Birth of the Amazon River – #365papers – 2017 – 80

#365papers for March 21, 2017

Hoorn, Bogota-A, Romero-Baez, Lammertsma, Flantua, Dantas, Dino, Carmo, and Chemale, 2017, The Amazon at sea: Onset and stages of the Amazon River from a marine record, with special reference to Neogene plant turnover in the drainage basin: Global and Planetary Change.

What’s it about?

The authors of this paper use data from an ocean core collected in the delta of the Amazon River to determine when the Amazon River began to deposit sediments into the ocean and also when it began to carry sediments all the way from the Andes Mountains. Continue reading

Putting All the Data Together Makes a More Complete History – #365papers – 2017 – 77

#365papers for March 18, 2017

Feakins, Levin, Liddy, Sieracki, Eglinton, and Bonnefille, 2017, Northeast African vegetation change over 12 m.y.: Geology, v. 41, p. 295-298.

What’s it about?

The authors combine pollen and isotopic data from fossil leaf waxes from an ocean core with soil carbonate data from northeast Africa to better understand the origin and composition of grasslands in northeast Africa over the last 12 million years. Continue reading

Global Warming; Shrinking Mammals – #365papers – 2017 – 76

#365papers for March 17, 2017

D’Ambrosia, Clyde, Fricke, Gringerich, Abels, 2017, Repetitive mammalian dwarfing during ancient greenhouse warming events: Science Advances, v. 3, e1601430.

What’s it about?

Rapid global warming in Earth’s past had occurred more than once. The most commonly studied episode occurred 55 million years ago, at the boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs (Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM). Several other episodes have happened, including the ETM2 and H2 episodes which are discussed in this paper.

Dwarfing of mammalian species has been documented at the PETM. This paper shows dwarfing of mammals also occurred at the ETM2. Continue reading

How Soil Carbonate Can Tell Us About Climate – #365papers – 2017 – 75

#365papers for March 16, 2017

Cerling, T.E., 1984, The stable isotopic composition of modern soil carbonate and its relationship to climate: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 71, p. 229-240.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses in detail how isotopes of carbon and oxygen in carbonate minerals that form in soils are related to that of plant biomass (carbon) or local precipitation (oxygen). Continue reading

Lakes Come and Go, 50 Million Years Ago – #365papers – 2017 – 69

#365papers for March 10, 2017

Davis, Wiegand, Carroll, and Chamberlain, 2008, The effect of dreainage reorganization on paleoaltimetry studies: An example from the Paleogene Laramide foreland: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 275, p. 258-268.

What’s it about?

The authors use isotopes of carbon, oxygen, and strontium, plus relative abundances of strontium and calcium in lake deposits to interpret water sources, connectivity of lakes, and general environmental parameters for the Uinta Basin during the Eocene (~55-~43 million years ago). Continue reading

The Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum in the Northern Hemisphere – #365papers – 2017 – 67

#365papers for March 8, 2017

Jovane, Florindo Coccioni, Dianares-Turell, Marsili, Monechi, Roberts, Sprovieri, 2007, The middle Eocene climatic optimum event in the Contessa Highway section, Umbrian Apennines, Italy: GSA Bulletin, v. 119, p. 413-427.

What’s it about?

This paper like others I’ve read recently discusses the abundance of single-celled organisms in the ocean called foraminifera (forams). The overall abundance of different species plus isotopic analysis of the fossils themselves can provide insights about climate during the middle Eocene. Continue reading

Paleogene Antarctic ocean circulation from isotopes – #365papers – 2017 – 66

#365papers for March 7, 2017

Kennett and Stott, 1990 Proteus and Proto-Oceanus: ancestral paleogene oceans as revealed from Antarctic stable isotopic results; ODP Leg 113: Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Programs, Scientific Results, v. 113, p. 865-880.

What’s it about?

These are the published results of an ocean drilling cruise that took place in Antarctica in the late 1980’s. A core from the ocean floor was drilled and various parts of it were studied. This paper discusses geochemical results from the skeletons (tests) of single-celled organisms called foraminifera (forams) found throughout the core. From these results, the authors discuss deep ocean currents from millions of years ago. Continue reading

The Paleocene-Eocene boundary in deep ocean foraminifera – #365papers – 2017 – 65

#365papers for March 6, 2017

Thomas and Shackleton, 1996, The Paleocene-Eocene benthic forminiferal extinction and stable isotope anomalies, in Knox, Corfield, Dunay, eds., Correlation of the Early Paleogene in Northwest Europe: Geological Society Special Publication n. 101, p. 401-441.

What’s it about?

This paper examines the abundance and geochemistry of single-celled organisms called foraminiferans (forams) that were living in the oceans around 55 million years ago. Forams are still present today worldwide. They make little tiny calcite skeletons (called tests) that can be used to identify the species and then can be analyzed.

Using these foram skeletons, the authors identified the many species that lived in the ocean before and after the Paleocene-Eocene boundary and recognized some extinctions associated with the boundary. With geochemical analysis, they showed that there are some significant anomalies (rapid, unexpected changes) at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Continue reading

Knowing a Snail’s Diet from the Chemistry of its Shell – #3650papers – 2017 – 62

#365papers for March 3, 2017

Prendergast, Stevens, Hill, Hunt, O’Connell, and Barker, 2015, Carbon isotope signatures from land snail shells: Implications for palaeovegetation reconstruction in the eastern Mediterranean: Quaternary International, in press.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses the use of carbon isotopes in the shells of land snails to interpret what the snails were eating. To do this, they studied wild snails for which they could also measure the carbon isotopes of potential food sources. Continue reading

The World’s Oldest Fossils? – #365papers – 2017 – 61

#365papers for February 2, 2017

Dodd, Papineau, Grenne, Slack, Rittner, Pirajno, O’Neil, and Little, 2017, Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates: Nature, v. 543, p.60-64.

What’s it about?

This paper describes structures in a rock that lies somewhere in age between 4.28 billion years old and ~3.76 billion years old. (That’s a big range, but it’s an old rock!). The rock was almost certainly deposited in the ocean near hydrothermal activity. The structures appear to be very, very similar to those found in areas where life blossoms around deep-ocean hydrothermal vents. Continue reading