Check out past, present and future research activities (blue dots) and conferences attended (yellow stars) in the SedSoilHuman Lab (blue star) using the interactive map above.
Four themes broadly define the research activities within the sediment-soil-human lab group at Murray State University. They are: (1) hominid-environmental interactions during the Quaternary, (2) Human imprint on earth systems, (3) Paleoenvironmental reconstructions using paleosols, and (4) modern soil geomorphic response to environmental change. Several aspects of these themes are cross-cutting and require interdisciplinary and collaborative effort. Thus, I am always seeking and receptive to new collaborations.
1. Hominid-environnmental interactions during the Quaternary
The East African Pleistocene saw the emergence of archaic Homo, the expansion of hominin brain capacities to near-modern dimensions, and the first appearance of a battery of sophisticated new technologies. There are several key Pleistocene time intervals that document the emergence and early evolution of early humans. The SedSoilHuman Lab is collaborating with researchers from around the world to improve paleoenvironmental reconstructions of paleoanthropological discoveries at open-air sites such as Farre, located in the Chalbi Basin of northern Kenya, and Gona in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
We are open to exploring collaborations with other researchers who investigate new hominin localities in Africa with which we can address issues of hominin-environment interactions and the emergence of key anatomical, technological and sociocultural adaptations.
2. Human imprint on earth systems
Understanding and quantifying human's "fingerprint" on Earth's surface is a rapidly growing research field and is an important theme in the SedSoilHuman Lab. Quantifying human impact on Earth's surface materials is important because the mobilization of surface material may cause system-state changes on Earth that are unsustainable.
The lab is currently exploring ways to quantify past human impact on the environment using mass-balance geochemistry, isotopes and geochronology.
3. Paleoenvironmental reconstructions using paleosols
Fossil soils (paleosols) are important paleoenvironment, especially paleoclimate, archives because they are (1) abundant in the rock record, (2) found in a wide variety of environments, reflecting regional climate variations, and (3) are records of “Critical Zones” of the Earth’s past, preserving the in-situ substrate of ancient Critical Zones.
The SedSoilHuman Lab is interested in refining, and developing new, models for estimating paleo-soil characteristics and paleoclimate. Such models are vital for interpreting paleopedogenic pathways, and the greater ancient Critical Zone.
4. Modern soil geomorphic response to environmental change
Weathering is the physical, chemical and biological alteration of preexisting material at or near a planetary surface to a more stable form. This process is fascinating in that it behaves as a biogeochemical reactor driven by factors in the environment like climate, vegetation, rock, sediment, topography over some span of time that can range from days to millions of years. Thus, weathering and the resulting soil or regolith is "time-averaged" record of past and present environments.
We are interested in how soil and regolith stores carbon deep in the profile. How this carbon and minerals "communicate" and interact with water and gas. We are actively researching carbon storage in deep alluvial environments and the soil water and gas dynamics in these environments.