University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Marine Biotic Responses to Miocene Climate Change part of Chronos Workshop:Activities
This activity is part of a collection under development by participants in a June 2006 workshop. Tested versions will be available in Spring 2007. During the Miocene the Earth plunged into its present "icehouse" state, with glaciers at North and South Poles. In this activity, students investigate biotic responses to this climate change using microfossil data from the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). These data are analyzed and displayed using the CHRONOS information technology system, building information technology skills while strengthening understanding of biostratigraphic principles. The activity integrates geochemical and biotic data, reinforcing the notion that understanding Earth History requires a multidisciplinary approach. Students use Time Scale Creator to examine how sediments are correlated and dated. DSDP and ODP core data in the Neptune database is used to create age-distribution histograms for foraminifers and calcareous nannofossils, and compare these data to the record of climate change based on oxygen isotope analyses. Students synthesize and compare their discoveries regarding marine microfossil responses to global climate change, and evaluate the assumptions and biases inherent in these results. Step-by-step instructions for using the CHRONOS interface are provided, formatted as a student handout. References to related primary literature are included, and may be used to adapt the exercise for more advanced undergraduates or graduate students.