Dr. Brian Platt

Areas of Expertise

My interests encompass a broad background in sedimentary geology with extensive training in ichnology. Placing biogenic sedimentary structures within their larger sedimentological and environmental contexts drives my research in multiple avenues, all united by the theme of applying innovative methodologies and technologies to quantitatively reconstruct paleoenvironments and paleoclimates. The main focus of my research is field-based investigations into lateral and temporal patterns in continental trace-fossil assemblages and associated sedimentological and geochemical proxy data. I also enjoy supplementing trace-fossil studies with results from bioturbation experiments with modern organisms.

Recent Projects

A Pedologic Perspective of the Bauxites of Mississippi

Bauxite is a rock rich in aluminum and iron minerals that serves as an ore of aluminum. The bauxite deposits of Mississippi were mapped decades ago, but most are considered low grade so few recent geological investigations have been undertaken. But bauxite is a very interesting material because it forms through extensive weathering of soils in humid tropical environments. This project seeks to reevaluate the bauxite deposits of Mississippi in terms of the climates and timing of hiatuses that they represent. Results will help improve interpretations of regional paleoclimate and sequence stratigraphy.

3D Neoichnology of Earth's Critical Zone

The purpose of this research is to study burrows in modern soils developing within different environments and climates with the goal of relating burrow properties to environmental and climatic variables; this will allow interpretation of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic information from fossilized burrow properties. Three-dimensional digital models of plaster casts of burrows are captured with a laser scanner and measured using various software packages. Research is being performed in collaboration with the Ichnology of Continental Environments (ICE) research group and has focused on the National Science Foundation's Santa Catalina Critical Zone Observatory in the Sonoran Desert with support from the National Geographic Society.

Cenozoic Carbon Cycle Perturbations in the Sedimentary Record of the Mississippi Embayment

This project involves sampling of outcrops and core from the Mississippi Embayment to identify Cenozoic warming events marked by stable carbon isotope excursions; many of these rapid warming events are good deep-time analogs for projected global climate change. Perhaps more important than identifying the events, the research also focuses on terrestrial ecosystem response as reconstructed from paleosols and trace fossils. Work is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. L. Zachos from UM GGE and Charles Swann from MMRI with support from a UM investment grant.

Calcrete Stratigraphy and Ichnology of the Neogene Ogallala Formation, western Kansas

The Neogene Ogallala Formation hosts one of the most important and endangered aquifers in North America. Outcrops in western Kansas expose stacked paleosols and associated calcretes that are being studied to better understand subsurface stratigraphic architecture. The calcretes also preserve a suite of trace fossils that can be used to interpret paleoenvironments and paleoecology during Miocene grassland expansion. This project is being performed in collaboration with the Kansas Geological Survey.


* denotes UM student author

Zachos, L.G., and Platt, B.F., 2019, Actuopaleoichnology of a modern Bay of Fundy macro-tidal flat: analogy with a Mississippian tidal flat deposit (Hartselle Sandstone) from Alabama: PeerJ, 7:e6975 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6975, 32 p.

Platt, B.F., Suarez, C.A., Boss, S.K., Williamson, M., Cothren, J., and Kvamme, J.A.C., 2018, LIDAR-based characterization and conservation of the first theropod dinosaur trackways from Arkansas, USA: PLOS ONE, v. 13, 21 p., https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190527

Hembree, D.I., Smith, J.J., Buynevich, I.V., and Platt, B.F., 2017, Neoichnology of semiarid environments: soils and burrowing animals of the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, U.S.A., PALAIOS, v. 32, p. 620–638, doi: 10.2110/palo.2017.009.

Smith, J.J., Ludvigson, G.A., Layzell, A., Möller, A., Harlow, R.H., Turner, E., Platt, B., and Petronis, M., 2017, Discovery of Paleogene deposits of the central High Plains Aquifer in the western Great Plains, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 87, p. 880–896, doi: 10.2110/jsr.2017.48.

Platt, B.F., *Kolb, D.J., *Kunhardt, C.G., *Milo, S.P., and *New, L.G., 2016, Burrowing through the literature: The impact of soil-disturbing vertebrates on physical and chemical properties of soil: Soil Science, v. 181, p. 175-191, doi: 10.1097/SS.0000000000000150.

Hirmas, D.R., Giménez, D., Mome Filho, E.A., Patterson, M., Drager, K., Platt, B.F., and Eck, D.V., 2016, Quantifying soil structure and porosity using three-dimensional laser scanning, in Hartemink, A.E., and Minasny, A.E., eds., Digital Soil Morphometrics: Springer, p. 19–35, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28295-4_2.

Smith, J.J., Platt, B.F., Ludvigson, G.A., Sawin, R.S., Marshall, C.P., and Olcott-Marshall, A., 2015, Enigmatic red beds exposed at Point of Rocks, Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas: chronostratigraphic constraints from uranium-lead dating of detrital zircons: Current Research in Earth Sciences, Bulletin 261, p. 1-16.

