Sedimentary Petrology & Geochemistry
Professor

Contact

rlsbk@gly.uga.edu
Office:
Geography-Geology Building, Room 133

Current Research Interests

Paleoclimatological and paleoenvironmental records contained in carbonate materials, and especially in stalagmites.  This research uses the petrography, mineralogy, carbon isotope geochemistry, oxygen isotope geochemistry, U-Th isotope ratios, and minor element chemistry of stalagmites, other speleothems, and other carbonate materials as proxy records of climate change, and other environmental change, in the past.

Education:
  • B.A, History, University of Iowa, 1980.
  • B.S., Geology, University of Iowa, 1981.
  • M.S., Geology, University of Iowa, 1983.
  • Exploration Geologist, Shell Oil, New Orleans, 1983-1985
  • Ph.D., Geology, University of Illinois, 1989.
Research Interests:

Petrography and Geochemistry of Stalagmites as a source of information about past climate change has been the main area of my recent research.  My work has combined the petrography of stalagmites (the distribution of spelean carbonate minerals, non-carbonate detrital minerals, crystal fabrics, layering, and critical surfaces) with geochemistry (C and O stable isotope analysis and trace-element geochemistry) to understand stalagmites as records of past climate.

Much of this work has been done in collaboration with Dr. George A. Brook of the UGA Geography Department, and it has focused on stalagmites from southern Africa, the southwestern United States, China, India, and Belize.  This work has been supported by NOAA and NSF and was the subject of M.S. thesis work by Margaret Rafter and Hillary Sletten.  Ph.D. student Ny Riavo Gilbertinie Voarintsoa has now joined this effort too.

More recent collaboration has been with Juan Ramon Vidal-Romani and his colleagues at the University of La Coruna in northwestern Spain and with Fuyuan Liang of Western Illinois University.  That work has focused on stalagmites from northwestern Spain, and it has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.  UGA undergraduate Rachel Sellers has completed a senior thesis on one of the Spanish stalagmites.

In addition to those ongoing efforts. M.S. student James Baldini's thesis focused on relationships between drip rates and speleothem morphologies, and Joe Elkins's Ph.D. work investigated ways to extract more meaningful carbon isotopic compositions from speleothems. Italian doctoral student Gulglielmo Angelo Caddeo's visit in 2009-2010 also continues to bear fruit in terms of process-oriented, rather than paleoclimatological, research on the geochemistry of speleothems.

Grants:

Railsback has been supported as a PI and Co-PI by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Science Foundation (NSF), and indirectly by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.

