I want to do research that has a value and application in the Geological Sciences outside of the simple fossil description and documentation that a palaeontologist is often expected to do. I have therefore concentrated in my work also on sedimentological and diagenetic processes (largely in Devonian strata) as an example of interdisciplinary work in geology. I like to work together with other specialists on various topics, looking for example at the use of palaeontological data in sequence stratigraphy and structural geology, but also concentrating on biological interpretation of palaeontological data in evolutionary and (palaeo-) ecological studies.
Since I started to work with the DFG Forschergruppe (Title: The Precambrian–Cambrian ecosphere (R)evolution: Insights from Chinese microcontinents) at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, I am involved in research on Cambrian evolution, where I am especially interested in the origin and early evolution of coloniality in the Hemichordata. This is also supported through a new DFG project.
- Evolution of the marine planktic ecosystem and of animal coloniality
- Patterns of fossil distribution as indicators for basin evolution and sea level changes
- Global chronostratigraphy and Earth Time - Combining absolute and relative dating methods to understand time constrains of geological processes (sedimentation, eustasy, biological evolution)
Applied research (with Sven Egenhoff, CSU Fort Collins, Colorado, USA):
- Graptolite shales as source rocks and potential unconventional reservoirs
- Sequence and bio-sequence stratigraphy of shales and carbonate reservoirs
I am interested in faunal and eco-system evolution in relation to large and small scale bioevents, understanding what triggers worldwide extinction events in the Phanerozoic. Answers might be found by looking at various features, from sedimentological, biological and geochemical data sets, the interaction of fossils with the sediments in which they are formed (taphonomy), providing answers to the question why organisms were preserved in certain environments or disappeared without a trace. Destruction of fossils can be physical, but in many cases chemical destruction through aerobic decay, recrystallisation, mineralisation or dissolution of shells and bones lead to the disappearance of fossils. The understanding of these processes can help to reconstruct past environments and basin evolution, but also the ecological requirements of organisms.
Colonial organsims like the Pterobranchia (Graptolithina) offered a lifestyle unique to the Palaeozoic, but doomed through evolutionary restrictions not well understood. They show a distinctly limited constructional disparity due to their unique skeletal development, preventing them from attaining a leading role in the marine ecosystem, but permitting a limited success. I am interested in micro- and macroevolutionary patterns of these hemichordates, recently recognized to include the extant Rhabdopleura (Mitchell et al. 2013), as a unique example of the evolution of modular colonial organisms in the marine ecosystem.
I use faunal and facies patterns for chronostratigraphic correlation in black shales, to aid sequence stratigraphic interpretations and understand the internal architecture of unconventional and carbonate reservoirs such as the Alum Shale Formation and the Bjørkåsholmen Formation in Scandinava. My work helped to recognize bio-sequence stratigraphic features in monotonous organic-rich (graptolitiferous) deep-water black shale environments (Egenhoff & Maletz 2007) by linking biostratigraphy and palaeontology to sequence stratigraphy and sedimentology. The results show the need to analyse and understand depositional environments and the geometries of sedimentary sequences in relation to palaeobiological signals, to combine the knowledge and expertise of different branches of the Geosciences into a single coherent picture. This is a new and promising approach in palaeontology.
Research on Re-Os dating of Palaeozoic rocks in Scandinavia and eastern North America (see NSF Proposal) uses a method that can easily be applied to any successions in which fossils with preservation of organic walls or skeletons are present. It relies on the dating of organic material from fossils to gain absolute dates for rock sequences. Thus, the method combines absolute and relative dating methods to increase the resolution and precision of our time scale. Providing absolute ages for fossils will help to define more precisely stage and series boundaries in the chronostratigraphic time scale and improve the definition of a host of processes, including sedimentation, sea-level change, biologic evolution and motion of lithospheric plates.
I am using microfossils like radiolarians and ostracods to improve biostratigraphic resolution in the Palaeozoic and understand ecologial changes in the marine environment. While radiolarians only recently became of major interest for correlational purposes, especially in deep water sediments and an improved biostratigraphy is urgently needed, ostracods can provide important information to the ecology and biogeography of sedimentary sequences, understand paleo-climates and provide a means for plate tectonic relationships and reconstructions.
