The Sedimentary deposits of central Myanmar provide an unique opportunity to study the past evolution of the South Asian monsoon -a critical component of the global climatic system that today controls precipitation and seasonality in the most densely populated area in the world.
The South Asian monsoon is primarily driven by continent-ocean thermal contrasts, and frequent meteorological extreme events emphasize that it is affected by recent climate change responding to increasing atmospheric level of carbon dioxide (pCO2). The South Asian monsoon have long been thought to have originated ~23 Myr ago, driven by regional uplift. However, the recent work of Dr. Licht and Dupont-Nivet in Myanmar and China has shown that the monsoons are more ancient than previously thought and were possibly active with patterns similar to today during the high pCO2 Eocene Greenhouse episode, 40 million years ago.
These recent results open a vast array of new questions: (1) How did these early monsoons evolve through the Eocene? (2) How did they react to the numerous, short-term hyperthermal and hypothermal pCO2 events that ruled this period? Our research group proposes to address these questions by focusing on different key sedimentary records in the Eocene monsoonal realm. Key sections in Myanmar are dated through paleomagnetism and U/Pb geochronology, and later investigated with different geochemical and mineralogical paleoclimatic proxies. The resulting findings will document the short- and long-term variations of the South Asian monsoon during the Eocene and in light of Global Change are expected to furnish the basis for a substantial advance in our understanding of monsoonal forcing factors in a warmer world.