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Jochen Halfar

Assistant Professor of Geology
Dept. of Chemical & Physical Sciences,
University of Toronto at Mississauga

Halfar image
Paleoclimate reconstructions using coralline red algae and shallow water carbonates

My research is focused on deciphering paleoclimates on different time scales ranging from the past centuries to the Neogene using geochemical, sedimentological, and oceanographic approaches. In collaboration with biologists and oceanographers I have recently completed a field calibration study of coralline red algae confirming their usefulness as climate archives. We are now utilizing climate information contained in calcified growth bands of long-lived coralline red algae to reconstruct sea surface temperatures of extratropical seas using state-of-the-art microanalytical geochemical techniques.

A further aspect of my research is concerned with quantifying the complex interplay of oceanographic controls such as nutrients and temperatures on modern shallow water carbonate depositional systems in order to facilitate the interpretation of paleoclimates and paleoceanography from fossil carbonates. Together with collaborators I have completed a first such study by combining long-term field monitoring of oceanography with sedimentologic investigations in a range of modern carbonate environments located along a latitudinal gradient. Applying this knowledge to the fossil record we could demonstrate that increased nutrient levels in connection with deteriorating temperatures resulted in a global turnover of shallow water carbonate producing biota during the middle Miocene.

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