Title page for ETD etd-04102012-103841

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Jensen, Kevin
URN etd-04102012-103841
Title A High-Resolution Palynological Analysis of the St. Stephens Quarry, Alabama: Locating the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary and Characterizing the Environmental Changes Across the Margin
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Geology & Geophysics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Warny, Sophie Committee Chair
Ellwood, Brooks Committee Member
Schiebout, Judith Committee Member
  • Biostratigraphy
  • E-O boundary
  • Alabama
  • Palynology
Date of Defense 2012-03-26
Availability unrestricted
The Eocene-Oligocene (E-O) transition is a key interval in geological history because it

marks a major change in Earth’s climate and because these strata are also popular oil targets in

the Gulf Coast.

E-O sequences in Alabama are stratigraphically complex. The St. Stephens Quarry (SSQ)

in Alabama is one of the few accessible quarries along the Gulf Coast where the E-O boundary

is visible in outcrop. Despite the abundance of research projects conducted in the SSQ, many

controversies still surround the E-O boundary placement and correlation to the Global Stratotype

in the Massignano section in Italy that is based on the extinction of the Hantkeninidae family.

The lack of Hantkenina sp. (Miller et. al., 2008) in a core from near the SSQ and the stratigraphy

there contribute to the controversy in boundary placement.

To supplement the rarity of foraminifera biomarkers in the section, I present the results

of a high-resolution palynological study of the St. Stephens Quarry in Alabama, to help better

constrain the boundary placement and associated environmental changes. The new data provide

1) an alternate biostratigraphic zonation and locate the E-O boundary based on organic-walled

microfossils to increase biostratigraphic control in the Gulf Coast region, 2) a way to supplement

and assist biosteering when foraminifera are not present, and 3) new environmental data

(sea-surface conditions and climate) across the boundary. By comparing SSQs palynomorph

assemblages to worldwide stratigraphic charts we have established that the E-O boundary occurs

within the transition between the Shubuta marl and the Bumpnose limestone (between 3.60-

3.65m depth).

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