Orbital forcing of climate 1.4 billion years ago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fluctuating climate is a hallmark of Earth. As one transcends deep into Earth time, however, both the evidence for and the causes of climate change become difficult to establish. We report geochemical and sedimentological evidence for repeated, short-term climate fluctuations from the exceptionally well-preserved ∼1.4-billion-year-old Xiamaling Formation of the North China Craton. We observe two patterns of climate fluctuations: On long time scales, over what amounts to tens of millions of years, sediments of the Xiamaling Formation record changes in geochemistry consistent with long-term changes in the location of the Xiamaling relative to the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. On shorter time scales, and within a precisely calibrated stratigraphic framework, cyclicity in sediment geochemical dynamics is consistent with orbital control. In particular, sediment geochemical fluctuations reflect what appear to be orbitally forced changes in wind patterns and ocean circulation as they influenced rates of organic carbon flux, trace metal accumulation, and the source of detrital particles to the sediment.


  • Shuichang Zhang
  • Xiaomei Wang
  • Emma U Hammarlund
  • Huajian Wang
  • M Mafalda Costa
  • Christian J Bjerrum
  • James N Connelly
  • Baomin Zhang
  • Lizeng Bian
  • Donald E Canfield
External organisations
  • University of Southern Denmark
Research areas and keywords


  • Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1406-13
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 24
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes