The Colorado Plateau Coring Project (CPCP): A Continuous Cored Record of Triassic Continental Environmental Change in Western North America
Abstract:The Triassic Period (251.9-201.3 Ma) is bound by two of the Earth’s largest mass extinctions, suffered several giant bolide impacts and eruption of 3 large igneous provinces, and witnessed evolution of the main components of modern tetrapod communities, and yet has sparse geochronological calibration. To bridge this gap, NSF- and ICDP-funded coring of Phase 1 of the CPCP finished in 12/2013 with the recovery of two major cores (1A, 518m and 2B, 253m; 31km apart) from opposites sides of Petrified Forest National Park spanning nearly the entire Triassic sequence (Chinle & Moenkopi fms) with many U-Pb datable levels (1,2,3) and a recoverable paleomagnetic polarity record (4). The cores will provide a U-Pb and paleomagnetic exportable time scale and sedimentary and geochemical proxies with undoubted superposition testing the motivating hypotheses of: 1) the accuracy of orbitally-paced cyclicity of the Newark APTS (5); 2) apparent climate trends as a function of drift through climate belts (6) and atmospheric CO2 (7); 3) the temporal link between the mid-Late Triassic biotic turnover and the ~100 km Manicouagan impact (1); and 4) the delayed ecological dominance of dinosaurs coupled to climate-driven provinciality (1,8). For orientation, the cores were drilled using a azimuth-tracking device, deviated 30° and 15° from vertical to the SE and S, and CT-scanned. The unprecedented sedimentological and stratigraphic detail visible in the CT-scans, and geophysical logs, plus the ~100% recovery promises successful tests of the motivating hypotheses and provide a superbly detailed reference section for this key episode in Earth system history.
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