Evolution of the Ratio of Strontium-87 to Strontium-86 in Seawater from Cretaceous to Present

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Science  28 Feb 1986:
Vol. 231, Issue 4741, pp. 979-984
DOI: 10.1126/science.231.4741.979


A detailed record of the strontium-87 to strontium-86 ratio in seawater during the last 100 million years was determined by measuring this ratio in 137 well-preserved and well-dated fossil foraminifera samples. Sample preservation was evaluated from scanning electron microscopy studies, measured strontium-calcium ratios, and pore water strontium isotope ratios. The evolution of the strontium isotopic ratio in seawater offers a means to evaluate long-term changes in the global strontium isotope mass balance. Results show that the marine strontium isotope composition can be used for correlating and dating well-preserved authigenic marine sediments throughout much of the Cenozoic to a precision of ±1 million years. The strontium-87 to strontium-86 ratio in seawater increased sharply across the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, but this feature is not readily explained as strontium input from a bolide impact on land.