Cretaceous deep-water formation in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • The role that meridional overturning circulation (MOC) patterns played in poleward heat transport during the extreme warmth of the Early to Late Cretaceous is a fundamental and unresolved question in climate dynamics. In order to address this question we must determine where deep waters formed, and how they may have circulated during periods of extreme warmth. Here we present late Albian through Maastrichtian (105 to 65 Ma) Nd isotope records from Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) sites in the proto-Indian Ocean and the tropical Pacific. Comparison of these data with previously published records indicates deep-water formation in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean began at least 105 Ma, extending the record of high-latitude convection back into the Early Cretaceous prior to the peak warmth of the mid-Cretaceous. The growing body of data supports a mode of MOC in part characterized by high-latitude downwelling during the peak of greenhouse warmth of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. However, this mode of MOC likely was characterized by numerous locations of deep convection that were regionally important, but not significant in terms of a globally overturning circulation due to paleogeographic and bathymetric barriers. Copyright 2012 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Murphy, D. P., & Thomas, D. J.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Murphy, Daniel P||Thomas, Deborah J

publication date

  • March 2012