Jeremy Gabriel’s PhD in Earth Sciences at McMaster University in Canada focused on a muddy shelf deposit, known as the Mancos Shale formation, which formed in a marine basin during the Upper Cretaceous period (between 100.5 and 66 million years ago), when the earth’s climate resembled a global hothouse with minimal polar ice sheets. Dr. Gabriel used high-resolution micro-X-ray fluorescence to analyze the chemical elements within the marine muds and establish the chemofacies (intervals of sediment with the same chemical signature). The sedimentary record from this period can provide valuable information regarding climatic and environmental perturbations as global temperatures rise, leading to a better understanding of modern climate change in order to model future conditions.
For his postdoc at the University of Haifa in the Department of Marine Geosciences, Dr. Gabriel turns to our period of Earth history, the Holocene, which is helpful, in turn, for interpreting the ancient record. Dr. Gabriel is an expert on a relatively new technology, an Itrax core scanner, which can provide a higher sampling resolution, and therefore a larger volume of data, than traditional techniques. In an attempt to distinguish environmental signals caused by natural climate variations from those caused by human development, he employs the scanner and other tools to examine samples from different parts of the eastern Mediterranean to reconstruct short-term environmental fluctuations during the last 6,000 years.
Certified by McMaster’s Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, Dr. Gabriel’s innovative approach to teaching includes a virtual field experience that he co-developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to showcase the geologic history of an area in Ontario. He used georeferenced photos, videos, and drone footage on a web-based storyboard to show his students rock types, structural features, and geomorphological changes, and how that information is included in geologic maps.