A 9 million-year-long astrochronological record of the early- middle Eocene corroborated by seafloor spreading rates

Federica Francescone*, Vittoria Lauretano, Claire Bouligand, Matteo Moretti, Nadia Sabatino, Cindy Schrader, Rita Catanzariti, Frits Hilgen, Luca Lanci, Antonio Turtù, Mario Sprovieri, Lucas Lourens, Simone Galeotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The early-middle Eocene (ca. 56-41 Ma) is recorded in the pelagic Scaglia Rossa and Variegata Formations of the Umbria-Marche Basin (central Italy). Geochemical and magnetostratigraphic alignment between the Bottaccione section (Gubbio, central Italy) and the Smirra core (Cagli, central Italy) allows us to generate a continuous and wellpreserved new record that, combined with previously published data from the same area, creates a continuous high-resolution record from the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (ca. 56 Ma) to the lower part of chron C21n. Comparison with carbon isotope records from Ocean Drilling Program Sites 1258 and 1263 reveals a satisfactory match, providing further evidence of the global significance of the long-term trend and superposed perturbations captured by the δ13C records. The identification of astronomically forced geochemical cycles allows us to develop a 405 k.y. tuned age model, thereby extending the astrochronology from ca. 56.0 to ca. 47.5 Ma. Marine magnetic anomaly profiles from major oceanic basins characterized by high seafloor spreading rates were used to independently test the astronomical polarity time scale associated with our tuning, as well as other polarity time scales. Our age model suggests the existence of periods of relatively constant seafloor spreading rates separated by rapid changes, while the other time scales generate more gradual variations and also include large and short-term deviations in spreading rates that occur simultaneously in different oceanic basins, implying errors in polarity reversal ages. The Umbria- Marche age model further contributes to the closure of the middle Eocene gap in the astronomical time scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-520
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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