The Cretaceous world / Меловой мир (мир в меловом периоде)

Автор(ы):Golmour I., Kelley S.P., Skeltom P.W., Spicer R.A.
Редактор(ы):Skelton P.W.
Издание:Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003 г., 364 стр., ISBN: 50-521-53843-2
The Cretaceous world / Меловой мир (мир в меловом периоде)

The rich geological record of the Cretaceous Period reveals a world that experienced extreme climatic warmth and significantly higher global sea-levels than today. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been implicated in these conditions. It thus provides a natural case study of the Earth in 'greenhouse' climatic mode, which this interdisciplinary textbook analyses from the perspective of Earth System Science. With mounting concerns over global warming today, an understanding of how the Earth system operates when in greenhouse mode is very relevant to studies of future climatic change.

Part 1 (Chapters 1-5) surveys what the Cretaceous world was like, covering the evidence for the major changes in palaeogeography, sea-levels, life and climates that took place during the period, and especially the remarkable responses to climatic conditions of high-latitude vegetation and the shallow marine biota at low latitudes. Part 2 (Chapters 6-9) explores the interactions between the physical, chemical and biological processes, both within the Earth and at its surface, that together controlled conditions on the Cretaceous Earth, and highlights how they differed from those of our present world. Comparison is made between the global carbon cycles of then and now, with particular attention to the geological sources (especially volcanism) and sinks (organic carbon on land and carbonate plus organic carbon in the sea). Other biogeochemical cycles are also discussed. The results from computer modelling of climates are also critically reviewed. Part 3 (Chapters 10-13) investigates the infamous mass extinction that terminated the period, and its causation. Finally, a short Epilogue considers broader issues arising from this case study of the Cretaceous world.

Designed for use on undergraduate and graduate courses, this textbook includes many features that will aid tutors and students alike, including full-colour figures, boxed summaries of supplementary and background information, chapter summaries, and bulleted questions and answers. The book is supported by a website hosting sample pages, selected illustrations to download, and worked exercises:

All the authors are based at The Open University, UK. They have shared interests in Earth System Science and the Cretaceous, with complementary areas of specialist expertise, in each case internationally recognized from numerous publications. Peter Skelton's research concerns the marine sedimentary and fossil record, especially that of the giant carbonate platforms which characterized low latitudes during the Cretaceous. Robert Spicer uses palaeobotanical evidence to test computer-based climate models, with a particular interest in the Cretaceous flora of high latitudes, where the strongest climate signals can be detected. Simon Kelley applies high-precision radiometric dating methods to a variety of geological issues, such as the ages of meteorite impacts and large igneous provinces, which were major features of the Cretaceous world, and the provenance of sediments (in time as well as space). Iain Gilmour uses stable isotope geochemistry to trace the origins of organic compounds, and has specifically deployed this approach to investigate impact-related effects at the Cretaceous/ Tertiary ('K/T) boundary. The nature of the Cretaceous world is thus a common theme for the major research groups at The Open University to which the authors variously belong -'Environmental Change in Earth History', 'Isotope Geochemistry and Earth Systems' and 'Volcano Dynamics' - ensuring both the broadly interdisciplinary character of this book and its incorporation of some of the most recent research results. The authors presented an earlier version of this text to Open University students in 2002. Three of them have also collaborated previously in producing acclaimed Open University teaching texts, including those on Evolution (Skelton and Gilmour) and Earth System Science (Skelton, Spicer and Gilmour), while Kelley has contributed to several books on radiometric dating and noble gases.

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