Astronomical forcing is one of the main drivers of climate change, and astronomical cyclicity recorded in sediments provides a clue to understand the dynamics of the global climate system. Bedded cherts consist of rhythmic alternations of chert and shale beds. Although previous studies have hypothesized that the origin of bedded chert is related to astronomical cycles (e.g. Fischer, 1976; Hori et al., 1993), conclusive proof remains elusive. To explore this possibility, we established a continuous, high-resolution lithostratigraphy of middle Triassic bedded chert in Central Japan. The average duration of each chert-shale couplet is 20. kyr, similar to that of the precession cycle. Spectral analysis of a bed number series of thickness variations in chert beds was performed assuming that each chert-shale couplet represents a 20-kyr precession cycle. The results reveal cycles involving approximately 200, 20, 5, and 2-3 beds, corresponding to periodicities of approximately 4000, 400, 100, and 40-60. kyr, respectively. By further assuming that the 20-bed cycle represents a 405-kyr eccentricity cycle of constant and stable periodicity, we converted the bed number series to a time series. Spectral analysis of the time series revealed distinct periodicities of 3600, 117, 97, and 38. kyr, in addition to 405. kyr. Besides 3600. kyr, these periodicities agree well with the 120, 95, and 37. kyr periodicities for eccentricity cycles and the obliquity cycle during the Triassic. Moreover, we detected amplitude modulation of the approximately 100-kyr cycle of thickness variations in chert beds with a 405-kyr periodicity, which may correspond to amplitude modulation of 100-kyr climatic precession cycle with the 405-kyr periodicity. The approximately 3600-kyr periodicity described above and 1800-kyr periodicity manifested as the amplitude modulation of the 405-kyr cycle are correlated to present-day long-term eccentricity cycles of 2400 and 4800. kyr evolved by chaotic behavior of solar planets. Collectively, these similarities in the periodicities of dominant cycles, their hierarchy, and the nature of amplitude modulation of cycles in chert bed thickness with those of astronomical cycles strongly support the hypothesis that the sedimentary rhythm of bedded chert is paced by astronomical cycles, thereby indicating the potential of bedded chert as a template for a Mesozoic cyclostratigraphy. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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