Current areas of fieldwork
- southern & central Sweden (Scania, Västergötland, Öland, Dalarna)
- southern Norway (Oslo Region)
- New York State
- western and central Newfoundland
Research Plans (general)
- DFG project (DFG MA 1269/7-1) will concentrate on the recognition and early evolution of pterobranch hemichordates during the Cambrian time interval. The Cambrian explosion is the time interval when most of modern phyla originated, but the fossil record is often inconclusive. First definitive pterobranch hemichordates (e.g. graptolites and their relatives) are common in the Middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5), but the evidence for the presence of even earlier taxa is mounting. These taxa shed light on the phylogenetic relationships to the remaining hemichordates (e.g. Enteropneusta). New palaeontological methods of chemical extraction of organically preserved organismic remains help to unravel the early history of the evolution of early hemichordates and especially pterobranchs. Shallow water dark shale and limestone successions yield a fossil archive of immense value not yet explored. These strata start to yield unexpected richness of organically preserved body fossils (also known as SCFs; Small carbonaceous fossils) aside the more normal mineral preservation of fossil shells, the typical Cambrian shelly faunas (e.g. Small Shelly Faunas; SSFs). The Lower Cambrian Forteau Formation of western Newfoundland provides a sedimentary succession with low thermal overprint and moderate tectonic distortion that is ideal for the fossil extraction with the means of acidic dissolution, especially with gentle hydrofluoric acid techniques. Additionally, research will be done in the Chinese Kaili Formation, a well-known lagerstätte with spectacular fossil preservation on a different palaeo-continent. The extraction of organically preserved fossils provides a new tool support the biostratigraphy of the Lower Cambrian. It also helps to better understand tempo and mode of the Cambrian explosion by focusing on groups of organisms not usually recognized in the fossil assemblages.
- Another project will be concentrating on graptolitic Silurian successions in Dalarna and the basin evolution of the Scandinavian platform (Baltica) in the Early Paleozoic in connection with the Swedish Deep Drilling program (SDDP). The program is investigating a number of drillcores in the Meteorite Impact Crater of the Siljan Ring and provides support for research in the region (see abstracts Lehnert et al. 2011a, b). This project is a joint venture between numerous scientists from various countries, including O. Lehnert (Erlangen, Germany), G. Meinhold (Göttingen, Germany), S. M. Bergström Columbus, Ohio, USA), M. Calner (Lund, Sweden), J. O. R. Ebbestad (Uppsala, Sweden), S. Egenhoff (Fort Collins, Colorado, USA), Å. M. Frisk (Zürich, Switzerland), A. E. S. Högström (Tromsö, Norway). In the past, research on the successions in the Dalarna Region has been done through support by DFG-Ma 1269/5-1.
Part of this Scandinavian work also includes research on the Cambrian-Ordovician black shales, supposedly deep water sediments with sedimentological and diagenetic focus to demonstrate their shallow water origin. The successions are highly important for biostratigraphy, international correlations and paleogeographic interporetations of the Paleozoic oceans. The work is planned in connection with with Sven Egenhoff (Fort Collins, Colorado, USA) and a number of master students.
- Fieldwork for a project on Lower Palaeozoic (Cambrian to Ordovician) radiolarians faunas with Taniel Danelian and Lauren Pouille (University Lille 1, France) started in 2010 and was financially supported by NSF NSF Ear-0844213 (through J. Hannah, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA). Aspects on taxonomy, biostratigraphy, palaeoecology and palaeogeography are addressed in the project. Radiolarian faunas can be used for dating marine sequences in the Palaeozoic and understanding their palaeo-ecological aspects. Work on Lower Palaeozoic radiolarian faunas will also include further research on faunas from Spitsbergen with Oliver Lehnert (Erlangen, Germany) and David Bruton (Oslo, Norway).
