SURF

Robert Stevenson

Palynological Analysis of a late Carboniferous Channel Fill Assemblage

This project is investigating conflicts in the representation of plant assemblages in the middle Pennsylvanian (Moscovian, 311.7 1.1 to 306.5 1.0 Mya) fossil record. Currently, the held belief is that the tropical lowlands of the Moscovian were dominated by swamp forests (coal forests) during periods of deglaciation. However, recent studies of the Baker Coal from the Cottage Grove mine of southeast Illinois show xerophytic (dry) plants sandwiched in-between layers dominated by the more common coal forest plants. This discovery infers that these floras may have been growing in close proximity to the coal forests, but are generally under-represented due to taphonomic (preservation) bias. Palynological (pollen and spore) samples from the Cottage Grove study will be studied for a more regional signal. These results will be compared to the macrofossil record and sequence stratigraphic data to better elucidate and resolve the species diversity in the Cottage Grove locality.

Message to Sponsor

SURF has allowed me the opportunity to dedicate myself to a puzzle that consists of rare pieces that are hundreds of millions of years old. The journey to this point has been a culmination and application of many of the skills I have learned at Cal. While the work ahead of me is daunting, my time spent this summer will be a memorable experience and a highlight of my last year at Cal.
  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Mentor: Cindy Looy, Integrative Biology