Selected Publications:
  • 1. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1984, Carbonate diagenetic facies in the Upper Pennsylvanian Dennis Formation in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 54, p. 986-999.
  • 2. Railsback, L. Bruce, and Anderson, Thomas F., 1987, Control of Triassic seawater chemistry and temperature on the evolution of post-Paleozoic aragonite-secreting faunas: Geology, v. 15, p. 1002-1005.
  • 3. Railsback, L. Bruce, Anderson, Thomas F., Ackerly, Spafford C., and Cisne, John L., 1989, Paleoceanographic modeling of temperature-salinity profiles from stable isotope data: Paleoceanography, v. 4, 585-591.  A figure from this paper was reproduced in Jochen Hoefs's Stable Isotope Geochemistry.
  • 4. Railsback, L. Bruce, Ackerly, Spafford C., Anderson, Thomas F., and Cisne, John L., 1990, Paleontological and isotope evidence for warm saline deep waters in Ordovician oceans: Nature, v. 343, p. 156-159.
  • 5. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1990, Influence of changing deep ocean circulation on the Phanerozoic oxygen isotopic record: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 54, p. 1501-1509.
  • 6.  Railsback, L. Bruce, 1990, Comment on "Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses: a chimera": Geology, v. 18, p. 917-918.
  • 7. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1991, A model for teaching the dynamical theory of tides: Journal of Geological Education., v. 39, p. 15-18.
  • 8. Railsback, L. Bruce,  1992, A geological numerical model for Paleozoic global evaporite deposition: Journal of Geology, v. 100, p. 261-277.
  • 9. Woo, K.-S., Anderson, T.F., Railsback, L.B., and Sandberg, P.A., 1992,  Oxygen isotope evidence for high-salinity surface seawater in the Mid-Cretaceous Gulf of Mexico: implications for warm, saline deepwater formation: Paleoceanography, v. 7, p. 673-685.  
  • 10. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Contrasting styles of chemical compaction in the Upper Pennsylvanian Dennis Formation in the Midcontinent region, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 63, p. 61-72.
  • 11. Brook, G.A., Railsback, L.B., Cooke, J., Chen, J., and Culp, R.A., 1993, Annual growth layers in a stalagmite from Drotsky's Cave, Ngamiland: Relationship between growth layer thickness and precipitation: Botswana Notes and Records, v. 24, p. 151-163.
  • 12. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Stability of carbonate minerals: a thermodynamic perspective and its implications for carbonate petrology: Journal of Geological Education,  v. 41, p. 12-14.
  • 13. Railsback, L. Bruce., 1993, Lithologic controls on morphology of pressure dissolution surfaces (stylolites and dissolution seams) in Paleozoic carbonate rocks from the mideastern United States: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v.63 p. 513-522.
  • 14. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Effect of acidic buffers on clay minerals recovered from calcareous soils: an X-ray diffraction study: Soil Science, v. 155, p. 206-210.
  • 15. Ackerly, S.C., Cisne, J.L., Railsback, L.B., and Anderson, T.F., 1993, Punctal density in the Ordovician orthide brachiopod Paucicrura rogata : anatomical and paleoenvironmental variation: Lethaia,  v. 26, p. 17-24.
  • 16. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Original mineralogy of Carboniferous worm tubes: Evidence for changing marine chemistry and biomineralization: Geology, v. 21, p. 703-706.
  • 17. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, A geochemical view of weathering and the origin of sedimentary rocks and natural waters: Journal of Geological Education,  v. 41, p. 404-411.  A figure from this paper was used in Arthur H. Brownlow's Geochemistry (second edition, p. 348).
  • 18. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Control of crystal shape and size on formation of twin lamellae in calcite: implications for deep burial diagenetic fabrics in limestones: Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 8, p. 156-162.
  • 19. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1993, Intergranular pressure dissolution and compaction in a Plio-Pleistocene grainstone buried no more than 30 meters: Shoofly oolite, southwestern Idaho: Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 8, p. 163-169.  
  • 20. Railsback, L. Bruce, Brook, George A., Chen, Jian, Kalin, Robert, and Fleisher, Christopher J.,  1994, Environmental controls on the petrology of a Late Holocene speleothem from Botswana with annual layers of aragonite and calcite: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. A64, p. 147-155.
  • 21. Railsback, L. Bruce, and Andrews, Lynn M., 1995, Tectonic stylolites in the "undeformed" Cumberland Plateau of southern Tennessee: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 17, p. 911-915.
