Alluvial stratigraphy builds up over geologic time under the complex interplay of external climatic and tectonic forces and internal stochastic processes. This complexity makes it challenging to attribute alluvial stratigraphic changes to specific factors. Geological records indicate pronounced and persistent climatic changes during the Phanerozoic, while the effects of these changes on alluvial stratigraphy remain insufficiently documented. We provide evidence for 405 k.y. long-eccentricity climate forcing of alluvial stratigraphy in the lower Eocene Willwood Formation of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming (USA). Two ∼90-m-thick intervals, characterized by a relative paucity of sand, dominance of sinuous-river channels, and floodplain sediments with better-developed paleosols, coincide with eccentricity maxima as determined through integrated stratigraphic methods. These intervals are interspersed with three contrasting intervals, marked by relatively high sand content, prevalent braided-river channels, and less-developed paleosols, corresponding to eccentricity minima. A comprehensive genetic model that integrates climate, source-to-sink system, and alluvial dynamics to explain these findings remains to be elucidated. Given the consistent presence of the 405 k.y. eccentricity cycle throughout Earth’s history, it is plausible to infer that its influence may be discernible across a wide array of alluvial stratigraphic records.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.