In South America the Cretaceous history is much like that of the northern continent. The subsidence which inaugurated the Lower Cretaceous extended the sea over the northern part of South America and covered northeastern Brazil, with fresh-water deposits in central Brazil. All along the Cordillera, from Venezuela to Patagonia, marine Cretaceous is found, but east of the mountains, with the exceptions already noted, the system is represented chiefly by non-marine sandstones. In Patagonia, however, is an area of marine Lower Cretaceous east of the Andes, though its extent is not known. Thick continental sandstones represent most of the period, but toward the close, the entire Patagonian plain appears to have been submerged for a short time by a transgression of the Upper Cretaceous sea. The faunal relations of the South American Lower Cretaceous are very intimate with northern and western Africa. Gigantic volcanic activity went on along the Cordillera in Mesozoic times; in Chili and Peru the marine Cretaceous is principally made up of stratified igneous material, and the Andes contain the largest known area of Mesozoic eruptives.

The mountain-making upheaval probably came at the close of the Cretaceous.

In Europe, toward the end of the Jura, the sea retired from nearly all of the central region, which in part became dry land and in part was covered with lakes and inland seas. One of the largest of these covered much of southern England, extending far into Germany, and in it was deposited a great thickness of sand and clay, with some shell limestone, the Wealden. The Alpine region remained submerged under a clear and deep sea, and the transition from the Jurassic is very gradual. In the oldest Cretaceous epoch {Neocomian) a renewed transgression submerged large parts of central Europe, though the sea was far less extensive than that of the Middle and Upper Jurassic. In consequence, a great gulf was established over southern England, northern France, and north Germany to Poland, a gulf bounded on the north by the highlands of Britain, Scandinavia, and northwestern Russia, and on the south by a land stretching from Ireland to Bohemia; Belgium was mostly an island. The expanded Mediterranean covered southeastern Asia Minor and northern Africa. In the Upper Cretaceous the northern gulf was greatly extended, covering many areas that had been land since Palaeozoic or pre-Cambrian times.

Parts of this basin became very deep, and its most characteristic deposit, especially over southern England and northern France, was chalk, which the microscope shows to be made up of the shells of Foraminifera and to resemble the modern foraminiferal oozes. Over the Alpine region upheavals in the Upper Cretaceous had established land areas, indicated by extensive fresh-water deposits recurring at intervals from Spain to Hungary, in the latter country containing coal. The Cretaceous was closed in Europe by a gradual upheaval which excluded the sea from wide areas that it had occupied.

In Africa the only extensive Cretaceous areas are those of the north, where the Atlas Mountains, and much of the surface of the Libyan desert are made up of these rocks. A limited transgression of the sea also took place along the western coast. In South Africa are traces of two Cretaceous invasions of the sea, both of which merely occupied old valleys for quite a short distance from the coast of Cape Colony and Natal. The first invasion is of Neocomian date (Uitenhage beds) and its fossils have a distinct likeness to those of Patagonia. The second incursion took place later in the Cretaceous, at a horizon not yet determined.

Southern and eastern Asia display many areas of Cretaceous rocks, as, for example, in southern India and Japan. Australia also has extensive areas of this system, which are best known in Queensland, where they are chiefly Lower Cretaceous and contain coal. The New Zealand Cretaceous is also coal-bearing.

Climate

The evidence for the existence of climatic zones is more distinct in the Cretaceous than in the Jurassic, though the difference between the zones must have been slight, for the Upper Cretaceous flora extends to Greenland with hardly any change. On the other hand, the marine animals show a decided difference according to latitude. In the Mediterranean region of Europe and Asia, the West Indies, Mexico, and the north coast of South America the seas abounded in reef-building corals, in the extraordinary groups of bivalve molluscs, or Pelecypoda, called the Rudistes and Caprotituz, and in certain genera of Ammonites, such as Lytoceras, Haploceras, and Phylloceras. In northern and central Europe and on the Atlantic coast of the United States these forms are rare or absent and other groups take their place. The probable explanation of the seeming contradiction in the testimony of land plants and marine animals is in the existence of a cool polar sea and southward currents from it.