SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 60 , Issue 1 : 5-19(2017) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-016-0095-9

Toward understanding Cretaceous climate—An updated review

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  • ReceivedJun 24, 2016
  • AcceptedAug 30, 2016
  • PublishedNov 22, 2016



The author has benefitted greatly from recent discussions with Robert DeConto, Brian Ford, Poppe de Boer, Hu Xumian, Wang Chengshan, Yu Enxio, Ying Song, Hugh Jenkyns, Andy Gale, Brad Sageman, Sascha Flögel, João Trabuco-Alexandre, Michael Wagreich, and Benjamin Sames. Suggestions by David J. Horne and an anonymous reviewer are gratefully acknowledged. This is a contribution in the frame of UNESCO IGCP Project 609 “Climate-environmental deteriorations during greenhouse phases: Causes and consequences of short-term Cretaceous sea-level changes”.


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  • Figure 1

    (a) Paleotopographic map for the early Turonian prepared by Alexander Balukhovsky and Areg Migdisov for numerical climate models described in Flögel (2001) and Balukhovsky et al. (2004). (b) A revised preliminary paleogeographic map for the early Turonian taking into account the recent work of Müller et al. (2008a, 2008b), Song et al. (2014, 2015) and others.

  • Figure 2

    Climate simulation for January, early Turonian After Flögel (2001).

  • Figure 3

    Estimates of the elevation of global (‘eustatic’) sea level above present sea level. The ‘+’ is the present elevation (265–286 m; avg.276 m) of the late Cenomanian shoreline (~93 Ma) on the eastern side of the Western Interior Seaway on the margin of the craton (Canadian Shield) in Minnesota, defined by McDonough and Cross (1991) and used by Sahagian and Holland (1991), Sahagian et al. (1996) and others as a calibration reference for the highest stand of Cretaceous sea levels.

  • Figure 4

    Transgressive-regressive sea level cycles and the quasi-eustatic sea level curve of Haq (2014) shown as solid lines. There are 59 cycles within the 80 Myr duration of the Cretaceous, yielding an average periodicity of 1.356 my. Dashed line is 30 m lower than the solid line, the difference that could easily accommodated by filling groundwater reservoirs and lakes; the dotted line is 50 m lower, probably the maximum difference that could be accommodated by filling groundwater reservoirs and lakes as suggested by Hay and Leslie (1990) and Wendler and Wendler (2016).

  • Figure 5

    A comparison of brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaurs, after a figure in Ford (2012b). (The original ‘Dinosaur Parade’ was prepared by Nima Sassani and is at http://paleoking.blogspot.com/2009/11/brachiosaurs-parade-90-million-years-of.html). Numbers are approximate ages. Most of these are known from incomplete skeletons that nevertheless allow reconstructions. Volkheimeria is Callovian-Oxfordian, from Patagonia. Lapparentosaurus is Mid-Jurassic from Madagascar. Daanosaurus is Late Jurassic, from Sichuan, China. Bothriospondylus is from the Kimmeridgian of southern England. Lusotitan is from the Tithonian of Portugal. Brachiosaurus is from the mid- to late Jurassic Formation of Colorado, U.S. The ‘Archbishop’ is a mid-Jurassic dinosaur from Tanzania, still awaiting formal description. Pelorosaurus is known from the Early Cretaceous of England and Portugal. Astrodon (also known as Pleurocoelus) is Aptian-Albian, from the Arundel Formation, eastern U.S. Cedarosaurus is from Barremian strata in Utah, U.S. Sonorasaurus is Albian to Cenomanian, from Arizona, U.S. Sauropposeidon is known from Aptian-Albian strata in Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, U.S. Brevparopus is known only from tracks in Cretaceous strata in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco, but from the tracks it must be the largest of the brachiosaurids.


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