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The Mesozoic Era Geology 103. Key theme: Pangea breaks up Process will take 150 my and will extend into the Cenozoic Laurentia/Baltica and Australia/Antarctica.

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Presentation on theme: "The Mesozoic Era Geology 103. Key theme: Pangea breaks up Process will take 150 my and will extend into the Cenozoic Laurentia/Baltica and Australia/Antarctica."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Mesozoic Era Geology 103

2 Key theme: Pangea breaks up Process will take 150 my and will extend into the Cenozoic Laurentia/Baltica and Australia/Antarctica are still joined at the end of the Mesozoic

3 After the Permian extinction… Life came back in 10 to 20 million years. No tabulate or rugose corals, so reefs were made of different organisms. Many niches on land were repopulated by much different creatures.

4 Angiosperms appear in the Cretaceous Angiosperm plants are those that have flowers Major change in plant life – insects are now the pollinators These are generally broad-leaf plants

5 Diversification of Reptiles Marine Reptiles Ichthyosaurs Flying Reptiles Pterosaurs The Dinosaurs Saurischian Ornithischian

6 Reptiles gain flight in Triassic Pteranodon – much different wing structure and musculature than modern flying mammals like bats, or even non-mammals like birds.

7 The Dinosaurs Approximately 700 species in 300 genera Mostly warm-blooded (homeostatic) Rapid metabolism; prey-predator ratio; many blood vessels pores in the bones Reproduction and Habits Nesting behavior and social behavior (herds) Characteristics Eoraptor earliest thecodont (“socket-teeth”), related to crocodiles Sauropods long necks and large body quadrupeds; Ornithopods are bipedal herbivores (Camptosaurus); Stegosaurs and Ceratopians are quadruped herbivores Extinctions: Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous, and, of course, End Cretaceous

8 Differences based on pelvic bone arrangement: Late Triassic Evolution Saurischian “Lizard-hipped”, earliest group Similar to thecodonts Theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs) Prosauropods (herbivores) Sauropods (large herbivores) Ornithischian “Bird-hipped”, herbivorous dinosaurs evolved from Prosauropods The Dinosaurs: Middle Triassic

9 True birds appear in the Jurassic Archaeopteryx is the first recognized bird Most specimens are from the Solnhofen lagenstatten in Germany True feathers, wishbone However, this creature was descended from one clade of coelurosaurian theropods; a different clade is believed to be the lineage for birds

10 True mammals appear in the Triassic Evolved from a lineage of mammal-like reptiles Hair, mammary glands homeostasis (= “warm- blooded”, though some of the dinosaurs may have been)

11 Mammal-like reptiles therapsids (cynodonts) Early Triassic: small cynodont gave raise to medium-size carnivores and herbivores that are ancestral to mammals Late Triassic: a small cynodont gave rise to the earliest mammal, the morganucodontids Most Triassic and Jurassic mammals were insectivores and very small The mammals About twelve inches long; less than 2 kg

12 Key point: warm climate is the driver of biodiversity/distribution in Mesozoic

13 Keep an eye on: Tethys Sea Opens from east in Permian, greatest extent in Jurassic, closes from west in Cretaceous

14 Triassic Period First large rifts in Pangea appear Characterized worldwide by: Nonmarine red beds Arkosic sandstones Lake shales All these are deposited at the rift margins Rifts will become modern oceans

15 Absaroka transgression is ending Mountains of Taconic orogeny erode into newly-forming rift basins (circled area is New England, arrows show direction of transport) PALISADES SILL, NJ Evidence of rifting of Atlantic Ocean

16 The “fall line” Interesting aspect of eroding the Taconic: the Cretaceous sediment is eroded back on US east coast rivers until it gets to Taconic crystalline rocks – waterfalls are formed

17 Red beds Red beds are sandstones, siltstones and shales that are, well, “red” due to iron oxide which was formed either due to erosion of red soils or exposure of iron-rich sediments to oxygen

18 Gulf of Mexico opens (restricted basin) Restricted basin means that marine waters evaporate and leave lots of salt Tropical marine water also is quite bioproductive – organisms get trapped in salt and eventually turn into petroleum (oil and gas) Salt domes here protect the oil and therefore are exploited

19 Sonoma orogeny ends on US west coast Subduction zone switches from westward dipping to eastward dipping – finally, denser oceanic seafloor to the west – all these mountains are gone, except for basin sediments

20 End of Triassic map

21 Mass extinction at the end of the Triassic – the least understood of the “Big Five”

22 Causes of the end of Triassic mass extinction Not really known, but may have to do with the end of the Absaroka transgression (sea level was falling through the Triassic) and the huge volumes of ocean floor basalt erupted when the Americas rifted from Africa/Europe.

23 Jurassic Period Beginning of Zuni transgression On US mainland, epeiric Sundance Sea in Canada; due to low sea levels, significant nonmarine sand and silt deposition – Morrison Fm in northern US is a good source of dinosaur bones

24 Nevada orogeny is responsible for emplacement of many batholiths Obduction occurs when low-density rocks ride up over the other plate at a subduction zone

25 Jurassic age batholiths All that remains of the Nevadan orogeny are these batholiths which have been obducted (in some cases) on the North American plate

26 Early Jurassic of the western US Chinle Formation at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

27 Cretaceous Period “ Creta” means chalk Reflects the Zuni transgression; worldwide warm seas that allows coccolithophores to thrive and their shells to deposit and form chalk Rudist (bivalve) reefs are now oil and gas traps

28 During the Cretaceous… Sea level were higher; epeiric seas covered continents Divergence of planktic organisms led to large coal and oil deposits The Atlantic Ocean continued to open while the Tethys Ocean closed India migrated northward Oxygen levels neared 35% (modern = 21%); polar areas are warm

29 Why was the Cretaceous warm? The deep ocean was much warmer than today. This implies that more hot rocks were making up the sea floor – greater sea floor spreading! This may have been caused by increased mantle plume activity

30 Coccoliths A coccolithophore is a calcium carbonate-secreting green algae. Its shell comprises round coccolith plates, whose function is not well understood. First appearing in the Traissic, coccolithophores are an important part of how calcium is cycled to and from organisms.

31 Rudist bivalves formed reefs – went extinct at K/T boundary Which leaves the niche wide open for the scleractinian corals

32 Sevier ( My) and Laramide (80-50 My) orogenies Both orogenies are due to the subduction of the Farallon Plate; the difference is timing (Sevier came first) and the angle of subduction All that remains of the Sevier are folds and thrusts in Nevada and Utah; Laramide are some of the Rockies

33 Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary: the second largest extinction in the record

34 Causes of the K/T extinction event –– Chicxulub impact

35 Stratigraphy of an impact

36 Evidence for impact Iridium is an extremely rare metal on the Earth’s surface – some asteroids (via meteorites) have high concentrations of iridium. This iridium “spike” seen in Montana is seen worldwide.

37 Further evidence for impact Shocked Quartz Spherules glass beads, felsic, melting of crustal rocks Soot carbonaceous particles, wildfires Shocked Quartz Contains lamelle (little lines), evidence of a high pressure shock wave Stishovite high pressure form of quartz

38 Causes of the K/T extinction event –– Deccan traps (2 nd largest flood basalt) Some magma sources are contain high concentrations of iridium.

39 Ammonites and nautiloids flourish in the oceans – ammonites go extinct at the K/T boundary, nautiloids survive The reason for this is unclear In fact, only 15% of terrestrial genera go extinct, while 70% of marine genera do

40 At the end of the Cretaceous


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