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Paleoaltimetry from stable isotope compositions of fossils

Matthew J. Kohn and David L. Dettman
Paleoaltimetry from stable isotope compositions of fossils (in Paleoaltimetry; geochemical and thermodynamic approaches, Matthew J. Kohn (editor))
Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry (October 2007) 66 (1): 119-154


Stable isotope systematics of phosphatic (vertebrate) and carbonate (invertebrate) fossils are reviewed, emphasizing external vs. biological controls on isotope compositions and their variation. External controls include elevation and isotopic lapse rates, temperature, atmospheric circulation patterns, aridity, and changes to precipitation seasonality, e.g., development of monsoons. Biological controls include temperature regulation and temperature-dependent biological activity, water balance, behavior, and rates of hard-part secretion and maturation. Some key factors include what sources of water an animal samples, how those sources respond isotopically to elevation, and the isotopic sensitivity of a biologic tissue to environmental changes. General research design criteria are enumerated, including numbers of fossils and analyses required, as well as uncertainties in the interpretability of isotopic shifts. Isotope zoning from fossil teeth and shells from the Indian foreland demonstrate comparable seasonal monsoon signals at approximately 11 Ma vs. today, implying a high and broad plateau at that time. Mean isotope compositions of fossil teeth from the lee of the Cascade Range, central Oregon, show a pronounced decrease in delta (super 18) O initiating approximately 7 Ma, signaling topographic rise associated with impingement of Basin and Range extension on the arc. Mean compositions and zoning in fossil shells from the northern Rocky Mountains indicate high elevations and topographic relief in the late Cretaceous and early Paleogene. Paleoaltimetry will principally benefit from better estimates of temperature, because temperature lapse rates are less variable than isotopic lapse rates, and because the combination of temperature and isotopic studies may help distinguish between local isotopic changes and distal ones caused by catchment or rain shadow effects.

ISSN: 1529-6466
EISSN: 1943-2666
Serial Title: Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry
Serial Volume: 66
Serial Issue: 1
Title: Paleoaltimetry from stable isotope compositions of fossils
Title: Paleoaltimetry; geochemical and thermodynamic approaches
Author(s): Kohn, Matthew J.Dettman, David L.
Author(s): Kohn, Matthew J.editor
Affiliation: University of South Carolina, Department of Geological Sciences, Columbia, SC, United States
Affiliation: University of South Carolina, Department of Geological Sciences, Columbia, SC, United States
Pages: 119-154
Published: 200710
Text Language: English
Publisher: Mineralogical Society of America and Geochemical Society, Washington, DC, United States
References: 168
Accession Number: 2007-124242
Categories: Isotope geochemistryGeomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N40°00'00" - N51°00'00", W123°00'00" - W120°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Arizona, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, copyright, Mineralogical Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 200750
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