Future Project Ideas

As I begin an Earth history research group at the University of Victoria (where I start as an assistant professor in April 2017), I plan on creating an active field program to build stories about the co-evolution of Earth's surface chemistry, climate and the biosphere. Potential field projects include (but are not limited to!):

Neoproterozoic successions of the southern and central Canadian Cordillera. To date, no integrated stratigraphic-geochemical study has been undertaken on the late Proterozoic strata of British Columbia, represented by the ≤ 9 km thick Windermere Supergroup. Of particular interest to me, given my previous work in South Australia, are the putatively Ediacaran carbonates that outcrop between Jasper and the Yukon border.
Devonian to Carboniferous carbonates of the Rocky Mountain Front Ranges Spectacular exposures of kilometers-thick carbonates of Middle Devonian to Early Carboniferous strata exist all along the Alberta-British Columbia border in the Front Ranges of the Canadian Cordillera. Significant Earth history events that occur in this interval include the Frasnian-Famennian mass extinction and Hangenberg biotic crisis, during which Earth's ability to export and bury carbonate rock seems to have been profoundly hindered. The resulting effects on seawater chemistry have never been explored in this region of Laurentia.
Time-scale geochronology of the Ordovician-Silurian boundary Nearly 3 km of shallowly-buried Upper Ordovician to Lower Silurian strata are preserved in the Anticosti Basin in eastern Canada. Previous and preliminary work have documented numerous ash fall that are extremely promising targets for U-Pb dating via CA-ID-TIMS. This work will involve collaboration with David Jones and the Princeton Radiogenic Isotopes Lab to establish a rigorous age model for Anticosti, and use it to further our understanding of the profound climatic and biospheric changes that occur across the Ordovician-Silurian boundary, including the Hirnantian glaciation and isotope excursion and the end-Ordovician mass-extinction.

All of these projects will involve field campaigns coupled to laboratory work at the University of Victoria to develop isotopic (δ13C, δ18O) and elemental datasets (e.g., Mg, Mn, Fe, Sr, Mo, U, V concentrations in our studied carbonates). These analyses will be performed in my lab and in the ICP-MS facility at the University of Victoria. A welcome (and encouraged!) addition to any field and lab-based endeavor will be large scale data synthesis and analysis, designed to broaden the impact and scope of these more targeted, sample-based endeavors. These efforts are possible through combining resources such as Macrostrat and GeoDeepDive. Projects that could complement any field campaign include:

Recent work has invoked the importance of authigenic carbonate (defined as carbonate formed in-situ at or near the sediment-water interface) in the ancient carbon cycle. Through a combination of text-mining and data synthesis, can we quantify the described abundance of these types of carbonate across geological time?
• More broadly, how has the sedimentologic nature of sedimentary carbonates (i.e. the occurence of stromatolites, ooids, molar teeth) changed over geologic time, and what does this tell us about evolving seawater chemistry?

Of couse, the idea I am most excited about pursing is YOURS! Ideas that come from students often form the basis for the best projects. So if you are interested in Earth history research from a sedimentary and geochemical perspective, and these styles of ideas are of interest to you, please contact me!