Part 1: Scientific Integrity in Education; Part 2: “The Great Dying” – end Permian extinction event

August 6th (Tuesday), 6 p.m., Teton Co. Library Auditorium – Open to Public. Presentation: “Part 1: Scientific Integrity in Education; Part 2: “The Great Dying” – end Permian extinction event”, Presented by John Geissman, Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico.

Long title: “Striving for Scientific Integrity and Ethical Practices in Higher Education” and “What Really Occurred on Land During the First of Three Great Global Extinctions?:  Chronostratigraphy of Beaufort Group Strata deposited across the Permian/Triassic Boundary, Karoo Basin, South Africa (and other musings)”

 “How do we ensure research and scientific integrity?  A diverse panel discusses the critical components and challenges of crafting and implementing effective scientific integrity policies”.  My summary is as follows:  “Science strives to understand the natural world around us. The “enterprise” must be associated with the utmost of integrity and ethical practice. Otherwise, any form of trust in science and scientists breaks down, quickly. The need for the highest levels of scientific integrity and ethical principles in higher education, throughout the world, is obvious, as this is the setting where scientists practice and future scientists, as entering science majors or those who change their minds and switch to science, are nurtured and mentored. Institutions of higher education are becoming more and more cognizant of the need to expose young scientists to logical “best practices”, and this is a good step forward. At the same time, there are too many individuals in higher education with all the responsibility of everything on their shoulders, but NO authority.  In my nearly 40 years in academia, several “colleagues” should have been terminated, for one reason or another. Did it happen? No.  Yet, like it or not, I can explain why.”

The second half of my presentation will be a condensed discussion of the Karoo Basin, South Africa.  I will concentrate on the stratigraphic, paleontologic, geochronologic and magnetic polarity stratigraphy record of the interval of sedimentary rocks that, for over a century, has been considered to have been deposited across the first of three Great Global Mass Extinctions, at the end of the Permian Period (ca. 251.89 Ma ago).  [The next is the Cretaceous/Cenozoic boundary interval (ca. 65.5 Ma) and the most recent began some 2.5 Ma ago and has heightened in its intensity ever since—the Anthropocene].   The age of the Permian/Triassic boundary is very well-determined.  However, little high-precision age data are available from the Karoo sedimentologic succession (except for one result that my colleagues and I published in 2015).  Additional geochronologic data and, if possible, magnetic polarity stratigraphy data, are the only mechanisms to provide a more robust chronostratigraphic framework for this Karoo succession that has yielded the most remarkable and well-preserved collection of fossil vertebrates (protomammals) of anywhere on Earth.  That is where I come in.  Magnetic polarity stratigraphy work on these rocks is not simple; the thermal history of the Karoo Basin is complex.  Attempting to resolve magnetizations of primary vintage in these rocks is made challenging through the effects of the emplacement, in Early Jurassic time (ca. 184-183 Ma), of the Karoo Large Igneous Province, as gigantic sills and an overlying stack of lava flows.  This is a work in progress, and has involved several seasons of field investigation, for which I am very grateful, as the scenery is stellar, the company is lovely, the food is superb, and South African wines are undoubtedly some of, if not the best on Earth!