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NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory

Stratigraphic record - Earth System Evolution

A major focus of the high-precision U-Th-Pb facility is working with the Earth Science community to provide robust temporal constraints to underpin Earth System evolution research. This is primarily focussed upon 'critical transitions' in Earth's history, and, more recently, on Mesozoic and Cenozoic climate change. Critical transitions in Earth's history often involve large-magnitude perturbations in global bio-geo-chemical cycles, such as those associated with the rise of atmospheric O2 at ca. 2.4 Ga, or the rise of animals at ca. 570 Ma. As such, they illustrate the interplay between geodynamics, ocean and atmospheric chemistry, and biology.

Geochronology provides the only independent means of integrating the various disparate records of these events, thereby allowing us to assess relationships/feedbacks between the components of the Earth System.

NIGL plays a central role in international initiatives aimed at developing the next generation of geological time scales (EARTHTIME Initiative and its sister initiative in Europe). Our participation in the EARTHTIME project has been pivotal in that NIGL has, with international partners, been jointly responsible for the making, calibration and validation of a range of new isotope tracers and reference solutions that are being distributed to chronology laboratories all around the world to allow much better interlaboratory comparability of U-Pb dates for the next 20 years.

Some current projects

  • GTSnext, Marie Curie Initial Training Network
  • Fennoscandia Arctic Russia — Drilling Early Earth Project (ICDP and NERC)
  • Svalbard Neoproterozoic (NERC)
  • A numerical age for the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (NIGFSC)
  • Terrestrial and marine chronostratigraphy of the Eocene-Oligocene transition (NIGFSC/EU)
  • Carboniferous cyclothems in the UK (NIGFSC/BGS)
  • End-Ordovician to early Silurian timescales of extinction, recovery and environmental change (NIGFSC and NERC)
  • Dating Devonian terrestrial environments and fossils (NIGSFC and BGS)

Recent papers

Charles, Adam J.; Condon, Daniel J.; Harding, Ian C.; Pälike, Heiko; Marshall, John E.A.; Cui, Ying; Kump, Lee; Croudance, Ian W.. 2011 Constraints on the numerical age of the Paleocene/Eocene boundary. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 12, Q0AA17. 19, pp. 10.1029/2010GC003426

Condon, Daniel J., and Bowring, Samuel A., (2011). A users guide to Neoproterozoic geochronology. In: Arnaud, Emmanuelle; Shields, Grahame; Halverson, Galen, (eds.) The geological record of Neoproterozoic glaciations. London, The Geological Society of London.

Harvey, Thomas H.P.; Williams, Mark; Condon, Daniel J.; Wilby, Philip R.; Siveter, David J.; Rushton, Adrian W.A.; Leng, Melanie J.; Gabbott, Sarah E.. 2011 A refined chronology for the Cambrian succession of southern Britain. Journal of the Geological Society, 168 (3). 705-716. 10.1144/0016-76492010-031

Meyers, Stephen R.; Sierwert, Sarah E.; Singer, Brad S.; Sageman, Bradley B.; Condon, Daniel J.; Obradovich, John D.; Jicha, Brian R.; Sawyer, David A.. 2012 Intercalibration of radioisotopic and astrochronologic time scales for the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary interval, Western Interior Basin, USA. Geology, 40 (1). 7-10. 10.1130/G32261.1

Parry, S.F., Noble, S.R., Crowley, Q.G., Wellman, C.H.. 2011 A high-precision U-Pb age constraint on the Rhynie Chert Konservat-Lagerstätte: time scale and other implications. Journal of the Geological Society, 168, 863-872.

Waters, Colin N.; Condon, Daniel J.. 2012 Nature and timing of Late Mississippian to Mid-Pennsylvanian glacio-eustatic sea-level changes of the Pennine Basin, UK. Journal of the Geological Society, 169 (1). 37-51. 10.1144/0016-76492011-047

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© NERC 2014. This site is hosted by the British Geological Survey but responsibility for the content of the site lies with NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL) not with the British Geological Survey. Questions, suggestions or comments regarding the contents of this site should be directed to Professor Randall R Parrish.