Reconstruction of Aptian–Albian paleoclimate obtained from marine records remains a challenging topic, but studies on coeval terrestrial paleoclimate and trigger mechanisms have lagged substantially. In this study, new multiproxy data from mudrocks in the Fuxin Basin of NE China provide a high-resolution terrestrial climate record from East Asia. Here, we demonstrate the occurrence of terrestrial climate cooling during the late Aptian (118–113 Ma), which interrupted the mid-Cretaceous warming shown in global records. Nearly uniform long-term global climate trends attributable to tectonism, volcanism, and weathering occur in Early Cretaceous terrestrial and marine records. In the Fuxin Basin, the long-term terrestrial climate was characterized by increasing temperatures during the late early Aptian, gradual cooling during the late Aptian, and subsequent enhanced warming during the early Albian. Moreover, chemical weathering and humidity during these intervals were low, moderate to high, and then moderate, respectively. A markedly reduced high-elevation paleogeomorphology under strong continental weathering during the late Aptian increased the variability in chemical weathering fluxes as the Eurasian plate in NE China drifted SE during the Early Cretaceous and then NE during the Late Cretaceous. We suggest that a combination of enhanced continental weathering and weakened plate drift induced changes in atmospheric CO2, while the geographic setting ultimately led to cooling in the Fuxin Basin during the late Aptian. Our results illustrate the importance of exploring long-term tectonic-climatic-biotic feedbacks to improve our understanding of tectonic processes and ecological transitions across various spatiotemporal scales.

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