Berriasian (Early Cretaceous) radiometric ages from the Grindstone Creek Section, Sacramento Valley, California

T. J. Bralower, K. R. Ludwig, J. D. Obradovich

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The Grindstone Creek Section, Glenn County, Northern California is a sequence of hemipelagic mudstone, siltstone and sandstone interbedded with concretionary limestone and a few thin tuffs and bentonites. Two tuffs have been collected from a narrow interval of this sequence and subjected to mineralogical and isotopic analyses. UPb isotopic analyses of zircon fractions from these volcanic horizons indicate an age of 137.1 + 1.6/-0.6 Ma. A detailed investigation has been conducted on the calcareous nannofossil stratigraphy of this section based on numerous samples with moderately preserved assemblages. The nannoflora is largely of Tethyan affinity, and allows direct correlation with the Berriasian stratotype section, with sections with published magnetostratigraphies and with a DSDP site drilled between known magnetic anomalies. The dated tuffs lie in the lower part of the upper Berriasian Cretarhabdus angustiforatus Zone (Assipetra infracretacea Subzone) and within the narrow range of Rhagodiscus nebulosus. At three different sections, this subzone can be correlated with M-sequence Polarity Zones M16 and M16n. An independent magnetostratigraphic correlation is provided at DSDP Site 387, drilled between anomalies M15 and M16, where basal sediments contain R. nebulosus. Buchia collected within a meter of the lower tuff lie within the B. uncitoides Zone which is Berriasian in age. The upper tuff level, which occurs 65 m above the lower tuff, is situated within the overlying B. pacifica Zone. This zone had previously been correlated with the early Valanginian, but is clearly also partly of Berriasian age based on nannofossil stratigraphy. Our results allow an estimate of the age of the Berriasian-Valanginian and Jurassic-Cretaceous boundaries of 135.1 Ma and 141.1 Ma, respectively, and these fall within the range of, but differ significantiy from, several published time-scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-73
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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