Matthew Staitis

Matthew Staitis
University of East Anglia | UEA · School of Environmental Sciences

MSc by Research Palaeontology and Geobiology


PhD Researcher at the University of East Anglia - Investigating biotic/environmental change across of the PETM.
Additional affiliations
September 2020 - September 2022
The University of Edinburgh
  • MSc by Research Palaeontology and Geobiology
  • My MSc by Research project used paired benthic trace element (i.e., B/Ca) analyses to quantify the changes in climate and carbonate chemistry (related to ocean acidification) during the Late Maastrichtian Warming Event (LMWE).
September 2016 - June 2020
University of Glasgow
Field of study
  • Geology


Projects (2)
The overall aim of the project is to investigate the effect of the PETM on a group of organisms known as foraminifera. Foraminifera form microscopic calcareous shells (0.2-0.5mm) during their lifecycle, that have a high preservation potential, and also occur in vast numbers and hence are well represented in the sedimentary record. Analysing the foraminiferal faunal abundances and geochemical composition of the fossil shells will allow us to reconstruct sea surface and bottom ocean temperatures before, during, and after the PETM. To achieve this aim we intend that the student at the outset will focus on two objectives that will be accomplished working on material collected from two outcrop sections (Kheu and Dzhengutay) in southern Russia. Both sections contain geological sequences that span the PETM and are characterized by shallow marine carbonates containing planktonic and benthic assemblages of foraminifera (Shcherbinina et al., 2016). A suite of these sedimentary samples have been processed at UEA and have yielded abundant and well preserved fossil material that is suitable for the analyses that we propose (Chapman, personal observation). Additional pre-collected samples will be available at the start of the project. Objective 1: To identify the dominant species represented within the planktonic and benthic foraminifera populations and quantify changes spanning the onset, duration and recovery of the PETM in both sections. We envisage that this will include several evolutionary and extinction events. Objective 2: To reconstruct sea surface and benthic temperatures for samples from the two sites using a multiproxy approach based on (i) d18O, (ii) Mg/Ca content, and (iii) clumped isotopes. The latter approach has yet to be used to study the PETM. All these methodologies are best applied for individual species of foraminifera. This approach will allow the reproducibility of any results to be assessed.
~66 million years ago, the Earth experienced two major events – the Chicxulub bolide impact and the eruption of the Deccan Traps Large Igneous Province. Whereas the Chicxulub impact is widely implicated as the main driver of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K/Pg) mass extinction, the exact environmental and biotic impacts of the preceding Deccan trap volcanism require further research focus. My MScR research project will use paired planktic and benthic trace element (B/Ca, Mg/Ca) analyses to quantify the changes in climate and carbonate chemistry (related to ocean acidification) during the Late Maastrichtian Warming Event (LMWE). I will investigate whether ocean acidification occurred during the Late Maastrichtian Warming Event (LMWE) in ODP 1262 samples. I anticipate a positive correlation when the new B/Ca data are compared to established %CaCO3 records, but a negative correlation when compared to established Fe intensity records at ODP 1262. The results of my research project will contribute to improving our understanding of the biotic response to Deccan induced environmental changes, prior to the K/Pg mass extinction.