Numerical paleoceanographic study of the Early Jurassic Transcontinental Laurasian Seaway


  • Christian J. Bjerrum,

  • Finn Surlyk,

  • John H. Callomon,

  • Rudy L. Slingerland


The forces governing marine circulation of a meridional transcontinental seaway is explored with the Princeton Ocean Model. The Jurassic Laurasian Seaway, which connected the low-latitude Tethys Ocean with the Arctic Sea is modeled quantitatively. The global ocean is found to have a profound influence on seaway dynamics. A north-south density difference and hence sea level difference of the global ocean was probably the main factor in forcing the seaway flow. When the Tethys waters were the denser water, the net seaway flow was southward, and conversely, it was northward for denser Arctic waters. Marine bioprovincial boundaries and sediment data indicate that the seaway probably was dominated by Boreal faunal groups and reduced salinities several times in the Jurassic. The model results suggest that this can be explained by southward flowing seaway currents, which may have been related to an oceanic thermohaline circulation where no northern high-latitude deep convection occurred.