Date of Award





Earth and Space Science - Environmental Science Track


Earth & Space Science

First Advisor

David R. Schwimmer


The present study reconstructs the regional paleoenvironment (particularly paleoclimate) of the Late Cretaceous Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain of Georgia and Alabama using paleobotanical, paleoecological and geochemical methods in order to evaluate the Late Cretaceous climate of the Southeastern United States, and to add to the body of paleoclimate data for that time. Paleobotanical analysis indicates a terrestrial mean annual temperature (MAT) of about 27°C during the Late Cretaceous, which is considerably warmer than modern terrestrial MAT. Stable oxygen isotope data from molluscan carbonate indicate mean sea surface temperature (SST) of 26.8 °C for the Santonian, 23.5°C for the early Campanian, and 28.8°C for the late Campanian. These paleotemperature compare with the modern Gulf Coast mean SST of about 21.8°C. Results of carbon stable isotope analysis for determination of paleosalinity show the method to be useful, but best used in conjunction with other methods, including paleoecological analysis. The study also explored the use of strontium isotopes for the determination of paleosalinity, as well as for geological age determination. Results suggest that further examination of strontium isotope analysis would be valuable.