“Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument –
What the rocks tell us about ecosystem response to past climate change”
with Kathleen Springer, Geologist – U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Paleowetland deposits comprise the entirety of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument and entomb the spectacular namesake Pleistocene faunal assemblage. Study of these deposits in detail, reveals that the very springs that were the magnet and water source for animals in an otherwise arid environment, were highly sensitive to past abrupt climate change. This presentation will show that entire ecosystems collapsed repeatedly in response to prolonged drought. How did the animals respond? How will modern desert wetlands respond to current warming climes’?
I study geologic deposits associated with desert wetlands, pluvial lakes, and anything else I can get my hands on to query the paleoclimate record of the American Southwest. I was trained as a geologist and paleontologist, with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Geological Sciences from the University of California, Riverside, and spent the first part of my career at the San Bernardino County Museum where I was the Senior Curator of Geological Sciences. Now with the USGS, my research focuses on deciphering paleo-depositional environments of Quaternary localities (paleowetlands and pluvial lakes) throughout the Mojave Desert and southern Great Basin, stressing the application of detailed stratigraphic and chronologic controls. I also use detailed geologic mapping to understand how hydrologic systems in the desert responded to past episodes of climate change and tectonic activity. In addition, I am a lifelong geoscience educator and communicator, specializing in earthquake science messaging by raising awareness of earthquake hazards and risk and promoting natural disaster preparedness, work which continues today.