Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Cainozoic Era - aka Cenozoic

This is the era encompassing the last 66.4 million years of the history of the Earth, that had been divided into the Tertiary, 64.8 million years and Quaternary, 1.6 million years. Some have now divided the Tertiary into 2 parts, the Palaeogene, 66.4-23.7 Ma, and the Neogene, 23.7-1.6 Ma.

At the close of the Cretaceous there was a sudden cooling, the long time warm to hot climates of the world that were a feature of the Mesozoic began to deteriorate. The Cainozoic was characterised by fluctuating temperature regimes in which there were glaciations occurring as the world headed towards the major glaciation of the Pleistocene. It was during the the Cainozoic that 2 events occurred that had a large effect on the global climate, the Himalayas, and others, rose as India collided with Asia and the gaps between the Antarctica and the southern tip of South America and the Australian continent opened, allowing the Southern Ocean the unrestricted circulation that became the circumpolar current.

At the start of the Cainozoic the global sea level was much higher than at the present, being possibly up to 100 m higher. The sea level was still about 50 m higher than the present after the rapid drop that occurred as a result of the cooling that occurred in the Terminal Cretaceous Event.

Sources & Further reading

  1.  A.P. Kershaw, H.A. Martin, & J.R.C. McEwan Mason, in Hill, Robert S., (ed.), 1994, History of the Australian Vegetation, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Hope in Hill, Robert S., (ed.), 1994, History of the Australian Vegetation, Cambridge University Press
  3. Mary E. White, The Nature of Hidden Worlds, Reed, 1993
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 30/09/2011


Cainozoic Climate Cainozoic Carbon Cycle


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