Dr. Bas van de Schootbrugge

Vening Meineszgebouw A
Princetonlaan 8a
Kamer 306
3584 CB Utrecht

Dr. Bas van de Schootbrugge

Universitair hoofddocent
Marine palynology & palaeoceanography
030 253 7691

My research at UU revolves around the application of multi-proxy studies, combining micro-palaeontology with geochemistry and sedimentology, to understand periods of severe changes in the biosphere and geosphere in deep time.

Such events include for example mass-extinctions that reshaped the trajectory of life on Earth, both on land and in the oceans. I use organic-walled microfossils as a starting point to make reconstructions of the environmental conditions at the time of deposition. These organic-walled microfossils, such as pollen and spores, remains of phytoplankton, but also remains of insects, provide insights into climate conditions, chemistry of the atmosphere, as well as ocean circulation, temperature and salinity. In ongoing research I am establishing direct links between large-scale volcanism and extinction of organisms by combining evidence for atmospheric pollution from volcanic mercury and mutations in land plants across Mesozoic mass-extinction events. This link is further explored through investigation of current mercury pollution on plants in nature and growth experiments. This is allowing me to connect the dots between deep time and modern global changes.

Check out this excellent background analysis of the end-Triassic mass-extinction at Ars Technica: https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/02/what-messages-does-the-end-triassic-extinction-hold-for-today/

These events continue to offer surprises, such as the discovery of 200 million year old wing scales that not only are the oldest evidence for butterflies and moths, but also made us rethink the co-evolution of flowers and butterflies. Listen to a brief podcast from Scientific American here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/which-came-first-the-proboscis-or-the-flower/

In recent years I have turned my attention to Mesozoic records preserved in the circum-Arctic region. Cretaceous and Jurassic organic-rich sediments from Svalbard and Siberia provide unique archives of environmental and evolutionary change in high-latitude regions that played a pivotal role in driving changes elsewhere on the planet. Two successful field expeditions to Svalbard have been undertaken in 2017 and 2023.