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International Ocean Discovery Program
Expedition 369 Scientific Prospectus

Australia Cretaceous Climate and Tectonics

Tectonic, paleoclimate, and paleoceanographic history of the Mentelle Basin and Naturaliste Plateau at southern high latitudes during the Cretaceous1

Richard Hobbs

Co-Chief Scientist

Department of Earth Sciences

Durham University

Durham DH1 3LE

United Kingdom

Brian Huber

Co-Chief Scientist

Department of Paleobiology, MRC-121

Smithsonian Institution

Washington DC 20013


Kara A. Bogus

Expedition Project Manager/Staff Scientist

International Ocean Discovery Program

Texas A&M University

1000 Discovery Drive

College Station TX 77845


Published September 2016

See the full publication in PDF.


The unique tectonic and paleoceanographic setting of the Naturaliste Plateau (NP) and Mentelle Basin (MB) offers an outstanding opportunity to investigate a range of scientific issues of global importance with particular relevance to climate change. Previous spot-core drilling at Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 258 in the western MB demonstrates the presence of an expanded upper Albian–lower Campanian chalk, marl, and claystone sequence that is nearly complete stratigraphically and yields calcareous microfossils that are mostly well preserved. This sediment package and the underlying Albian volcanic claystone unit extend across most of the MB and are targeted at the primary sites, located between 850 and 3900 m water depth. Coring the Cretaceous MB sequence at different paleodepths will allow recovery of material suitable for generating paleotemperature and biotic records that span the rise and collapse of the Cretaceous hothouse (including oceanic anoxic Events [OAEs] 1d and 2), providing insight to resultant changes in deep-water and surface water circulation that can be used to test predictions from earth system models. The high-paleolatitude (60°–62°S) location of the sites is especially important because of the enhanced sensitivity to changes in vertical gradients and surface water temperatures. Paleotemperature proxies and other data will reveal the timing, magnitude, and duration of peak hothouse temperatures and whether there were any cold snaps that would have allowed growth of a polar ice sheet. The sites are also well-positioned to monitor the mid-Eocene–early Oligocene opening of the Tasman Gateway and the Miocene–Pliocene restriction of the Indonesian Gateway; both passages have important effects on global oceanography and climate.

Comparison of the Cenomanian–Turonian OAE 2 interval that will be cored on the Great Australian Bight will establish whether significant changes in ocean circulation were coincident with OAE 2, and over what depth ranges, and whether OAE 2 in the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere was coincident with major changes in sea-surface temperature. Understanding the paleoceanographic changes in a regional context will provide a global test on models of Cenomanian–Turonian oceanographic and climatic evolution related both to extreme Turonian warmth and the evolution of OAE 2.

Drilling of Early Cretaceous volcanic rocks and underlying Jurassic(?) sediments in different parts of the MB will provide information on the timing of different stages of the Gondwana breakup and the nature of the various phases of volcanism, which will lead to an improved understanding of the evolution of the NP and MB.

1Hobbs, R., Huber, B., and Bogus, K.A., 2016. Expedition 369 Scientific Prospectus: Australia Cretaceous Climate and Tectonics. International Ocean Discovery Program.​10.14379/​iodp.sp.369.2016

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.