Numerical Age Calibration of the Albian/Cenomanian Boundary
New biostratigraphic and sequence stratigraphic correlations of the U.S. Western Interior Albian/Cenomanian sections with North Texas and European sections calibrate the Albian/Cenomanian boundary at 97.2 Ma, which supports previous correlations in the Western Interior. This age, however, is 2.4 myr younger than the recent calibration at 99.6 Ma derived from radiometric ages of volcanic beds with diagnostic marine fossils in northern Japan. This discrepancy suggests that additional analyses are required to test the age calibration of the geologic time scale. New data of cosmopolitan dinoflagellates enable direct correlation with the European reference sections of the Albian and Cenomanian. Previous correlations in the Western Interior were based on endemic or Boreal ammonites. The first and last occurrences of dinoflagellate species bracket the Albian/Cenomanian boundary in Europe and many of these species also bracket the Clay Spur Bentonite bed previously dated 97.17Â ± 0.69 Ma. The high number of radiometrically dated bentonites in the Western Interior provides a numeric age control for the ranges of many dinoflagellates. Sequence stratigraphic correlation of the North Texas section with the U.S. Western Interior sections also demonstrates that the Clay Spur Bentonite bed correlates with the Ablian/Cenomanian boundary in Texas defined by the ammonite succession. The flooding contact SB WA6 in Texas at the Albian/Cenomanian zonal boundary of Stoliczkaia dispar and Mantelliceras mantelli correlates into the Western Interior with an erosional sequence boundary SB4 at the base of the Romeroville Sandstone in New Mexico and the "D" Sandstone in Colorado. This contact correlates with the base of the Belle Fourche Shale that overlies the Clay Spur and the Mowry Shale in Montana. The revised correlation of the Western Interior poses two questions. 1) What is the accurate age of the boundary? Both cannot be correct. 2) What were the durations of the Albian and Cenomanian stages? Cyclostratigraphic analyses estimate that the Albian was 11.9 to 11.6 myr in duration but the Western Interior data project the duration at about 15 myr.
R. W. Scott et al., "Numerical Age Calibration of the Albian/Cenomanian Boundary," Stratigraphy, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 17-33, Micropaleontology Press, Jan 2009.
Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering
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