Thomas W. Broadhead
Paleontology and Biostratigraphy
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
1412 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1410
Phone: (865) 974-5034
Dr. Broadhead is now the University's Director of Undergraduate Academic Advancement in office of Undergraduate Admissions. He is not teaching nor conducting research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Tom Broadhead's interests lie in the applications of paleontological data to the solution of geological problems, particularly in age dating and in paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Graduate theses of his students have focused on the Middle Ordovician of the southern Appalachians and on the Silurian and Devonian carbonate rocks of western Tennessee. Particular groups of organisms studied have included echinoderms, conodonts, and more recently colonial corals.
The current interest in corals is directed toward understanding the genetic-based and ecophenotypic determinants of colony form. These are particularly important in both interepreting the response of the colony to small and moderate physical environmental disturbances. It is also significant to the recognition of evidence for those disturbances, which commonly are masked, in the stratigraphic record, by the overprints of larger and successive disturbances.
Approaches to interpreting the histories of coral colonies include standard techniques, such as thin sections and acetate peels. Analytical facilites of the department, especially the cathodoluminescence petrography and the stable isotope geochemistry laboratories are useful in the studies of skeletel structures and associated diagenetic features. The 6 m recirculating flume provides a means of examining patterns of carbonate sediment distribution associated with different colony forms.