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Title: Expedition 377 Scientific Prospectus: Arctic Ocean Paleoceanography (ArcOP)
Prior to 2004, geological sampling in the Arctic Ocean was mainly restricted to near-surface Quaternary sediments. Thus, the long-term pre-Quaternary geological history is still poorly known. With the successful completion of the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 302) in 2004, a new era in Arctic research began. Employing a novel multivessel approach, the first mission-specific platform (MSP) expedition of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program proved that drilling in permanently ice-covered regions is possible. During ACEX, 428 m of Quaternary, Neogene, Paleogene, and Campanian sediment on Lomonosov Ridge were penetrated, providing new and unique insights into Cenozoic Arctic paleoceanographic and climate history. Although it was highly successful, ACEX also had three important limitations. The ACEX sequence contains either a large hiatus spanning the time interval from late Eocene to middle Miocene (based on the original biostratigraphic age model) or an interval of strongly reduced sedimentation rates (based on a more recent Os-Re-isotope-based age model). This is a critical time interval, spanning the time when prominent changes in global climate took place during the transition from the early Cenozoic Greenhouse Earth to the late Cenozoic Icehouse Earth. Furthermore, generally poor recovery during ACEX prevented detailed and continuous reconstruction more » of Cenozoic climate history. Finally, a higher-resolution reconstruction of Arctic rapid climate change during Neogene and Pleistocene times could not be achieved during ACEX. Therefore, Expedition 377 (Arctic Ocean Paleoceanography [ArcOP]) will return to the Lomonosov Ridge for a second MSP-type drilling campaign with the International Ocean Discovery Program to fill these major gaps in our knowledge on Arctic Ocean paleoenvironmental history through Cenozoic times and its relationship to global climate history. The overall goal of this drilling campaign is to recover a complete stratigraphic sedimentary record of the southern Lomonosov Ridge to meet our highest priority paleoceanographic objective, the continuous long-term Cenozoic climate history of the central Arctic Ocean. Furthermore, sedimentation rates two to four times higher than those of ACEX permit higher-resolution studies of Arctic climate change. The expedition goal can be achieved through careful site selection, the use of appropriate drilling technology and ice management, and by applying multiproxy approaches to paleoceanographic, paleoclimatic, and age-model reconstructions. The expedition will complete one primary deep drill hole (proposed Site LR-11B) to 900 meters below seafloor (mbsf), supplemented by a short drill site (LR-10B) to 50 mbsf, to recover an undisturbed uppermost (Quaternary) sedimentary section. This plan should ensure complete recovery so scientists can construct a composite section that spans the full age range through the Cenozoic. « less
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Scientific prospectus
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National Science Foundation
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  1. The primary objectives of International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 367/368 to the northern South China Sea (SCS) margin were to (1) examine its history of continental breakup and (2) compare it with other nonvolcanic or magma-poor rifted margins with the broader goal of testing models for continental breakup. A secondary objective was to further our understanding of the paleoceanographic and environmental development of the SCS and southeast Asia during the Cenozoic. Four primary sites were selected for the overall program: one in the outer margin high (OMH) and three seaward of the OMH on distinct, margin-parallel basement ridges. These three ridges are informally labeled A, B, and C and are located in the continent–ocean transition (COT) zone ranging from the OMH to the interpreted steady-state oceanic crust (Ridge C) of the SCS. The main scientific objectives include the following: Determining the nature of the basement in crustal units across the COT of the SCS that are critical to constrain style of rifting, Constraining the time interval from initial crustal extension and plate rupture to the initial generation of igneous ocean crust, Constraining vertical crustal movements during breakup, and Examining the nature of igneous activity from rifting to seafloor spreading.more »In addition, the sediment cores from the drill sites targeting primarily tectonic and basement objectives will provide information on the Cenozoic regional environmental development of the Southeast Asia margin. Site U1499 on Ridge A and Site U1500 on Ridge B were drilled during Expedition 367. Expedition 368 was planned to