The Clean SWEEP of the Rocky Mountains – #365papers – 2017 – 50

#365papers for February 19, 2017

Chamberlain, Mix, Mulch, Hren, Kent-Corson, Davis, Horton, and Graham, 2012, The Cenozoic climatic and topographic evolution of the western North American cordillera: American Journal of Science, v. 312, p. 213-262.

What’s it about?

This paper uses a compilation of new and previously published oxygen stable isotope data from all over the Rocky Mountain region to understand the timing and uplift pattern of the Rocky Mountains. It seems that the Rocky Mountains first rose to the north, then grew southward. Continue reading

Climate Models and Eocene Isotopes, or How to Make My Head Hurt – #365papers – 2017 – 49

#365papers for February 18, 2017

Feng, Poulsen, Werner, Chamberlain, Mix, and Mulch, 2013, Early Cenozoic evolution of topography, climate, and stable isotopes in precipitation in the North American cordillera: American Journal of Science, v. 313, p. 613-648.

What’s it about?

Isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in precipitation vary based on multiple factors, including how far from water vapor sources (usually the ocean) the precipitation is taking place, and whether or not there are mountains present, which can deflect and change patterns and amounts of precipitation. Because of this, we can use isotopes of oxygen from rocks and fossils, which reflect ancient precipitation, and understand the pattern and timing of uplifts of mountains.

This paper goes a step further, by using mathematical models to predict what oxygen isotopes of precipitation should have looked like based on a few ideas of how the Rocky Mountains may have come up. Continue reading

Paleogene Mountains, Rivers, Lakes,… and Isotopes – #365papers – 2017 – 46

#365papers for February 15, 2017

Davis, Mulch, Carroll, Horton, and chamberlain, 2009, Paleogene landscape evolution of the central North American Cordillera: Developing topography and hydrology in the Laramide foreland: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 121, p. 100-116.

What’s it about?

This paper uses isotopes of oxygen, carbon, and strontium from multiple areas along the east edge and middle of the Rocky Mountains to explore the timing of the uplift of the Rockies, and to understand how the new mountains affected climate locally. Continue reading

Doctoral Day! – Mammals of the Torrejonian-Tiffanian (Paleocene) Transition – #365papers – 2017 – 45

#365papers for February 14, 2017

Higgins, 2003, A Wyoming succession of Paleocene mammal-bearing localities bracketing the boundary between the Torrejonian and Tiffanian North American Land Mammal “Ages”: Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 38.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses the nature of the boundary between two adjacent North American Land Mammal “Ages” (NALMAs). NALMAs are defined by the presence or absence of certain mammal species and are usually quite different in species composition. The 136 localities studied here bracket the Torrejonian-Tiffanian boundary, so we can examine the transition more closely. Continue reading

Growing Up Andes – #365papers – 2017 – 28

#365papers for January 28, 2017

Quade, Dettinger, Carrapa, DeCelles, Murray, Huntington, Cartwright, Canavan, Gehrels, and Clementz, 2015, The growth of the central Andes, 22*S–26*S: GSA memoir 212, p

What’s it about?

This paper applies the method described in yesterday’s #365papers, along with other methods to explore the uplift history of the central Andes. Continue reading

Back and Forth on the Oxygen Train – #365papers – 2017 – 19

#365papers for January 19, 2017

Kipp, Stueken, Bekker, and Buick, 2017, Selenium isotopes record extensive marine suboxia during the Great Oxidation Event: Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.

What’s it about?

Sometime longabouts 2.3 and 2.1 billion years ago, Earth’s atmosphere became oxygenated and organisms came about that utilized oxygen extensively in their metabolic processes. However, these organisms did not come to dominate on the Earth until a billion years later. During this Great Oxidation Event, despite increases in oxygen overall in the atmosphere and the oceans, there were periods of more or less oxygen, which made it hard to oxygen-dependent organisms to proliferate.

Continue reading

Correlation and Earth’s History

One of those things we do as geoscientists is try to figure out if the rocks in one place are the same as the rocks in another place. While it seems a very easy question to ask, it’s not so easy to answer.

This determination of ‘sameness’ is called correlation. But before we can do any correlating, we have to get more specific in our question. Do we want to know if rocks here and there are the same age, or do we want to know if they represent the same environment?

Cartoon showing rock correlation (solid line) and fossil correlation (dashed line)

Cartoon showing rock correlation (solid line) and fossil correlation (dashed line) between layers of rock in three different areas.

Continue reading