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Tackling the Challenge of an Imperfect Stratigraphic Record

SEPM Featured Speaker

Wednesday, 30 September 2020, 12:15 p.m.–1:45 p.m.  |  

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Climate, tectonics, and life influence the flux and caliber of sediment transported across Earth’s surface. These environmental conditions can leave behind imprints in the Earth’s sedimentary archive, but signals of climate, tectonic, and biologic change are not always present in the stratigraphic record. Environmental signals can be transformed by sediment transport through channels and the landscapes that surround them. This transformation impedes the burial and preservation of environmental signals in sedimentary deposits. Such impediments form a central challenge to accurately reconstructing environmental conditions through Earth’s history. In this talk I detail how emergent and self-organized patterns and processes in landscapes fundamentally control the likelihood of environmental signal preservation in sedimentary deposits. I highlight recent theoretical developments that allow us to model environmental signal propagation through landscapes and to estimate signal distortion or destruction during the burial process. Properly characterizing these signal distortion processes provide a key avenue for incorporating the known "imperfections" of the stratigraphic record into paleoenvironmental reconstructions

Dr. Kyle Straub joined the faculty of Tulane University in 2009 and is an Associate Professor in their Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and head of their Sediment Dynamics and Stratigraphy Lab. Kyle’s research focuses on the transport of sediment from land through the ocean and into the stratigraphic record. Scales of interest range from the interaction of turbidity currents with channel bends over minutes to the construction and preservation of deltas over millions of years. The sedimentary bodies that arise from these processes are home to millions of people, archives of past Earth conditions, and reservoirs of natural resources. Kyle examines the morphodynamics of these systems using a combination of remote sensing of subsurface sedimentary deposits (visualization and interpretation of seismic data), carefully designed laboratory experiments, field studies of modern and ancient sediment transport systems, and targeted numerical analysis and modeling. He is a past recipient of SEPM’s James Lee Wilson Young Scientist Award and holds degrees from The Pennsylvania State University (BS) and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD).


Dr. Kyle Straub Associate Professor, Tulane University


Tackling the Challenge of an Imperfect Stratigraphic Record