Photo of lab member Ava Menza feature in Roanoke Times article on the Dan River Coal Fly Ash Spill

A photo of lab member Ava Menza was featured in Roanoke Times article on the Dan River Coal Fly Ash Spill today.


Photo credit: The Roanoke Times | File July

Here’s a link to the article:

One report puts Dan River coal ash spill damage at $295 million – Roanoke Times: Virginia.

Last February a large amount of coal fly ash, a byproduct from the combustion of coal, was released into the Dan River. Ava has been working as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation that is investigating the effects of the coal fly ash on the chemistry of river. She has been specifically using the the sulfur isotopes in sulfate from the river water as a tracer of the spill. Over the past year, Ava has accompanied my colleague Maddy Schreiber on sampling campaigns to the Dan River over the past year to take water and sediment samples from the river.

Here is a link to the other article published last July in the Roanoke Times with more information on Virginia Tech research project on the Dan River Spill:

Virginia Tech researchers search for ways to better trace effects of coal ash spills – Roanoke Times: News.

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New paper out on the Fransian-Fammenian Extinctions

PPP FFSome of my collaborators and I have a new paper out in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology about the role of the development euxinic waters – oxygen deficient and hydrogen sulfide containing – in the Late Devonian extinction events. Click the banner with the title on this post above to go to the journal page.

The Frasnian–Famennian (F–F) extinction event is one of the ‘Big 5’ extinctions: Five of the most severe extinction events in the past 542 million years). We use multiple lines of geochemical data to show that euxinia developed in the Michigan Basin during these extinction events. Based on our data, while the expansion of marine euxinia may not be the sole cause of the Late Devonian extinctions, it appears to be a viable local driver of these extinctions in particular environments.

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VT Sedimentary Geochemistry Group at GSA 2104

I’ve just returned from the Geological Society of America (GSA) annual conference.  It was held this week (October 19-22) in Vancouver, British Columbia and my PhD student Teddy Them and I attended. It turned out to be a great meeting this year and well worth the trip.

Teddy gave a talk on some his dissertation research on Monday morning in the session Organic-Rich Mud Rocks: Geochemistry, Physical Properties, and Paleo-Environments. The results Teddy presented show that the large negative carbon isotope excursion that occurred during the Toarcian Stage of Jurassic can be found at several locations in Alberta.  This is very important because it shows that this excursion reflects a global perturbation to the carbon cycle 182 million years ago.  This excursion is though to be linked to the wide-scale volcanic eruptions and the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event (T-OAE), a time of widespread oxygen deficiency in the oceans.

Here is a link to the abstract for his talk: Rapid environmental changes during the Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian to Toarcian Stages) in Western North America recorded in the geochemistry of organic-rich mud rocks

Teddy GSA

Teddy in action

I gave an invited talk in a session that highlighted research on the relationship between the environmental changes and evolutionary changes that occurred during the Ordovician Period (485 to 443 million years ago).  My talk centered on the changes that occurred in the sulfur cycle during that latest portion of the Ordovician and how they provide information on changes in the redox chemistry of the oceans going into and during the mass extinction (the second largest in Earth History behind the Permo-Triassic) that occurred during that time.

Here’s a link to my abstract: Sulfur isotope evidence for Late Ordovician ocean oxygenation: Implications for the drivers of the Hirnantian Extinction.

Below is a list of other abstracts from the meeting that included members of the VT Sedimentary Geochemistry Group.  The first three where given by our collaborators Darren Gröcke and Andrew Caruthers at Durham University in the UK on our work on rocks from the Early Jurassic Period (190 to 174 million years ago) located in Nevada.

Last, but certainly not least, was the presentation given by Rowan Martindale from UT Austin.  This meeting was the reveal of the Lagerstätte (a deposit of exceptionally preserved fossils) that we first discovered while conducting fieldwork in Alberta two summers ago.

Thanks to everyone that stopped in and listened to our talks and saw our poster presentations!

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