Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Earth Systems History

Multidisciplinary investigation of the origin and evolution of life, evolution of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, and the interactions of physical, chemical, and biological processes in shaping Earth surface evolution. Some examples of current research by our faculty in Earth Systems History are shown below. Visit the faculty members' pages through the above links to get more information about research in Earth Systems History at UT.

C-Isotope System

C-CurveThe C-isotope system is a powerful tool to examine the dynamics of biogeochemical cycling throughout Earth history. Dr. Kah has been concentrating on the Mesoproterozoic (1.6-1.0 Ga) to determine causes and consequences of global environmental change during this time. By analyzing carbonate rocks and associated organic matter from Canada, Russia, and the U.S. (as well as using published data from China, Australia, and elsewhere), she and her colleagues have constructed a global marine C-isotopic curve for this time period.

Phanerozoic Mountain Chains

New understanding of the evolution of the Earth's crust through time can also be derived from studying the comparative history of Phanerozoic mountain chains.  Most mountain chains have several components recognizable throughout the World.  Understanding how these components evolve from individual continental margins, island arcs, and tectonostratigraphic terranes to mature continental continental crust and even supercontinents provides insight into the processes of continent formation as demonstrated by Prof. Hatcher in his work.Moore's Gap

Systematic Paleontology

Fossil life incorporated into rocks of the Earth’s crust is one strongest tools for understanding the evolution of the Earth System. To best interpret how life has changed through time, it is critical to place organisms into an evolutionary framework. Dr. Sumrall has been investigating the evolutionary history of echinoderms (relatives of starfish and sand dollars) to determine the causes of origination and diversification of major taxonomic groups. Much of this research centers on the identification of like parts in different organisms (homology) that is used to analyze evolutionary relationships.

Systematic Paleontology


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