Cenomanian-Turonian and δ13C, and δ18O, sea level and salinity variations at Pueblo, Colorado

Gerta Keller, Zsolt Berner, Thierry Adatte, Doris Stueben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Stable isotopes of the surface dwelling planktic foraminifera Hedbergella planispira, its abundance variations, and mineralogical analysis of the Cenomanian-Turonian at Pueblo, CO, reveal cyclic variations in surface salinity due to changes in precipitation, freshwater influx, marine incursions and long-term sea-level fluctuations. Hedbergella planispira is a proxy for salinity variations, as indicated by 2-4‰ more negative δ18O values in intervals of peak abundances as compared to intervals with reduced populations. Negative δ18O values reflect periods of brackish surface waters caused by freshwater influx during wet humid periods, accompanied by increased clastic transport. More positive δ18O values reflect more normal marine salinities as a result of arid periods and/or marine incursions and correlate with intervals of increased biogenic carbonate deposition. The magnitude of salinity variations during the low sea-level of the Hartland Shale is twice that during the sea-level transgression of the Bridge Creek Limestone. The rapid positive δ13C shift that marks the onset of Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE 2) at Pueblo occurred over a period of about 100 ky (93.90-94.00 Ma), and coincided with the major sea level transgression that culminated in the deposition of the basal Bridge Creek Limestone. A positive δ13C shift also occurred in the Rotalipora cushmani zone prior to OAE 2 and coincided with a sea level rise and enhanced preservation of terrestrial organic matter. The likely cause for OAE 2 is depletion of 12C in the water column as a result of high primary productivity, whereas an earlier R. cushmani zone event was primarily caused by increased input of terrigenous organic matter. Both δ13C events are associated with enhanced organic matter preservation and anoxic or dysoxic bottom waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-43
Number of pages25
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 19 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


  • Cenomanian-Turonian
  • Pueblo, CO
  • Salinity
  • Sea level
  • Stable isotopes


Dive into the research topics of 'Cenomanian-Turonian and δ13C, and δ18O, sea level and salinity variations at Pueblo, Colorado'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this