I study the connections between the evolution of Earth-system processes, biological innovation, and ecosystem change—foremost in Earth’s early history. My research integrates field, petrographic, and geochemical work. The protracted rise of oxygen over several billion years dramatically changed Earth’s surface environments. However, our current picture of Earth’s redox evolution is still painted with only broad strokes. A central theme of my research has been trying to piece together the history and effects of Earth’s oxygenation. With that end goal in mind, I am currently working on coupling paleoredox proxies in Precambrian sedimentary rocks, calibrating novel metal isotopes systems in modern aqueous systems, and untangling the distribution and diagenetic history of traces metals in sedimentary rocks.
I am interested in understanding the interactions between tectonics, climatic processes and geochemical cycles on a range of time scales. I use radiogenic isotope geochemistry, in particular the rhenium-osmium (Re-Os) geochronometer, Sr and Nd isotopes combined with field-based mapping, sedimentology, stratigraphy and mineralogy to interrogate the rock record of critical transitions in Earth history. My near term research interests are centered on four main areas: 1) refining Earth history records, especially Proterozoic tectonic reorganizations and eukaryotic diversification, 2) combining geochemical proxies with microfossil and sedimentological analyzes to provide better constraints on ice sheet dynamics over the last 5 million years, 3) understanding hydrocarbon systems and ore genesis through the use of geochronology and geochemistry, and 4) integrating the Re-Os geochronometer into the EARTHTIME organization and leading an international effort for inter-laboratory standardization.
Associate Research Scientist
I have operated the MC-ICP-MS machine under various projects and measuring a large variety of isotopic systems (e.g., Si, Fe, Ni, Cu, Mo, Nd, Sm and Pb). The work has included collaboration with scientists from IFREMER and from other research institutes and universities. Development and calibration of isotopic measurements by laser ablation MC-ICP-MS methods. Guiding students in all aspects of clean lab work and isotopic measurements.
Studying Mo isotopes (and possibly other metallic isotope systems) of Mesoproterozoic - Neoproterozoic sediments from the Mbuji-Mayi Supergroup of Congo. The ca. 1300 – 800 Ma Mbuji-Mayi Supergroup is associated with great climatic and biological changes also linked to the assembly (~ 1000 Ma) and break-up (~ 850 Ma) of Rodinia. In this project I attempt to reconstruct the paleo-redox conditions of the ocean and atmosphere during this time window using isotopic compositions of metallic elements. Other aspects of this project include the study of microfossils, carbon and oxygen isotopes and TOC.
Postdoctoral Fellow - Joint Hull-Planavsky Labs
My research focuses on the interplay between Earth’s climate and the fluxes of carbon from the lithosphere into the atmosphere, ocean, and finally into sediments. As the oceans represent the largest surficial reservoir of carbon, characterizing the marine carbon cycle is crucial to understanding the long-term regulation of atmospheric and climate.2
I am broadly interested in CO2 and the role it plays in climate change. My research focuses on modeling global carbon cycle, investigating factors controlling silicate chemical weathering rates, reconstructing organic carbon degassing profile during regional metamorphism, and mineral carbonation in ultramafic/mafic rocks.
I work mainly on geochemistry of sediments and biogeochemical modelling. Through geochemical analysis on both modern and ancient sediments as well as model works, I’m trying to understand whether the ancient rock records can capture the seawater chemistry and how the long-term changes in seawater chemistry can be linked with crust dynamics, biological renovation and atmospheric evolution.
Flint Postdoctoral Fellow
Experimental geochemistry utilizing isotopic techniques to better understand water-rock interactions associated with atmosphere-ocean CO2 buffering mechanisms.
My near-term research interests are centered on four main areas: 1) the investigation of the crustal evolution history of Archean terranes; 2) the refinement of the redox proxy record and temporal history of the rise of atmospheric oxygen; 3) analytical technique development, and 4) environmental and geoforensic analysis. With a particular focus on chronology, I specialize in using and integrating multiple isotope systems via high-precision mass spectrometry measurements. Much of the work I have done has required the development of analytical techniques for small, complex samples and this will continue to be a theme of my research moving forward. A significant goal of mine is to integrate the themes of crustal and atmospheric evolution in my research and to establish a better understanding of the relationships between them.
Terry T. Isson
My research broadly focuses on the evolution of global biogeochemical cycles through Earth’s early history. I integrate field, petrographic, geochemical and laboratory experimentation with numerical models, in order to test hypothesis of global change in deep time that concern the early co-evolution of microbial life and its environment. One central goal of my work is to reconstruct ancient ecosystems by fingerprinting geochemical signals that are unique to specific metabolisms within ancient sedimentary rocks. Another critical theme of my research is to better understand both the physical and chemical mechanisms that gives rise to planetary climate stability, particularly focusing on the portion of Earth’s thermostat involving authigenic processes (biotically and abiotically mediated) that occur within marine sedimentary porewater systems during early diagenesis.
I am interested in the redox evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere - ocean system in the Precambrian, and the impact of these environmental changes on early life. I combine field geology, sedimentology, and geochemistry to investigate this vast and poorly understood interval in Earth history. In particular, I am using Chromium isotopes as a tracer for atmospheric oxidative cycling (or lack thereof) in the Mesoproterozoic, leading up to the diversification and radiation of complex animal life.