“At heart, I am an explorer. Growing up in a small country town means you can never outgrow the wanderlust of the outback and an innate fascination with the landscape. My desire to study and work in geology is driven by this curiosity.”
Zircons are traditionally viewed as a tool for uranium-lead dating and any impurities hamper this process. Conversely, melt inclusions, commonly trapped in eruption zircons, contain a treasure trove of information regarding the origin of the zircons. The practices exemplified in my study are adaptations of traditional tephrostratigraphy adjusted for use on melt inclusions within zircons as opposed to whole ash. This is critical due to the state of the ash beds present in the study area; most of which are heavily altered to smectitic bentonites. The primary field area of the Kaiparowits Formation of Southern Utah, USA, is believed to be contemporaneous with several other key fossil sites in the West Interior Basin. ID TIMS dating conducted by collaborators at MIT as part of the parent project, EARTHTIME, reveals an ash found in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, matches the age of an ash in Utah within an error of approx. ±20,000 years. Analysis of melt inclusions within the two contemporaneous samples will determine whether they originate from the same source. Intraformational correlation of marker horizons is also conducted as part of this study in order to compile a digital map of the field area to aid paleontological research.
Kaiparowits Formation of Southern Utah, USA
Collaborator Dr Jahan Ramezani (left) and project supervisor Dr Eric Roberts (right) assessing the quality of a bentonite bed
Sedimentary Geology Research Group James Cook University Townsville, Australia