Orbitally-paced climate change in the early Cambrian and its implications for the history of the Solar System

Tan Zhang, Yifan Li, Tailiang Fan, Anne Christine Da Silva, Juye Shi, Qi Gao, Mingzhi Kuang, Wangwei Liu, Zhiqian Gao, Mingsong Li

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26 Scopus citations


The early Cambrian was a critical period of Earth history, marked by explosive diversification of metazoans and several profound changes in Earth's surface environments and global climate. A valid temporal framework for the early Cambrian Period and across the major bio-events is poorly constrained, and the key underlying forcings of million-year (Myr) scale sea-level variations in a greenhouse lacking polar ice sheets are still disputed. Here, the high-resolution gamma-ray logs (GR) and Fe/Al records are utilized to conduct cyclostratigraphic analysis of the early Cambrian Stage 2-Stage 3 Qiongzhusi Formation of the Well A borehole in South China. A ∼10.8 Myr-long high-resolution astronomical time scale across Stage 2-Stage 3 is developed by astronomical tuning of gamma-ray logs and Fe/Al series to the stable 405-kyr long-eccentricity cycles. The Myr-scale sea-level fluctuations in the early Cambrian greenhouse are reconstructed through the sedimentary noise modeling of the 405-tuned GR series and agree with sequence stratigraphic interpretations, lithofacies stacking patterns, and depositional environment changes. The antiphase correlation of filtered ∼1.5 Myr cycles of sedimentary noise curves with the ∼1.5 Myr obliquity modulation cycles demonstrates that the variations in land-ocean water exchange linked to changes in poleward moisture and heat transport dominated by ∼1.5 Myr obliquity modulation cycles may be a primary driver for eustasy during non-glacial early Cambrian period. A new resonance state in the early Cambrian Stage 2-Stage 3, manifested by ∼1.5 Myr eccentricity: ∼1.5 Myr obliquity, could be mainly associated with the Earth-Mars secular resonance and constrain the chaotic evolution of the Solar System in deep time. Two independent approaches are employed to reconstruct the history of Earth-Moon system characteristics, including the precession constant, the Earth-Moon distance and the day length. Our results enhance knowledge of the connection of Myr-scale sea-level variations to astronomically induced climate change under greenhouse climate and provide new empirical constraints on the chaotic motion of the Solar System and the evolution of the Earth-Moon System in deep time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117420
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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