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High elevation of the ‘Nevadaplano’ during the Late Cretaceous

Snell, Kathryn E. and Koch, Paul L. and Druschke, Peter and Foreman, Brady Z. and Eiler, John M. (2014) High elevation of the ‘Nevadaplano’ during the Late Cretaceous. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 386 . pp. 52-63. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2013.10.046.

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During the Late Cretaceous, central Nevada may have been a high elevation plateau, the Nevadaplano; some geodynamic models of the western US require thickened crust and high elevations during the Mesozoic to drive the subsequent tectonic events of the Cenozoic while other models do not. To test the hypothesis of high elevations during the late Mesozoic, we used carbonate clumped isotope thermometry to determine the temperature contrast between Late Cretaceous to Paleocene carbonates atop the putative plateau in Nevada versus carbonates from relatively low paleoelevation central Utah site. Lacustrine carbonates from the Nevada site preserve summer temperatures ∼13 °C cooler than summer temperatures from paleosol carbonates from the Utah site, after correcting for ∼1.2 °C of secular climatic cooling between the times of carbonate deposition at the two sites. This ∼13 °C temperature difference implies an elevation difference between the two sites of ∼2.2–3.1 km; including uncertainties from age estimation and climate change broadens this estimate to ⩾2 km. Our findings support crustal thickness estimates and Cenozoic tectonic models that imply thickened crust and high elevation in Nevada during the Mesozoic.

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Additional Information:© 2013 Elsevier B.V. Received 8 January 2013. Received in revised form 6 October 2013. Accepted 26 October 2013. Available online 20 November 2013. Editor: J. Lynch-Stieglitz. We thank T. Wright for assistance in the field and B. Wernicke for helpful discussions. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for their critical and helpful comments and suggestions, which improved this manuscript. Funding for this study was provided by NSF Tectonics grant EAR-0838576 to P.L.K. and grants to J.M.E. from NSF.
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NSF Tectonics grantEAR-0838576
Subject Keywords:Nevadaplano; paleoelevation; paleoclimate; stable isotopes; Sevier hinterland; paleothermometry
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140313-102901673
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Official Citation:Kathryn E. Snell, Paul L. Koch, Peter Druschke, Brady Z. Foreman, John M. Eiler, High elevation of the ‘Nevadaplano’ during the Late Cretaceous, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 386, 15 January 2014, Pages 52-63, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44298
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:13 Mar 2014 20:02
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:50

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