New Paper Update: Tropically Hot Cenomanian temperatures in the Western Interior Seaway

The latest SCIPP-Lab paper comes from former SCIPP-lab postdoc Dr. Matt Jones (now at the Smithsonian Institute), publishing the work he did while at UM. Dr. Jones looked at fossil oysters from the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway and used clumped isotope to reconstruct seaway temperatures during the time they lived.

We found that temperatures during the Cretaceous Thermal Maximum (Cenomanian-Turonian period, ~95 Million years ago) reached upper 20’s to lower 30’s Celsius in what is now modern day Utah and Wyoming. This is very hot! These water temperatures, which occurred in the mid-latitudes during the Cretaceous, are today only found in the warmest areas of the ocean like the Western Pacific Warm Pool. It makes you wonder how hot the tropics were if the mid-latitudes were >30C!! But that’s for another day…

Some Cenomanian-Turonian oyster fossils used in this study

Shell cross section, showing growth banding (and some calcite veins).



LINKS TO OTHER PRESS: Futurity article, Science Daily article,

SCIPP Lab welcomes two new members!

We are very excited to welcome our two newest members, Lucas Gomes and Alex Quizon, both PhD students. Lucas will be working on reconstructing paleoceangraphic conditions in the Pliocene of Florida looking at extremely fossil-dense beds of the Tamiami Fm./Pinecrest beds and Caloosahatchee Formation. Alex will be working on fossil seashells from South Carolina dating to the Last Interglacial and calibrating the clumped isotope paleothermometer in modern marine gastropods. Welcome welcome!

We are also sad to (sort of) say goodbye to our postdoc Matt Jones, who has left us for a fancy postdoc fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC (congrats Matt!). We will still be collaborating closely with Matt in our efforts to reconstruct Cretaceous paleotemperatures, especially in the Western Interior Seaway. He plans to leverage the extensive Cretaceous fossil collections of the Smithsonian and send us samples to analyze for clumped isotopes.

SCIPP Lab Represents at MGU

Earth Scientists of UM gathered today for the annual Michigan Geophysical Union (MGU) Research Symposium. There were over 70 posters presented in two sessions, with 50 from the Earth department. Out of these, 5 posters were from our group – 10% of all Earth department posters! (and an even higher % of the undergraduate poster presenters – wow!).

Jade, Serena, Jon, Becca, and Tianna all did a great job presenting. Our very own Serena won the Best Undergraduate Poster award! Congratulations Serena!

Matt and Sierra contributed too by judging student posters and giving feedback.

Welcome to Jon!

The Petersen group just keeps growing! We have added another member, undergraduate Jon Hoffman. Jon will be working with our new postdoc Matt to reconstruct climate and oceanographic conditions in the Western Interior Seaway during the Cenomanian/Turonian. Jon found his way to us by being a top student in Sierra’s Intro Oceanography class last semester. To all you undergraduates out there looking for research experience – the best way to get into a lab is to impress your professors in class and then follow up outside of class and express your interest!

Welcome to Matt!

The Petersen group is very excited that our newest member, postdoc Matt Jones, has finally arrived! Matt joins us from Northwestern University, where he completed his PhD studying Ocean Anoxic Events in the Western Interior Seaway, among other things. Matt plans to apply the clumped isotope paleothermometer to try and reconstruct climate change across OAE2.