Smith, J., Ludvigson, G.A., Harlow, H., and Platt, B., 2014, Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer special study phase III: lithologic calibration of practical saturated thickness in the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer: Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report no. 2014-2, 9 p.

Platt, B.F., 2014, The foraging pits of the nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus (Mammalia: Xenarthra: Dasypodidae), and implications for interpreting conical trace fossils: Palaeontologia Electronica, v. 17, 17 p.

Hembree, D.I., Platt, B.F., and Smith, J.J., eds., 2014, Experimental Approaches to Understanding Fossil Organisms: Lessons from the Living: Springer, 420 p., doi: 10.1007/978-94-017-8721-5.

Platt, B.F., and Hasiotis, S.T., 2014, Novel Neoichnology of Elephants: Nonlocomotive Interactions with Sediment, Locomotion Traces in Partially Snow-Covered Sediment, and Implications for Proboscidean Paleoichnology, in Hembree, D.I., Platt, B.F., and Smith, J.J., eds., Experimental Approaches to Understanding Fossil Organisms: Lessons from the Living: Springer, doi: 10.1007/978-94-017-8721-5_15.

Hirmas, D.R., Giménez, D., Subroy, V., and Platt, B.F., 2013, Fractal distribution of mass from the millimeter- to decimeter-scale in two soils under native and restored tallgrass prairie: Geoderma, v. 207-208, p. 121-130, doi: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2013.05.009.

Hasiotis, S.T., Reilly, M., Amos, K., Lang, S., Kennedy, D., Todd, J.A., and Michel, E., and Platt, B.F., 2012, Actualistic studies of the spatial and temporal distributions of terrestrial and aquatic organism traces in continental environments to differentiate lacustrine from fluvial, eolian, and marine deposits in the geologic record, in Baganz, O.W., Bartov, Y., Bohacs, K., and Nummendal, D., eds., Lacustrine sandstone reservoirs and hydrocarbon systems: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir 95, p. 433–489, doi:10.1306/13291400M953457.

Platt, B.F., Hasiotis, S.T., and Hirmas, D.R., 2012, Empirical determination of physical controls on megafaunal footprint formation through neoichnological experiments with elephants: PALAIOS, v. 27, p. 725–737, doi: 10.2110/palo.2012.p12-006r.

Hasiotis, S.T., and Platt, B.F., 2012, Exploring the sedimentary, pedogenic, and hydrologic factors that control the occurrence and role of bioturbation in soil formation and horizonation in continental deposits: an integrative approach: The Sedimentary Record, v. 10, p. 4–9 (journal cover), doi: 10.2110/sedred.2012.3.

Hirmas, D.R., Platt, B.F., and Hasiotis, S.T., 2012, Determination of calcite and dolomite content in soils and paleosols by continuous coulometric titration: Soil Science Society of America Journal, v. 75, p. 1100–1106, doi: 10.2136/sssaj2011.0278

Smith, J.J., Platt, B.F., Ludvigson, G.A., and Thomasson, J.R., 2011, Ant-nest ichnofossils in honeycomb calcretes, Neogene Ogallala Formation, High Plains region of western Kansas, U.S.A.: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 308, p. 383–394, doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.05.046.

Platt, B. F., Hasiotis, S.T., and Hirmas, D.R., 2010, Use of low-cost multistripe laser triangulation (MLT) scanning technology for three-dimensional, quantitative paleoichnological and neoichnological studies: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 80, p. 590–610 (journal cover), doi: 10.2110/ jsr.2010.059.

Platt, B. F., and Hasiotis, S.T., 2008, A new system for describing and classifying tetrapod-tail traces with implications for interpreting the dinosaur-tail trace record: PALAIOS, v. 23, p. 3–13, doi: 10.2110/palo.2006.p06-111r.

Hasiotis, S.T., Platt, B.F., Hembree, D.I., and Everhart, M.J., 2007, The trace-fossil record of vertebrates, in Miller, W. III, ed., Trace Fossils: Concepts, Problems, and Prospects: Elsevier Press, p. 196–218, doi: 10.1016/B978-044452949-7/50138-8.

Platt, B. F., and Hasiotis, S.T., 2006, Newly discovered sauropod dinosaur tracks with skin and foot-pad impressions from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA: PALAIOS, v. 21, p. 249–261, doi: 10.2110/palo.2004.p04-69.

Jennings, D.S., Platt, B.F., and Hasiotis, S.T., 2006, Distribution of vertebrate trace fossils, Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, USA: implications for differentiating paleoecological and preservational bias: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, v. 36, p. 183–192.

Springer, D.A., and Platt, B., 2002, The art of illustrating science, in Scotchmoor, J.G., Breithaupt, B.H., Springer, D.A., and Fiorillo, A.R., eds., Dinosaurs: the Science Behind the Stories: American Geological Institute, p. 163–170.