Project Information
Collaborative Research: Permian and Triassic Icehouse to Greenhouse Paleoenvironments and Paleobotany in the Shackleton Glacier Area, Antarctica
Short Title:
LPIA Antarctic Icehouse-Greenhouse
Start Date:
End Date:
The research focus of this collaborative proposal was to collect fossil plants, fossil wood, stratigraphic, sedimentologic, paleosol, and geochemical data from plants and the rocks that contain them in order to reconstruct the extent of the Gondwana glaciation in the Shackleton Glacier (SHK) area, the invasion and subsequent flourishing of life following glacial retreat, changes to the physical environment, and the eventual recovery of plant life after the Late Permian biotic events. Only in Antarctica does a complete polar-to-near-polar succession occur across this climatic and biologic transition. The SHK is an important one as it is one of the few regions in the world where the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) is exposed within terrestrial rocks. In addition, outcrops in the SHK area extend from the glacigenic deposits of the Upper Carboniferous-Lower Permian through to the Upper Triassic and thus record ecosystems and the plants that inhabited them from the Gondwana icehouse into the Late Permian-Early Triassic greenhouse and into presumed "full recovery" of floras from the PTB extinctions in the Late Triassic. The project encompassed a multidisciplinary plan that used various types of paleobotanical expertise, integrated with detailed sedimentology, stratigraphy, and geochemistry, in order to reconstruct Permian-Triassic plant communities and their paleoenvironments. This interdisciplinary approach is a powerful tool to uncover details of Antarctica’s complex late Paleozoic and Mesozoic environmental, climatic, and biotic history which included: 1) glaciation/deglaciation, 2) development and evolution of a post-glacial landscape and biota, 3) environmental and biotic change associated with the end-Permian mass extinction events, 4) earliest ecosystems in the Triassic, 5) greenhouse conditions in the Triassic, 6) full ’recovery’ of floras and ecosystems by the Late Triassic, and, through all of these events, 7) development and changes in a foreland basin system. Three interrelated focus areas, each delimited by distinct hypotheses and action strategies, provided the framework to trace floral diversity and environmental evolution after the retreat of glaciers through to the Late Triassic. Antarctica is the only place on Earth that includes extensive outcrops of high-paleolatitude terrestrial rocks, combined with widespread and well-preserved plant fossils, and that spans this crucial time. The research and broader impacts of this proposal were integrated into action strategies that have been successful in the past. Compression floras were collected (constrained by stratigraphy) both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to obtain biodiversity and abundance data, and as a data source for paleoecological analysis. Even in formations where megafossils were unknown (e.g., Lower Permian), fossil wood is present so that anatomy and geochemistry of tree rings were examined. Standard sedimentologic and stratigraphic analyses were performed, as well as paleosol analyses, including mineralogic and major- and trace-element geochemistry. Collections will also be made for U-Pb zircon geochronology to better constrain geologic and biotic events. The Broader Impacts of the project involved education and outreach initiatives that included women and under-represented groups in the excitement of Antarctic earth sciences: 1) Continuing successful public outreach, teaching, and mentoring of women and under-represented students in Antarctic research; 2) Participation in workshops for under-represented groups via the Expanding Your Horizons Program in Kansas, the TRIO program (KU), and the STELAR summer workshop (UWM) for high-school students. 3) Outreach via the KU Natural History Museum; 4) Exploring Antarctic geosciences through continued presentations to pre K-12 school groups, and field and lab activities at UWM, as well as links from McMurdo Station and satellite conferences from the field with K-12 science classes in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Person Role
Isbell, John Investigator and contact
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 1443557
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
0 (raw data)
  1. Elliot, D. H., & Isbell, J. L. (2021). A mass transport deposit in the Permian Mackellar Formation, Victoria Group, Antarctica. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 1–21. (doi:10.1080/00288306.2020.1868538)
  2. Rosa, E. L. M., Vesely, F. F., Isbell, J. L., Kipper, F., Fedorchuk, N. D., & Souza, P. A. (2019). Constraining the timing, kinematics and cyclicity of Mississippian-Early Pennsylvanian glaciations in the Paraná Basin, Brazil. Sedimentary Geology, 384, 29–49. (doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2019.03.001)
  3. Moxness, L. D., Isbell, J. L., Pauls, K. N., Limarino, C. O., & Schencman, J. (2018). Sedimentology of the mid-Carboniferous fill of the Olta paleovalley, eastern Paganzo Basin, Argentina: Implications for glaciation and controls on diachronous deglaciation in western Gondwana during the late Paleozoic Ice Age. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 84, 127–148. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2018.03.015)
  4. Isbell JL, Vesely FF, *Rosa ELM, *Pauls KN, *Fedorchuk ND, *Ives LRW, *McNall NB, *Litwin SA, *Borucki MK, *Malone JE and *Kusick, AR, 2021. Evaluation of physical and chemical proxies used to interpret past glaciations with a focus on the late Paleozoic Ice Age. Earth-Science Reviews, 103756 (doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2021.103756)
