Single-Crystal 40Ar/39Ar Dating of the Eocene-Oligocene Transition in North America

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Science  17 Aug 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4970, pp. 760-762
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4970.760

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Explanations for the causes of climatic changes and associated faunal and floral extinctions at the close of the Eocene Epoch have long been controversial because of, in part, uncertainties in correlation and dating of global events. New single-crystal laser fusion (SCLF) 40Ar/39Ar dates on tephra from key magnetostratigraphic and fossilbearing sections necessitate significant revision in North American late Paleogene chronology. The Chadronian-Orellan North American Land Mammal "Age" boundary, as a result, is shifted from 32.4 to 34.0 Ma (million years ago), the Orellan-Whitneyan boundary is shifted from 30.8 to 32.0 Ma, and the Whitneyan-Arikareean boundary is now approximately 29.0 Ma. The new dates shift the correlation of Chron C12R from the Chadronian to within the Orellan-Whitneyan interval, the Chadronian becomes late Eocene in age, and the North American Oligocene is restricted to the Orellan, Whitneyan, and early Arikareean. The Eocene-Oligocene boundary, and its associated climate change and extinction events, as a result, correlates with the Chadronian-Orellan boundary, not the Duchesnean-Chadronian boundary.

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