- Upper Ordovician to Middle Silurian (Upper Llandovery) graptolite faunas of the Yangtze Region of the South China Plate, China. A re-evaluation of taxonomy, biostratigraphy and palaeogeography of the faunas. Co-operation with Prof. Zhang, Yuan-dong (Nanjing, China), Prof. Wang Chuanshang (Wuhan, China) and Prof. Wang Xiaofeng (Wuhan, China). Additionally, two weeks fieldwork investigating the Cambrian/Ordovician boundary at Dayangcha with Dr. Svend Stouge (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Dr. Gabriella Bagnoli (Pisa, Italy) were co-ordinated by Prof. Wang Xiaofeng in 2015 and 2016. Discussions are also under way to do (bio-) sequence stratigraphy of the Lower to Middle Ordovician succession in the Yangtze region of China with Sven Egenhoff (CSU Fort Collins, Colorado, USA) and Zhang Yuan-dong (Nanjing, China).
Research Grants (submitted and awarded)
- DFG MA 1269/7-1 – (327,550 Euro for 36 months) – Start April 2015.
Jörg Maletz (in association with Michael Steiner, Bernd Weber; FU Berlin). Research Grant: Caught in the Cambrian Explosion: The mystery of the early evolution of the Pterobranchs (Hemichordata, incl. Graptolithina) and their evolutionary innovations.
The work will focus on sedimentology and graptolite evolution of the Middle Cambrian, as both aspects are closely connected through the preservational potential of the organic material of the graptolite tubaria under certain, precisely defined depositional conditions.
- NSF Ear-0844213. (awarded, September 2009). Judith L. Hannah (CSU Fort Collins, Colorado), Sven Egenhoff (CSU Fort Collins, Colorado), Jörg Maletz (SUNY Fort Collins, Colorado), Holly J. Stein (CSU Fort Collins, Colorado). Collaborative research: Direct Re-Os dating of Ordovician graptolite biozones: refining global correlations and Earth Time. (454,933 US$ for 24 month).
Field work in June 2010, 2011, 2012 in western Newfoundland, centered on the Lower to Middle Ordovician Cow Head and Table Head Group successions.
- Gyllenstiernska krapperupstiftelsen, Sweden (2010). Grant to Per Ahlberg (Lund, Sweden): Ordovicium I Kullabygden – en studie av fossila fauna- och miljöförändringar I ett globalt perspektiv. The grant is to study the Palaeozoic succession of the Krapperup drill core in southern Sweden, made in 1941, but never investigated. Visits in Lund to investigate the core were scheduled for December 2010 and August 2011.
- Wenner-Gren Stiftelserna Sweden (2009). Grant to Per Ahlberg (Lund, Sweden): Ordovicium i Sydskandinavien - en studie av fossila fauna- och miljöförändringar i ett globalt perspektiv. The grant is to study the Palaeozoic succession of a new drill core (Lerhamn; see Maletz & Ahlberg, in press) in southern Sweden.
- CONICET Travel Grant (awarded to Blanca A. Toro, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009) for joined fieldwork and research into the Ordovician graptolitic succession of Argentina.
Further Research Activities
Chrono- and biostratigraphy in the Palaeozoic (Cambrian – Devonian), integrating sedimentological and paleontological methods to achieve enhanced biostratigraphic reliability for geological interpretations (biostratigraphy, paleogeography, structural geology). For this purpose fieldwork is done in a number of regions:
a) Ordovician-Silurian successions in North and South America (New York State, Quebec, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru). Litho- and biostratigraphy, paleogeography, evolutionary studies on graptolites. C.E. Mitchell (UB Buffalo, N.Y), D. Goldman (Dayton, Ohio), B. A. Toro (Cordoba, Argentina), R. Suarez-Sorruco (Cochabamba, Bolivia), S. Egenhoff (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado), H. Bahlburg (Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut Münster, Germany).
b) Palaeozoic successions of the Scandinavian platform, a cool-water carbonate epeiric ramp. Dr. S. Egenhoff (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado).
Research on graptolite type material in German palaeontological collections. The ongoing work includes visits to palaeontological collections to trace type material of German graptolites, which have mostly never been curated properly. Recent work includes visits to the Museum für Naturkunde der Stadt Gera in which the main collections of Robert Eisel, Elfried Manck (pars) & Rudolf Hundt (pars) (Invitation by Frank Hrouda), the Mauritianum Altenburg, the type collection in the Department of Geology, TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Birgit Gaitzsch) and the collections of the Museum der Westlausitz, Kamenz (Jens Czoßek).
