Josua Murray, 2018, Geosciences

The goal of my project was to assess the link between the Columbia River Flood Basalts and the mid-Miocene Climate Optimum. The latter, the warmest Earth has been in the last 35 million years, is thought to have been caused by the eruption of huge volumes of volcanic material in the Pacific Northwest. However, nobody has yet shown that the volatiles (CO2, SO2, H2O, etc.) released by this eruption were enough to create the amount of global warming that climate records show. By collecting samples from this area and analyzing them in the lab, I am working to quantify the composition and volume of gas released by these basalts and assess their likelihood of being the cause of this heightened global temperature. Finally, the comparable nature of the mid-Miocene climate and the climate today (400ppm CO2, similar mean temperature) will provide insights into volatile flux and climate records that can be used as testing data for modern climate models; improving the accuracy of our climate predictions.