Instruction: ENVI 110 Intro to Environmental
Science, GEOL 160 Intro to Earth and Sky, GEOL 270
Historical Geology, GEOL 361 Oceanography, ENVI 376
Dinosaurs, Earthquakes and Volcanoes, GEOL 389
Introduction to Field Geology, GEOL 470/570
Principles of Paleontology, GEOL 666 Early Life On
Earth, GEOL 661 Seminar in Paleoceanography, GEOL 661
Seminar in Paleoecology, GEOL 683 Coastal Environments
Interests: Paleoceanography, Paleoecology,
Micropaleontology, Geobiology and Biogeochemistry of
My current work primarily focuses on the ecology and
modern foraminifera and the calibration of proxies for
use in paleoceanography, and environmental change.
I am involved in several projects that examine the
relationships between ambient conditions, and the
ecology and geochemistry of biomineralization in
calcareous foraminifera. Each of these projects
incorporates student research.
Summary of Current Projects:
Research: Calibration of a new approach to reconstruct
ancient bottom water oxygen levels
(A.E. Rathburn, B. H. Corliss (Duke University), Co-PIs)
Funded by NSF Marine Geology and Geophysics
We intend to use living (stained or labeled) specimens
collected from a wide variety of habitats, including a
2011 transect across the oxygen minimum zone off San
Diego, to examine the relationship between foraminiferal
morphology and ambient dissolved oxygen. Together with
graduate and undergraduate students and a research
technician, we are using scanning electron imaging
technology to compare pore characteristics of calcareous
foraminiferal tests (shells) with dissolved oxygen
contents of the water they are living in. The focus of
this study is on epifauna (species that live on or above
the sediment-water interface), but infaunal
foraminiferal distribution and morphologies will also be
examined, and compared with bottom water and pore water
chemistry. To examine the relationships between test
morphology and dissolved oxygen in a broad spectrum of
environments, we will also evaluate the morphologies of
epifauna from archived samples from around the world.
sea-surface temperature reconstructions in the Tasman
Sea. A. E. Rathburn Co-PI with P.
DeDeckker, (Australian National University, S. Schmidt (Université
Bordeaux, France) and S. Schouten (Royal Netherlands
Institute For Sea Research, The Netherlands). Ship
time funding by the Marine National Facility, Australia;
ISU funding provided by the University Research Council.
Using samples collected along a transect on the
Australian margin from Tasmania to Brisbane, we will
examine microfauna collected in the water column and
from seafloor sediments. ISU students will examine
the distribution, ecology and stable isotopic
composition of benthic foraminifera from multicorer
samples and compare results with those of environmental
parameters and planktonic micro-organisms.
approach to understand stable isotopic
disequilibrium in benthic foraminifera (A.E.
Rathburn, J. M. Bernhard
(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), and J. B. Martin
Co-PIs) Funded by NSF Marine Geology and Geophysics
Using the remotely operated vehicle, JASON, we collected
from clam beds associated with seafloor methane seeps in
off the coast of California. Together with graduate and
students and a postdoctoral researcher, we are using a
recently developed techniques to understand why the
geochemistry of benthic foraminiferal carbonate is so
from that of the water they are living in. Foraminiferal
distribution will be compared with foramininferal
vacuoles, symbionts, etc.), and pore water chemical and
composition. To examine a broad spectrum of isotopic
propose a coupled study of both non-seep sediments and
methane seep environments, where steep geochemical
gradients occur. The
specific hypotheses to be tested are:
A) The carbon isotopic composition of foraminiferal
influenced by clustering of individuals within
B) The carbon isotopic composition of foraminiferal
influenced by diet.
C) The carbon isotopic composition of benthic
foraminiferal carbonate is
influenced by prokaryotic, non-photosynthetic symbionts.
impact of seasonality on benthic foraminifera as
paleoceanographic proxies. (A. E. Rathburn, Co-PI
with Scott Ishman
(Univ. of South. Illinois) and Jon Martin (Univ. of
Florida)) Funded by
NSF Polar Programs
Together with graduate and undergraduate participants,
seafloor sites along a gradient of productivity (food
the Antarctic Penninsula in April (bloom time) and
2008. By comparing the distribution and biogeochemistry
of living and
dead foraminiferal assemblages with environmental
through time and space at these locations we will be
able to discern
foraminiferal responses to seasonal and spatial changes
availability in this region. This information is
critical to understand
how seafloor ecosystems will respond to future change,
and to provide
modern analog data that can be used to assess
environmental changes in
the past based on foraminiferal fossil assemblages.
function and evolution of authigenic, methane-derived
carbonate ecosystems (A. E. Rathburn Co-PI with Lisa
Levin and Greg
Rouse (Scripps Inst. Of Oceanography) and Victoria
Inst. of Technology)). An interdisciplinary team
including graduate and
undergraduate participants is studying newly recognized
associated with carbonate rocks generated in seafloor
environments. The site chosen are known locations of
habitats off Costa Rica and off Oregon (Hydrate Ridge).
