Matching Items (17)

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Environmental Impacts on Light Stable Isotope Systems

Description

Isotopic analyses of archaeological and modern materials are commonly used to reconstruct diet, climate, and habitat. This study analyzes 15 camelid samples from three sites (two archaeological, one modern) in

Isotopic analyses of archaeological and modern materials are commonly used to reconstruct diet, climate, and habitat. This study analyzes 15 camelid samples from three sites (two archaeological, one modern) in South America to determine their carbon and nitrogen isotopic values to further explore the relationship between stable isotopes and environments. Camelid individuals in the modern site of Cuenca, Ecuador had a diet of almost entirely C3 vegetation, while those in Chen Chen, Peru had slightly higher values, still consistent with C3 plants. Those in the higher altitude site of Pumapunku, Bolivia had higher δ13C values than expected, indicating they may have been foddered with a mixed diet. These isotopic data indicate that vegetation, and therefore herbivore diets, are influenced by altitude. Additionally, it was found that a positive linear relationship exists between δ15N values and aridity of a site. Results indicate that aspects of the environment such as aridity are reflected in isotopic signatures. These results contribute to the increasing amount of data on isotopic variation in South American camelids, both modern and archaeological.

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  • 2016-05

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An Archaeological Oxygen Isoscape of the Central Andes

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Accurately predicting local ranges of isotopic signatures in human populations is essential for answering questions about past migrations and mobility. While local ranges of δ18O can be estimated using

Accurately predicting local ranges of isotopic signatures in human populations is essential for answering questions about past migrations and mobility. While local ranges of δ18O can be estimated using modern baseline samples and precipitation models, there are many environmental and anthropogenic drivers that can cause these ranges to deviate from the ranges seen in human populations. This study performs a geostatistical meta-analysis on a large dataset (n = 1,370) of spatially contextualized archaeological δ18O samples from 30 publications in order to generate a predictive model of local human δ18O ranges in the Central Andes. Two models were generated, one using archaeological samples of both humans and fauna, and the other using only humans. The model using only human samples makes more accurate predictions, cautioning against the incorporation of faunal δ18O samples in studies of human provenance. The models are also compared against a model of δ18O values found in precipitation across the study area, and significant differences lead to the conclusion that precipitation models are insufficient for predicting local human δ18O ranges.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Dating Deep-Sea Pelagic Clays with Osmium Isotopes to Reconstruct Sources of Iron to the South Pacific Gyre over 90 Million Years

Description

Iron (Fe) scarcity limits biological productivity in high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) ocean regions. Thus, the input, output and abundance of Fe in seawater likely played a critical role in shaping the

Iron (Fe) scarcity limits biological productivity in high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) ocean regions. Thus, the input, output and abundance of Fe in seawater likely played a critical role in shaping the development of modern marine ecosystems and perhaps even contributed to past changes in Earth’s climate. Three sources of Fe—wind-blown dust, hydrothermal activity, and sediment dissolution—carry distinct Fe isotopic fingerprints, and can therefore be used to track Fe source variability through time. However, establishing the timing of this source variability through Earth’s history remains challenging because the major depocenters for dissolved Fe in the ocean lack well-established chronologies. This is due to the fact that they are difficult to date with traditional techniques such as biostratigraphy and radiometric dating. Here, I develop age models for sediments collected from the International Drilling Program Expedition 329 by measuring the Os (osmium) isotopic composition of the hydrogenous portion of the clays. These extractions enable dating of the clays by aligning the Os isotope patterns observed in the clays to those in a reference curve with absolute age constraints through the Cenozoic. Our preliminary data enable future development of chronologies for three sediment cores from the high-latitude South Pacific and Southern Oceans, and demonstrate a wider utility of this method to establish age constraints on pelagic sediments worldwide. Moreover, the preliminary Os isotopic data provides a critical first step needed to examine the changes in Fe (iron) sources and cycling on millions of years timescales. Fe isotopic analysis was conducted at the same sites in the South Pacific and demonstrates that there are significant changes in the sources of Fe to the Southern Ocean over the last 90 Ma. These results lay the groundwork for the exploration of basin-scale sources to Fe source changes, which will have implications for understanding how biological productivity relates to Fe source variability over geological timescales.

