Publications by authors named "Stephen R Meyers"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Proterozoic Milankovitch cycles and the history of the solar system.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 06 4;115(25):6363-6368. Epub 2018 Jun 4.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964-1000.

The geologic record of Milankovitch climate cycles provides a rich conceptual and temporal framework for evaluating Earth system evolution, bestowing a sharp lens through which to view our planet's history. However, the utility of these cycles for constraining the early Earth system is hindered by seemingly insurmountable uncertainties in our knowledge of solar system behavior (including Earth-Moon history), and poor temporal control for validation of cycle periods (e.g., from radioisotopic dates). Here we address these problems using a Bayesian inversion approach to quantitatively link astronomical theory with geologic observation, allowing a reconstruction of Proterozoic astronomical cycles, fundamental frequencies of the solar system, the precession constant, and the underlying geologic timescale, directly from stratigraphic data. Application of the approach to 1.4-billion-year-old rhythmites indicates a precession constant of 85.79 ± 2.72 arcsec/year (2σ), an Earth-Moon distance of 340,900 ± 2,600 km (2σ), and length of day of 18.68 ± 0.25 hours (2σ), with dominant climatic precession cycles of ∼14 ky and eccentricity cycles of ∼131 ky. The results confirm reduced tidal dissipation in the Proterozoic. A complementary analysis of Eocene rhythmites (∼55 Ma) illustrates how the approach offers a means to map out ancient solar system behavior and Earth-Moon history using the geologic archive. The method also provides robust quantitative uncertainties on the eccentricity and climatic precession periods, and derived astronomical timescales. As a consequence, the temporal resolution of ancient Earth system processes is enhanced, and our knowledge of early solar system dynamics is greatly improved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1717689115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016783PMC
June 2018

Pacing of Paleozoic macroevolutionary rates by Milankovitch grand cycles.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 05 14;115(22):5686-5691. Epub 2018 May 14.

Department of Tectonophysics, GNS Science, 5040 Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

Periodic fluctuations in past biodiversity, speciation, and extinction have been proposed, with extremely long periods ranging from 26 to 62 million years, although forcing mechanisms remain speculative. In contrast, well-understood periodic Milankovitch climate forcing represents a viable driver for macroevolutionary fluctuations, although little evidence for such fluctuation exists except during the Late Cenozoic. The reality, magnitude, and drivers of periodic fluctuations in macroevolutionary rates are of interest given long-standing debate surrounding the relative roles of intrinsic biotic interactions vs. extrinsic environmental factors as drivers of biodiversity change. Here, we show that, over a time span of 60 million years, between 9 and 16% of the variance in biological turnover (i.e., speciation probability plus species extinction probability) in a major Early Paleozoic zooplankton group, the graptoloids, can be explained by long-period astronomical cycles (Milankovitch "grand cycles") associated with Earth's orbital eccentricity (2.6 million years) and obliquity (1.3 million years). These grand cycles modulate climate variability, alternating times of relative stability in the environment with times of maximum volatility. We infer that these cycles influenced graptolite speciation and extinction through climate-driven changes to oceanic circulation and structure. Our results confirm the existence of Milankovitch grand cycles in the Early Paleozoic Era and show that known processes related to the mechanics of the Solar System were shaping marine macroevolutionary rates comparatively early in the history of complex life. We present an application of hidden Markov models to macroevolutionary time series and protocols for the evaluation of statistical significance in spectral analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714342115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984487PMC
May 2018

Theory of chaotic orbital variations confirmed by Cretaceous geological evidence.

Nature 2017 02;542(7642):468-470

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA.

Variations in the Earth's orbit and spin vector are a primary control on insolation and climate; their recognition in the geological record has revolutionized our understanding of palaeoclimate dynamics, and has catalysed improvements in the accuracy and precision of the geological timescale. Yet the secular evolution of the planetary orbits beyond 50 million years ago remains highly uncertain, and the chaotic dynamical nature of the Solar System predicted by theoretical models has yet to be rigorously confirmed by well constrained (radioisotopically calibrated and anchored) geological data. Here we present geological evidence for a chaotic resonance transition associated with interactions between the orbits of Mars and the Earth, using an integrated radioisotopic and astronomical timescale from the Cretaceous Western Interior Basin of what is now North America. This analysis confirms the predicted chaotic dynamical behaviour of the Solar System, and provides a constraint for refining numerical solutions for insolation, which will enable a more precise and accurate geological timescale to be produced.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21402DOI Listing
February 2017

Eccentricity and obliquity paced carbon cycling in the Early Triassic and implications for post-extinction ecosystem recovery.

Sci Rep 2016 06 13;6:27793. Epub 2016 Jun 13.

Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Mangiagalli 34-20133 Milano, Italy.

The timing of marine ecosystem recovery following the End Permian Mass Extinction (EPME) remains poorly constrained given the lack of radiometric ages. Here we develop a high-resolution carbonate carbon isotope (δ(13)Ccarb) record for 3.20 million years of the Olenekian in South China that defines the astronomical time-scale for the critical interval of major evolutionary and oceanic events in the Spathian. δ(13)Ccarb documents eccentricity modulation of carbon cycling through the period and a strong obliquity signal. A shift in phasing between short and long eccentricity modulation, and amplification of obliquity, is nearly coincident with a 2% decrease in seawater δ(13)CDIC, the last of a longer-term stepped decrease through the Spathian. The mid-Spathian shift in seawater δ(13)CDIC to typical thermocline values is interpreted to record a major oceanic reorganization with global climate amelioration. Coincidence of the phasing shift with the first occurrence of marine reptiles (248.81 Ma), suggests that their invasion into the sea and the onset of a complex ecosystem were facilitated by restoration of deep ocean ventilation linked mechanistically to a change in the response of the oceanic carbon reservoir to astronomical forcing. Together these records place the first constraints on the duration of the post-extinction recovery to 3.35 myr.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep27793DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4904238PMC
June 2016