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Astronomically tuned geomagnetic polarity timescale for the Late Triassic

Kent, Dennis V.; Olsen, Paul E.

Cycle stratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic analyses of a ~5000-m-thick composite section obtained by scientific coring in the Newark rift basin of eastern North America provide a high-resolution astronomically calibrated geomagnetic polarity timescale (GPTS) spanning over 30 m.y. of the Late Triassic and earliest Jurassic. Only normal polarity is found in ~1000 m of interbedded volcanics and continental sediments of earliest Jurassic age but a total of 59 normal and reverse polarity magnetozones are delineated in the underlying 4000+ m of Late Triassic continental sediments. Lithologic facies response to climatically induced lake level variation provides a full spectrum of Milankovitch cyclicity; the prominent 404 kyr orbital eccentricity climate cycle has a mean thickness of about 60 m and is the basis for scaling most of the stratigraphic section in time. When indexed to available radioisotopic dating, the resulting astronomically calibrated GPTS spans from the 202 Ma Triassic/Jurassic boundary to 233 Ma. Results of detailed sampling profiles across 42 magnetozone boundaries representing 35 different polarity reversals indicate transition durations that average 7.9 kyr, comparable to the estimated duration of recent polarity reversals. The polarity intervals have a mean duration of 0.53 m.y. with a corresponding reversal rate of 1.88 m.y.^-1 and no significant polarity bias and are closely approximated by an exponential distribution with a gamma index k indistinguishable from 1. The longest polarity interval is about 2 m.y., and the shortest is about 0.02 m.y. The overall statistical properties indicate that the behavior of the geomagnetic field in the Late Triassic was not very different from that in the Cenozoic. This geomagnetic polarity record of the Late Triassic provides a well-dated chronostratigraphic framework suitable for detailed global correlation.

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Also Published In

Journal of Geophysical Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
August 30, 2011