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  • 2018-05

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Chronology of Planetesimal Differentiation Based on the Timing of Achondrite Formation in the Early Solar System

Description

During the early Solar System many physiochemical processes were taking place that would shape the formation and evolution of rocky bodies. Growth of these rocky objects was rapid, with some

During the early Solar System many physiochemical processes were taking place that would shape the formation and evolution of rocky bodies. Growth of these rocky objects was rapid, with some growing to sizes of 10s – 1000s km (“planetesimals”) in the first few million years. Because these objects formed early, they contained sufficient 26Al (an isotope of Al with a short half-life of ~705,000 yrs) to heat the interiors to melting temperatures, resulting in the formation of the first igneous rocks in nascent Solar System. Depending on the size and time of accretion, some bodies experienced high degrees of melting (with some having global magma oceans) while others experienced lower degrees of partial melting, and yet others did not experience any melting at all. These varying degrees of heating and melting processes on early-formed planetesimals produced a variety of achondritic meteorite types. These achondrites have bulk compositions ranging from ultramafic to basaltic, with some rare types having more highly “evolved” (i.e., high-SiO2) compositions. Determining the detailed chronology of their formation with fine time resolution is key for understanding the earliest stages of planet formation, and there are high resolution chronometers that are ideally suited for this application. Three such chronometers (i.e., the 26Al-26Mg, 53Mn-53Cr, and 207Pb-206Pb chronometers) are the focus of this work. Based on investigations of these chronometers in several achondritic meteorites, the implications for the formation and evolution of planetesimals in the early Solar System will be discussed.

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  • 2020

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Uranium isotope variations in nature: mechanisms, applications, and implications

Description

Historically, uranium has received intense study of its chemical and isotopic properties for use in the nuclear industry, but has been largely ignored by geoscientists despite properties that make it

Historically, uranium has received intense study of its chemical and isotopic properties for use in the nuclear industry, but has been largely ignored by geoscientists despite properties that make it an intriguing target for geochemists and cosmochemists alike. Uranium was long thought to have an invariant 238U/235U ratio in natural samples, making it uninteresting for isotopic work. However, recent advances in mass spectrometry have made it possible to detect slight differences in the 238U/235U ratio, creating many exciting new opportunities for U isotopic research. Using uranium ore samples from diverse depositional settings from around the world, it is shown that the low-temperature redox transition of uranium (U6+ to U4+) causes measurable fractionation of the 238U/235U ratio. Moreover, it is shown experimentally that a coordination change of U can also cause measurable fractionation in the 238U/235U ratio. This improved understanding of the fractionation mechanisms of U allows for the use of the 238U/235U ratio as a paleoredox proxy. The 238U/235U ratios of carbonates deposited spanning the end-Permian extinction horizon provide evidence of pronounced and persistent widespread ocean anoxia at, or immediately preceding, the extinction boundary. Variable 238U/235U ratios correlated with proxies for initial Cm/U in the Solar System's earliest objects demonstrates the existence of 247Cm in the early Solar System. Proof of variable 238U/235U ratios in meteoritic material forces a substantive change in the previously established procedures of Pb-Pb dating, which assumed an invariant 238U/235U ratio. This advancement improves the accuracy of not only the Pb-Pb chronometer that directly utilizes the 238U/235U ratio, but also for short-lived radiometric dating techniques that indirectly use the 238U/235U ratio to calculate ages of Solar System material.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Stable isotope analysis of archaeological and modern micromammals from the Greater Cape Floristic Region near Pinnacle Point, on the south coast of South Africa

Description

The Middle Stone Age archaeological record from the south coast of South Africa contains significant evidence for early modern human behavior. The south coast is within the modern Greater Cape

The Middle Stone Age archaeological record from the south coast of South Africa contains significant evidence for early modern human behavior. The south coast is within the modern Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR), which in the present-day encompasses the entirety of South Africa’s Winter Rainfall Zone (WRZ) and contains unique vegetation elements that have been hypothesized to be of high utility to hunter-gatherer populations. Extant paleoenvironmental proxy records for the Pleistocene in the region often indicate evidence for more open environments during the past than occur in the area in the present-day, while climate models suggest glacial presence of the WRZ that would support maintenance of C3-predominant GCFR vegetation.

These paleoenvironmental proxies sample past environments at geographic scales that are often regional. The GCFR flora is hyper-diverse, and glacial climate change-driven impacts on local vegetation could have been highly variable over relatively small geographic scales. Proxy records that are circumscribed in their geographic scale are thus key to our understanding of ancient environments at particular MSA archaeological localities.

Micromammal fossil teeth are now recognized as an abundant potential reservoir of paleoenvironmental proxy data at an extremely local scale. This study analyzed modern micromammal teeth obtained from raptor pellets at three locations on the south coast. Stable carbon isotope analysis indicates that the modern micromammals from the taxa sampled consume a wide range of δ13Cplant on the landscape when it is available, and thus stable carbon isotope analysis of micromammal teeth should act as a proxy for the range of available δ13Cdiet in a circumscribed area of vegetation.

