Global changes and bio-events in the marine realm

This axis will investigate the evolution and dynamics of marine palaeoecosystems during critical periods in the History of Life on Earth, through the integration of palaeobiological, geophysical and geochemical information. It will contribute to the current global warming debate through monitoring the effects of long-term greenhouse and icehouse conditions and of short-term global warming events (= hyperthermals) on marine ecosystems in the past. Through the monitoring of evolutionary changes in marine biota (biozonations), of sedimentological phenomena and physical and geochemical characteristics (resistivity measurements, gamma ray emission, magnetic susceptibility), the projects linked to this axis will also document and refine the Geological Time Scale across Stage Boundaries and special bio-events.

The following stratigraphic intervals, which are particularly important in the evolution of marine ecosystems and well represented in Belgium, will be investigated:

  • the Middle-Late Devonian interval;
  • the Tournaisian-Viséan (Carboniferous) interval;
  • the  Late Cretaceous and the K-T Boundary;
  • the Early Eocene;
  • the Neogene.

Research projects

01/10/2013 to 30/09/2016

Deciphering shallow marine ecosystem dynamics during rapid global warmings: an early Eocene North Sea Basin perspective (Belgium)

This research is intended to lead to a better understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between the geo- and biosphere in shallow-water settings, and to answer the question how early Eocene benthic ecosystems respond to environmental changes during periods of rapid global warming.
01/01/2013 to 31/12/2016

Out of the trenches: towards disentangling gradual and catastrophic changes across the K/T boundary

In a recent synthesis, it was convincingly shown that the impact of a large asteroid in the Gulf of Mexico coincided with the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary, 65 million years ago, and with the sudden biodiversity decline known as the K/T mass extinction when numerous organisms became extinct.

01/01/2010 to 31/12/2015

Evolution of the deep-sea ecosystem during early Eocene transient warming events: stable- isotope and foraminiferal evidence

Tijdens het laat Paleoceen – vroeg Eoceen (60-50 Ma) onderging de aarde de warmste omstandigheden van het Cenozoïcum. Vooral op hoge en gematigde breedten waren de temperaturen veel hoger dan vandaag. Bovenop deze warme basissituatie beïnvloedde een felle en kortstondige opwarming (“hyperthermaal”) van de aarde, bekend als het Paleoceen-Eoceen...
01/01/2010 to 31/12/2013

The microchemistry of fish-otoliths: a method for unraveling Paleocene and Eocene temperature fluctuations and seasonal variations in climate in the North Atlantic

The Paleocene and particularly the early Eocene are characterized by high global mean temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. Therefore, this period is considered  as a deep-time analog for future global warming, induced by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

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