Sedimentological expression of Cenozoic climate events 06-10 March 2023

Lecturers: Thomas Westerhold


The Cenozoic era, the Age of Mammals, which started with the demise of the Dinosaurs, spans the past 66 million years. Earth’s climate underwent a significant and complex evolution during the Cenozoic. One of the best and continuous paleoclimatic archives of this era come from deep-sea deposits or sediments. For more than 50 years now, in the world’s largest and longest international scientific endeavor, deep-sea sediments have been drilled by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and its predecessors. Major international scientific collaborative efforts investigated the sedimentary records and revealed, amongst many other findings, important details about the Cenozoic climatic evolution. The records showed gradual trends of warming and cooling driven by tectonic processes on time scales of 1 to 10 million years, rhythmic or periodic cycles driven by orbital processes with 10.000 to 100.000-year cyclicity, and rare rapid shifts and extreme climate events with durations of 1.000 to 100.000 years.
The given course will introduce to scientific methods and findings from scientific ocean drilling. It will focus on the sedimentological expression of outstanding climate events, their relation to astronomical forcing and their implication for future climate pathways. During the course Atlantic IODP sediment cores stores at the Bremen Core Repository will be investigated. Students will obtain a broad perspective on the Cenozoic climate evolution and insights into the (feedback) mechanisms that govern climate and carbon cycle dynamics.


- acquire visual core description techniques as carried out by sedimentologists on sea-going paleoceanographic cruises
- provide an overview of the climate evolution of the Cenozoic
- study selected extraordinary climate events during the past 66 million years in detail
- discover the mechanisms that altered climate and carbon cycles dynamics
- advanced skills in literature review, scientific writing and presentation by supplementing sedimentologic observations, findings from proxy records and numerical modeling to gain a comprehensive understanding of the studied events


15 minutes conference-style talks and ~5-page scientific article style report (in groups of 2-3)

Exam Form:

Referat mit schriftlicher Ausarbeitung


will be announced


1st Day: Introduction in Cenozoic climate changes and carbon cycle dynamics
2nd Day: Core laboratory exercise and investigations
3rd Day: Core laboratory exercise and investigations
4th Day: Core laboratory exercise and investigations
5th Day: “Scientific Conference” with presentations of the participants
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