Friday, December 23, 2016

Reconstructing Sea Level Rise and Fall Since the NeoProterozoic


van der Meer et al


The eustatic sea-level curves published in the seventies and eighties have supported scientific advances in the Earth Sciences and the emergence of sequence-stratigraphy as an important hydrocarbon exploration tool. However, validity of reconstructions of eustatic sea level based on sequence stratigraphic correlations has remained controversial. Proposed sea level curves differ because of site-to-site changes in local tectonics, depositional rates, and long-wavelength dynamic topography resulting from mantle convection. In particular, the overall amplitude of global Phanerozoic long-term sea level is poorly constrained and has been estimated to vary between ~ 400 m above present-day sea level to ~ 50 m below present-day sea level. To improve estimates of past sea level, we explore an alternative methodology to estimate global sea level change. We utilise the Phanerozoic-Neoproterozoic 87Sr/86Sr record, which at first order represents the mix of inputs from continental weathering and from mantle input by volcanism. By compensating for weathering with estimates of runoff from a 3D climate model (GEOCLIMtec), a corrected 87Sr/86Sr record can be obtained that solely reflects the contribution of strontium from mantle sources. At first order, the flux of strontium from the mantle through time is due to increases and decreases in the production of oceanic crust through time. Therefore, the changing levels of mantle-derived strontium can be used as a proxy for the production of oceanic lithosphere. By applying linear oceanic plate age distributions, we compute sea level and continental flooded area curves. We find that our curves are generally within the range of previous curves built on classical approaches. A Phanerozoic first order cyclicity of ~ 250 Myr is observed that may extend into the Neoproterozoic. The low frequency (i.e., on the order of 10 to 100 My) sea level curve that we propose, while open for improvement, may be used as baseline for refined sequence-stratigraphic studies at a global and basin scale.

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