drill at two primary sites (U1501 and U1503) at the OMH and Ridge C, respectively, but based on drilling results from Expedition 367, Expedition 368 chose to insert an alternate site on Ridge A (Site U1502). In addition, Expedition 368 added two more sites on the OMH (Sites U1504 and U1505). Expedition 367/368 completed operations at six of the seven sites (U1499–U1502, U1504, and U1505). Site U1503, however, was not completed beyond casing without coring to 990 m because of mechanical problems with the drilling equipment that prevented the expedition, after 25 May 2017, from operating with a drill string longer than 3400 m. New alternate Site U1504, proposed during Expedition 367, met this condition. Original Site U1505 also met the operational constraints of the 3400 m drill string (total) and was an alternate site for the already-drilled Site U1501. At Site U1499, we cored to 1081.8 m in 22.1 days with 52% recovery and then logged downhole data from 655 to 1020 m. In 31 days at Site U1500, we penetrated to 1529 m, cored a total of 1012.8 m with 37% recovery, and collected log data from 842 to 1133 m. At Site U1501, we cored to 697.1 m in 9.4 days with 78.5% recovery. We also drilled ahead for 433.5 m in Hole U1501D and then logged downhole data from 78.3 to 399.3 m. In 19.3 days at Site U1502, we penetrated 1679.0 m in Holes U1502A (758 m) and U1502B (921 m), set 723.7 m of casing and cored a total of 576.3 m with 53.5% recovery, and collected downhole log data from 785.3 to 875.3 m and seismic data through the 10¾ inch casing. At Site U1503, we penetrated 995.1 m and set 991.5 m of 10¾ inch casing, but no cores were taken because of a mechanical problem with the drawworks. At Site U1504, we took 40 rotary core barrel (RCB) cores over two holes. The cored interval between both holes was 277.3 m with 26.8% recovery. An 88.2 m interval was drilled in Hole U1504B. At Site U1505, we cored 668.0 m with 101.1% recovery. Logging data was collected from 80.1 to 341.2 m. Operations at this site covered 6.1 days. Except for Sites U1503 and U1505, all sites were drilled to acoustic basement. A total of 6.65 days were lost due to mechanical breakdown or waiting on spare supplies for repair of drilling equipment, but drilling options were severely limited from 25 May to the end of the expedition by the defective drawworks limiting deployment of drill string longer than 3400 m. At Site U1499, coring ~200 m into the interpreted acoustic basement sampled sedimentary rocks, possibly including early Miocene chalks underlain by Oligocene polymict breccias and poorly cemented gravels of unknown age comprising sandstone pebbles and cobbles. Preliminary structural and lithologic analysis suggests that the gravels might be early to late synrift sediment. At Site U1500, the main seismic reflector corresponds to the top of a basalt sequence at ~1379.1 m. We cored 149.90 m into this volcanic package and recovered 114.92 m (77%) of sparsely to moderately plagioclase-phyric basalt comprising numerous lava flows, including pillow lavas with glass, chilled margins, altered veins, hyaloclastites, and minor sediment. Preliminary geochemical analyses indicate that the basalt is tholeiitic. Sampling of the Pleistocene to lower Miocene sedimentary section at Sites U1499 and U1500 was not continuous for two reasons. First, there was extremely poor recovery in substantial intervals interpreted to be poorly lithified sands, possibly turbidites. Second, we chose to drill down without coring in some sections at Site U1500 to ensure sufficient time to achieve this site’s high-priority deep drilling objectives. The upper Miocene basin sequence, which consists of interbedded claystone, siltstone, and sandstone can be correlated between the two sites by seismic stratigraphic mapping and biostratigraphy. At Site U1501 on the OMH, coring ~45 m into the acoustic basement sampled prerift(?) deposits comprising sandstone to conglomerate of presumed Mesozoic age. These deposits are overlain by siliciclastic synrift sediments of Eocene to Oligocene age followed by primarily carbonaceous postrift sediments of early Miocene to Pleistocene age. Site U1502 on Ridge A was cased to 723.7 m. No coring was attempted shallower than 380 m to save operational time and because of low expectations for core recovery in the upper Plio–Pleistocene sequence. At this site, we recovered 180 m of hydrothermally altered brecciated basalts comprising sheet and pillow lavas below deep-marine sediments of Oligocene to late Miocene age. At Site U1503 on Ridge C, 991.5 m of casing was installed in preparation for the planned deep drilling to ~1800 m. No coring was performed due to mechanical failures, and the site was abandoned without further activity except for installation of a reentry cone. Coring at Site U1504 on the OMH, located ~45 km east of Site U1501, recovered mostly foliated, greenschist facies metamorphic rocks below late Eocene(?) carbonate rocks (partly reef debris) and early Miocene to Pleistocene sediments. At Site U1505, we cored to 480.15 m through Pleistocene to late Oligocene mainly carbonaceous ooze followed at depth by early Oligocene siliciclastic sediments. Efforts were made at every drill site to correlate the core with the seismic data and seismic stratigraphic unconformities interpreted in the Eocene to Plio–Pleistocene sedimentary sequence prior to drilling. The predrilling interpretation of ages of these unconformities was in general confirmed by drilling results, although some nontrivial corrections can be expected from detailed postexpedition work on integrating seismic stratigraphic interpretations with detailed bio- and lithostratigraphy. As a result of the limited length of drill string that could be deployed during the later part of Expedition 368, the secondary expedition objectives addressing the environmental history of the SCS and Southeast Asia received more focus than originally planned, allowing Site U1505 (alternate to Site U1501) to be included. Despite this change in focus, Expedition 367/368 provided solid evidence for a process of breakup that included vigorous synrift magmatism as opposed to the often-favored interpretation of the SCS margin as a magma-starved margin or a margin possibly overprinted at a much later stage by plume-related magmatism. In this broader perspective, Expedition 367/368 accomplished a fundamental objective of the two-expedition science program.« less
  2. The marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is currently retreating due to shifting wind-driven oceanic currents that transport warm waters toward the ice margin, resulting in ice shelf thinning and accelerated mass loss of the WAIS. Previous results from geologic drilling on Antarctica’s continental margins show significant variability in marine-based ice sheet extent during the late Neogene and Quaternary. Numerical models indicate a fundamental role for oceanic heat in controlling this variability over at least the past 20 My. Although evidence for past ice sheet variability has been collected in marginal settings, sedimentologic sequences from the outer continental shelf are required to evaluate the extent of past ice sheet variability and the associated oceanic forcings and feedbacks. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 374 drilled a latitudinal and depth transect of five drill sites from the outer continental shelf to rise in the eastern Ross Sea to resolve the relationship between climatic and oceanic change and WAIS evolution through the Neogene and Quaternary. This location was selected because numerical ice sheet models indicate that this sector of Antarctica is highly sensitive to changes in ocean heat flux. The expedition was designed for optimal data-model integration and will enable an improved understandingmore »of the sensitivity of Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) mass balance during warmer-than-present climates (e.g., the Pleistocene “super interglacials,” the mid-Pliocene, and the late early to middle Miocene). The principal goals of Expedition 374 were to • Evaluate the contribution of West Antarctica to far-field ice volume and sea level estimates; • Reconstruct ice-proximal atmospheric and oceanic temperatures to identify past polar amplification and assess its forcings and feedbacks; • Assess the role of oceanic forcing (e.g., sea level and temperature) on AIS stability/instability; • Identify the sensitivity of the AIS to Earth’s orbital configuration under a variety of climate boundary conditions; and • Reconstruct eastern Ross Sea paleobathymetry to examine relationships between seafloor geometry, ice sheet stability/instability, and global climate. To achieve these objectives, we will • Use data and models to reconcile intervals of maximum Neogene and Quaternary Antarctic ice advance with far-field records of eustatic sea level change; • Reconstruct past changes in oceanic and atmospheric temperatures using a multiproxy approach; • Reconstruct Neogene and Quaternary sea ice margin fluctuations in datable marine continental slope and rise records and correlate these records to existing inner continental shelf records; • Examine relationships among WAIS stability/instability, Earth’s orbital configuration, oceanic temperature and circulation, and atmospheric pCO2; and • Constrain the timing of Ross Sea continental shelf overdeepening and assess its impact on Neogene and Quaternary ice dynamics. Expedition 374 was carried out from January to March 2018, departing from Lyttelton, New Zealand. We recovered 1292.70 m of high-quality cores from five sites spanning the early Miocene to late Quaternary. Three sites were cored on the continental shelf (Sites U1521, U1522, and U1523). At Site U1521, we cored a 650 m thick sequence of interbedded diamictite, mudstone, and diatomite, penetrating the Ross Sea seismic Unconformity RSU4. The depositional