Abstract

The Cenomanian–Turonian interval of the Sevier foredeep, western U.S.A., is examined in order to (1) establish a high-resolution stratigraphic framework for marginal-marine strata of this interval and (2) test for the existence of high-frequency (tens of kyr-scale) cycles of continental runoff or sea-level change predicted by the hemipelagic record and climate models. High rates of sediment accumulation in marginal-marine environments of southwestern Utah (up to 210 m/Myr, compacted) and a northward translation of the major Sevier thrusting made possible the preservation of a highly detailed record of shoreline movements. The coeval Bridge Creek Limestone, linked with the study interval using biostratigraphic and bentonite-stratigraphic data of previous authors, provides an unprecedented, high-resolution orbital time scale. Three orders of transgressive–regressive cycles defined as genetic sequences are identified in the upper Cenomanian (S. gracile and N. juddii Zones) through lower Turonian (W. devonense through M. nodosoides Zones). The longest sequence (S. gracile Zone through V. birchbyi Zone) spans approximately 800 kyr and is penecontemporaneous with the δ13Corg positive excursion that defines Oceanic Anoxic Event II (OAE II). Medium-term and short-term sequences show durations of c. 65–160 kyr and c. 20–40 kyr, respectively. Features suggesting regression due to relative sea-level fall are described from some of the 20–40 kyr cycles in the lowermost S. gracile Zone (possibly including the uppermost M. mosbyense Zone). The data provide the first physical evidence globally of Cenomanian–Turonian changes in shoreline position and relative sea level, whose recurrence interval was as short as a few tens of kyr. These processes provide a viable depositional link between the rhythmic deposition of the Bridge Creek Limestone and the primary orbital forcing of insolation and climate. Although the possible tectonic influence is difficult to unravel, the study area represents an important reference point for climate and oceanographic modeling of the Cenomanian–Turonian greenhouse and OAE II.

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