In a series of
cruises in 2009 and 2010, we will deploy experiments and
from seep and non-seep habitats in order to compare
ecosystems with those in nearby seep and non-seep
Specifically, we are examining the ecology, biology and
of foraminifera from these habitats.
faunal and biogeochemical pollution proxies in the
Venice Lagoon, Italy (part of an interdisciplinary
ScrippCo-PIs). Together with a team of Scripps
Institution of Oceanography
scientists and Italian scientists (SIOSED Project), we
responses of organisms to contaminants and
redistribution of seafloor
sediments in the Venice Lagoon, Italy. Specifically, we
the ecological and trace metal biogeochemical responses
foraminifera over time and space within the Lagoon. By
recovery of foraminiferal assemblages on sediment banks
created for the project, we are better able to
understand the ecological
and geochemical consequences of sediment redistribution
in the Lagoon.
One goal of this project is to develop microfaunal and
indicators of contaminants in order to monitor pollution
recovery in this and other lagoons with a history of
The following are examples of
publications over time. For a more
complete listing, contact Dr. Rathburn.
Basak, C., Rathburn, A. E., Pérez, M.E.
Martin, J. B., Kluesner, J. W.,
Levin, L.A., De Deckker, P., Gieskes, J.M., and Abriani,
Carbon and oxygen isotope geochemistry of live (stained)
foraminifera from the Aleutian Margin and the southern
Margin. Marine Micropaleontology. 70 (2009) 89–101.
Rathburn, A. E., L. A. Levin, M. Tryon,
W. Ziebis, J. M. Gieskes, J. B.
Martin, M. E. Pérez, F. J. Fodrie, C. Neira, G. Mendoza,
P. A. McMillan,
J. Adamic, J. Kluesner (2009) Geological and Biological
the Aleutian Margin (1965-4822 m). Progress in
Oceanography, 80: 22-50.
Gieskes, J., Mahn, C., Day, S., Martin, J., B., Greinert,
A. E., McAdoo, B. (2005) A study of the
chemistry of pore fluids and
authigenic carbonates in methane seep environments:
Kodiak Trench ,
Hydrate Ridge, Monterey Bay, and Eel River Basin.
Chemical Geology 220
Martin, J. B., Day, S. A., Rathburn, A. E.,
Perez, M. E., Mahn, C,
Gieskes, J., 2004. Relationships between the stable
of living and fossil foraminifera in Monterey Bay,
Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems, 5, Q04004,
Rathburn, A.E., Perez, M. E., Martin,
J. B., Day, S. A., Gieskes, J.,
Mahn, C., Ziebis, W., Williams, D., Bahls, A. (2003)
between the distribution and stable isotopic composition
foraminifera and cold methane seep biogeochemistry in
California. Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems
Levin, L. A., Rathburn, A. E., Neira,
C., Sellanes, J., Munoz, P.,
Gallardo, V., Salamanca, M., (2002) Benthic Processes on
Margin: A transect across the oxygen minimum zone during
El Ni?o, Progress in Oceanography 53: 1-27.
Rathburn, A. E., Perez, M. E., and
Lange, C., 2001, Benthic-Pelagic
Coupling in The Southern California Bight: Relationships
Organic Material, Diatoms and Benthic Foraminifera:
Micropaleontology, v. 43, p. 261-271.
Rathburn, A. E., Levin, L. A., Held, Z.
A., Lohmann, K. C., 2000,
Benthic Foraminifera Associated with Cold Methane Seeps
on the Northern
Californian Margin: Ecology and Stable Isotopic
Micropaleontology, v. 38 p. 247-266.
Gooday, A. J., and Rathburn, A. E.,
1999, Temporal Variability in Living
Deep-Sea Benthic Foraminifera: a Review, Earth-Science
Reviews, v. 46,
Rathburn, A. E., Pichon, J-. J., Ayress,
M. A., and De Deckker, P.,
(1997) Microfossil and Stable Isotope Evidence for
Changes in Late
Holocene Paleoproductivity and PaleoceanographBay Region
of Antarctica. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology,
Palaeoecology, 131 (3/4): 485-510.
Rathburn, A. E., and De Deckker, P.,
(1997) Magnesium and Strontium
Compositions of Recent Benthic Foraminifera from the
Australia, and Prydz Bay, Antarctica. Marine
Rathburn, A.E., B.H. Corliss, K. D.
Tappa, and K.C. Lohmann, (1996).
Comparisons of the Ecology and Stable Isotopic
Compositions of Living
(Stained) Deep-Sea Benthic Foraminifera from the Sulu
and South China
Seas. Deep-Sea Research, 43 (10): 1617-1646.
Rathburn, A.E. and B.H. Corliss,
(1994). The Ecology of Living (Stained)
Benthic Foraminifera from the Sulu Sea. Paleoceanography,
2002 Presented with Student Co-Authors