  • 22. Brook, G.A., Railsback, L.B., Cooke, J., Chen, J., and Culp, R.A., 1995, Precipitation data from annual growth layers in speleothems: some preliminary results from Drotsky's Cave in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana: Studia Carsologica, v. 6, p. 65-80.  
  • 23. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1995, Geological controls on global rates of coal deposition: A numerical model and its geochemical implications, in Haq, B.U., ed., Sequence Stratigraphy and Depositional Response to Eustatic, Tectonic, and Climatic Forcing: Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Press p. 137-159.
  • 24. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1996, Stylolites in limestones that lacked significant primary aragonite: Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, t. 167, No. 1, p. 181-183.
  • 25. Railsback, L. Bruce, Bouker, Polly A., Feeney, Thomas P., Goddard, Ethan A., Goggin, Keith E., Hall, A. Shawn, Jackson, Brian P., McLain, Angela A., Orsega, Michael C., Rafter, Margaret A., and Webster, James W., 1996, A survey of the major-element geochemistry of Georgia groundwater: Southeastern Geology, v. 36, p. 99‑122.
  • 26. Andrews, Lynn M., and Railsback, L. Bruce, 1997, Controls on stylolite development: morphologic, lithologic, and temporal evidence from bedding‑parallel and transverse stylolites from the US Appalachians: Journal of Geology, v. 105, p. 59-73. (This paper was highlighted in Geotimes, February 1998, v. 43, p. 33)
  • 27. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1997, Dependence of the pH of acid rain on lightning: Evidence from sampling within 14 showers and storms in the Georgia Piedmont in summer 1996: Science of the Total Environment, v. 198, p. 233-241. (This paper was featured in New Scientist, 31 May 1997, v. 154, No. 2084, p. 17, and in The Bakken Library and Museum Newsletter, v. 19, No. 2, Fall 1997).
  • 28. Railsback, L. Bruce, Sheen, Shaw-Wen, Rafter, Margaret A., Brook, George A. and Kelloes, Cathy, 1997, Diagenetic replacement of aragonite by aragonite in speleothems: criteria for its recognition from Botswana and Madagascar: Speleochronos, No. 8, p. 3-11.
  • 29. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1998, Evaluation of spacing of stylolites, and its implications for self-organization of pressure dissolution: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 68, p. 2-7.
  • 30. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1998, Comment on and statistical analysis of "δ18O values of mudrocks: More evidence for an 18O-buffered ocean" by L.S. Land and L.F. Lynch, Jr.: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 62, p. 325-326.
  • 31. Railsback, L. Bruce, 1999, Patterns in the compositions, properties, and geochemistry of carbonate minerals: Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 14, p. 1-20.
  • 32. Brook, George A., Rafter, M.A., Railsback, L. Bruce, Sheen, Shaw-Wen, and Lundberg, Joyce, 1999, A high-resolution proxy record of rainfall and ENSO since AD 1550 from layering in stalagmites from Anjohibe Cave, Madagascar: The Holocene, v. 9, p. 695-705.
  • 33. Railsback, L. Bruce, Brook, G.A., and Webster, J.W., 1999, Petrology and paleoenvironmental significance of detrital sand and silt in a stalagmite from Drotsky's Cave, Botswana: Physical Geography, v. 20, p. 331-347.
  • 34. Railsback, L. Bruce, and Hood, Edward C., 2001, A survey of multi-stage diagenesis and dolomitization of Jurassic limestones along a regional shelf‑to‑basin transect in the Ziz Valley, Central High Atlas Mountains, Morocco: Sedimentary Geology, v. 139, p. 285-317.
  • 35. Cox, Julia E., Railsback, L. Bruce, and Gordon, E.A., 2001, Evidence from Catskill pedogenic carbonates for a rapid Late Devonian decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations: Northeastern Geology and Environmental Science, v. 23, p. 91-102.
  • 36. Railsback, L. Bruce, Dabous, Adel A., Osmond, J.K., and Fleisher, C.J., 2002, Petrographic and geochemical screening of speleothems for U-series dating: an example from recrystallized speleothems from Wadi Sannur Cavern, Egypt: Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 64, p. 108-116.
  • 37. Sheen, Shaw-wen, Brook, George A., Railsback, L. Bruce, and Thill, Jean-Claude, 2003, Stalagmite annual layer thickness as a proxy for ENSO and rainfall: Evidence from Drotsky's Cave, Botswana, in Desertification in the Third Millennium (eds. A.S. Alsharhan, W.W. Wood, A. Goudie, K.W. Glennie and E.M. Abdellatif), A.A. Balkema, p. 27-44. (ISBN: 90 5809 571 1).
  • 38. Railsback, L. Bruce, Holland, Steven M. , Hunter, Daniel E., Jordan, E. Michael, Díaz, Jennifer R., and Crowe, Douglas E., 2003, Controls on geochemical expression of subaerial exposure in Ordovician limestones from the Nashville Dome, Tennessee, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 73, p. 790-805.
