Application of modern hypsometric relationships to ancient continental groupings requires changes in ocean basin volumes through time and hence sea level. A global sea-level change curve, based on current knowledge of continental evolution from the base of the Jurassic, is presented. Variation in sea level for most of the Mesozoic, requiring explanation by mechanisms other than the area–elevation effect, was of the order of 160 m; a major lowering of sea level started in the late Cretaceous and continued into the Cenozoic. This major change can be explained by changes in ocean ridge volumes.

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