Clay Campbell is a 2017-2021 Self Graduate Fellow and structural geologist pursuing a Ph.D. in geology at The University of Kansas. Campbell received a B.S. (2013) in geology from the University of Arizona and an M.S. (2017) in geology from the University of Kansas. Campbell is interested in understanding the driving tectonic mechanisms responsible for the growth and destruction of orogenic plateaus. Campbell is currently reconstructing what Central Turkey may have looked like 20-30 million years ago. His preliminary findings indicate a large, semi-circular lake formed directly adjacent to a magmatic province whose volcanic rocks were sourced from deep within the Earth. Campbell hypothesizes the presence of this ‘lake-volcano’ system represents similar ‘lake-volcano’ systems forming within the highest elevation, flat lying regions on earth, known as mountainous plateaus. If true, his findings suggest that 20-30 million years ago Central Turkey was two times higher than it is today!
Campbell’s research also has broader implications for how the movement of tectonic plates drive the growth land bridges. Land bridges not only disrupt oceanic circulation patterns and drive climate change but also connect continental land masses and promote faunal exchange. Climate change and faunal exchange, and thus the movement of tectonic plates (geology!) are key elements that must considered when thinking about the evolution of the Earth and its inhabitants through time.
Mentor: Michael H. Taylor, Professor, Geology