ENSO-Type Signals Recorded in the Late Cretaceous Laminated Sediments of Songliao Basin, Northeast China

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Enxiao Yu1, Chengshan Wang2, Linda A Hinnov3 and Huaichun Wu1, (1)China University of Geoscience, Beijing, China, (2)China University of Geosciences, Beijing, Beijing, China, (3)Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States
The quasi-periodic, ca. 2-7 year El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon globally influences the inter-annual variability of temperature and precipitation. Global warming may increase the frequency of extreme ENSO events. Although the Cretaceous plate tectonic configuration was different from today, the sedimentary record suggests that ENSO-type oscillations had existed at the time of Cretaceous greenhouse conditions.

Cored Cretaceous lacustrine sediments from the Songliao Basin in Northeast China (SK-1 cores from the International Continental Drilling Program) potentially offer a partially varved record of Cretaceous paleoclimate. Fourteen polished thin sections from the depth interval 1096.12-1096.53 m with an age of 84.4 Ma were analyzed by optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). ImageJ software was applied to extract gray scale curves from optical images at pixel resolution. We tracked minimum values of the gray scale curves to estimate the thickness of each lamina.

Five sedimentary structures were recognized: flaser bedding, wavy bedding, lenticular bedding, horizontal bedding, and massive layers. The mean layer thicknesses with different sedimentary structures range from 116 to 162mm, very close to the mean sedimentation rate estimated for this sampled interval, 135mm/year, indicating that the layers bounded by pure clay lamina with the minimum gray values are varves. SEM images indicate that a varve is composed, in succession, of one lamina rich in coarse silt, one lamina rich in fine silt, one clay-rich lamina with some silt, and one clay-rich lamina. This suggests that a Cretaceous year featured four distinct depositional seasons, two of which were rainy and the others were lacking precipitation. Spectral analysis of extended intervals of the tuned gray scale curve indicates the presence of inter-annual periodicities of 2.2-2.7 yr, 3.5-6.1 year, and 10.1-14.5 year consistent with those of modern ENSO cycles and solar cycles, as well as those recognized in the Cretaceous Arctic and Marca Shale of California.