Testing the astronomical time scale for oceanic anoxic event 2, and its extension into Cenomanian strata of the Western Interior Basin (USA)

Chao Ma, Stephen R. Meyers*, Brad B. Sageman, Brad S. Singer, Brian R. Jicha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The development of integrated astronomical and radioisotopic time scales from rhythmic strata of the Western Interior Basin (WIB) has played a fundamental role in the refinement of Late Cretaceous chronostratigraphy. In this study, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning is utilized to develop a new elemental data set for cyclostratigraphic investigation of Cenomanian-Turonian strata in the WIB, using material from the Aristocrat-Angus-12-8 core (northcentral Colorado). The XRF data set yields the first continuous 5-mm-resolution analysis of lithogenic, biogenic, and syngeneticauthigenic proxies through the uppermost Lincoln Limestone Member, the Hartland Shale Member, and the Bridge Creek Limestone Member, including oceanic anoxic event 2 (OAE 2). The 40Ar/39Ar ages from ashes in three biozones, including a new age from the Dunveganoceras pondi biozone (uppermost Lincoln Limestone Member), provide geochronologic constraints for the cyclostratigraphic analysis. Astrochronologic testing of the 5-mm-resolution XRF weight percent CaCO3 data via average spectral misfianalysis yields strong evidence for astronomical influence on climate and sedimentation. Results from the Bridge Creek Limestone Member are consistent with the previously published astrochronology from the U.S. Geological Survey #1 Portland core (central Colorado), and identification of an astronomical signal in the underlying Hartland Shale Member now permits extension of the WIB astrochronology into the earlier Cenomanian, prior to OAE 2. High rates of sedimentation in the Angus core during the interval of OAE 2 initiation, as compared to the Portland core, allow recognition of a strong precessional control on bedding development. As a consequence, the new results provide a rare high-resolution chronometer for the onset of OAE 2, and the timing of proposed hydrothermal trace metal enrichment as observed in the 5 mm XRF data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-989
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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