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Late Cretaceous Temperature Evolution of the Southern High Latitudes: A TEX86 Perspective

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-454
Number of pages19
JournalPaleoceanography and Paleoclimatology
Issue number4
Early online date2 Apr 2019
DateSubmitted - 19 Dec 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - 14 May 2019


The Late Cretaceous was a greenhouse world, characterized by elevated temperatures and high atmospheric pCO 2 . Even in the context of an extreme greenhouse climate, existing planktic foraminiferal δ 18 O data from the Falkland Plateau (paleolatitude of ~55°S) suggest anomalous warmth, with sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) >30 °C for much of the Late Cretaceous, followed by sudden cooling in the Campanian. Over the last two decades, there has been discussion as to whether these high δ 18 O-based SSTs reflect a genuine temperature signal and, if so, whether there was a local temperature anomaly in the South Atlantic or whether the data are representative of zonal paleotemperatures at 55°S. To provide new insights into the degree of ocean warming in the southern high latitudes during the Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian to Campanian), new SST records from the Falkland and Kerguelen Plateaus are presented here using the organic geochemical paleothermometer TetraEther indeX of 86 carbon atoms (TEX 86 ). Overall, the TEX 86 data support the δ 18 O data, indicating extreme and widespread warmth in the middle to high southern latitudes in the Late Cretaceous, with SSTs from 27 to 37 °C. Crucially, the TEX 86 data show slow, steady cooling from the Turonian to the Campanian and suggest that temperature gradients during the Campanian did not become as steep as suggested by some planktic foraminiferal data.

    Research areas

  • Cretaceous, Falkland Plateau, Kerguelen Plateau, paleotemperature, TEX

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