The Cretaceous Greenhouse Planet

Friday November 23, 2012 – 7:30 p.m. at the Almonte United Church Social Hall

Speaker: Claudia Schröder-Adams

Topic: The Cretaceous Greenhouse Planet

Synopsis:

Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates leading to predictions of an Arctic Ocean that could be ice-free during the summer months in the not so distant future. During the geological past the world’s Polar Regions have experienced phases that were ice free and one of those was the Cretaceous Period marked by times of extreme greenhouse temperatures. The Cretaceous strata of the Sverdrup Basin in the Canadian High Arctic provide a geological archive that allows us to envision Arctic ecosystems under a Greenhouse climate and with that an ancient analogue for a future warmer Arctic. Field exposures on Axel Heiberg and Ellef Ringnes islands provide a window into a complex depositional and paleoecological history of the central Boreal Sea. Cretaceous sediments and fossil content tell a story of fluctuating sea-levels, rich ecosystems and burial of large amount of carbon during a changing greenhouse climate. Marine plankton assemblages are dominated by siliceous organisms. Waters were corrosive in respect to calcium carbonate prohibiting calcareous plankton. During the presentation we will visit Cretaceous marine paleoecosystems of the Canadian Arctic and terrestrial and marine ecosystems of and around the Antarctic Peninsula. These differ greatly from those presently found in these respective regions. We will learn about past paleogeographic settings and their drivers in respect to climate change and how such large scale changes affected flora and fauna.

Speaker’s Profile:

Claudia Schrӧder-Adams is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University. Claudia teaches geology and paleontology courses including ‘Dinosaurs’, ‘Paleobiology’, and ‘Oceanography and Marine Geology’, but is most passionate about hands-on learning experiences for her students. She is leading an annual field trip to Nova Scotia and to places such as Germany, Switzerland and recently to Antarctica. Her research focuses on basin analysis, stratigraphy, paleoceanography and micropaleontology. She also works in eastern Australia where she uses marginal to deep marine settings as modern analogues for interpretations of ancient marine systems. As part of the Canadian GEM (Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals) program, Claudia is presently conducting a multi-year geological investigation assessing a number of sedimentary basins in both the Eastern and Western Arctic regions to produce a pan-Arctic biostratigraphic framework for the Cretaceous Period. Claudia has just completed a three year term on the National Science and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant Selection Committee. She served as Chair of Carleton’s Earth Sciences Department from 2003 to 2006 and is active in several science outreach programs.

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