Kowalewski is principal investigator on the National Science Foundation-funded project, a four-year study involving a team of scientists from the University of Bologna and Northern Arizona University.
"We were thrilled to learn that sedimentary rocks assemble through time exactly as predicted," said Kowalewski, who recently relocated from Virginia Tech and is the Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum. "The results are not only a direct validation of the sequence stratigraphic model, but also provide us with direct numerical estimates of changes in the resolution of the fossil record as a function of relative changes in sea level."
As the model predicted for the geological setting of the Po Plain, the sediments accumulated at an increasingly slower pace during initial phases of sea level rise, culminating with horizons that formed so slowly that shells from multiple millennia were mixed within the same sediment layers. Following the sea level rise, sediment was deposited at an increasingly faster pace.
"We are pretty confident that the primary driver of sea level changes in this time frame was climate, but that's not always the case in the geological record," Kowalewski said. 'We can now provide a more informed constraint on timing of the most recent sea level rise in the northern Adriatic."
Because the Po Plain contains young sediments dating to about the last 10,000 years, part of the cycle researchers tested includes changes occurring today, said Carlton Brett, a geology professor at the University of Cincinnati. As sea level rises quickly, sediment accumulates in bays and river mouths, leaving little sediment offshore, Brett said.
"I think what they're doing is groundbreaking in the sense that they're testing a model that is one of the most important models in sedimentary geology that has ever come down the pipe," Brett said. "As one who uses
|Contact: Michal Kowalewski|
University of Florida