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TThhee oonnccee aanndd ffuuttuurree gglloobbaall 
ccoooolliinngg:: lleessssoonnss ffrroomm 
pprreehhiissttoorryy 
GGrreeggoorryy JJ.. RReettaallllaacckk 
UUnniivveerrssiittyy ooff OOrreeggoonn 
Eocene-Oligocene paleosols Badlands National Park, South Dakota
GGrraassssllaanndd eexxppaannssiioonn cchhaannggeedd tthhee wwoorrlldd 
SSiinnccee 3355 MMaa,, 00--2255%% ooff llaanndd,, bbuutt nnoott AAnnttaarrccttiiccaa 
Crumb structure (mollic epipedon) in tall grassland 
paleosol (Mollisol) Dayville, OR: late Miocene (7 Ma)
Smell the grass 
Grassland soil (Mollisol) Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya 
cis-3-hexenal 
carbon gray, hydrogen white, 
oxygen red
QUATERNARY RECORD 
1: PALEOSOLS 
Quaternary Palouse Loess, 
eastern Washington 
Paleosols near Kahlotus, WA, data from Busacca (1998) 
Paleosols near Dayton, WA
QUATERNARY 2: SOIL TYPES 
Palouse Loess near Clyde, 
Washington, alternation of 
interglacial deep-calcic 
grassland and glacial 
shallow-calcic sagebrush 
Mt St Helens ash S 
23.7 ka 
36.1 ka 
40.1 ka 
46.2 ka 
Mt St Helens ash C 
thermoluminescence dates from Busacca (1998) 
Also in paleosols, 
are fossil mam-mals 
(Rensberger 
& Barnosky, 1993), 
& phytoliths 
(Blinnikov et al 
Earthworm fabric in 46 ka Nix grassland paleosol 
Taenidium (cicada) burrow 
in 40 ka Tlal sagebrush paleosol 
2002)
QUATERNARY 3: ECOSYSTEM SHIFTS 
Modern dry grassland 
near Benge, Washington 
Modern sagebrush 
near Denio, Nevada
CENOZOIC 1: PALEOSOLS IN DEEP TIME 
Longview Ranch, Oregon, with green Oligocene paleosols in hill
CENOZOIC 2:JOHN DAY FM OLIGOCENE 
Well dated (Ar/Ar, paleomagnetic) fossiliferous sequence
CENOZOIC 3: SHRUB/GRASS TRACES 
Taenidium 
cicada burrow 
of sagebrush 
Edaphichnium 
earthworm chimney 
of grassland 
Pallichnus 
dung beetle nests 
of grassland
CENOZOIC 4: VEGETATION FROM SOIL 
Blocky structure 
red forested 
paleosol (Alfisol), 
Painted Hills, OR: 
Oligocene (31 Ma) 
Crumb structure 
(mollic epipedon) 
in tall grassland 
paleosol (Mollisol) 
Dayville, OR: 
late Miocene (7 Ma) 
Crumb structure (mollic epipedon) 
in short grassland paleosol (Mollisol) 
Kimberly, OR: mid-Miocene (19 Ma) 
Merychippus seversus Dayville, 
OR: mid-Miocene (16 Ma)
CENOZOIC 5: 
VEGETATION 
PALEOSOLS 
-bunch then sod 
grasslands at warm-wet 
times 
-dry times expanded 
sagebrush (not 
grassland) 
PHYTOLITHS 
-36-0 Ma abundant 
grassland phytoliths 
(Strömberg, 2002, 2004) 
PEDOGENIC δ13Ccarb 
-40 Ma of 20-40% C4 
(Fox and Koch, 2003)
CENOZOIC 6: CLIMATE FROM SOIL 
Red forested non-calcareous paleosols 
(Alfisols) pass upwards into brown 
calcareous grassland paleosols 
(Andisols) by mid-Oligocene (30Ma) 
Painted Hills, Oregon 
Paleoprecipitation estimated 
from paleosol Bt (blue) 
or Bk (red) follows decline 
in atmospheric CO2
CLIMATE 1: TRANSIENT SPIKES 
Chesapeake impact structure 
35 Ma (from Voytek, 2005) 
35 Ma (Priabonian) and 16 Ma (Langhian) 
transient spikes of warm-wet CO2 
due to impacts and flood basalts 
Columbia River Basalts, 
Oregon, Washington (17-15 
Ma) (Camp and Ross 2004) 
Steinheim Crater, Germany 15 ma (3.8 km) by E. Stabenow 
Ethiopian flood basalts 35 Ma 
(from Wood and Guth 2010)
CLIMATE 2: HIMALAYAN COOLING? 
