Impact of paleoenvironmental variability on hominin evolution as documented from a multiproxy perspective in the Turkana Basin, Kenya
Dr. Catherine C. Beck
Members of the HSPDP-WTK13 Project Team
Humans as a species are remarkable generalists but what drove this evolutionary adaptation? Through studying lake sediment cores from key intervals in hominin evolution, the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) seeks to contribute high-resolution environmental records to test whether climate influenced the evolution of hominins in East Africa. Because of its rich combination of paleoanthropologic and geologic data, a core (WTK13) from the Turkana Basin, Kenya, is an important component of this synthesis. By combining multiple indirect measure of environment and climate (i.e. a multiproxy approach) we aim to quantify how paleoenvironment and paleoclimate changed across the time when the genus Homo was evolving. Using a combination of tephra chronology and paleomagnetic data, the WTK13 core has been dated to 1.87-1.37 Ma. The sedimentology records deposition on a dynamic lacustrine margin becoming more influenced by channel and floodplain processes through time. Multiproxy records provide a window into paleoevironments of the Turkana Basin that operated on shorter time scales than this dominant first-order facies shift. Organic biomarkers, phytoliths, and pollen records track processional cycles (~21 kyr). However, interestingly, the biomarker record suggests that the hydroclimate of the Turkana Basin, while highly variable at the Milankovitch-scale, exhibits no directional trend in the mean values towards wetter or drier conditions. The combined phytolith and pollen records suggest that grasses, albeit with fluctuating abundances of C4 mesophytic and C4 xerophytic taxa, dominated the landscape throughout most of the core. This indicates that despite climatic variability, resource availability may have maintained some general consistency for hominins in the area. Ultimately, the time period spanned by the WTK13 record is significant for our understanding of hominin evolution as it covers an interval of increasing aridity on the African continent as observed in distal marine records. This synthesis demonstrates how paleoenvironment of the Turkana Basin responded to these broader paleoclimatic trends.
Catherine Beck’s research focuses on how sediments from the East African Rift Valley preserve changes in paleoclimate and paleoenvironment over Quaternary time-scales. This work is strongly based in field research, and she is particularly interested in coupling the study of lake sediments with paleoecology and stable isotope analyses in an effort to better constrain the conditions in which early hominins evolved. Beck received her bachelor's in geology and archaeology from Tufts University and her master's and doctorate in geosciences from Rutgers University. She has been at Hamilton College since 2015 and when not working, she can be found running over the hills of Central NY.
Dr. Li Jin – Professor SUNY Cortland
Title: Applications of INtegrated CAtchment (INCA) models to simulate flow and water quality under changes in future climate and socioeconomics
Many small to large river systems around the globe are subject to some kind of water pollution issues e.g. excessive nutrients, increased sediment delivery or elevated salinity. Changes in climate, land use and socioeconomics put additional stressors to these freshwater systems and there is a need to assess how they will respond to these changes. The INtegrated CAtchment (INCA) model is a dynamic daily simulation model that predicts flow and water quality. The semi-distributed and multi-branched nature allows it to represent simple to complex river network and to incorporate point and non-point sources of pollution in a catchment.
In this talk, applications of INCA models to the Mekong River basin and Tioughnioga River catchment are presented. First, INCA was used to simulate nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the Mekong catchment. The impacts of climate change and a range of socio-economic scenarios on flow and water quality have been assessed across 24 river reaches ranging from the Himalayas down to the delta in Vietnam. Results of INCA simulations indicate increases in mean flows and shift in timing of the monsoon. Changes in nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were primarily driven by flow changes and changes in fluxes of these nutrients reflect the changing flow, land use change and population changes. Secondly, elevated levels of salinity (Cl) are harmful to sensitive biota, threaten riparian ecosystems, and may affect the portability of drinking waters supplies. This is especially a concern in Northeastern US where anthropogenic practices (deicing) is regularly conducted in the winter. INCA model was used to simulate Cl concentrations in the Tioughnioga River catchment and assess the future impacts of continued deicing practices on freshwater salinization under changes in climate, land use and population. Model projections suggest that Cl concentrations in Tioughnioga River will continue to rise for several decades, before beginning to decline in mid-century. The INCA model projections shed light on how flow and water quality might change into the future and provide valuable knowledge to support planning and strategic decision making.
