Short Name:

Paleoenvironmental and Paleoclimatic Analysis of the Beacon Supergroup, Beardmore Glacier Area, Central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica

This proposal will study the diversity, abundance, and tiering patterns of ichnofossils in continental and marine deposits of the Beacon Supergroup in the Beardmore Glacier Area (BGA). The PIs will focus on continental strata that contain a variety of ichnofossils and paleosols. Ichnofossils will be evaluated for their architectural and surficial morphologies, and will be compared to modern and ancient traces to interpret the tracemaker behavior and paleoenvironmental setting. Distribution of ichnofossils within these units may indicate the effect of lateral variability of pedogenesis, the magnitude and frequency of depositional events, and the amount of moisture within the sediment, as well as the effects of climate change. The paleoclimatic significance of ichnofossils will be determined by comparing the burrow size, occurrence, tiering, and pedogenic significance of ichnofossils in measured sections of stratigraphic units deposited during global warming and cooling episodes. Comparisons will be made between BGA formations to stratigraphically equivalent rocks deposited at low paleolatitudes with previously determined paleoclimatic settings. The objectives of this project are to address two major questions: what differences existed in ichnodiversity, abundance, and tiering in marine and continental deposits between high- and low-paleolatitudes, and was there a dearth of habitat usage in continental deposits during the late Paleozoic and Mesozoic, particularly in fluvial and lacustrine environments compared to the habitat usage in the marine realm at that time? This study will enhance the ability to interpret paleoenvironments to the subenvironmental scale, understand the evolution of soil biota and ecosystems at high paleolatitudes, determine the role of organisms in soil formation at high paleolatitudes, explore the effects of climate change on the body size and diversity of organisms in the soil communities, and develop new tools to interpret paleoclimate in high latitudes. There is a strong education component associated with this proposal.

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