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The astronomical rhythm of Late-Devonian climate change (Kowala section, Holy Cross Mountains, Poland)

De Vleeschouwer, David; Rakoci?ski, Micha?; Racki, Grzegorz; Bond, David; Sobie?, Katarzyna; Claeys, Philippe


David De Vleeschouwer

Micha? Rakoci?ski

Grzegorz Racki

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David Bond
Palaeoenvironmental Scientist and Schools Liason Officer

Katarzyna Sobie?

Philippe Claeys


Rhythmical alternations between limestone and shales or marls characterize the famous Kowala section, Holy Cross Mountains, Poland. Two intervals of this section were studied for evidence of orbital cyclostratigraphy. The oldest interval spans the Frasnian-Famennian boundary, deposited under one of the hottest greenhouse climates of the Phanerozoic. The youngest interval encompasses the Devonian-Carboniferous (D-C) boundary, a pivotal moment in Earth's climatic history that saw a transition from greenhouse to icehouse. For the Frasnian-Famennian sequence, lithological variations are consistent with 405-kyr and 100-kyr eccentricity forcing and a cyclostratigraphic floating time-scale is presented. The interpretation of observed lithological rhythms as eccentricity cycles is confirmed by amplitude modulation patterns in agreement with astronomical theory and by the recognition of precession cycles in high-resolution stable isotope records. The resulting relative time-scale suggests that ∼800kyr separate the Lower and Upper Kellwasser Events (LKE and UKE, respectively), two periods of anoxia that culminated in massive biodiversity loss at the end of the Frasnian. Th/U and pyrite framboid analyses indicate that during the UKE, oxygen levels remained low for 400kyr and δ13Corg measurements demonstrate that more than 600kyr elapsed before the carbon cycle reached a steady state after a +3‰ UKE excursion. The Famennian-Tournaisian (D-C) interval also reveals eccentricity and precession-related lithological variations. Precession-related alternations clearly demonstrate grouping into 100-kyr bundles. The Famennian part of this interval is characterized by several distinctive anoxic black shales, including the Annulata, Dasberg and Hangenberg shales. Our high-resolution cyclostratigraphic framework indicates that those shales were deposited at 2.2 and 2.4Myr intervals respectively. These durations strongly suggest a link between the long-period (∼2.4Myr) eccentricity cycle and the development of the Annulata, Dasberg and Hangenberg anoxic shales. It is assumed that these black shales form under transgressive conditions, when extremely high eccentricity promoted the collapse of small continental ice-sheets at the most austral latitudes of western Gondwana.


De Vleeschouwer, D., Rakociński, M., Racki, G., Bond, D., Sobień, K., & Claeys, P. (2013). The astronomical rhythm of Late-Devonian climate change (Kowala section, Holy Cross Mountains, Poland). Earth and planetary science letters, 365, 25-37.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 15, 2013
Publication Date Mar 1, 2013
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Earth And Planetary Science Letters
Print ISSN 0012-821X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 365
Pages 25-37
Keywords Late Devonian; Milanković forcing; Limestone-shale rhythmites; Gondwanan glaciation; Anoxic black shales; TR-cycles
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