Lower Cretaceous paleosols and paleoclimate in Sichuan Basin, China
Li et al
Abundant Lower Cretaceous (Berriasian–Hauterivian) paleosols have been recognized in the Sichuan Basin, along with the preserved pedogenetic features, e.g., soil horizons, soil structure, root traces and pedogenic nodules. Chemical, geochemical and mineralogical analyses were used to examine the paleosols. These paleosols were classified as Entisols, Inceptisols, Aridisols and Alfisols in terms of the modern soil taxonomic system. Early Cretaceous paleoprecipitation and paleotemperature in the Sichuan Basin were estimated from the degree of chemical weathering for non-calcareous paleosols, and from the depth to the calcic horizon and stable oxygen isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonates in calcareous paleosols, respectively. A temperate semi-arid climate generally prevailed in the Sichuan Basin as a part of the South China Block (SCB) and was controlled by subtropical high-pressure and a rain-shadow effect because the humid air masses from the Paleo-Pacific were impeded by the highlands of the South China Block. Further, several intervals of sub-humid paleoclimate occurred due to strengthened monsoonal circulation in the Early Cretaceous. Using the paleosol barometer, the paleoatmospheric CO2 levels of the Early Cretaceous are estimated to range from ∼120 to ∼520 ppmv, with a mean of 305 ppmv. Regional temperature is generally coupled with atmospheric CO2 concentration and is roughly consistent with the sea level fluctuation.