Long-period Milankovitch cycles from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic of eastern North America and their implications for the calibration of the Early Mesozoic time-scale and the long-term behaviour of the planets

Paul E. Olsen, Dennis V. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic, the Newark rift basin of the northeastern US accumulated in excess of 5 km of continental, mostly lacustrine, strata that show a profound cyclicity caused by the astronomical forcing of tropical climate. The Newark record is known virtually in its entirety as a result of scientific and other coring and provides what is arguably one of the longest records of climate cyclicity available. Two proxies of water depth, and hence climate, in this record are a classification of sedimentary structures (depth ranks) and sediment colour. The depth rank and colour depth series display a full range of climatic precession related cycles. Here, we tune the depth rank and colour records to the 404 ka astronomical cycle and use this tuned record to explore the existence and origin of very long-period climate. We find highly significant periods of climatic precession modulation at periods of ca. 1.75 Ma, 1 Ma and 700 ka in not only the depth rank and colour records, but also in the sedimentation rate curve derived from the tuning process. We then use the colour and depth rank time-series to construct an astronomically tuned time-scale for the Late Triassic. While the Newark higher-frequency eccentricity cycles that modulate precession are indistinguishable from today, the 1.75 Ma cycle is significantly different from predictions based on the present day fundamental frequencies of the planets (i.e. Ma) and provides the first geological evidence of the chaotic behaviour of the inner planets, otherwise known only from numerical calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1761-1786
Number of pages26
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume357
Issue number1757
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Keywords

  • Chaos
  • Climate
  • Cyclicity
  • Milankovitch
  • Triassic

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