Department of Earth Sciences
True polar wander (TPW), or planetary reorientation, is well documented for other planets and moons and for Earth at present day with satellites, but testing its prevalence in Earth’s past is complicated by simultaneous motions due to plate tectonics. Debate has surrounded the existence of Late Cretaceous TPW ca. 84 million years ago (Ma). Classic palaeomagnetic data from the Scaglia Rossa limestone of Italy are the primary argument against the existence of ca. 84 Ma TPW. Here we present a new high-resolution palaeomagnetic record from two overlapping stratigraphic sections in Italy that provides evidence for a ~12° TPW oscillation from 86 to 78 Ma. This observation represents the most recent large-scale TPW documented and challenges the notion that the spin axis has been largely stable over the past 100 million years.
Mitchell, R.N., Thissen, C.J., Evans, D.A.D. et al. A Late Cretaceous true polar wander oscillation. Nat Commun 12, 3629 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23803-8
Dartmouth Digital Commons Citation
Mitchell, Ross N.; Thissen, Christopher J.; Evans, David A.D.; Slotznick, Sarah P.; Coccioni, Rodolfo; Yamazaki, Toshitsugu; and Kirschvink, Joseph L., "A Late Cretaceous true polar wander oscillation" (2021). Dartmouth Scholarship. 4173.