Catalogue of Palaeozoic Radiolarian genera. Regular working Group Meetings, Taniel Danelian (Lille, France), Paula Noble (Reno, Nevada, USA), Jonathan Aitchison (Sydney, Australia), Jörg Maletz (Berlin, Germany), Paulian Dumitrica (Geneva, Switzerland), Martial Caridroit (Lille, France), Luis O’Dogherty (Cadiz, Spain), Noritoshi Suzuki (Japan); Lauren Pouille (Lille, France).
Research Projects (finished)
NSF Grant to C.E. Mitchell (Buffalo, N.Y.), D. Goldman (Dayton, Ohio), in connection with R.A. Cooper (Lower Hutt, New Zealand), P. Sadler (Riverside, California), E.D. Brussa (Salta, Argentina). Graptolite macroevolution. Phylogenetic analysis and testing hypothesis of directional change.
DFG (German Science Foundation) Research Grant DFG-Ma 1269/5-1 (July 1999 to June 2001) - ca. 45.000,- Euro. Title: Graptolite biodiversity in the early Paleozoic: Interactions of ecological factors with evolution and Extinction events.
DFG Habilitation Grant Ma 1269/4-1 (January 1996 to December 1997) - ca. 40.000,- Euro. Title: Terrane analysis of the Lower to Midle Ordovician of eastern Avalonia, Baltica and Laurentia using graptolite faunas and their paleogeographic distributions.
DFG Research Grant Ma 1269/2-1 (April 1993 to March 1995) - ca. 70.000,- Euro. Title: Investigation of proximal end structure of late Arenig to Llanvirnian diplograptid graptolites and their phylogenetic relationships.
DUGW-Projekt (1992 - 2000). Title: Precambrian to Silurian of the southern Baltic Sea: The Adlergrund G14 drill core. incl. Prof. Dr. G. Katzung, Prof. Dr. I. Hinz-Schallreuter, PD. Dr. R. Schallreuter, Dipl.-Geol. H. Feldrappe (Univ. Greifswald)
NATO Project CRG.900816 (1991-1997). M. Vanguestaine (Liege, Belgium), B.-D. Erdtmann (Berlin, Germany), Jörg Maletz (Berlin), Thomas Servais (Liege). Title: Ordovician acritarch/graptolite stratigraphy, and correlation between Belgium and Germany (TU Berlin/Université de Liège).
- Cladistic analyses (Mitchell et al. 2013) now show that the graptolites are part of the Hemichordata and more precisely the modern rhabdopleurids (Pterobranchia, Hemichordata) belong to the truely colonial Graptolithina and represent living graptolites. This is a major breakthrough in finally connecting a geologically important fossil group to extant organisms.
- Using bio-sequence stratigraphy to recognize maximum flooding surfaces in deep-water sequences of Scandinavia using graptolite faunal diversity and composition (Egenhoff & Maletz 2007).
- Investigation of putative early hemichordates from the early and middle Cambrian that previously have been identified as algae. Back Scatter SEM investigation provides insight into constructional details of organically preserved fossils and reveals their pterobranch nature (Steiner & Maletz 2012, Maletz, 2014).
- Using fossil faunas to understand the structural complexities in the Ordovician subsurface succession in northeastern Germany and its development in a Palaeozoic foreland basin. (Beier et al. 2000, Maletz 2001).
- Lauren Pouille – Université de Lille 1, France
Paléobiodiversité des Radiolaires du Paléozoique inférieur (Cambrien-Ordovicien). Aperçu à travers une étude des assemblages à radiolaires provenant des montagnes de l’Altai (Russie), d’Aksuran (Kazakstan), du bassin de Georgina (Australie) et de la Terre Neuve occidentale (Canada)
Supervisor. Taniel Danelian
Jury. DeWever, P., Dumitrica, P., Maletz, J., Obut, O., Caridroit, M., Servais, T. & Danelian, T.
Defense. 12. December 2012
- Mariah Slovacek (Independent study) – CSU Fort Collins, Coloarado, USA
Statistical analysis of Baltograptus species from the Upper Floian of Skattungbyn, Dalarna (Sweden).