reconstructions of past glacial and open-marine conditions at this site will provide unprecedented insight into environmental change on the Antarctic continental shelf during the early and middle Miocene. At Site U1522, we cored a discontinuous upper Miocene to Pleistocene sequence of glacial and glaciomarine strata from the outer shelf, with the primary objective to penetrate and date seismic Unconformity RSU3, which is interpreted to represent the first major continental shelf–wide expansion and coalescing of marine-based ice streams from both East and West Antarctica. At Site U1523, we cored a sediment drift located beneath the westerly flowing Antarctic Slope Current (ASC). Cores from this site will provide a record of the changing vigor of the ASC through time. Such a reconstruction will enable testing of the hypothesis that changes in the vigor of the ASC represent a key control on regulating heat flux onto the continental shelf, resulting in the ASC playing a fundamental role in ice sheet mass balance. We also cored two sites on the continental slope and rise. At Site U1524, we cored a Plio–Pleistocene sedimentary sequence on the continental rise on the levee of the Hillary Canyon, which is one of the largest conduits of Antarctic Bottom Water delivery from the Antarctic continental shelf into the abyssal ocean. Drilling at Site U1524 was intended to penetrate into middle Miocene and older strata but was initially interrupted by drifting sea ice that forced us to abandon coring in Hole U1524A at 399.5 m drilling depth below seafloor (DSF). We moved to a nearby alternate site on the continental slope (U1525) to core a single hole with a record complementary to the upper part of the section recovered at Site U1524. We returned to Site U1524 3 days later, after the sea ice cleared. We then cored Hole U1524C with the rotary core barrel with the intention of reaching the target depth of 1000 m DSF. However, we were forced to terminate Hole U1524C at 441.9 m DSF due to a mechanical failure with the vessel that resulted in termination of all drilling operations and a return to Lyttelton 16 days earlier than scheduled. The loss of 39% of our operational days significantly impacted our ability to achieve all Expedition 374 objectives as originally planned. In particular, we were not able to obtain the deeper time record of the middle Miocene on the continental rise or abyssal sequences that would have provided a continuous and contemporaneous archive to the high-quality (but discontinuous) record from Site U1521 on the continental shelf. The mechanical failure also meant we could not recover sediment cores from proposed Site RSCR-19A, which was targeted to obtain a high-fidelity, continuous record of upper Neogene and Quaternary pelagic/hemipelagic sedimentation. Despite our failure to recover a shelf-to-rise transect for the Miocene, a continental shelf-to-rise transect for the Pliocene to Pleistocene interval is possible through comparison of the high-quality records from Site U1522 with those from Site U1525 and legacy cores from the Antarctic Geological Drilling Project (ANDRILL).« less
  3. International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 387 aims to recover sediments at two sites located in shallow water (~350 to 450 m) on the uppermost continental slope west of the Amazon Fan, northwest of the mouth of the Amazon River. These sediments were deposited in the upper part of the long-lived Foz do Amazonas Basin of the equatorial margin of Brazil. These two sites will recover a sedimentary sequence that spans much of the Cenozoic but with variable provenance and highly variable sedimentation rates. By virtue of their location, the Quaternary sediments will recover an abundance of terrigenous materials including pollen, organic matter, zircon grains, and clay minerals, allowing detailed reconstruction of the biodiversity, climate, and hydrology of the adjacent tropical South American continent. At the same time, an abundance of well-preserved marine microfossils and organic matter will allow accurate determination of the age and oceanographic conditions of the western equatorial Atlantic that partly forced the climate of the adjacent continent. However, our reconstructions of the spatial patterns of biodiversity and climate through time must be interpreted with the knowledge that the geometry of the watersheds that contributed water and sediment to the coastal Atlantic was itself rearranged through time.more »For example, a transcontinental proto-Amazon river did not likely reach the Atlantic until somewhere between 11 and 2 Ma, a date that we expect to more accurately determine from these new cores. Prior to that event, terrigenous sediments at our sites would have been derived from smaller coastal rivers draining watersheds limited to the eastern tropics of northeastern South America. The planned drill sites of Expedition 387 will be the marine complement to a transect of continental drill sites. Together, the marine and continental sites form the Trans-Amazon Drilling Project (TADP), a project that is partly funded by the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP). The TADP addresses fundamental questions about the Cenozoic climatic evolution of the Amazon region, the origins and evolution of the neotropical rain forest and its biodiversity, and the origins and rearrangements of the transcontinental Amazon River. Together, we expect that these IODP and ICDP projects will transform our understanding of Amazonian geological, climatic, biological, and paleoceanographic history.« less
