Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


New Applications of Carbon Stable Isotope Geochemistry to Coprolites and Plant Fossils Public Deposited

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  • Coprolites and plant fossils can provide valuable information about the diets of ancient organisms and Earth’s past terrestrial surface environment. In this thesis two research projects were undertaken: carbonate 𝛿13𝐶 analysis was used to estimate the microbial respiration rates recorded in herbivorous dinosaur coprolites, and a method for sampling and preparation was developed to analyze the organic matter 𝛿13𝐶 of fossil plants with minimal disturbance. Coprolites from the Two Medicine Fm. and Kaiparowits Fm. were used for the respiration rate project and plant fossils from the Creede Fm. and the Green River Fm. were used for the methodology project. Coprolite microbial respiration rates resulted to be higher than soil respiration rates modeled for paleosols from the same formations, suggesting that microbial activity influenced the mineralization of these coprolites. For the plant fossil sampling methodology, 𝛿13𝐶 data was obtained by only destroying sub-centimeter areas of a specimen, which opens the doors to sampling museum specimens for geochemical analysis with minimal damage that would not impact future research.

Date Issued
  • 2023-08-11
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  • 2024-01-18
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