Faculty Spotlight for December 2007

Gerta Keller’s primary research interests are major catastrophes in Earth’s history in the broadest sense, including the biotic effects of catastrophes, such as meteorite impacts and episodes of major volcanic eruptions. Her research integrates paleontology, stratigraphy, sedimentology and geochemistry in reconstructing past environmental changes associated with or leading up to mass extinctions. Keller is well known for her contributions to the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) mass extinction debate. Recent findings include:

1. Chicxulub impact 300,000 years too early to have caused the KT mass extinction. Evidence from NE Mexico and the Chicxulub impact crater core Yaxcopoil-1. BBC Horizon Documentary “What didn’t kill the Dinosaurs” (2004).

2. Drilling K-T strata on the Brazos Rose Ranch in Texas confirms the pre-KT age of the Chicxulub impact. (2007).

3. Chicxulub impact caused no extinctions and no climate or environmental changes. (2006-2007)

4. Main phase of Deccan volcanism in India ended near the KT boundary, indicating that volcanism must be considered a major contender for the mass extinction. (2007).