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Sea level and vertical motion of continents from dynamic earth models since the Late Cretaceous

Spasojevic, Sonja and Gurnis, Michael (2012) Sea level and vertical motion of continents from dynamic earth models since the Late Cretaceous. AAPG Bulletin, 96 (11). pp. 2037-2064. ISSN 0149-1423. doi:10.1306/03261211121.

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Dynamic earth models are used to better understand the impact of mantle dynamics on the vertical motion of continents and regional and global sea level change since the Late Cretaceous. A hybrid approach combines inverse and forward models of mantle convection and accounts for the principal contributors to long-term sea level change: the evolving distribution of ocean floor age, dynamic topography in oceanic and continental regions, and the geoid. We infer the relative importance of dynamic versus other factors of sea level change, determine time-dependent patterns of dynamic subsidence and uplift of continents, and derive a sea level curve. We find that both dynamic factors and the evolving distribution of sea floor age are important in controlling sea level. We track the movement of continents over large-scale dynamic topography by consistently mapping between mantle and plate frames of reference, and we find that this movement results in dynamic subsidence and uplift of continents. The amplitude of dynamic topography in continental regions is larger than global sea level in several regions and periods, so that it has controlled regional sea level in North and South America and Australia since the Late Cretaceous, northern Africa and Arabia since the late Eocene, and Southeast Asia in the Oligocene–Miocene. Eastern and southern Africa have experienced dynamic uplift over the last 20 to 30 m.y., whereas Siberia and Australia have experienced Cenozoic tilting. The dominant factor controlling global sea level is a changing oceanic lithosphere production that has resulted in a large amplitude sea level fall since the Late Cretaceous, with dynamic topography offsetting this fall.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription​03261211121DOIArticle
Gurnis, Michael0000-0003-1704-597X
Additional Information:© 2012 American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Manuscript received August 12, 2011; provisional acceptance November 21, 2011; revised manuscript received February 1, 2012; final acceptance March 26, 2012. All calculations were conducted at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Geosciences Supercomputer Facility, partially supported by National Science Foundation EAR-0521699. This work was supported through Statoil, the National Science Foundation (EAR-0810303), and the Caltech Tectonics Observatory (by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation). The original CitcomS software was obtained from the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics. This is contribution number 169 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences and contribution number 10063 of the Tectonics Observatory, Caltech. The AAPG Editor thanks the following reviewers for their work on this paper: Steven G. Henry and Peter Webb.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Tectonics ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences169
Caltech Tectonics Observatory10063
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121116-114304266
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Official Citation:Sonja Spasojevic and Michael Gurnis Sea level and vertical motion of continents from dynamic earth models since the Late Cretaceous AAPG Bulletin, November 2012, v. 96, p. 2037-2064, doi:10.1306/03261211121
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35517
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:16 Nov 2012 21:24
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:15

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