EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Generating a highly resolved astronomical time scale for the evolutionary and ecological events during the Cambrian Explosion

Damien Pas, Valentin Jamart, and Allison Daley
Damien Pas et al.
  • University of Lausanne, Institute of Earth Sciences, Lausanne, Switzerland (

The Cambrian Explosion is a fundamental turning point in the evolution of life that occurred during the Cambrian Period (~541 to ~485 million years ago), which involved the origination and explosive radiation of all major animal phyla. The bursts of evolution characterizing this period appear concurrently with major modifications to the physico-chemical conditions of the world’s oceans, and are recorded in critical fossil localities where soft-tissues are exceptionally well preserved, including Lagerstätten such as the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang Biota. As a result of the severe lack of biostratigraphically-correlatable fossils (due to widespread endemism during the Cambrian) and sparse high-precision radioisotopic dates, the Cambrian time scale remains among the least defined stage of all the Phanerozoic Eon, with a minimum uncertainty of ±2 million years at its stage boundaries. The absence of a high-resolution geological time scale for the Cambrian Explosion hampers our ability to robustly address widely debated questions concerning the origins and rates of the evolutionary and ecological events, their relationship with paleoceanographic conditions, their responses to astronomically-forced climate change, including from Milankovitch “grand” cycles, and whether these events were globally synchronous.

Using an integrated set of geophysical/chemical proxies with advanced time series techniques on selected stratigraphic sections, this project aims at (1) Generate sets of high- resolution geophysical and geochemical stratigraphic proxies enabling to capture Milankovitch forcing within the selected sedimentary records, (2) Building a high-resolution time scale to improve our knowledges on the timing of major Cambrian evolutionary milestones and geochemical changes and (3) Determine the relationships between Cambrian evolutionary and ecological events with the paleoceanographic changes and Milankovitch cycles.

How to cite: Pas, D., Jamart, V., and Daley, A.: Generating a highly resolved astronomical time scale for the evolutionary and ecological events during the Cambrian Explosion, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-12868,, 2022.