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Isabel P. Montañez

Isabel P. Montañez
Isabel P. Montañez

The 2019 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to Isabel P. Montañez for major contributions to the field of stratigraphy, in particular through the application of sedimentary geochemistry to address palaeoclimate and sequence stratigraphic concepts in deep time.

Isabel Montañez is an outstanding sedimentary geochemist, whose research has always taken an interdisciplinary stratigraphic approach to solve Earth surface problems across a broad spectrum of palaeoenvironmental, palaeoclimatic, and paleoecologic conditions. Her research has repeatedly tested – and in several cases, challenged – long-standing paradigms and, in a few cases, has contributed to paradigm shifts.

In her earlier work, she integrated field, petrographic, fluid-inclusion and stable and radiogenic isotopic analyses of massive dolomites of the Cambro-Ordovician Great American Carbonate Bank to document their syndepositional origin and highly dynamic recrystallization history in the subsurface. In subsequent years, she integrated her expertise in fluid-rock interaction with cyclo- and sequence-stratigraphic studies of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic cyclic successions in order to reconstruct the C and Sr isotopic evolution of seawater over a hierarchy of climatic cycles. This research was part of a core body of work that forced the community to reconsider the hypothesis of climatically stable greenhouses, and continues to serve as the basis for a new generation of studies focused on early animal evolution and extinction dynamics under stressed and unstable environmental conditions of the Cambrian. More recently, Montañez’s research has concentrated on palaeoclimatology issues, primarily in ‘deep time’. Her studies of the late Palaeozoic Ice Age have contributed to several major paradigm shifts in the community’s understanding of this longest lived and geographically most extensive icehouse of the past half billion years. Through high-precision U-Pb calibration of cyclostratigraphic and climate proxy records, she has evaluated the linkages between atmospheric greenhouse gases, ice volume, glacio-eustasy, and paleotropical and temperate hydroclimates contributing to the evolving view of this climatically dynamic ice age.

Montañez’s research excellence has been recognised internationally by the significant honours that she has already been awarded. She is an elected fellow of the Geochemical Society/European Association of Geochemistry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. She has received the 2017 GSA Lawrence L. Sloss Award for Sedimentary Geology and the 1996 James Lee Wilson Award of the Society for Sedimentary Geology.

In conclusion, Isabel Montañez has made exceptional contributions to the field of stratigraphy, in particular through application of sedimentary geochemistry to address palaeoclimate and sequence-stratigraphic concepts in deep time. For these outstanding contributions, she receives the Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal, which in 2019 is awarded in the field of stratigraphy.