Stephen J. Burns
Ph.D. Duke University 1987
Department of Geosciences
233 Morrill Science Center
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
I joined the Geosciences Department at UMass in January, 2001 after 11 years at the
University of Bern in Switzerland. I was an undergrad at Rice University, and went on
to do an M.S. at the University of North Carolina studying carbonate sedimentology
and a Ph.D. at Duke University on dolomite geochemistry.
My research interests are broad, but mostly fall into two areas: paleoclimatology
and sediment diagenesis. In both of these I use stable isotopes as a research tool.
Over the past several years, my research has focused on developing records of climate
change on the continents. While the broad outline of climate variation over the past
several million years is fairly well known, the causes of climate change on various
time scales are not. Also, climate on the continents is much more spatially variable
than in the oceans. Thus, my research is aimed at producing quantitative estimates of
climate change from continental areas at high enough resolution to be able to
determine the driving forces behind climate change at various time scales.
One of the main archives of climate information that I am interested in is speleothems, the family name for cave deposits such as stalagmites and stalactites.
Speleothems faithfully record changes in the climate signal contained in O and
H isotope ratios of rainfall. I like to think of them as underground ice cores.
In Oman and Yemen, we have produced records of changes in precipitation that
extend back over several hundred thousand years. For the most recent climate
period, the Holocene, these records are up to annual in resolution. I have also
used isotopic analyses of planktonic foraminifers, lacustrine sediments and the
organic matter in peat bogs to develop climate records in South America and
My other main research area is investigating the chemical and mineralogical
changes that occur in sediments along the way to becoming rocks. In particular,
how and when and why massive dolomite forms has long been of interest to me. In
January and February, 2001 I sailed on ODP Leg 194 as an inorganic geochemist.
The ship drilled into two Miocene, dolomitized carbonate platforms on the Marion
Plateau, which is just outside of the Great Barrier Reef National Park, Australia.
I will be studying the geochemistry of carbonates and pore fluids recovered from
these platforms hoping to find clues to the processes that led to dolomitization.
Some recent publications:
Cruz Jr., F.W., Burns, S. J., Karmann, I., Sharp, W.D., Vuille, M., Ferrari, J.A., 2006,
A stalagmite record of changes in atmospheric circulation and soil processes in the Brazilian subtropics
during the Late Pleistocene. Quaternary Science Reviews (in press).
Cruz Jr., F.W., Burns, S. J., Karmann, I., Sharp, W.D., Vuille, M., Cardoso, A.O., Ferrari, J.A., Silva Dias, and P.L. Viana Jr., 2005,
Insolation-driven changes in atmospheric circulation over the past
116,000 years in subtropical Brazil. Nature, 434, 63-66.
Lachniet, M.S., Asmerom, Y., Burns, S. J., Patterson, W.P., Polyak, V.J., and G.O. Seltzer, 2004,
Tropical response to the 8200 yr B.P. cold event? Speleothem isotopes indicate a weakened early Holocene monsoon in Costa Rica.
Geology, 32(11), 957–960.
Lachniet, M.S., Burns, S. J., Piperno, D.R., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V.J., Moy, C.M., and K. Christenson, 2004,
A 1500-year El Nino/Southern Oscillation and rainfall history for the Isthmus of Panama from speleothem calcite.
Journal of Geophysical Research, 109(D20117), doi:10.1029/2004JD004694.
Burns, S. J., Fleitmann, D., Matter, D., Kramers, J., and A.A. Al-Subbary, 2003,
Indian Ocean Climate and an Absolute Chronology over Dansgaard/Oeschger Events 9 to 13. Science, 301, 1365-1357.
Fleitmann, D., Burns, S. J., Mudelsee, M., Neff, U., Kramers, J., Mangini, A., and A. Matter, 2003,
Holocene Forcing of the Indian Monsoon Recorded in a
Stalagmite from Southern Oman. Science, 300, 1737-1739.
Fleitmann, D., Burns, S. J., Neff, U., Mangini, A., and A. Matter, 2003,
Changing moisture sources over the last 330,000 years in Northern
Oman from fluid-inclusion evidence in speleothems. Quaternary Research, 60, 223–232.
Fleitmann, D., Burns, S. J., Neff, U., Mudelsee, M., Mangini, A., and A. Matter, 2003,
Palaeoclimatic interpretation of high-resolution oxygen isotope
profiles derived from annually laminated speleothems from
Southern Oman. Quaternary Science Reviews, 23, 935–945.
Burns, S. J., Fleitmann, D., Mudelsee, M., Neff, U., Matter, A., and A. Mangnini, 2002,
A 780-year annually resolved record of Indian Ocean monsoon
precipitation from a speleothem from south Oman. Journal of Geophysical Research, 107(D20), 4434, doi:10.1029/2001JD001281.
Burns, S. J., Fleitmann, D., Matter, A., Neff, U., and A. Mangini, 2001,
Speleothem evidence from Oman for continental pluvial events
during interglacial periods. Geology, 29(7), 623–626.
