Cretaceous Palaeoclimates

  • L. A. Frakes
  • J. E. Francis
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 304)


The Cretaceous possibly embraced the warmest intervals in earth history, as indicated by distributions of climatically-significant rock types and fossil floras and faunas, and by oxygen isotope determinations. However, the climate was not uniformally warm but consisted of intervals of warming and cooling. The ocean isotope record from foraminifera indicates that a warm phase occurred in the earliest Cretaceous (Berriasian-Valanginian), followed by a peak of warmth in the Albian and a further warming phase during the Coniacian-Santonian. Relatively cool periods occurred in both the early and late Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Aptian and the Cenomanian-Turonian and late Campanian-Maastrichtian, respectively). The plant record from the continents supports this scenario of variability. The early Cretaceous cool interval was characterized by high-latitude ice rafting, which did not occur during the late Cretaceous warm phase. Strongly seasonal climates, suggested for the Cretaceous by numerical modelling experiments are recorded in the growth patterns in fossil wood from both the early (Australia; this paper) and late Cretaceous (Alaska) The lack of proven tillites in the Cretaceous deposits may support the concept of seasonality, in suggesting that ice rafting involved intermittent riverine and marine shore ice rather than the development of permanent glaciers. It is possible, however, that glacial deposits were formed during the Cretaceous but have not yet been discovered, or are undated, or were eroded by glacial or post-glacial processes at basin margins.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Frakes
    • 1
  • J. E. Francis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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