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Cretaceous Time SpanDate range: 145.0 million years ago–66.0 million years agoLength: 79 million years (1.7% of geologic time)Geologic calendar: December 20 (12 Noon)–December 26 (6 PM) (6 days, 6 hours)
Cretaceous age dinosaur track, Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska. image


In 1882 a Belgian geologist, Omalius d’Halloy, proposed the term “Cretaceous” for strata encircling the Paris Container in France. The term derives from the Latin word for chalk (“creta”) and explains thick deposits of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) ooze and chert (SiO2). Certainly, the finest well-known and most widespread deposits of chalks are of Cretaceous age, such as those exposed in cliffs on both sides of the English Channel. Though not on a par with the White Cliffs of Dover, England also, Cretaceous-age rocks at Big Bend National Park in Texas contain chalk and also are remarkable for documenting the changes in sea level of the Cretaceous Interior Seamethod.

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Monumental Cretaceous events

Throughout the Cretaceous Period the first flowering plants showed up and quickly diversified. Also, the Rocky Mountains began to rise from the Cretaceous Interior Seamethod. However before, the event that has recorded the public’s creativity is the mass extinction that marks the end of one era with dinosaurs and begins one more without them. Current thinking holds that 66 million years earlier a large asteroid crashed into Planet close to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and brought about the most renowned, though not the the majority of comprehensive, mass extinction.

Learn more around events in the Cretaceous Period

Angiosperms (flowering plants) appeared in the fossil record even more than 100 million years earlier during the Cretaceous Period. Once they showed up, they easily ended up being the leading type of plant life on land also and remajor so today. The earliest angiosperms evolved from a specialized team of seed ferns. Due to the fact that their initially appearance, angiosperms have adjusted to practically eextremely terrestrial habitat from hills to deserts, and some have adjusted to shallow seaside waters. A few arrays are recognized as “carnivorous” plants. Not all flowering plants produce the kinds of blossoms you find in florist shops, however along with enclosed seeds, flowers are a key refertile attribute of angiosperms. The development of flowers, which tempt pollinators, specifically insects, and also the evolution of a modified seed, through a protective coating and a prepared supply of nourishment, allowed flowering plants to populate the world. Angiosperm seeds are dispersed widely in many kind of ways: blown by the wind, transported by rivers and streams, carried in burrs that become attached to animal fur (or your socks), or installed in fleshy fruit that is eaten and also later on “pooped out.” Angiosperms have emerged an significant range of colors, scents, and fruits through their intricate and reciprocal connection via the animal world. Without the abundance and range of flowering plants (even more than 90% of all land-plant species) known this particular day, the civilization would certainly be a much duller place.
Near the finish of the Cretaceous Period, western North America was once again increasing from the sea. Throughout a time of mountain-building known as the Laramide Orogeny, a long series of repeated uplifts, durations of volcanism, and episodes of erosion emerged. The Laramide Orogeny continued right into the Cenozoic Period and was a time of active tectonics and block-fault mountain building. The dedevelopment and also uplift of the Laramide Orogeny impacted an area that had already been the site of large block uplift that created the Genealogical Rocky Mountains during the Pennsylvanian Period. Preexisting Precambrian faults and also shear zones greatly managed Laramide events. In addition to the hill uplifts, substantial Laramide deformation arisen in the bordering containers. These containers subsided conpresently through the uplift of the adjoining hills. Each basin received sediments melted from the uplifted areas. These sediments constitute the principal document of the events of the orogeny. Prior to uplift, hundreds of feet of Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks extended Precambrian crystalline rocks. Erosion, in the time of and after the Laramide Orogeny, rerelocated the sedimentary rocks and some of the crystalline rocks from the selection. These sediments were deposited in the flanking containers wbelow they are frequently covered by younger Cenozoic rocks.The Laramide uplift occurred primarily in the middle and also southerly Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and also Coloraexecute, however deformation also took location far to the north and southern, in the north Rocky Mountains of Montana and also Alberta, Canada. Several of the nationwide parks in the USA that were affected by the Laramide Orogeny include Glacier National Park (Montana), Bighorn Canyon National Reproduction Area (Montana and also Wyoming), Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado), Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (Colorado), and also Great Sand Dunes National Monument (Colorado).
During the Cretaceous, accelerated plate collision resulted in hills to build alengthy the western margin of The United States and Canada. As these mountains were climbing, the Gulf of Mexico basin subsided, and seawater began to spreview northward into the widening western internal. Marine water additionally started to flood from the Arctic region. These bodies of water joined to create the Cretaceous Interior Seameans.Also referred to as the Western Interior Seameans, the seameans was an elongate basin, extending 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in between the Gulf of Mexico and also the Arctic Ocean. Throughout periods of maximum transgression the width of the basin was at least 1,000 miles (1,600 km), stretching across Utah right into Iowa. The western margin of the seamethod corresponded through the increasing mountain variety to the west. Sedimentation into the Cretaceous inner basin from the uplifted area was fast, and sediment loading resulted in downwarping of the basin along the western margin.As the coastline ongoing to development into eastern Utah and also western Coloracarry out, the river-conquered system readjusted right into a seaside simple through swamps, lagoons, and also beaches. The inland also sea advanced, retreated, and re-progressed many type of times during the Cretaceous Period till the the majority of extensive inner seamethod ever before recorded drowned a lot of western The United States and Canada.
Though not the largest, the a lot of renowned of all mass extinctions marks the finish of the Cretaceous Period. As you might know, this was the great extinction in which the dinosaurs died out. Other lineages, including marine ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, and also plesiosaurs likewise went extinct by the finish of the Cretaceous, as did the flying pterosaurs. However before, some reptile teams such as ichthyosaurs were probably extinct a tiny before the end of the period. All told, 16% of marine family members and also 18% of land also vertebprice family members, including dinosaurs, came to be extinct.Climate change and also the resulting glaciations and transforms in sea level were the causes of other mass extinctions, for instance at the finish of the Ordovician and Devonian durations. The cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction might at first seem a little obscure, yet as researchers have actually gathered more and also even more evidence, opplace to the idea has actually dwindled. The main contender for the Cretaceous mass extinction event is a huge asteroid striking Earth about 66 million years back.Elalso other affect frameworks are known from the Cretaceous, but none rival the terminal event of the Cretaceous. The asteroid that hit Planet north of the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now the Gulf of Mexico was 6–12 miles (10–20 km) in diameter, bring about a crater that is practically 120 miles (190 km) wide, the second largest framework of its type well-known. The asteroid would have been traveling at a rate in between 22,000 and 45,000 miles per hour (10 and 20 km per second) when it gotten in Earth’s setting. At such mass and rate, both the air and also any water would certainly have actually offered negligible resistance, and also the resulting impact via Earth’s surconfront would have kicked up billions of lots of debris. The dust gone into the atmosphere, presumably blocking out sunlight for an extensive duration of time, maybe 6 months. When the dust literally settled, a layer that geologists speak to the “K–Pg boundary” (short for “Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary”) or “K–T boundary” (short for "Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary") had formed across the world. Source: The Glenn T. Seaborg Center.

