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Milankovitch period uncertainties and their impact on cyclostratigraphy

David Waltham
Milankovitch period uncertainties and their impact on cyclostratigraphy
Journal of Sedimentary Research (August 2015) 85 (8): 990-998


Astronomically calibrated cyclostratigraphy relies on correct matching of observed sedimentary cycles to predicted astronomical drivers such as eccentricity, obliquity, and climate precession. However, the periods of these astronomical cycles, in the past, are not perfectly known because: (i) they drift through time; (ii) they overlap; and (iii) they are affected by the poorly constrained recession history of the Moon. This paper estimates the resulting uncertainties in ancient Milankovitch cycle periods and shows that they lead to: (i) problems with using Milankovitch cycles for accurate measurement of durations (potential errors are around 25% by the start of the Phanerozoic); (ii) problems with correctly identifying the Milankovitch cycles responsible for observed period ratios (e.g., the ratio for long-eccentricity/short-eccentricity overlaps, within error, with the ratio for short-eccentricity/precession); and (iii) problems with verifying that observed cycles are Milankovitch driven at all (the probability of a random period ratio matching a predicted Milankovitch ratio, within error, is 20-70% in the Phanerozoic). Milankovitch-derived ages and durations should therefore be treated with caution unless supported by additional information such as radiometric constraints.

ISSN: 1527-1404
EISSN: 1938-3681
Serial Title: Journal of Sedimentary Research
Serial Volume: 85
Serial Issue: 8
Title: Milankovitch period uncertainties and their impact on cyclostratigraphy
Author(s): Waltham, David
Affiliation: University of London, Royal Holloway, Department of Earth Sciences, London, United Kingdom
Pages: 990-998
Published: 201508
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 57
Accession Number: 2015-121200
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
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 SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 201552
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