  5. Ives, L.R.W., Isbell, J.L., 2021. A lithofacies analysis of a South Polar glaciation in the Early Permian: Pagoda Formation, Shackleton Glacier region, Antarctica. Journal of Sedimentary Research 91. (doi:10.2110/jsr.2021.004)
  6. Gulbranson, E.L., Sheldon, N.D., Montañez, I.P., Tabor, N.J., McIntosh, J.A., 2022. Late Permian soil-forming paleoenvironments on Gondwana: A review. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 586, 110762. (doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2021.110762)
  7. Rosa, E.L.M. and Isbell, J.L. (2021). Late Paleozoic Glaciation. Encyclopedia of Geology 2nd. D. Alderton and S.A. Elias. Academic Press, pp. 534-545. (doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-102908-4.00063-1)
  8. Ciccioli, P.L., Limarino, C.O., Isbell, J.L., Taboada, A.C., Pagani, M.A., Gulbranson, E.L., 2020. Interpreting detrital modes and geochemistry of sandstones from the late paleozoic Tepuel-Genoa basin: Paleogeographic implications (Patagonia, Argentina). Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 102858. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2020.102858)
  9. Fedorchuk, N.D., *Griffis, N.P., Isbell, J.L., Goso, C., *Rosa, E.L.M., Montañez, I.P., Yin, Q.Z., *Huyskens, M.H., (2021). Provenance of late Paleozoic glacial/post-glacial deposits in the eastern Norte (Chaco-Paraná) Basin, Uruguay and southernmost Paraná Basin, Brazil. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 106 102989. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2020.102989)
  10. Gulbranson, E.L., Cornamusini, G., Ryberg, P.E., Cortib, V. (2020). When does large woody debris influence ancient rivers? Dendrochronology applications in the Permian and Triassic, Antarctica. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 541 109544 (doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109544)
  11. López-Gamundí, O., Limarino, C.O., Isbell, J.L., Pauls, K., Césari, S.N. and Alonso-Muruaga, P.J. (2021). The late Paleozoic Ice Age along the southwestern margin of Gondwana: Facies models, age constraints, correlation and sequence stratigraphic framework. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 107 103056. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2020.103056)
  12. Pauls, K. N., Isbell, J.L., Limarino, C.O., Alonso-Muruaga, P.L., Schencman, L.J., Columbi, C., Moxness, L.D., Malone, D (2021). Constraining late Paleozoic ice extent in the Paganzo Basin of western Argentina utilizing U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology for the lower Paganzo Group strata. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 106 102899. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2020.102899)
  13. Fedorchuk, N. D., Isbell, J. L., Griffis, N. P., VeselyF.F., da Rosa, E. L. M., Montãnez, I. P., Mundil, R., Yin, Q.-Z., Iannuzzi, R., Roesler, G., and Pauls, K. N., (2019). Carboniferous glaciotectonized sediments in the southernmost Paraná Basin, Brazil: Ice marginal dynamics and paleoclimate indicators. Sedimentary Geology. 389 54. (doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2019.05.006)
  14. Griffis, N.P., Montañez, I.P., Mundil, R., Richey, J., Isbell, J.L., Fedorchuk, N., Linol, B., Iannuzzi, R., Vesely, F., Mottin, T., da Rosa, E., Keller, B., Yin, Q., 2019. Coupled stratigraphic and U-Pb zircon age constraints on the late Paleozoic icehouse-to-greenhouse turnover in south-central Gondwana. Geology 47. (doi:10.1130/G46740.1)
  15. Pauls, K. N., Isbell, J. L., McHenry, L. J., Limarino, C. O., Moxness, L. D., and Schencman, L. J. (2019). , A paleoclimatic reconstruction of the Carboniferous-Permian paleovalley fill in the eastern Paganzo Basin: Insights into glacial extent and deglaciation of southwestern Gondwana. Journal of South American Earth Sciences. 95 102236. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2019.102236)
  16. Collette, J., Isbell, J. L., Miller, M.F. (2017). A unique winged Euthycacinoid from the Permian of Antarctica. Journal of Paleontology. 91 1. (doi:10.1017/jpa.2017.28)
  17. Griffis, N.P., Montañez, I.P., Fedorchuk, N., Isbell, J., Mundil, R., Vesely, F., Weinshultz, L., Iannuzzi, R., Gulbranson, E., Taboada, A., Pagani, A., Sanborn, M.E., Huyskens, M., Wimpenny, J., Linol, B., Yin, Q.-Z., 2019. Isotopes to ice: Constraining provenance of glacial deposits and ice centers in west-central Gondwana. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 531, 108745. (doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.04.020)
  18. Gulbranson, E.L., Jacobs, B.F., Hockaday, W.C., Wiemann, M.C., Michel, L.A., *Richards, K., Kappelman, J.W. (2017). Nitrogen-fixing symbiosis inferred from stable isotope analysis of fossil tree rings from the Oligocene of Ethiopia. Geology. 45 (8), 687. (doi:10.1130/G39213.1)
  19. sbell, J.L.; Fedorchuk, N.D.; Pauls, K.N.; Griffis, N.P.; Ives, L.R.W.; Moxness, L.D.; Survis, S.R.; Vesely, F.F.; Montañez, I.P.; Limarino, C.O.; Iannuzzi, R.; Biakov, A.S.; da Rosa, E.L.M.; Mundil, R.; Taboada, A.C.; Pagani, M.A.; Ciccioli, P.L.; Schencman, L.J.; Alonso-Muruaga, P.J. Davydov, V.I.; Vedernikov, I.L.; McNall, N.B. (PDF) Glaciation During the Late Paleozoic Ice Age.Revista del Museo de la Plata. 3 (1), 5R
  20. Vesely, F.F., Rodrigues, M. N.C.L., da Rosa E.M., Amato, J. A., Trzaskos, B., Isbell, J. L., Fedorchuk, N. D (2018). Emplacement of nonglacial mass-transport diamictite within higher frequency glacial cycles during the late Paleozoic icehouse. Geology. 46 (7), 615 (doi:10.1130/G45011.1)
  21. Malone, J. E., Isbell, J. L., Taboada, A. C., & Pagani, M. A. (2023). Facies sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy of the carboniferous lower section of the Ansilta Formation, Calingasta-Uspallata Basin, NW Argentina. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 104345. (doi:10.1016/j.jsames.2023.104345)

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