  • 39. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2003, An earth scientist's periodic table of the elements and their ions: Geology, v. 31, p. 737-740 + insert.  This work was featured in Nature (v. 425, p.115), as the cover story of Science News (v. 164, No. 17), in Discover Magazine (v. 25, No. 1, p. 73) as one of the 100 Top Science Stories of 2003, in New Scientist  (v. 171, No. 2298, p. 11), in Natural History (11/3/2003), in Today's Science on File (v. 12, No. 3, p. 88-91), in Sciences et  Avenir, on Nature Science Update, in The Guardian (UK), in TCEtoday (The Chemical Engineer - UK), on Earthscope, on About.com, by Kip Ingram Online, on atcybertopia.com, and on Mac.com.  The Geological Society of America Bookstore sold 1000 reprints of this article.
  • 40. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2004, An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions: Geological Society of America Map and Chart Series item MCH 092.  The table underwent revision and full peer review prior to this re-issue.  The revised table was also published in 2004 by McGraw Hill as a supplement to Plummer et al.'s Physical Geology (10th edition) and Sverdrup and Duxbury's Introduction to the World's Oceans).  The table was featured in Current Science (March 4, 2005) and on Geology.com (September 10, 2005).  The table was translated into Chinese to accompany the following article: Chiyue Jin, 2006, Understanding "An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions": Journal of Jinhua College of Profession and Technology, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 71-75.
  • 41. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2004, T. C. Chamberlin's "Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses": An encapsulation for modern students: Houston Geological Society Bulletin, v. 47, no. 2, p. 68-69. (published at the request of the editor)
  • 42. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2005, A synthesis of systematic mineralogy: American Mineralogist, v. 90, p. 1033-1041.  This manuscript underwent accelerated publication and was specially featured on the Mineralogical Society of America's website.
  • 43. Baldini, J.U.L., F. McDermott, F., Baker, A., Baldini, L.M., Mattey, D.P. and Railsback, L. Bruce, 2005, Biomass effects on stalagmite growth and isotope ratios: A 20th century analogue from Wiltshire, England: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 240, p. 486-494.
  • 44. Brook, George A., Ellwood, Brooks B., Railsback, L. Bruce, and Cowart, J.B., 2006, A 164 ka record of environmental change in the American Southwest from a Carlsbad Cavern speleothem: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 237, p. 483-507.
  • 45. Elkins, Joe T., and Railsback, L. Bruce, 2006, Evaluation of the effect of oven roasting at 340°C, bleach, 30% H2O2, and distilled/deionized water on the δ13C value of speleothem carbonate: Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 68, p. 137-143.
  • 46.  Xiao, Hong-Lin, Brook, G., Railsback, B., and Ping, Lei, 2006, A historical event in a stalagmite from Yangzipo Cave, Guizhou, China: Quaternary Sciences, v. 26 no.5 p. 808-813.
  • 47. Baldini, Lisa M., Walker, Sally E., Railsback, L. Bruce, Baldini, James U.L., and Crowe, Douglas E., 2007, Isotopic ecology of the modern land snail Cerion, San Salvador Bahamas: Preliminary advances toward establishing a low-latitude island palaeoenvironmental proxy: Palaios, v. 22, p. 174-187.  This paper was featured on the BioOne website at www.bione.org.
  • 48. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2007, Patterns in the compositions of oxysalt and sulfosalt minerals, and the paradoxical nature of quartz: American Mineralogist, v. 92, p. 356-369.
  • 49. Theiling, Bethany P., Railsback, L. Bruce, Holland, Steven M., and Crowe, Douglas E., 2007, Heterogeneity in geochemical expression of subaerial exposure in limestones, and its implications for sampling to detect exposure surfaces: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 77, p. 159-169.
  • 50. James W. Webster, George A. Brook, L. Bruce Railsback, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards, Clark Alexander, and Philip P. Reeder, 2007, Stalagmite evidence from Belize indicating significant droughts at the time of Preclassic Abandonment, the Maya Hiatus, and the Classic Maya Collapse: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.v. 250, p. 1-17.
  • 51. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2007, T. C. Chamberlin's "Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses": An encapsulation for modern students: The Outcrop, v. 56, no. 11, p. 25 & 32 (Requested by the editor of this publication of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists).
  • 52. Condit, Celeste M., and Railsback, L. Bruce, 2007, Generalization through similarity: motif discourse in the discovery and elaboration of Zinc Finger Proteins: Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration, v. 2, item 4.
  • 53. Bernal, Juan Pablo, y Railsback, L. Bruce, 2008, Introducción a la Tabla Periódica de los Elementos y sus Iones para Ciencias de la Tierra: Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas, v. 25, p. 236-246.  This paper was the cover article for Volumen 25 número 2.
