Variations in the Global Carbon Cycle During the Cretaceous Related to Climate, Volcanism, and Changes in Atmospheric CO2

  1. E.T. Sundquist and
  2. W.S. Broecker
  1. M. A. Arthur1,
  2. W. E. Dean2 and
  3. S. O. Schlanger3

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM032p0504

The Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric CO: Natural Variations Archean to Present

The Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric CO: Natural Variations Archean to Present

How to Cite

Arthur, M. A., Dean, W. E. and Schlanger, S. O. (1985) Variations in the Global Carbon Cycle During the Cretaceous Related to Climate, Volcanism, and Changes in Atmospheric CO2 , in The Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric CO: Natural Variations Archean to Present (eds E.T. Sundquist and W.S. Broecker), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM032p0504

Author Information

  1. 1

    Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882

  2. 2

    U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225

  3. 3

    Department of Geology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60201

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1985

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900605

Online ISBN: 9781118664322

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Keywords:

  • Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry)—Congresses;
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide—Congresses;
  • Geological time—Congresses;
  • Paleothermometry—Congresses;
  • Geology, Stratigraphic—Congresses

Summary

The stratigraphic record from both deep-sea and shallow-water depositional environments indicates that during late Aptian through Cenomanian time (1) global climates were considerably warmer than at present; (2) latitudinal gradients of atmospheric and oceanic temperatures were considerably less than at present; (3) rates of accumulation of organic matter of both marine and terrestrial origin were as high as or higher than during any other interval in the Mesozoic or Cenozoic; (4) the rate and volume of accumulation of CaCO3 in the deep sea were reduced in response to a marked shoaling of the carbonate compensation depth; (5) seafloor spreading rates were somewhat more rapid than at any other time in the Cretaceous or Cenozoic; (6) off-ridge volcanism was intense and widespread, particularly in the ancestral Pacific Ocean basin; and (7) sea level was relatively high, forming widespread areas of shallow shelf seas. A marked increase in the rate of CO2 outgassing due to volcanic activity between about 110 and 70 m.y. ago may have resulted in a buildup of atmospheric CO2. A significant fraction of this atmospheric CO2 may have been reduced by an increase in the production and burial of terrestrial organic carbon. Some excess CO2 may have been consumed by marine algal photosynthesis, but marine productivity apparently was low during the Aptian-Albian relative to terrestrial productivity. Terrestrial productivity also may have been stimulated by increased rainfall that resulted from a warm global climate and increased marine transgression as well as by the higher CO2.