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Time-Space Variations in Mesozoic and Cenozoic Meteoric Waters, Southwestern North America
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- Mesozoic and Cenozoic hydrothermal systems of the southwestern North American Cordillera contain a complex record from which meteoric water stable isotope compositions (δ¹⁸O and δ D) can be inferred. This record is therefore of interest as a proxy for climate. New analytical results combined with systematic review of isotopic values from more than 200 locations in the southwestern North American Cordillera show regular isotopic patterns in time and space. Jurassic isotopic ratios are high, and Late Cretaceous values are more negative. During the Oligocene, there is a transition to more negative values. The ancient dD values are higher from most locations when compared to younger and present day values. This enrichment is compatible with warmer climates in the past and with changes in tectonic environments and paleoelevation and paleolatitude estimates over the same time interval. Complications in the application of the data include uncertainties in the estimated temperatures, alteration ages, isotopic disequilibrium, and incorporation of multiple fluids.
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