Precambrian Earth surface processes
The Earth's surface, atmosphere, and oceans were profoundly different in the past compared to present. Our research into modern environments can help us calibrate and understand the traces of ancient Earth surface processes preserved in sedimentary rocks. The BRG undertakes collaborative research to examine the chemical weathering behaviour of specific elements in deep time (e.g., those that change mobility under different redox conditions), chemically trace clastic sediment through the sedimentary cycle, reconstruct dissolved element fluxes from land to sea, and decipher whether original sedimentary signatures survive through post-depositional alteration/metamorphism. This work allows us to make inferences about the oxygenation of the atmosphere and oceans and how intensely rocks were weathered at the surface billions of years ago. In turn, our understanding of these ancient element cycles helps with constraining why specific low-temperature ore systems developed at specific points in Earth's history and how life co-evolved with changing surface environments. We study paleosols, red beds (clastic sedimentary rocks stained red by hematite), and iron formation from different continents and spanning billions of years of Earth history.