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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Abstract The Eocene Huitrera Formation of northwestern Patagonia, Argentina, is renowned for its diverse, informative, and outstandingly preserved fossil biotas. In northwest Chubut Province, at the Laguna del Hunco locality, this unit includes one of the most diverse fossil floras known from the Eocene, as well as significant fossil insects and vertebrates. It also includes rich fossil vertebrate faunas at the Laguna Fría and La Barda localities. Previous studies of these important occurrences have provided relatively little sedimentological detail, and radioisotopic age constraints are relatively sparse and in some cases obsolete. Here, we describe five fossiliferous lithofacies deposited in four terrestrial depositional environments: lacustrine basin floor, subaerial pyroclastic plain, vegetated, waterlogged pyroclastic lake margin, and extracaldera incised valley. We also report several new 40Ar/39Ar age determinations. Among these, the uppermost unit of the caldera-forming Ignimbrita Barda Colorada yielded a 40Ar/39Ar age of 52.54 ± 0.17 Ma, ∼6 m.y. younger than previous estimates, which demonstrates that deposition of overlying fossiliferous lacustrine strata (previously constrained to older than 52.22 ± 0.22 Ma) must have begun almost immediately on the subsiding ignimbrite surface. A minimum age for Laguna del Hunco fossils is established by an overlying ignimbrite with an age of 49.19 ±more »0.24 Ma, confirming that deposition took place during the early Eocene climatic optimum. The Laguna Fría mammalian fauna is younger, constrained between a valley-filling ignimbrite and a capping basalt with 40Ar/39Ar ages of 49.26 ± 0.30 Ma and 43.50 ± 1.14 Ma, respectively. The latter age is ∼4 m.y. younger than previously reported. These new ages more precisely define the age range of the Laguna Fría and La Barda faunas, allowing greatly improved understanding of their positions with respect to South American mammal evolution, climate change, and geographic isolation.« less
  3. ABSTRACT The Green River Formation preserves an extraordinary archive of terrestrial paleoclimate during the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO; ∼ 53–50 Ma), expressing multiple scales of sedimentary cyclicity previously interpreted to reflect annual to Milankovitch-scale forcing. Here we utilize X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanning and micro X-ray fluorescence (micro-XRF) scanning in combination with radioisotopic age data to evaluate a rock core record of laminated oil shale and carbonate mudstone from Utah's Uinta Basin, with the parallel objectives of elucidating the paleo-environmental significance of the sedimentary rhythms, testing a range of forcing hypotheses, and evaluating potential linkages between high- and low-frequency forcing. This new assessment reveals that the ∼ 100-μm-scale laminae—the most fundamental rhythm of the Green River Formation—are most strongly expressed by variations in abundance of iron and sulfur. We propose that these variations reflect changes in redox state, consistent with annual stratification of the lake. In contrast to previous studies, no support was found for ENSO or sunspot cycles. However, millimeter- to centimeter-scale rhythms—temporally constrained to the decadal to centennial scale—are strongly expressed as alternations in the abundance of silicate- versus carbonate-associated elements (e.g., Al and Si vs. Ca), suggesting changes in precipitation and sediment delivery to the paleo-lake.more »Variations also occur at the meter scale, defining an approximate 4 m cycle interpreted to reflect precession. We also identify punctuated intervals, associated principally with one phase of the proposed precession cycle, where Si disconnects from the silicate input. We propose an alternative authigenic or biogenic Si source for these intervals, which reflects periods of enhanced productivity. This result reveals how long-term astronomical forcings can influence short-term processes, yielding insight into decadal- to millennial-scale terrestrial climate change in the Eocene greenhouse earth.« less