Climatic-Biotic Links: Dust and Productivity in Pangaea

Was the late Paleozoic a dusty world? Some have suggested a link between eolian dust and productivity in the modern and recent (glacial) oceans. It is fascinating because it affects carbon cycling and thus atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Could such a link have existed in the deep-time past? We are documenting data that establish the late Paleozoic as a particularly dusty world. What caused such atmospheric dustiness, and what were the impacts on the atmosphere and biosphere? We are investigating the possible connections between dust and productivity by studying carbonate systems from both western and central Pangaea (North America, Pacific, western Europe), and western and eastern Gondwana (South America, Middle East). Together with collaborators in geochemistry and climate modeling, we hope to expand our understanding of both direct and indirect effects of atmospheric dust on the climate system, the carbon cycle, and life.

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