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New FWF project

“Integrating palaeoenvironmental and climate cyclicities – An optimized stratigraphic framework in the non-marine Lower Cretaceous” to Benjamin Sames

By April 2015 Benjamin Sames of the Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology started his new project P 27687 funded by the FWF (Austrian Science Fund).

Cyclostratigraphy (the branch of stratigraphy studying astronomically forced cycles, i.e. ‘Milankovitch cycles’, of global climate and ocean circulation patterns that are displayed in sedimentary successions) is an important tool in the ongoing development of the high-resolution integrated Cretaceous timescale. While in the Cretaceous marine record cyclostratigraphy is well-established and we already work at stratigraphic resolutions on Milankovitch scales, the stratigraphic resolution in the non-marine record is very low in most cases (often less accurate than stage level), and correlations on regional, supraregional and global scales remain problematic – let alone correlation attempts to the marine standard sections.

Within this 3-year project, an interval of the non-marine Lower Cretaceous English Weald Clay Group will be tested for their cyclostratigraphic use. The approach and methodology combine micropaleontology (ostracod biostratigraphy and assemblage changes), sedimentology, sediment geochemistry, stable isotope geochemistry, magnetostratigraphy, and statistics. The integrative methodology targets the correlation of the faunal composition change with the variation of geochemical and sedimentological parameters through time, and inferences on controlling factors and their regulating mechanisms (‘climate changes’, orbital cycles?). The project represents a pioneering study in this area of research, and is going to be an important contribution towards progress in chemo- and magnetostratigraphy of the English Wealden, the nature of its cycles, as well as – against the background of  IGCP 609 – progress in Early Cretaceous climate change and marine to non-marine correlation.

Department for Geodynamics and Sedimentology
University of Vienna

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