Monday, February 23, 2015

Highlights—Tooth Extractions Expose Climate Trends

Orogenies can have a regional or even global influence on climate, but means to assess these influences can be masked in the stratigraphic record. Extracting oxygen isotopes from a diverse set of vertebrate phosphate materials, Suarez et al. explore the effect of the Sevier Orogeny on regional climate and paleohydrology, as recorded in the Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation. The results within the Cedar Mountain Formation suggest a regional rainshadow effect from the Sevier Orogeny. Compared to the average meteoric water values for this paleolatitude as determined by pedogenic carbonates, meteoric water values determined from crocodiles and turtles are within the range of values for 34°N paleo-latitude. The Sevier Orogeny had a major effect on the isotopic composition of river water, the result of significant depletion in runoff of high altitude water or snow. These sorts of analyses that distinguish between regional paleoclimatic effects of orogeny and those of global climatic factors are essential for evaluating perturbations to the global carbon cycle and the related changes in temperature (e.g. mid-Cretaceous global warming).

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