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A revised Cenozoic geochronology and chronostratigraphy

Berggren, William A.; Kent, Dennis V.; Swisher, Carl C.; Aubry, Marie-Pierre

Since the publication of our previous time scale (Berggren and others, 1985c = BKFV85) a large amount of new magneto- and biostratigraphic data and radioisotopic ages have become available. An evaluation of some of the key magnetobiostratigraphic calibration points used in BKFV85, as suggested by high precision 40Ar/39Ar dating (e.g., Montanari and others, 1988; Swisher and Prothero, 1990; Prothero and Swisher, 1992; Prothero, 1994), has served as a catalyst for us in developing a revised Cenozoic time scale. For the Neogene Period, astrochronologic data (Shackleton and others, 1990; Hilgen, 1991) required re-evaluation of the calibration of the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs. The significantly older ages for the Pliocene-Pleistocene Epochs predicted by astronomical calibrations were soon corroborated by high precision 40Ar/39Ar dating (e.g., Baksi and others, 1992; McDougall and others, 1992; Tauxe and others, 1992; Walter and others, 1991; Renne and others, 1993). At the same time, a new and improved definition of the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic polarity sequence was achieved based on a comprehensive evaluation of global sea-floor magnetic anomaly profiles (Cande and Kent, 1992). This, in turn, led to a revised Cenozoic geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS) based on standardization to a model of South Atlantic spreading history (Cande and Kent, 1992/1995 = CK92/95). This paper presents a revised (integrated magnetobiochronologic) Cenozoic time scale (IMBTS) based on an assessment and integration of data from several sources. Biostratigraphic events are correlated to the recently revised global polarity time scale (CK95). The construction of the new GPTS is outlined with emphasis on methodology and newly developed polarity history nomenclature. The radioisotopic calibration points (as well as other relevant data) used to constrain the GPTS are reviewed in their (bio)stratigraphic context. An updated magnetobiostratigraphic (re)assessment of about 150 pre-Pliocene planktonic foraminiferal datum events (including recently available high southern (austral) latitude data) and a new/modified zonal biostratigraphy provides an essentially global biostratigraphic correlation framework. This is complemented by a (re)assessment of nearly 100 calcareous nannofossil datum events. Unrecognized unconformities in the stratigraphic record (and to a lesser extent differences in taxonomic concepts), rather than latitudinal diachrony, is shown to account for discrepancies in magnetobiostratigraphic correlations in many instances, particularly in the Paleogene Period. Claims of diachrony of low amplitude (<2 my) are poorly substantiated, at least in the Paleocene and Eocene Epochs. Finally, we (re)assess the current status of Cenozoic chronostratigraphy and present estimates of the chronology of lower (stage) and higher (system) level units. Although the numerical values of chronostratigraphic units (and their boundaries) have changed in the decade since the previous version of the Cenozoic time scale, the relative duration of these units has remained essentially the same. This is particularly true of the Paleogene Period, where the Paleocene/Eocene and Eocene/Oligocene boundaries have been shifted ~2 my younger and the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary ~1 my younger. Changes in the Neogene time scale are relatively minor and reflect primarily improved magnetobiostratigraphic calibrations, better understanding of chronostratigraphic and magnetobiostratigraphic relationships, and the introduction of a congruent astronomical/paleomagnetic chronology for the past 6 my (and concomitant adjustments to magnetochron age estimates).

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Also Published In

Title
Geochronology, Time Scales, and Global Stratigraphic Correlation
DOI
https://doi.org/10.2110/pec.95.04.0129

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Publisher
Society for Sedimentary Geology
Series
SEPM Special Publication, 54
Published Here
January 19, 2012

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