  • 54. Brook, George A., Scott, Louis, Railsback, L. Bruce, and Goddard, Ethan A., 2010, A 35 ka pollen and isotope record of environmental change along the southern margin of the Kalahari from a stalagmite and animal dung deposits in Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa: Journal of Arid Environments, v. 74, p. 870-884.
  • 55. Brook, George A., Railsback, L. Bruce, and Marais, Eugene, 2011, Reassessment of carbonate ages by dating both carbonate and organic material from an Etosha Pan (Namibia) stromatolite: Evidence of humid phases during the last 20 ka: Quaternary International, v. 229, p. 24-37.
  • 56. Brook, George A., Railsback, L. Bruce, Campbell, Alec C., Robbins, Lawrence H, Murphy, Michael L., Hodgins, Greg, and McHugh, Joseph, 2011, Radiocarbon ages for cupules carved in quartzite bedrock at Rhino Cave in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana, and their paleoclimatic implications: Geoarchaeology, v. 26, p. 61-82.
  • 57. Railsback, L. Bruce, Fuyuan Liang,  Juan Ramón Vidal Romaní, Aurora Grandal d'Anglade, Marcos Vaqueiro Rodríguez, Luisa Santos Fidalgo, Daniel Fernández Mosquera, Hai Cheng, and R. Lawrence Edwards, 2011, Petrographic and isotopic evidence for Holocene long-term climate change and shorter-term environmental shifts from a stalagmite from the Serra do Courel of northwestern Spain, and implications for climatic history across Europe and the Mediterranean: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 305, p. 172-184.
  • 58. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2011, An Earth Scientist's Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions: Geological Society of America Map and Chart Series item MCH 092Rev.
  •  Having sold all their reprints of the 2003 Table and all their copies of the 2004 poster in their Map and Chart Series, GSA printed a revised version to resume their sales of the Table.
  • 59. Caddeo, Guglielmo Angelo, De Waele, Jo, Frau, Franco, and Railsback, L. Bruce., 2011, Trace-element and stable isotope data from a flowstone in a natural cave of the mining district of SW Sardinia (Italy): evidence for Zn2+-induced aragonite precipitation in comparatively wet climatic conditions: International Journal of Speleology, v. 40, p. 181-190.
  • 60. Raquel Franco de Souza Lima e L. Bruce Railsback, 2012, Uma Tabela Periódica dos Elementos e seus Íons para Cientistas da Terra: Terrae Didatica. v. 8, p. 73-82.
  • 61. Railsback, L. Bruce, Layou, Karen M., Heim, Noel A., Holland, Steven M., Trogdon, M.L., Jarrett, M.B., Izsak, Gabriel M., Bulger, Daniel E., Wysong, Eric J., Trubee, Kenton S., Fiser, Julie M., Cox, Julia E., and Crowe, Douglas E., 2012, Geochemical evidence for meteoric diagenesis and cryptic surfaces of subaerial exposure in subtidal carbonates from the Upper Ordovician of the Nashville Dome, central Tennessee, U.S.A., in Ketzer, Marcelo, and Morad, Sadoon, eds., Linking Diagenesis to Sequence Stratigraphy of Sedimentary Rocks: International Association of Sedimentologists Special Publication 45, p. 257-270.
  • 62. Railsback, L. Bruce, 2013, Depth and nature of giant petroleum discoveries through time as an indicator of resource depletion: Journal of Industrial Ecology, 17, 345-351.
  • 63. Brook, George A., A. Cherkinsky, L. Bruce Railsback, Eugene Marais, and Martin H.T. Hipondoka, 2013, 14C dating of organic residue and carbonate from stromatolites in Etosha Pan, Namibia: 14C reservoir effect, correction of published carbonate ages, and evidence of >8m deep lake during the Late Pleistocene: Radiocarbon. 55, 1156-1163.
  • 64. Sletten, H.R., Railsback, L.B., Liang, F., Brook, G.A., Marais, E., Hardt, B.F., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., 2013, A petrographic and geochemical record of climate change over the last 4600 years from a northern Namibia stalagmite, with evidence of abruptly wetter climate at the beginning of southern Africa’s Iron Age. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 376, 149–162.
  • 65. Caddeo, Guglielmo Angelo, De Waele, Jo, Frau, Franco, and Railsback, L. Bruce, 2013, Contrasting genesis and environmental significance of aragonite inferred from minor and trace element variation in speleothems: Memorie dell'Istituto Italiano di Speleologia s. II, 28, 157-175.
  • 66. Railsback, L.B., Akers, P.D., Wang, L., Holdridge, G.A., and Voarintsoa, N.R., 2013, Layer-bounding surfaces in stalagmites as keys to better paleoclimatological histories and chronologies. International Journal of Speleology 42, 167-180.
  • 67. Railsback, L.B., Xiao, H., Liang, F., Akers, P.D., Brook, G.A., Dennis, W.M., Lanier, T.E., Cheng, H., and Edwards, R.L., 2014, A stalagmite record of abrupt climate change and possible Westerlies-derived atmospheric precipitation during the Penultimate Glacial Maximum in northern China: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 393, 30–44.
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