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Cretaceous ice ages

February 23, 2012

They'll have to wait until the Cenozoic for carrots.

As it turns out, the early Cretaceous was not only temperate as Liaoning indicated, but was really, really cold:

There is indirect evidence that a glaciation event existed during the late Aptian-early Cenomanian [approximately 100 MA]. Here in eastern Nebraska the event is recorded by a large-scale, unconformity-bounded sequence of the lower Woodbury Member of the Dakota Sandstone [aka "Muddy-Mowry Seaway" or "Muddy sandstone"]. An eustatic sea-level mechanism lowered worldwide sea-levels by more than 25 m and that this sea-level fall occurred in a rather short period of geologic time. A glacioeustatic component is most likely to account for the observed sea-level changes during the mid-Cretaceous “greenhouse” world. I'm not aware of the existence of large-scale continental ice sheets. But, a Southern Hemisphere polar ice sheet with limited extent and volume compared to “icehouse” continental ice sheets, and global alpine glaciers that were fed by wet climate cycles [a local condition which is well documented during Dakota sedimentation] could account for sea-level fluctuations that resulted in valley incision and subsequent filling.



Alley, N.F., and Frakes, L.A. 2003. First known Cretaceous Glaciation: Livingston Tillite Member of the Cadna-owie Formation, South Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Science. v. 50, p. 139-144.

Bornemann, Norris, Friedrich, Beckmann, Schouten, Sinninghe Damsté, Vogel, Hofmann and Wagner.2008. "Isotopic Evidence for Glaciation During the Cretaceous Supergreenhouse" Science Vol. 319 no. 5860 pp. 189-192

Gale, A.S., Hardenbol, J., Hathaway, B., Kennedy, W.J., Young, J.R., and Phansalker, V. 2002. Global correlation of Cenomanian (Upper Cretaceous)sequences: Evidence for Milankovitch control on sea level. Geology. v. 30, p. 291-294.

Haq, B.U., Hardenbol, J., and Vail, P.R. 1987. Chronology of Fluctuating Sea Levels since the Triassic. Science. V. 235, n. 4793, p. 1156-1167.

Immenhauser, A. 2005. High-rate sea-level change during the Mesozoic: New approaches to an old problem. Sedimentary Geology, Vol. 175, p. 277-296.

Ludvigson, G.A., Gonzalez, L.A., Metzger, R.A., Witzke, B.J., Brenner, R.L., Murillo, A.P., White, T.S. 1998. Meteoric sphaerosiderite lines and their use for paleohydrology and paleoclimatology. Geology, v. 26, n. 11, p. 1039-1042.

Miller, K.G., Sugarman, P.J., Browning, J.B., Kominz, M.A., Hernandez, J.C., Olsson, R.K., Wright, J.D., Feigenson, M.D., and Van Sickel, W. 2003. Late Cretaceous chronology of large, rapid sea-level changes: Glacioeustasy during the greenhouse world. Geology. v. 31, no. 7 (July), p. 585-588.

Sahagian, D., Pinous, O., Olferiev, A., and Zakharov, V. 1996. Eustatic Curve for the Middle Jurassic-Cretaceous Based on Russian Platform and Siberian Stratigraphy: Zonal Resolution. AAPG Bulletin. v. 80, no. 9. p. 1433-1458

Stoll, H.M., and Schrag, D.P. 1996. Evidence for glacial control of rapid sea-level changes in the Early Cretaceous. Science. v. 272, p. 1771-1774.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. That guy from spec and deviantart that won't stop pestering you permalink
    February 25, 2012 5:38 pm

    What about the late cretaceous. What was the climate like then? I need to know because I am making a story about time travelers making a colony somewhere in Canada around 70 million years ago

    • February 25, 2012 6:17 pm

      It progressed like this:

      1- The Turonian was a global Greenhouse

      2- Afterwards, the climate become progressively more temperate, though global temperatures remained higher than today (though Central Asia might have been cold), with the sea levels much higher and the oceans consistently tropical.

      • That guy from spec and deviantart that won't stop pestering you permalink
        February 25, 2012 8:37 pm

        Okay. How cold would Canada and Antartica be in the Late Campanian&Early Maastirician?

  2. February 25, 2012 10:12 pm

    Both were cold, but they likely were nowhere as cold as today. A temperate climate would do, even within the dark polar months; tropical winds brought by seaways ensured that the snow would have actually been rare, though not preventing frosts.

  3. Random Guy permalink
    May 2, 2012 3:28 am

    Instead of carrots, couldn’t they use a stalactite?

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