One of the important components of Geology is the understanding of environmental changes on Earth. Though many environmental changes have been studied, there are numerous events that still need to be better explained. One of these events is the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event was an interval of time about 480 million years ago during which there was a significant increase in the diversity of Paleozoic marine organisms. There are two dominant hypotheses that scientists have developed as explanations for the cause of this event. This summer I will be aiding Professor Pedro Marenco to investigate the hypothesis that this important biodiversification event occurred during due to an increase in the availability of oxygen in the ocean, because of which life was able to thrive.
For ten days in Utah we will collect carbonate rock samples from Millard County, Utah. Rocks collected from the Middle Ordovician will be the focus of my research done this summer. The carbonate associated sulfate technique (CAS) will be used on the rocks to investigate the sulfur isotopic composition of sulfate in the ocean during the Ordovician. The sulfate preserved in the rock will tell us about the oxygen in the ocean environment. This technique will help tell us how oxygen levels in seawater fluctuated over time.