Insights into ancient sedimentary environments via three-dimensional reconstructions

Zoom Link for Colloquium 04/04/2023 3:00pm PST

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Presented By Akshay Mehra Assistant Professor, Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

Sedimentary rocks are long-term recorders of physical and biological processes. Changes in global and local seawater chemistry are chronicled through subtle variations in the elemental concentrations and isotopic ratios of sedimentary minerals. Environmental conditions, from the everyday flow of currents to catastrophic global glaciations, are captured via physical sedimentary structures and chemical precipitates. Life, both microscopic and gargantuan, leaves behind textures, impressions, and fossils as evidence of its presence.

Various techniques can be used to extract the histories preserved in the sedimentary rock record. In this talk, I utilize three-dimensional reconstructions and associated morphological descriptors—including measurements of size, shape, and the distributions of features—to examine paleobiological and sedimentological aspects of Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic depositional environments. The results from these studies provide new insights into the evolution of early metazoan life and the response of reefs to large scale environmental change on our planet.