Collaborative Proposal: RAPID: Opportunity to Acquire Continuous, High-resolution Geochemical Proxies for Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, and Modern Hydrogeology from CPCP Cores

Lead PI: Sean Kinney , Dr. Paul Olsen

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

May 2022 - June 2024
North America ; United States
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This project will generate a continuous record of chemical composition changes through rock cores collected in Petrified Forest National Park as part of the NSF-funded Colorado Plateau Coring Project. The study has three main objectives, 1) to develop an understanding of how changes in the chemistry of sediments reflect changes in past climate from 200-million-year-old river and flood plain systems, 2) to use this record to develop an understanding of the influence of both CO2 and changes in Earth?s orbital parameters on past climatic variations and 3) develop a chemical dataset that will provide a baseline understanding of the distribution of potential ground water contaminants (e.g., As, U) in adjacent lands of the Navajo Nation and surrounding regions that draw water from the cored strata. The data generated in this project will serve as the basis of a project for a 2022 summer REU student from Navajo Technical University. In addition, this project will support two early career scientists and two Columbia University graduate students. Finally, the project team will develop curriculum and outreach products through the Rutgers Geology Museum and facilitate synergistic activities on related environmental issues in New Jersey and Colorado Plateau regions.

The Triassic Chinle and Moenkopi Formations occupy huge areas of the Colorado Plateau and record the history of Triassic environmental change on an immense alluvial plain and are famous for their fossil record of the evolution of continental ecosystems including dinosaurs and mammals. The physical, paleomagnetic, and geochronological stratigraphy of CPCP-1 cores has been described in a suite of recent papers and placed into a larger paleoenvironmental and global temporal context, but the chemical stratigraphy of the cores has yet to be analyzed. Several small projects have demonstrated the utility of such data, but the lack of synoptic chemical datasets from these cores hinders their potential for both paleo- and modern (including their impact on groundwater) environmental analysis. This project will fill this deficit with the acquisition of continuous XRF chemical data that will permit tests of hypotheses of orbital pacing of climate (long eccentricity and inclination cycles) as recorded in these strata and of how cyclical climate and the deep time hydrological history of these strata relates to present stratigraphic distribution of potential geogenic contaminants and their migration into present day aquifers.


National Science Foundation




Clara Chang, Bennett Slibeck