Estuarine circulation in the Turonian Western Interior seaway of North America

Rudy Slingerland, Lee R. Kump, Michael A. Arthur, Peter J. Fawcett, Bradley B. Sageman, Eric J. Barron

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To understand the patterns of lithofacies, marine faunas, organic-carbon enrichment, isotopes, and trace elements deposited in the early Turonian Western Interior seaway, we conducted circulation experiments using a three-dimensional, turbulent flow, coastal ocean model driven by GENESIS, a climate model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Circulation and chemical evolution of the seaway waters are computed under the following initial and boundary conditions: (1) paleobathymetry according to a new interpretation of the lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy; (2) temperatures and salinities of the Boreal and Tethys oceans and adjacent drainage basins based on isotopic data, atmospheric temperatures, and precipitation-evaporation magnitudes computed by GENESIS; and (3) mean annual wind stresses over the seaway computed by GENESIS. Results show that the seaway exported freshened water much like Hudson Bay today. Runoff from eastern drainages exited the seaway as a northern coastal jet; runoff from western drainages exited as a southern coastal jet. Both jets simultaneously drew in surface Tethyan and Boreal waters, creating a strong counterclockwise gyre occupying the entire north-south extent of the seaway. The curious stratal and faunal variations of the early Turonian deposits arise from this gyre and its associated water masses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-952
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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