Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nicole Mizrahi L&S Sciences

Sulfur Abundance and Isotopic Composition Across the Terrestrial Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary

The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction (~66 million years ago) is hypothesized to have been caused by environmental effects of the Chicxulub asteroid impact and/or Deccan Traps flood volcanism in India. Both potentially caused major climatic change through increased sulfate aerosol production, which would have caused significant global cooling and/or acid rain. Sulfur released by each of these events has a distinguishable isotopic composition. To characterize changes to the sulfur cycle across the K-Pg boundary and investigate the role each catastrophic event played in the extinction, I will measure sulfur abundance and isotopic composition of sediment across the K-Pg boundary in the Hell Creek region (Montana), at high-resolution over a longer interval than previously studied. This will allow us to test whether a reported increase in sulfur abundance and isotopic composition at the boundary is statistically unique and can be correlated to the Chicxulub impact, as well as identify any other excursions outside the narrow interval previously sampled, which would reflect sulfur released from from local eruptions and/or the more distal Deccan eruptions.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much to the Anselm fund for the opportunity to pursue this project! Participating in the SURF program has been the most challenging and rewarding experience in my time at Berkeley. Ive learned so much this summer, and I've become much more confident in my abilities to conduct research, which is something Ive struggled with. Im excited to continue with my project and build on the progress I made this summer, thanks to the SURF program.
Major: Geology
Mentor: Paul Renne
Sponsor: Anselm Fund
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