Berger, Wolfgang H. Geological Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California.
Wefer, Gerold Department of Geosciences, Universität Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Last reviewed:December 2019
- Origins and development
- Quaternary research
- Heat conveyor and abrupt climatic change
- Cenozoic research
- Cretaceous research
- Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of the history of the ocean with regard to circulation, chemistry, biology and patterns of sedimentation. The source of information is largely the biogenous deep-ocean sediments, so the field may be considered a branch of sedimentology or paleontology. However, there are also strong links to geophysics, marine geochemistry and mathematical modeling. Geophysical sciences are called upon for reconstruction of geography (position of continents, horizontal motion of the ocean floor), topography (changing depth patterns in the ocean, general subsidence of any given piece of sea floor) and dating (radioisotopes, magnetic patterns on the sea floor and in sediments). Geochemical analyses deliver information on sediment composition (stable and unstable isotopes; major and minor components such as carbonate, opal and trace elements). Such information is useful in correlating sedimentary sequences and, when combined with geochemical arguments, yields insights about the dynamics of carbon and nutrient cycles. Mathematical modeling introduces a strong quantitative element. It draws upon the knowledge reservoir of modern oceanography and climatology. See also: Climatology; Geochemistry; Geophysics; Paleontology; Sedimentology
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