Sea Level Change, Sediment Mass and Flux and Chemostratigraphy

  • F. T. Mackenzie
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 304)


The Cretaceous preserved rock mass of 40 × 10 16 metric tons represents 22% of the Phanerozoic sedimentary mass. This rock mass is readily accessible in land outcrops and drill holes and in DSDP and ODP drill cores. Thus, Cretaceous sedimentary rocks offer an excellent opportunity to study interrelationships between sediment mass and flux, mineralogy and chemistry. These stratigraphic features are records of atmosphere-ocean change, and hence sea level and climatic change.

In a conceptual model presented in this paper, changes in sedimentary properties through geologic time are related to changes in the ocean-atmosphere-sedimentbiosphere system induced by changes in the plate tectonic regime. The Cretaceous strata are shown to be an excellent system to test this model. Some needs and avenues of research in terms of sediment mass and flux and chemostratigraphy are explored in light of the plate tectonic model. It is suggested that the global sediment mass-age distribution for Cretaceous stages should be generated from syntheses of regional studies. It is argued that this distribution should form the basis of Cretaceous flux estimates and be integrated into chemostratigraphic studies. It is anticipated that following such an approach would lead to a firm framework for interpretation of the Cretaceous history of the exogenic cycle, in particular the carbon cycle. Knowledge of Cretaceous paleo-environmental conditions may be useful in interpretation of potential future climatic change brought about by release of “greenhouse gases” to the atmosphere owing to activities of humankind.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. T. Mackenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oceanography and Hawaii Institute of GeophysicsUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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