The spring semester 2021 will certainly take place online until Easter. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers.

651-4054-00L  Micropalaeontology

SemesterSpring Semester 2016
LecturersR. Schiebel
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


AbstractGeneral introduction to the various groups of microfossils, their morphology, taxonomy, biology, ecology, and application in such fields as biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, palaeoceanography, and the solution of other geological problems. Practical exercises and demonstrations of material will involve the examination of picked and strew-mounted microscope slides.
ObjectiveAt the end of the module you will be able to:
1. Assign a microfossil to its major taxonomic group (e.g. foraminifer, ostracod, dinoflagellate, palynomorph, etc.).
2. Be aware of, and to recognise, the main morphological and compositional features which allow assignation of an individual fossil to each group.
3. Draw basic stratigraphic conclusions about microfossil assemblages (e.g. age of rock unit, correlations, etc.)
4. Deduce paleoecological and/or paleoceanographic interpretations from different assemblages of microfossils.
5. Understand the applicability of particular microfossil groups to particular lithologies and particular geological time periods.
6. Determine which microfossil groups are most applicable to the solution of a variety of particular geological problems.
ContentLectures will introduce the various microfossil groups and detail their utility as important indicators of past environments by examining the ecology of living microplankton taxa and extrapolating this to the fossil record (paleoecology, paleoceanography). The applicability of different microfossil groups in providing both relative timescales (through zonal schemes) and biostratigraphic correlation will be detailed, as will the role of certain microfossils in understanding evolutionary processes. Microplankton as agents of global environmental change will also be investigated, especially with regard to fluxes of CaCO3 and C and hence to CO2 in the atmosphere. The microfossil groups which will be studied in the above context are those which form mineralised skeletons (calcareous, siliceous, phosphatic) and the organic-walled microfossils (known as palynomorphs).
LiteratureARMSTRONG, H.A. & BRASIER, M.D. (2005). Microfossils - Second Edition. 296 p., Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (new edition of the Brasier 1980 book below)

BIGNOT, G. (1985). Elements of micropalaeontology. Graham & Trotman, London. (generally good, all round text, quite adequate as an introduction to many groups)

BRASIER, M.D. (1980). Microfossils. George Allen & Unwin. (First Edition, rather dated and some chapters are very poor)

HAQ, B.U. & BOERSMA, A. (1998). Introduction to marine micropalaeontology. Elsevier, Amsterdam. (also the earlier 1978 version which is a little dated, but good for certain chapters such as radiolaria, which are less well covered in other texts)

JANSONIUS, J. & McGREGOR, D.C. (eds.) (1996). Palynology: principles & applications. 3 volumes. AASP Foundation, Austin, TX. (The most comprehensive palynological text: at 1330 pages you'd expect it to be!)

LIPPS, J.H. (ed.) (1992). Fossil prokaryotes and protists. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. (esp. dinoflagellates)

TRAVERSE, A. (1988). Paleopalynology. Unwin Hyman, London. (not surprisingly all about palynology, exhaustive, but DO NOT read the spore/pollen morphology sections! Second edition publ. in 2007)
Prerequisites / NoticeA general background knowledge of palaeontological methods and principles. No prior knowledge of microfossils is necessary.