Part of my research deals with the controls on sedimentation, and how stratigraphic packages of rock can be used to reconstruct patterns of erosion, sediment transport, and deposition. This area of sedimentological research has been going on for quite some time, of course, with lots of different workers producing lots of data (and interpretations) that seem to point in many different directions. One of the frameworks employed has been the interpretation of repeatable packages of sedimentary rocks (i.e., stratigraphic cycles) as having been caused by Milankovitch cycles in the climate. Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of Milankovitch cycles at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles.
Milankovitch cycles attempt to explain how variations in the orientation and orbital pattern of the Earth result in changes in the amount of incoming solar radiation (insolation). The original work (Milankovitch, 1941; translated in 1969) uses this theoretical framework to explain the cyclicity observed in glacial-interglacial periods (the Ice Ages). That’s all well and good, and I think it holds up pretty well when used to explain the past few hundred thousand years of ice dynamics, since the mechanism (insolation changes) can be reasonably hypothesized to strongly effect ice volumes. What I’ve always had a problem with seems to be the desire to extend the Milankovitch cycle into the stratigraphic record where we KNOW that there were no large scale ice sheets (The Eocene, or the Cretaceous, for example).
Finally, what are the actual impacts in a SEDIMENTOLOGICAL sense that these Milankovitch cycles would be expected to have? How would they modulate erosion or transport, and what would their impact be on the rock record? So far, I haven’t found a Milankovitch-supporter who can adequately provide me with an answer.