Micromammal stable carbon isotope data obtained from specimens from one of the few well-dated MIS6-MIS5 sequences in the region (Pinnacle Point sites 13B, 30, and 9C). δ13Cenamel values for the taxa sampled indicate diets that are primarily C3, and there is almost no evidence for a dietary C4 grass component in any of the sampled specimens. This indicates that, at a minimum, pockets of C3 vegetation associated with the GCFR were likely available to hunter-gatherers at Pinnacle Point throughout the Middle and Late Pleistocene.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Refining Earth’s Ocean Oxygenation History using Molybdenum and Thallium Isotopes

Description

Isotope ratios of some trace metals have proven useful for tracking Earth’s ocean oxygenation history. As the limitations of some of these isotope systems are realized, it becomes increasingly important

Isotope ratios of some trace metals have proven useful for tracking Earth’s ocean oxygenation history. As the limitations of some of these isotope systems are realized, it becomes increasingly important to develop new and complementary systems. This dissertation examines the utility of molybdenum (98Mo) and thallium (205Tl) isotope compositions preserved in ancient marine shales to track past ocean oxygenation. My approach is as follows: (1) as an initial exercise, apply the well-established Mo isotope system to a set of ancient shales; (2) validate the use of the newly developed Tl isotope system; and finally (3) examine the potential of applying Mo and Tl isotopes in tandem.

Increasingly heavier 98Mo are found in shales deposited during the Neoarchean (2,800 to 2,500 million years ago, or Ma), which would be a predicted consequence of progressive ocean oxygenation across this timeframe. Increasingly heavier 205Tl across a well-documented Mesozoic Oceanic Anoxic Event (~94 Ma), on the other hand, would be a predicted consequence of progressive ocean de-oxygenation. An anti-correlation in the first combined application of Mo and Tl isotopes in ancient shales provides a strong fingerprint for previously unrecognized levels of ocean oxygenation at ~2,500 Ma. Lastly, neither 98Mo or 205Tl behave as predicted in shales deposited during three Ediacaran Ocean Oxygenation Events (~635 Ma, ~580 Ma, and ~560 Ma). These unexpected trends are due, at least in part, to local-scale overprints that must be taken into consideration when pairing together Mo and Tl isotopes in shales.

The ability of the Mo and Tl isotope systems to track changes in past ocean oxygenation is confirmed in this dissertation. Both isotope systems have the potential to track these changes independently, but their combined utility is particularly powerful. Under ideal conditions, their combined application can provide an even more robust fingerprint for changes in past ocean oxygenation. Even under non-ideal conditions, their combined application makes it possible to decipher local-scale overprints from signals of past ocean oxygenation. It is therefore ideal, whenever possible, to measure both 98Mo and 205Tl in the same shale samples to assess past changes in ocean oxygenation.

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  • 2020

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Isotopic investigations of meteoritic materials: from earliest-formed solids to planetary bodies

Description

The beginning of our Solar System, including events such as the formation of the first solids as well as the accretion and differentiation of planetary bodies, is recorded in meteoritic

The beginning of our Solar System, including events such as the formation of the first solids as well as the accretion and differentiation of planetary bodies, is recorded in meteoritic material. This record can be deciphered using petrographic, geochemical and isotopic investigations of different classes of meteorites and their components. In this dissertation, I have investigated a variety of isotope systematics in chondritic and achondritic meteorites to understand processes that have shaped our Solar System. Specifically, the investigations conducted here are in two main areas: 1) Hydrogen isotope systematics in a meteorite representing the freshest known sample of the martian crust, and 2) Isotopic studies (specifically relating to high resolution chronology, nucleosynthetic anomalies and mass-dependent fractionations) in calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, which are thought to be the earliest-formed solids in the Solar System. Chapter 1 of this dissertation presents a review of the hydrogen isotopic compositions of various planetary bodies and reservoirs in the Solar System, which could serve as tracers for the volatile sources. Chapter 2 focuses on an investigation of the hydrogen isotopic systematics in the freshest martian meteorite fall, Tissint, using the Cameca IMS-6f secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). These first two chapters comprise the first part of this dissertation. The second part is comprised of chapters 3 through 6 and is focused on isotopic analyses of Calcium-Aluminum-rich Inclusions (CAIs). Chapter 3 is a review of CAIs, which record some of the earliest processes that occurred in the solar nebula. Chapter 4 presents the results of an investigation of the 26Al-26Mg short-lived chronometer (half-life ~0.72 Ma) in two CAIs and their Wark-Lovering (WL) rims from a CV3 carbonaceous chondrite using the Cameca NanoSIMS 50L. Chapter 5 is focused on the results of a study of the Zr isotope compositions of a suite of 15 CAIs from different carbonaceous chondrites using multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS), in order to identify nucleosynthetic anomalies in the CAI-forming region. Chapter 6 focuses on the mass-dependent Mg isotopic compositions measured in 11 CAIs from the Allende CV3 carbonaceous chondrite using MC-ICPMS, to evaluate effects of thermal processing on CAIs.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Evolution and paleoecology of Pliocene Suidae (Artiodactyla, Mammalia) in the lower Awash Valley (Afar, Ethiopia): implications for hominin evolution and paleoenvironments

