A new 55 m.y. global compilation of benthic foraminifera δ13C and δ18O for the middle to Late Cretaceous shows that there was widespread formation of bottom waters with temperatures >20 °C during the Cretaceous greenhouse world. These bottom waters filled the silled North Atlantic and probably originated as thermocline or intermediate waters in the tropical oceans. Carbon burial during the Cretaceous oceanic anoxic events produced a positive δ13C shift in global carbon reservoirs, but this is not particularly large, especially by comparison with the remarkable Late Paleocene carbon maximum. The interbasin δ13C gradient was unusually large during the Cretaceous hot greenhouse, probably because the North Atlantic sills prevented the free exchange of waters in the deep basin. The hot greenhouse ended when the Equatorial Atlantic Gateway opened sufficiently to flood the deep North Atlantic with relatively cool polar waters formed in the Southern Ocean.
- Received 1 August 2011.
- Revision received 7 September 2011.
- Accepted 8 September 2011.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America