Li Jin is a Professor in Geology Department at SUNY Cortland. Her main research interests lie in understanding point source and non-point source pollution in river systems and simulating water quantity and quality under climate and land use changes and other environmental changes.
Dr. Justin Stroup – Professor SUNY Oswego
Topic to be announced
Kyle Makovsky – (Doctoral Candidate) Syracuse University
Speaker to be determined
Dr. Page Quinton - SUNY Potsdam
Carbon isotopes in shallow epicontinental seas: lessons from the Late Ordovician
Carbon isotopic ratios recorded in marine carbonates are a useful tool for identifying ancient perturbations in the global carbon cycle and are widely used in chemostratigraphic and paleoclimatic studies. These applications work because the net burial/oxidation of organic carbon shifts the carbon isotopic composition of the surface ocean, and these changes can be preserved in marine carbonates. However, records from rocks deposited in epeiric seas present challenges for these types of applications. In particular, net primary productivity, terrestrial organic matter, freshwater input, meteoric diagenesis, and carbonate precipitation/weathering operating at local and regional scales can influence recorded carbon isotopic values in these shallow water settings. We will examine the Late Ordovician carbon isotopic record of eastern North America to discuss some of these effects and I will propose a sequence stratigraphic model for predicting when carbon isotopic records have been influenced by these local/regional process.
Dr. Page Quinton received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 2016 and now is an Assistant Professor of Geology at SUNY Potsdam. Her research focuses on understanding and documenting climate change in the geologic past. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach using stable isotope geochemistry (oxygen and carbon), micropaleontology, and sedimentology she attempts to relate changes in global climate to perturbations in the global carbon cycle and major mass extinction events in deep time intervals (e.g. the Ordovician, Permian-Triassic boundary, and Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary).
David A.V. Eckhardt, U.S. Geological Survey (retired)
Tanzania, in East Africa, has an urgent need to develop sustainable supplies of potable drinking water. Much of the water for the capital region of Dar-es-Salaam is derived from reservoirs that suffer problems in water quality and distribution. A significant ground-water resource is available in an aquifer system that extends southward from the capital, beneath the coastal plain adjacent to the Indian Ocean. Initially, two exploratory test wells showed that the deep, confined unconsolidated aquifer deposits can provide good yields of potable water, but additional exploratory wells would be required before extensive development could proceed. International funding was provided to the Tanzanian government through the World Bank for drilling six more test wells for long-term aquifer monitoring, and for two supply wells. Oversight for the drilling project was provided by an independent consulting group, within which Dave was invited to participate.
This presentation describes the water-well drilling program, with its many technical and logistical difficulties, and some of the outcomes. Also, the presentation will give a cultural overview of Tanzania and its people, as well as a display of some of the natural resources and wildlife of East Africa.
-- B.S degree in Geological Sciences from Lehigh University,
-- M.S. degree in Forest Hydrology from West Virginia University, and
-- PhD degree in Environmental Science from Cornell University.
During his career with the U.S. Geological Survey, from 1974 through 2011, Dave focused on water-quality studies, mainly in the ground-water domain. He worked on regional water assessments in Pennsylvania, Long Island, and upstate New York, with special assignments to the Grand Canyon Environmental Sciences Group in Arizona, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2012, after 37 years with the USGS, he retired from the Ithaca NY office and became a private consultant (very part-time), where he provides technical assistance to the USEPA Superfund Program. During 2013-14, Dave participated in a regional water-well drilling program in Tanzania, which is the focus of his presentation.