Astronomically forced climate change in the late Cambrian

Aske L. Sørensen, Arne T. Nielsen, Nicolas Thibault, Zhengfu Zhao, Niels H. Schovsbo, Tais W. Dahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We report evidence for Milankovitch cycles in two drill cores from the Cambro–Ordovician Alum Shale Formation of Scandinavia. The signal is preserved in elemental abundances recorded at high stratigraphic resolution by core scanning XRF analysis (0.2 mm resolution). The new data enable us to establish a floating timeline calibrated to the stable 405 kyr eccentricity cycle for a ∼8.7 Myr interval across the Miaolingian–Furongian boundary. This interval spans the Steptoean Positive Carbon Isotope Excursion (SPICE), which is recorded in the δ13Corg in the studied drill cores. We calculate the durations of the Olenus Superzone to 3.4 ± 0.2 Myr, the Parabolina Superzone to 1.9 ± 0.3 Myr, the Leptoplastus Superzone to 0.33 ± 0.18 Myr, the Protopeltura Superzone to 0.51 ± 0.20 Myr, and the SPICE event straddling the Paibian and lower main part of the Jiangshanian Stage to 3.0 ± 0.2 Myr. The sedimentation rate shows similar trends at both drilling locations and is inversely correlated to eustatic sea level changes in certain time intervals, opening tantalizing new prospects of using cyclostratigraphic analyses of shales to track eustatic sea level variations. The identification of obliquity cycles enables us to calculate the Cambrian Earth–Moon distance as well as the day length at ∼493 Ma to 368.9 ± 2.3 ⋅ 106 m and 21.78 ± 0.29 hr, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116475
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • Alum Shale
  • core scanning XRF
  • cyclostratigraphy
  • Earth–Moon distance
  • Furongian
  • SPICE event

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


Dive into the research topics of 'Astronomically forced climate change in the late Cambrian'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this