Current project

Reapraisal of the classic Cipero Coast type section in Trinidad, SE Caribbean, for integrated biogeochronology and morphologic evolution of planktonic foraminifera
Project collaborators: Michael Knappertsbusch and Sadie Samsoondar
Supported by: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and Natural History Museum Basel (NMB)
Project duration: May 2023 through April 2024
Project summary
The Natural History Museum in Basel (NMB) maintains important paleontological and geological collections from Central to northern Southamerica including the Caribbean area. Among these are micropaleontological collections from Trinidad, West Indies and Venezuela, that were collected by former petroleum geologists like Hans G. Kugler - well known as the 'Father on the Geology of Trinidad' and his team during the first half of the twentieth century. Alongside these collections the NMB holds extended micropalaeontological archives, comprising primary field maps, many of them showing sampling locations, geological sections, field books, foto collections from outcrops, and innumerated unpublished reports, notes, and correspondence with geologists and micropaleontologists around the world.
This legacy alltogether forms one of the pillars of the NMB. It provides invaluable, worldwide unique insight into the former professional network of these pioneers and tell us in detail the history of micropaleontological research and of the petroleum industry in Trinidad and surrounding regions since the late 1800s. These archives provide unique prime information about the provenance of the NMB's research collections from the Caribbean Sea, ideas, concepts, and solucions in paleontology and stratigraphy from specialists, the majority of whom is no longer alive.

With the present project we intend to emphasize the extreme value of archival study for (micro-) paleontological and geological research. In constructing a numerical age model from information derived these archives we re-evaluate foraminiferal zonal type samples stored at the NMB belonging to the Cipero Marl Formation (Oligocene-Miocene), Trinidad, at Cipero Coast. Foraminiferal type sections like those along the Cipero Coast served at standardization of taxonomy and geological age information in earth sciences. The Cipero coast is one of several such classical locations in Trinidad for tropical biostratigraphy and worldwide correlation, that were elaborated from microfossil occurrences by specialists since the 1040ies. They helped to erect nowadays globally used foraminiferal zonal schemes, that became integrated in biogeochronological time-scales in earth sciences.
As an example of how the anticipated age model from the Cipero-Coast can be applied for the solution of scientific questions we measure morphological shell parameters of representatives of the planktonic foraminiferal lineage Globorotalia praescitula - archeomenardii - praemenardii in order to study their evolutionary development into the descendent and now well-studied Neogene tropical Globorotalia menardii. Planktonic foraminifera are calcite shells secreting floating protists in the oceans, that are well suited for such investigations about the evolution of organisms. Particularly for this project, we use type- and cotype samples from the Cipero coast from NMB collections.

More information:
About Kugler archives:
About collections held at NMB:
About morphological evolution of menardiform globorotalids:
About planktonic foraminifera: