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FACULTY OF ENGINEERING Professor of Palaeontology Geology Petroleum Geoscience Unit Chemical Engineering Tel 868 662 2002 ext. 83676 E-mail PROF. JEREMY BRENT WILSON I teach within the BSc Petroleum Geoscience course and conduct research in micropaleontology the study of fossil remains so small that they are studied with microscopes. I have published over 50 papers concentrating on the micropalaeontology of the eastern Caribbean Sea and adjacent areas. My work covers three marine microfossil groups Foraminifera forams for short typically calcareous shelled Amoeba-like creatures Radiolaria which differ from the foraminifera in secreting siliceous shellsand Ostracoda microscopicbivalved crustaceans. Micropalaeontologists use fossils for two purposes biostratigraphy which uses fossils to determine the relative geological ages of the various sedimentary rock layers and palaeoecology which examines the ecology of fossil communi- ties and uses the information obtained to ascertain in what environment each bed of rock was deposited. These two sciences did not however develop concurrently. When fossils were first studied in detail during the 19th and early 20th centuries the emphasis was on biostratigraphy. Each species typically existing for only a short time usually just a few million years the finding of an association of fossil species allows palaeontologists to determine a rocks geological age to about 100000 years which in geological terms is a very short time indeed. Quantitative palaeoecology developed over the last few decades. The information from itcoupled with the biostratigraphic ordering of samples allows us to work out how the environment in a region has changed over the many millions of years of geological time. Both types of information are useful in hydrocarbon and mineral exploration. My work has been principally ecological and palae- oecologicalthe latter within a biostratigraphic framework. My work on ecology came from a realization thatif we are to understand the palaeoecology of fossil communities we must first understand the ecology of their living counterparts. I have worked on the ecology of live communities of both forams and ostracods. I have shown that shallow-water forams in the Lesser Antilles live mainly on marine vegetation seagrasses and calcar- eous algae. This is because the sediment theresuch as the white beach sands contains too little organic matter for the forams to eatwhereas the plants support thriving communities of bacteria and microscopic algae. Trinidad however is surrounded mostly by sandy muds washed out from the Orinoco River that support few marine plants. These muds are rich in organic matter and so can support live foram communities. I have also shown that the distributions of ostracod and foram species off southeast Trinidad reflect how the nutrient-rich freshwater outflow from the Orinoco meets the nutrient-poor salty water of the open Atlantic Ocean along a distinct boundary called a front between the two water masses. There is only slow and limited mixing of water across this front and the water masses support distinct foram and ostracod communities. My work has shown that a distinct Orinoco- supported foram fauna can be found across the eastern Caribbean Sea as far north as Puerto Rico and in water as deep as about 2000 m. In addition I have demonstrated that different species live at different depths in the seawater. This means that we can use the species to infer water depth. Armed with knowledge gained from studying these live communities I have been able to decipher parts of Trinidads geological evolution by examining the fossil communities in the sedimentary rocks though much work remains to be done. Because Trinidad straddles the plate tectonic boundary between the South American and Caribbean plates but lies in an especially crumpled region at the southeastern corner of the Caribbean plate it has some of the worlds most complex geology. Micro- palaeontology has proven most useful in deciphering the islands geological evolution. The initial biostratigraphic work erected prior to about 1965determined the ages of the islands many rock formations a formation is a collection of beds of similar rock type expansive enough to be differentiated on a geological map. This phase culminated in the development in the 1960s of a system of using species of forams to correlate sedimentary rocks in tropical areas worldwide rocks in different areas are said to have been correlated when fossils have shown them to be the same age. However Trinidad and the Eastern Caribbean region have lagged in developing palaeoecological studies. My research has commenced the filling of this vast gap. Trinidad comprises three distinct areas each with differing geology that have been brought together by plate tectonics the mountains of the Northern Range the flat plane of the Caroni Basin and the rolling hills of the Southern Basin. My research has documented how these elements have interacted over time. The formation of the Northern Range occurred during early to mid Miocene times about 1320 million years ago. The piling up of the rock to form this mountain range weighed down on the crust on either sideproducing an adjacent trough a little like the furrow that forms if you press down on a pillow with your fist. The forams and ostracods show that this pressing down caused the Caroni 90