological Survey of Norway, NOR, Norway
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200939
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