NOVA Annandale: Self-Trail on SEM’ing nannoplankton

Geology Seminar

You are invited to attend a geology seminar presented by Dr. Jean M. Self-Trail titled, “The Use of Technology in the Study of Extant and Fossil Coccolithophores (Nannofossils)” on the Annandale Campus.

Monday April 6th , from 11:45AM to 12:45PM in CA 302.


Calcareous nannoplankton are marine, unicellular, flagellate phytoplankton belonging to the phylum Haptophyta.  They are characterized by the possession of a cell wall covering (called a coccosphere) consisting of individual coccoliths made of CaCO3, which are readily preserved as fossils.  The fossil record of this group is continuous from their first appearance in the Late Triassic to the present day.    Through the use of modern technology such as scanning electron microscopes (SEM’s), mass spectrometers, imaging software such as Images, and micro-video techniques, the life cycle and living habits of these fossil and living plants can be used to determine a variety of past-climate variables.  This talk will focus on the role that imaging technology plays in tracking evolutionary changes in fossil lineages and how these changes are used to document extreme climate variability during hyperthermal events.

Speaker Bio:

Jean M. Self-Trail has worked as a Research Geologist for US Geological Survey since 2000; she is also an adjunct professor of Geology at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009. She received her PhD from the University of Nebraska in Geology. Her research topics are Paleocene/ Eocene climate and hyperthermal events, Cretaceous and Paleogene biostratigraphy of Coastal Plain sediments, Calcareous nanofossil taxonomy and taphonomy.


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