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Linking Modern Benthic Communities and Taphonomic Processes to the Stratigraphic Record of Antarctic Cores - NSF-ANT07-39512

This project answers a simple question: why are there so few fossils in sediment cores from Antarctica's continental shelf? Antarctica's benthos are as biologically rich as those of the tropics. Shell-secreting organisms should have left a trail throughout geologic time, but have not. This trail is particularly important because these organisms record regional climate in ways that are critical to interpreting the global climate record. This study uses field experiments and targeted observations of modern benthic systems to examine the biases inflicted by fossil preservation. By examining a spectrum of ice-affected habitats, this project provides paleoenvironmental insights into carbonate preservation, sedimentation rates, and burial processes; and will provide new approaches to reconstructing the Cenozoic history of Antarctica. Broader impacts include graduate and undergraduate research and education, development of undergraduate curricula to link art and science, K12 outreach, public outreach via the web, and societal relevance through improved understanding of records of global climate change.

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