My principal interest is Ichnology - the study of trace fossils.
Trace Fossils as Paleoenvironmental Indicators
Animal trace fossils (tracks, trails, and burrows) tell us a great deal about what animals did in the geological past. They reflect a tangible record of how certain animals interacted with their physical (and indirectly, chemical) environment. Trace fossils may be used as proxies for a multitude of environmental factors such as: salinity, oxygen levels, energy, organism interactions, and food availability. I am interested in animal-sediment interaction and the use of trace fossils to reconstruct ancient environments.
My current work is with Professor Howard Johnson (Imperial College, London) on invertebrate traces in the Cenozoic Baram Delta of northern Sarawak, Eastern Malaysia (Borneo). Future work may develop into an analogue study of the modern mud-rich tropical delta environments. Geologist have a superabundance of northern hemisphere, cool temperate delta process models developed in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Deltas that develop in tropical setting are less well known and future work might take us to other delta margins in Eastern Malaysia and Brunei.
The Origin of Land Plants
Work with professor Paul Strother (Boston College, MA) has been focused on marginal marine sequences that characterize the classical Sauk transgression as displayed in the Grand Canyon and elsewhere in the southern US. My work on traces provides and environmental and facies context for Strother's detailed work on micro-fossils &ndash particularly on what we interpret as a suite of non-marine, possibly estuarine taxa. Some of the "text book" models of the basal Sauk need revision. It is not a simplistic onshore/offshore transgressive sequence that elementary textbook reproduce ad nauseam! Like much in geology it is more subtle and more complex.
One of the interesting facets of work in the Bright Angel Shale of the Grand Canyon has been to juxtapose a diverse suite of Cruziana ichnofacies traces with the within-bed microfossils. Future work will focus on the micros (and perhaps aspects of the meiofauna) as the food for the trace makers.