Our current understanding of mid-Cretaceous global change is largely based on investigations of pelagic sections from southern Europe and deep sea drilling sites. Much less information exists from other continents and from hemipelagic sections deposited on continental margins. This investigation seeks to broaden our understanding of mid-Cretaceous global change by focusing on the record from hemipelagic sections deposited along the continental margin of northeastern Mexico. The major goals are to compare the record, timing, and extent of the Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs) in Mexico and other areas, and to determine the relationship between these events and the global burial of organic material using carbon isotopes. We have investigated four sections from the Sierra Madre Oriental, integrating biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy and carbon isotope stratigraphy. Carbon isotopes, measured on the organic carbon (Corg) fraction, show identical stratigraphic changes to curves from Barremian to lower Albian European and Pacific deep-sea sections. Our results add new detail to the C-isotope stratigraphy of the middle and late Albian interval. Three abrupt peaks in Corg content correlate with OAE1a (early Aptian), OAE1b (early Albian) and an event in the late Aptian Globigerinelloides algerianus Zone. All three events are marked by short-term, 0.5-3 per mil decreases in C-isotope values followed by increases of similar magnitude. The decreases may reflect changes in the type of Corg, the nature of carbon cycling, or an increase in hydrothermal activity. The increases in C-isotope values reflect widespread burial of Corg. The similar shape of the C-isotope curves in Mexico and other areas, and the response of C-isotopes to the OAEs, indicate that the late Aptian episode was extensive, and that OAE1a and OAE1b were global. The three anoxic events appear to correlate with rising relative sea level. OAE1a also corresponds to major changes in nannofossil assemblages; the well-known "nannoconid crisis" can be easily recognized in the Mexican sections. This event is characterized by an increase in abundance of nannofossils and foraminifera in sediments, possibly reflecting a decrease in dilution as a result of the rise in relative sea level.
Additional publication details
The record of global change in mid-Cretaceous (Barremian-Albian) sections from the Sierra Madre, Northeastern Mexico