  4. During International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 397, we recovered a total of 6176.7 m of core (104.2% recovery) at four sites (U1586, U1587, U1385, and U1588) from the Promontório dos Principes de Avis (PPA) (Figure F1), a plateau located on the Portuguese continental slope that is elevated above the Tagus Abyssal Plain and isolated from the influence of turbidites. The drill sites are arranged along a bathymetric transect (4691, 3479, 2590, and 1339 meters below sea level [mbsl], respectively) to intersect each of the major subsurface water masses of the eastern North Atlantic (Figures F2, F7). Multiple holes were drilled at each site to ensure complete spliced composite sections (Figure F3; Table T1), which will be further refined postcruise by a campaign of X-ray fluorescence core scanning. At Site U1586 (4691 mbsl), the deepest and farthest from shore, a 350 m sequence was recovered in four holes that extend as far back as the middle Miocene (14 Ma), which is nearly twice as old as initially predicted from seismic stratigraphy. Sedimentation rates are lower (averaging 5 cm/ky in the Quaternary) at Site U1586 than other Expedition 397 sites (Figure F4), and a few slumped intervals were encountered in the stratigraphicmore »sequence. Despite these limitations, Site U1586 anchors the deep end-member of the bathymetric transect and provides an important reference section to study deepwater circulation, ventilation and carbon storage in the deep eastern North Atlantic. At Site U1587 (3479 mbsl), the second deepest site along the depth transect, we recovered a 567 m sequence of late Miocene to Holocene sediments that accumulated at rates between 6.5 and 11 cm/ky (Figure F4). The high sedimentation rates and long continuous record at this site will permit climate reconstruction at high temporal resolution (e.g., millennial) for the past 7.8 My. A complete Messinian Stage (7.246–5.333 Ma) was recovered, which provides a valuable opportunity to study the Messinian Salinity Crisis in an open marine setting adjacent to the Mediterranean. Site U1385 (Shackleton site) was a reoccupation of a position previously drilled during Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 339. Expedition 339 Site U1385 has yielded a remarkable record of millennial-scale climate change for the past 1.45 My (Marine Isotope Stage [MIS] 47) (Figure F6). During Expedition 397, we deepened the site from 156 to 400 meters below seafloor (mbsf), extending the basal age into the early Pliocene (4.5 Ma). Sedimentation rates remained high, averaging between 11 and 9 cm/ky throughout the sequence (Figure F4). The newly recovered cores at Expedition 397 Site U1385 will permit the study of millennial climate variability through the entire Quaternary and into the Pliocene, prior to the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation. Site U1588 is the shallowest, closest to shore, and youngest site drilled during Expedition 397 and is also the one with the highest sedimentation rate (20 cm/ky). The base of the 412.5 m sequence is 2.2 Ma, providing an expanded Pleistocene sequence of sediment deposited under the influence of the lower core of the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW). Together with other Expedition 339 sites, Site U1588 will be important for determining how the depth and intensity of the MOW has varied on orbital and millennial timescales. In addition, it also provides a marine reference section for studying Quaternary climate variability at very high temporal resolution (millennial to submillennial). A highlight of the expedition is that sediment at all sites shows very strong cyclicity in bulk sediment properties (color, magnetic susceptibility, and natural gamma radiation). Particularly notable are the precession cycles of the Pliocene that can be correlated peak-for-peak among sites (Figure F10). These cyclic variations will be used to derive an orbitally tuned timescale for Expedition 397 sites and correlate them into classic Mediterranean cyclostratigraphy. The cores recovered during Expedition 397 will form the basis of collaborative postcruise research to produce benchmark paleoclimate records for the late Miocene through Quaternary using the widest range of proxy measurements. It will take many years to complete these analyses, but the records will lead to major advances in our understanding of millennial and orbital climate changes and their underlying causes and evolving contextuality. Outreach during Expedition 397 was highly productive, reaching a record number of students and the general public across the world through several diverse platforms, including live ship-to-shore events, webinars, social media, videos, radio pieces, blog posts, and in-person activities.« less