Results published in Palaeontology (Maletz & Slovacek, 2013).
- Melissa Roloson (MA) University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Upper Ordovician graptolites from a drillcore in the Utica Shale, New York State
Supervisor. C. E. Mitchell, G. Baird, J. Maletz, D. Sheets
- Aaron Bini (MA), University at Buffalo
Thesis title. The response of the Laurentide Ice Sheet to rapid warming and abrupt cold spells in the Early Holocene: An analog for present-day Greenland.
Supervisor. J. Briner, B. Csatho, J. Maletz
- Jesse Carlucci (MA), University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Phylogenetic analysis, systematics, and evolution of early Ordovician graptolites.
Supervisor. J. Maletz, C. E. Mitchell, D. Sheets
- Tammy Dunlavey (MA), University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Image interpretation is important to paleontology? Case studies in data acquisition, fidelity, and retrodeformation using bilaterally symmetric graptolite (Isograptus and Pseudisograptus) and trilobite (Triarthrus becki and eatoni) fossils.
Supervisor. C. E. Mitchell, J. Maletz, D. Sheets
Defense. December 2007
- Kristi Belscher (MA), University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Species abundance changes during mass extinction and the inverse Signor-Lipps Effect: Apparent abrupt graptolite mass extinction as an artifact of sampling.
Supervisor. C. E. Mitchell, J. Maletz, D. Sheets, J. Briner
Defense. December 2007
- Phillip J. Stokes (MS) University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Geophysical Imaging of a Fossiliferous Pleistocene Basin in western New York.
Supervisor. G. Baker, J. Briner, J. Maletz
Defense. April, 16th, 2007.
- Martina Böhme (Diploma), TU Bergakademie Freiberg
Thesis title. Geological mapping of Bygdøy, Oslo Region, Norway.
Supervisor. Sven Egenhoff (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany), J. Maletz
Defense. May 2006
- Maja Loran Lazovic (MA), University of Copenhagen
Thesis title. Middle to Upper Ordovician graptolite biostratigraphy of the island of Bornholm, Denmark
Supervisor. Arne T. Nielsen (Geological Museum, Copenhagen), J. Maletz
Defense. May 2005
- Miles Cone (MA), University at Buffalo
Thesis title. Phylogenetic analysis of Upper Ordovician graptolites and descriptions of new collections from the Phi Kappa Formation, Idaho.
Supervisor. C. E. Mitchell, D. Sheets, J. Maletz
Defense. August 2004
- Pascal Olschwewski (2015)
(FU Berlin, Germany).
Sedimentology of the Cambrian Forteau Formation (Labrador Group) of western Newfoundland.
(TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany, 2000-2005)
Fieldwork supervision in Norway with Sven Egenhoff (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany)
- Katarina Borowski (2005)
Carbonates in the Elnes Formation, Norway.
- Moritz Kirsch (2005)
The Elnes Formation - Vollen Formation transition in the Oslo Region, Norway.
- Robert Asch (2004)
Sedimentology of the Elnes Formation, Oslo region, southern Norway.
- Stefan Höntzsch (2004)
Sedimentology and biostratigraphy of the Elnes Formation, Oslo region, Norway.
- Mirko Werner (2004)
Carbonate and siliciclastic facies analysis of the Elnes Formation, Oslo region, Norway.
- Fabian Kostro (2003)
Carbonate microfacies analysis of the Dalby Formation, southern Sweden, and origin of enigmatic structures found therein.
- Konstanze Stübner (2002)
Carbonate facies analysis and relative sea-level changes of the Bjerkasholmen Formation, Oslo region, Norway.
- Sherril Senior, Ph.D. University of Western Ontarion, London. (May, 3rd, 2005)
Thesis title: Cyrtograptus species in the Silurian of Arctic Canada.
Supervisor. Alf C. Lenz (London, Ontario), Michael J. Melchin (Antigonish, Nova Scotia)
(Buffalo Geosciences Program 2005-2007).
- Sarajane Gomlak-Green
- Emily L. Harper
- Nicole Jarzyniecki
- Archana Jayakumar
- Monica L. Ridgeway
- Kathryn M. Whalen
- Lisa M. Wischerath