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The University of Tennessee

Earth and Planetary Sciences

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Linda C. Kah

Associate Professor

Carbonate Sedimentology & Geochemistry

My science is truly interdisciplinary &helips; blending geology, chemistry, and biology to address a variety of questions regarding the types of feedback between different Earth systems and the relative roles of these systems in the evolution of the Earth's early biosphere. That said, my passion is for the Mesoproterozoic - an interval of time spanning from 1.6 to 1.0 billion years ago (longer than the whole of the Phanerozoic), yet a time of which we know relatively little. What we do know, however, is intriguing:

  • assembly of the first, major supercontinent, Rodinia
  • the first widespread deposition of marine gypsum
  • the first unambiguously multicellular life

The Mesoproterozoic Era

Supercontinent of Rodinia at 1.0 Ga

1.2 Ga gypsum, Arctic Canada

1.2 Ga red alga, Artic Canada

Even more intriguing, recent age constraints for Mesoproterozoic successions suggest that these events initiated within a relatively short time span, between approximately 1.3 and 1.2 billion years ago. Much of my research is therefore focussed on this interval - ultimately trying to determine if these various events are related, and if so, how?

Recent Field Areas — Take a Tour!

Baffin Island
NWT, Canada
Ural Mts., Russia
West Texas

To best accomplish this goal, my students, colleagues, and I concentrate on detailed analysis of individual sedimentary basins and formations. This strategy allows us to use detailed stratigraphy and facies analysis from field work to define paleoenvironments and time-lines of environmental change. Samples collected in the field are then brought back to the lab where they undergo a variety of petrographic and geochemical analyses. Ultimately, these different scales of information are placed back into the stratigraphic framework to construct an overall picture of the Mesoproterozoic.

"Complex events can rarely be reconstructed
from single lines of evidence,
even where the record is well preserved"

Preston Cloud (1983)

I am always looking for interested, ambitious students! In exploring complex problems, there is a lot of room for students of differing interests - most student projects will include a variety of techniques, but individual projects can be:

  • dominantly field-based: for example determining details of basin stratigraphy
  • largely petrographic: such as exploring carbonate fabric genesis and diagenesis
  • paleobiological: exploring the role of microbes in Precambrian systems, or
  • mostly geochemical: such as determining original marine compositions, deciphering diagenetic pathways, and exploring effects of biogeochemical cycling


Linda Kah

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
1412 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1410
Phone: (865) 974-6399

Research and Teaching Activities