Jackson School of Geosciences
Geology Department
Department of Geological SciencesBureau of Economic GeologyInstitute for Geophysics


Paleoclimate/environmental change



Under development

Dr. Quinn's research group use the geochemistry of marine sediments and corals to investigate climate variability and changes in mean climate state. The group is presently investigating modern and Holocene climate in the western Pacific Ocean, tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Research activities combine fieldwork to collect samples and geochemical determinations to create climate time series. Website 
scuba   ship
Left: drilling coral samples for paleocliamte analysis;
Right: collecting box cores of marine sediments from the Gulf of Mexico 


Dr. Shanahan's group uses a variety of approaches to extract paleoenvironmental information from sediment records, and in particular,from organic matter preserved in sediments. A recent area of emphasis is the use of molecular organic techniques, which focus on analyzing the stable isotopic composition of individual organic molecules. Current research is focused on developing past climate and environmental records from sites in Africa, South America, New Zealand, southeast Asia, and the Sierra Nevada of California. Website
Lake Bosumtwi
The Lake Bosumtwi impact crater, Ghana, one of Dr. Shanahan's study sites
(the drill rig can barely been seen)


Dr. Breecker is primarily interested in pursuing a process-based understanding of soils and the "critical zone" with the goal of determining how climate influences soils and how soils influence climate. A better understanding of modern soil processes improves the accuracy of paleosol-based paleoclimate proxies and helps quantify the fundamental role that soils play in the Earth's elemental cycling. Breecker's research incorporates both field-based studies (current projects in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas and Tibet) and laboratory experiments (technique development and soil incubation experiments) and involves the measurement of stable isotope ratios in water, pedogenic minerals, critical zone gases and organic matter. These measurements are used to investigate chemical reactions occurring in soils and to trace material transfer between soils, caves and the atmosphere.
Dan Breecker
Dr. Breecker standing around looking cool when he should be working


The Barnes group uses stable isotope approaches to investigate a broad spectrum of geochemical problems, including fluid-rock interactions and metasomatism in the high-T environment, the relationship between metamorphic processes and deformation from outcrop to regional scales, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, and geochemical cycling. Most of this research involves using stable isotopes as a geochemical tracer of fluids in various tectonic settings. Current projects focus on using chlorine stable isotopes as a fluid tracer in the Central America and Izu-Bonin-Mariana subduction zones. Of particular interests are serpentinization of the oceanic lithosphere and the role of serpentinites in subduction zone processes. Website

Dr. Barnes collecting rock samples for isotope analysis in the Alps