Neff, U., Burns, S. J., Mangini, A., Mudelsee, M., Fleitmann, D., and A. Matter, 2001,
Strong coherence between solar variability and the monsoon in Oman between 9 and 6 kyr ago. Nature, 411, 290-293.
Ménot, G., and Burns, S. J., 2001. Carbon isotopes in plants as climatic indicators:
Calibration from an altitudinal transect of ombrotrophic peat bogs in Switzerland.
Organic Geochemistry, v. 32, p. 233-245.
van de Schootbrugge, B., Foellmi, K. B., Bulot, L. G., and Burns, S. J., 2000.
Paleoceanographic changes during the early Cretaceous (Valanginian-Hauterivian):
evidence from oxygen and carbon stable isotopes. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett.,
v. 181, p. 15-31.
Maslin, M.A. and S. J. Burns, 2000,
Reconstruction of the Amazon Basin Effective Moisture Availability over the Past 14,000 Years. Science, 290, 2285-2287.
Burns, S. J., McKenzie, J. A., and Vasconcelos, C., 2000. Dolomite formation
and biogeochemical cycles in the Phanerozoic. Sedimentology Millenium
Volume, v. 41 (Supl.), p.49-61.
Seltzer, G., Rodbell, D., and Burns, S. J.., 2000. Isotopic evidence
for Late Glacial and Holocene hydrologic change in tropical South
America. Geology , p. 35-38.
Weyhenmeyer, C.E., Burns, S. J., Waber, H. N., Aeschbach-Hertig, W.,
Kipfer, R., Beyerle, R., Loosli, H., and Matter, A., 2000. Cool glacial
temperatures recorded by noble gases in a groundwater study from northern
Oman. Science, v. 287, p. 842-845.
Maslin, M.A., Durham, E., Burns, S. J.., Platzman, E., Grootes,
P., Greig, S.E.J., Nadeau, M.-J., Schleicher, M., Pflaumann, U.,
Lomax, B., and Rimington, N., 2000. Palaeo-reconstruction of the Amazon
River freshwater and sediment discharge using sediments recovered at Site
942 on the Amazon Fan. Jour. Quat. Sci., p. 419-434.
Bolle, M. P., Pardo, A., Adatte, T., Von Salis, K., and Burns, S. J..,
2000. Climatic evolution on the southeastern margin of the Tethys (Negev, Israel)
from the Palaeocene to the early Eocene: focus on the late Palaeocene thermal
maximum: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 157, p. 929-941.
Burns, S. J., and Maslin, M. A., 1999. Composition and circulation
of bottom water in the western Atlantic Ocean during the last glacial
maximum based on porewater analyses from the Amazon fan. Geology, v.
27, p. 1011-1014.
Schwalb, A., Burns, S. J., and Kelts, K., 1999. Changing airmass
patterns and Holocene climate in the Chilean Altiplano: Lacustrine stable
isotope records. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v.
148, p. 153-168.
Immenhauser, A., Schlager, W., Burns, S. J., Scott, R.W., Geel, T.,
Lehmann, J., Van der Gast, S., and Bolder-Schrijver, L.J.A., 1999. Late Aptian
to Late Albian sea-level fluctuations constrained by geochemical and biological
evidence (Nahr Umr Fm, Oman). Jour. Sed. Res., v. 69, p. 434-446.
Slowey, N., Neumann, A.C, and Burns, S. J., 1999. Submarine outcrop
and acoustic expression of lithified sediment layers in Northwest Providence
Channel, Bahamas. Geo-marine Letters, v. 18, p. 292-296.
Burns, S. J., 1998. Can diagenetic, carbonate mineral precipitation
affect pore-water oxygen isotope ratios? Jour. Sed. Res., v.68, p. 100-103.
Burns, S. J., 1998. Carbon isotopic evidence for extensive
methane oxidation by sulfate reduction in Amazon Fan sediments. Geochim.
Cosmochim. Acta, v. 62, p. 797-804.
Burns, S. J., Matter, A., Frank, N, and Mangini A., 1998. A
speleothem paleoclimate record from Southern Arabia. Geology, v. 26, p. 499-502.
Burns, S. J., 1997. Early diagenesis of Amazon Fan sediments:
processes and rates of reaction. Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program,
Scientific Results, v. 155, College Station, TX, Ocean Drilling Program, p. 497-504.
Malone, M. J., Baker, P.A., and Burns, S. J., 1996. Recrystallization
of dolomite: an experimental study from 50o to 200oC. Geochim.
Cosmochim. Acta, v. 60, p. 2189-2207.
Burns, S. J., and Matter, A., 1995. Geochemistry of carbonate
cements in surficial alluvial conglomerates and their paleoclimatic implications,
Sultanate of Oman. Jour. Sed. Research Sec. A, p. 170-178.
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