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Ronald Martin


Ron Martin investigates the formation and preservation of fossil assemblages on different scales of time, ranging from the modern to very ancient.  He received a Ph.D. in protozoology from the University of California at Berkeley and then worked as a micropaleontologist and industrial biostratigrapher for Unocal in Houston, where he examined microfossils in well cuttings and “sat” drilling rigs to prevent blowouts (like those of the TransOcean rig).  He came to the University of Delaware in 1985, where he is now Professor of Geological Sciences.  He has served as Editor of the Journal of Foraminiferal Research , Associate Editor of Palaios, and as President of the North American Micropaleontology section (NAMS) of the Society for Sedimentary Geology.  The first edition of his textbook, Earth’s Evolving Systems: The History of Planet Earth, was published by Jones and Bartlett in February, 2012, and a second edition is in preparation.

Ron pursues four broad avenues of research:

1) Taphonomy: The formation and preservation of fossil and subfossil (especially microfossil) assemblages in different sedimentary environments (carbonate and terrigenous) over different scales of time ranging from modern to hundreds of millions of years or more, and the temporal resolution they provide in assessing past environmental change.

Taphonomy Book Cover

2) Environmental Micropaleontology and Geoarchaeology: The use of different microfossil taxa to determine natural and anthropogenic impacts on estuaries and tidal rivers such as sea-level rise, deforestation, and pollution.  Recent work has occurred in the Christina tidal river basin and the Black Sea.

Envl Micro Book Cover

3) Subsurface Stratigraphy and Water Resources of Delaware:  Dr. Peter McLaughlin of the Delaware Geological Survey and I supervise students who are studying the occurrence of formations in the subsurface of Delaware that serve as important aquifers and aquicludes.  We are using foraminiferal assemblages and strontium isotope stratigraphy to better delineate the occurrence of these units and different facies (environments).  The occurrence of these units is related to paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic change of Earth's environments.

Calvert Cliffs 2ACoring 2Coring 1

4) Marine Biodiversity through geologic time in relation to the evolution of major biogeochemical cycles of phosphorus and micronutrients: Together with the phytoplankton specialist Dr. Antonietta Quigg (Texas A&M University, Galveston) and Dr. Warren Allmon (Director, Paleontological Research Institution and Professor at Cornell University), we have hypothesized that the evolution of marine biodiversity over geologic scales of time is related in part to the evolution of phytoplankton stoichiometry.  Based on studies of trophic cascades in lakes, we suggest that increasing nutrient content of phytoplankton has made it “easier” for animals higher in food pyramids to obtain these nutrients by not having to first expend their own energy to first respire the carbon in food, thereby leaving more energy available for reproduction, increasing population size, and metabolism and to greater rates of micro- and macroevolution.   

EES book coverOLE Book Cover


Subsurface Stratigraphy and Water Resources of Delaware

Formations in the subsurface of Delaware crop out at Calvert Cliffs along Chesapeake Bay

Marine Biodiversity and Taphonomy Through Geologic Time

The trilobite Paradoxides from Morocco.

Environmental Micropalaeontology and Geoarchaeology

The ancient harbor of Troy filled with sediment as a result of deforestation.


• Marine Ecology• Paleoceanography• Marine Chemistry• Geoarchaeology• Geochemistry• Water Science• Water & Society• Earth History & Paleoclimate• Geobiology• Environmental Interactions


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA
Phone: 302-831-2841 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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