Prevailing opinion is that alternating episodes of sedimentation and erosion on cratons are passive responses to eustatic variations in sea level. Comparative analysis of the preserved areas and volumes of Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata covering large regions of the North American and eastern European cratons reveals evidence of synchronous depositional and erosional events of a few million to tens of millions of years duration. Significantly, the study also reveals that the three-dimensional geometry of many sedimentary successions is not compatible with passive cratons subject only to eustatic controls. Rather, consideration must be given to some more complex global mechanism governing both continental freeboard and vertical motions within cratons.

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