Description

Providing an environmental context to early hominins is as important as describing the hominin fossils themselves, because evolutionary processes are tightly linked to everchanging ecosystems that vary across space and

Providing an environmental context to early hominins is as important as describing the hominin fossils themselves, because evolutionary processes are tightly linked to everchanging ecosystems that vary across space and through time. An optimal understanding of ecosystems changes is critical to formulate and test hypotheses regarding human evolution and adaptation. Fortunately, the fossil record has yielded abundant remains of mammals which can be used to explore the possible causal relationships between environmental change and mammal – including hominin –evolution. Although many studies have already been conducted on this topic, most of them are framed at large spatial and temporal scales. Instead, this dissertation focuses on the evolution and paleoecology of only one group of mammals (the Suidae) in a specific geographical area (lower Awash Valley in Ethiopia) and within a constrained time frame (3.8–2.6 Ma). Three dissertation papers address: 1) changes in suid taxonomic composition in relation to Late Pliocene faunal turnover ~2.8 Ma in the Lee-Adoyta basin, Ledi-Geraru; 2) comparisons of suid diets from Hadar (~3.45–2.95 Ma) with respect to those of Kanapoi (~4.1 Ma, West Turkana, Kenya); 3) the dietary ecology of the suids from Woranso-Mille (~3.8–3.2 Ma). Results of these papers show that 1) after ~2.8 Ma there is a replacement of suid species that is coupled with low relative abundance of suids. This is compatible with more open and/or arid environments at this time; 2) suid dietary breadth was broader in Hadar than in Kanapoi, but this is mostly driven by the dietary niche space occupied by Kolpochoerus in Hadar, a suid genus absent from Kanapoi; 3) suid diets vary both temporally and geographically within the lower Awash Valley. Kolpochoerus incorporates more C4 resources (e.g., grasses) in its diet after ~3.5 Ma and in general, suids after ~3.5 Ma in Woranso-Mille had C4-enriched diets in comparison with those from nearby Hadar and Dikika. Presumably, the changes in suid communities (relative abundance and taxonomic composition) and dietary shifts observed in suids were triggered by climatic and habitat changes that also contributed to shape the behavioural and morphological evolution of early hominins.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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The petrogenesis of angrites and martian meteorites inferred from isotope and trace element systematics

Description

The present understanding of the formation and evolution of the earliest bodies in the Solar System is based in large part on geochemical and isotopic evidences contained within meteorites. The

The present understanding of the formation and evolution of the earliest bodies in the Solar System is based in large part on geochemical and isotopic evidences contained within meteorites. The differentiated meteorites (meteorites originating from bodies that have experienced partial to complete melting) are particularly useful for deciphering magmatic processes occurring in the early Solar System. A rare group of differentiated meteorites, the angrites, are uniquely suited for such work. The angrites have ancient crystallization ages, lack secondary processing, and have been minimally affected by shock metamorphism, thus allowing them to retain their initial geochemical and isotopic characteristics at the time of formation. The scarcity of angrite samples made it difficult to conduct comprehensive investigations into the formation history of this unique meteorite group. However, a dramatic increase in the number of angrites recovered in recent years presents the opportunity to expand our understanding of their petrogenesis, as well as further refine our knowledge of the initial isotopic abundances in the early Solar System as recorded by their isotopic systematics. Using a combination of geochemical tools (radiogenic isotope chronometers and trace element chemistry), I have investigated the petrogenetic history of a group of four angrites that sample a range of formation conditions (cooling histories) and crystallization ages. Through isotope ratio measurements, I have examined a comprehensive set of long- and short-lived radiogenic isotope systems (26Al-26Mg, 87Rb-87Sr, 146Sm-142Nd, 147Sm-143Nd, and 176Lu-176Hf) within these four angrites. The results of these measurements provide information regarding crystallization ages, as well as revised estimates for the initial isotopic abundances of several key elements in the early Solar System. The determination of trace element concentrations in individual mineral phases, as well as bulk rock samples, provides important constraints on magmatic processes occurring on the angrite parent body. The measured trace element abundances are used to estimate the composition of the parent melts of individual angrites, examine crystallization conditions, and investigate possible geochemical affinities between various angrites. The new geochemical and isotopic measurements presented here significantly expand our understanding of the geochemical conditions found on the angrite parent body and the environment in which these meteorites formed.

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Date Created
  • 2012