Rainfall seasonality on the Indian subcontinent during the Cretaceous greenhouse

Prosenjit Ghosh*, K. Prasanna, Yogaraj Banerjee, Ian S. Williams, Michael K. Gagan, Atanu Chaudhuri, Satyam Suwas

*Corresponding author for this work

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The Cretaceous greenhouse climate was accompanied by major changes in Earth's hydrological cycle, but seasonally resolved hydroclimatic reconstructions for this anomalously warm period are rare. We measured the δ18O and CO2 clumped isotope Δ47 of the seasonal growth bands in carbonate shells of the mollusc Villorita cyprinoides (Black Clam) growing in the Cochin estuary, in southern India. These tandem records accurately reconstruct seasonal changes in sea surface temperature (SST) and seawater δ18O, allowing us to document freshwater discharge into the estuary, and make inferences about rainfall amount. The same analytical approach was applied to well-preserved fossil remains of the Cretaceous (Early Maastrichtian) mollusc Phygraea (Phygraea) vesicularis from the nearby Kallankuruchchi Formation in the Cauvery Basin of southern India. The palaeoenvironmental record shows that, unlike present-day India, where summer rainfall predominates, most rainfall in Cretaceous India occurred in winter. During the Early Maastrichtian, the Indian plate was positioned at ∼30°S latitude, where present-day rainfall and storm activity is also concentrated in winter. The good match of the Cretaceous climate and present-day climate at ∼30°S suggests that the large-scale atmospheric circulation and seasonal hydroclimate patterns were similar to, although probably more intense than, those at present.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8482
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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