  5. The tectonic and paleoceanographic setting of the Great Australian Bight (GAB) and the Mentelle Basin (MB; adjacent to Naturaliste Plateau) offered an outstanding opportunity to investigate Cretaceous and Cenozoic climate change and ocean dynamics during the last phase of breakup among remnant Gondwana continents. Sediment recovered from sites in both regions during International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 369 will provide a new perspective on Earth’s temperature variation at sub-polar latitudes (60°–62°S) across the extremes of the mid-Cretaceous hot greenhouse climate and the cooling that followed. The primary goals of the expedition were to • Investigate the timing and causes for the rise and collapse of the Cretaceous hot greenhouse climate and how this climate mode affected the climate-ocean system and oceanic biota; • Determine the relative roles of productivity, ocean temperature, and ocean circulation at high southern latitudes during Cretaceous oceanic anoxic events (OAEs); • Identify the main source regions for deep-water and intermediate-water masses in the southeast Indian Ocean and how these changed during Gondwana breakup; • Characterize how oceanographic conditions at the MB changed during the Cenozoic opening of the Tasman Passage and restriction of the Indonesian Gateway; • Resolve questions on the volcanic and sedimentary origins ofmore »the Australo-Antarctic Gulf and Mentelle Basin and provide stratigraphic control on the age and nature of the prebreakup successions. Hole U1512A in the GAB recovered a 691 m thick sequence of black claystone ranging from the early Turonian to the early Campanian. Age control is primarily based on calcareous nannofossils, but the presence of other microfossil groups provided consistent but low-resolution control. Despite the lithologic uniformity, long- and short-term variations in natural gamma ray and magnetic susceptibility intensities show cyclic alternations that suggest an orbital control of sediment deposition that will be useful for developing an astrochronology for the sequence. Sites U1513–U1516 were drilled between 850 and 3900 m water depth in the MB and penetrated 774, 517, 517, and 542 meters below seafloor (mbsf), respectively. Under a thin layer of Pleistocene–upper Miocene sediment, Site U1513 cored a succession of Cretaceous units from the Campanian to the Valanginian. Site U1514 sampled an expanded Pleistocene–Eocene sequence and terminated in the upper Albian. The Cenomanian–Turonian interval at Site U1514 recovered deformed sedimentary rocks that probably represent a detachment zone. Site U1515 is located on the west Australian margin at 850 m water depth and was the most challenging site to core because much of the upper 350 m was either chert or poorly consolidated sand. However, the prebreakup Jurassic(?) sediments interpreted from the seismic profiles were successfully recovered. Site U1516 cored an expanded Pleistocene, Neogene, and Paleogene section and recovered a complete Cenomanian/Turonian boundary interval containing five layers with high total organic carbon content. Recovery of well-preserved calcareous microfossil assemblages from different paleodepths will enable generation of paleotemperature and biotic records that span the rise and collapse of the Cretaceous hot greenhouse (including OAEs 1d and 2), providing insight to resultant changes in deep-water and surface water circulation that can be used to test predictions from earth system models. Paleotemperature proxies and other data will reveal the timing, magnitude, and duration of peak hothouse temperatures and any cold snaps that could have allowed growth of a polar ice sheet. The sites will also record the mid-Eocene–early Oligocene opening of the Tasman Gateway and the Miocene–Pliocene restriction of the Indonesian Gateway; both passages have important effects on global oceanography and climate. Understanding the paleoceanographic changes in a regional context provides a global test on models of Cenomanian–Turonian oceanographic and climatic evolution related both to extreme Turonian warmth and the evolution of OAE 2. The Early Cretaceous volcanic rocks and underlying Jurassic(?) sediments cored in different parts of the MB provide information on the timing of different stages of the Gondwana breakup. The recovered cores provide sufficient new age constraints to underpin a reevaluation of the basin-wide seismic stratigraphy and tectonic models for the region.« less