Palaeozoic and Mesozoic oceans and climate

Our research involves the investigation of past climate and environmental change (primarily during the Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods) and more specifically understanding larger perturbations in the earth’s physical system; ocean anoxic events; abrupt climate change during globally warm intervals; and extreme events in polar environments. The late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic was an important time interval in earth’s history, witnessing several mass extinction events, a major icehouse to greenhouse transition, the break-up of Pangaea and the birth of the modern oceans. A number of projects principally involving the integration of stratigraphy, sedimentology, palaeobiology, facies analysis and the use of oxygen, carbon and strontium isotopes as well as a range of biomarkers are currently underway via the analysis of material from a range sites across the globe.

Detail of ammonite fossil shell with mineral crystals inside

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Stratigraphy and correlation

Our research on the stratigraphy and correlation of global sections is integral to defining both the geological timescale and the evolution of geological events. Principally utilising biostratigraphy and isotope stratigraphy our research reflects a multiproxy approach, and has focused mainly on the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and in correlating events observed in marine cores drilled around the volcanic island of Montserrat. Ongoing research includes the evaluation of potential stratigraphic sections for candidates as Global Stratotype Section and Points (GSSPs). Whilst on shorter timescales we have correlated and dated a number of events, within marine cores, sourced from Montserrat.

Student walking across red cliffs, on a geology field trip.

Cenozoic climate evolution

This research theme covers a critical time period in the Earth’s climatic history, one in which there was a shift from a greenhouse world to our present day icehouse world. We study palaeoceanographic changes during the Neogene period using foraminiferal and geochemical / isotopic records from marine cores collected by the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) from the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans. In addition, we also study rapid climate events, like the Paleocene / Eocene Thermal Maximum and the Eocene / Oligocene Oi-1 glaciation, in the marine and continental sedimentary records using established and new proxy techniques.

Fitzroy laboratory