K–T boundary

Though not as much as day via current geologic-time nomenclature, the term “K–T boundary” will certainly most likely stick about for fairly some time. The letter “K” serves as the symbol for Cretaceous Period complying with the Gerguy terminology “Kreide” (“C” is actually used for the Carboniferous). The “T” represents the Tertiary. The International Stratigraphic Commission currently offers Paleogene rather of Tertiary.Rocks deposited during the Cretaceous and also Paleogene (Tertiary) periods are separated by a thin clay layer that is visible at sites around the world. A team of scientists led by Luis Alvarez, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and also his geologist boy Wtransform discovered that the clay layer has a strikingly high concentration of iridium, an aspect that is a lot more widespread in meteorites than in Earth’s crustal rocks. Like meteorites, asteroids also have actually fairly large abundances of iridium. Consequently, these scientists proposed that an impacting asteroid hit the Planet, generating the iridium anomaly and also resulting in the mass extinction occasion. The discovery of high iridium concentrations in the clay layer approximately the human being says the affect was a huge one.Though scientists are still looking, the K–T boundary (iridium) layer has actually yet to be located in a national park. Big Bend National Park in Texas is a candiday bereason it hosts an uninterrupted suite of Cretaceous and also Tertiary rocks. However, scientists have not determined the actual iridium-well-off layer tright here.

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Visit—Cretaceous Parks

Eincredibly park has some slice of geologic time. Here we highlight a couple of parks linked with the Cretaceous Period. This is not to say that a details park has actually just rocks from the specified duration. Rather, rocks in selected parks exemplify a details event or preserve fossils or rocks from a details geologic age.