PRO. Mountain uplift promotes weathering and albedo 
(Ruddiman and Raymo 1988) 
CON. Physical not chemical weathering, metamorphic CO2
CLIMATE 3: ANTARCTIC CURRENT? 
PRO. 
Thermal isolation 
ices Antarctica, 
consumes H2O, 
raises albedo 
(Kennett 1978) 
CON. 
Warms mid-latitudes, 
minor reductions of 
atmospheric H2O, 
CO2 and albedo
CLIMATE 4: GRASSLAND EXPANSION? 
Grasslands not due to drying, expanding into wetter regions 
-from 35-0 Ma expanded from 0-25% of land 
Mollic and near-mollic paleosol records from 3 continents (Retallack 2001)
COEVOLUTION 1: GRASSES-GRAZERS 
BIOLOGICAL 
MECHANISM 
-adaptation to 
others not to 
environment 
-grasses best 
withstand 
grazers 
-grazers best 
cope with 
phytoliths 
and growth 
of grasses 
from Retallack 2007
COEVOLUTION 2: PACK HUNT & HERDS 
Paratomarctus euthos 
middle Miocene, Valentine 
Formation, Gordon Quarry, Nebraska 
Hesperocyon 
gregarius 32 Ma 
Mesocyon sp. 27 Ma 
Tomarctus 
euthos 16 Ma 
Canis meso-melas 
(living) 
5 cm 
from Radinsky 1969 
Prorean 
gyrus 
-prorean gyrus found in pack 
hunting wolves and dogs, not foxes 
-prorean gyrus appears in boro-phagine 
dogs of Nebraska 19 Ma
COEVOLUTION 4: DUNG AND SOD 
Agate Springs, NE: Miocene (19Ma) 
by Jay Matternes 
bear dog den 
(Daphaenodon) 
Mollisol paleosol 
Silica husk 
of grass 
(Panicum 
elegans) 
cursorial, hypsodont, tridactyl 
(Parahippus tyleri) Dung cake of ruminant 
- pack hunting 
- running escape 
- prey herding 
- hypsodont grazing 
- siliceous grasses 
- dung cakes 
- weedless sod 
- mollic soil
COOLING 1: CARBON STORAGE 
- organic C like net primary productivity increases with precipitation 
-grasslands rule strategic zone (300-1200 mm mean annual precip.) 
African grasslands 
Mean annual precipitation (mm) Soil organic carbon (kg/m2) 
Australia from Wynn et al. 2005, Africa from Zinke et al 1984 
y = 1.7492Ln(x) - 8.4142 
R2 = 0.7439 
12 
10 
8 
6 
4 
2 
0 
Australian woodlands 
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000
COOLING 2: TRANSPIRATION 
- grasslands 
have moist 
soil, dry air 
-woodlands 
have drier 
soil (20-30%), 
moist air 
-water vapor 
is a green-house 
gas, 
although easily 
rained out 
Nairobi National Park, Kenya Kakamega Forest, Kenya
COOLING 3: ALBEDO 
- grasslands light (albedo 15-19 %), covered by snow (albedo 40-85%) 
-woodlands dark (albedo 8-13%) hard to cover with snow
CARBON FARMING 1: MOTIVATION 
- global warming due to CO2 could 
be offset by C storage in farm soils 
-tests already underway in Australia, 
baseline soil C assay, then carbon 
credit payment for gains
CARBON FARMING 2: TECHNIQUES 
1. CELL GRAZING 
Pen cattle with electric 
for each days grazing: 
grazing takes out weeds 
leaving sod grasses. 
2. PASTURE CROPPING 
Drill seed and raise 
crop through sod: 
prevents soil oxidation 
by plowing. 
3. CONTOUR 
COPPICING 
Plant trees at inflexion 
point in slopes: prevents 
Electric fence and cell grazing, Horsham, Victoria gully erosion.
CONCLUSIONS 
There’s some good news beneath 
the horizon, 
Next to swamps, grassland soils 
have more carbon, 
Since these are the soils that we 
already use 
We can manage soil carbon and 
curb soil abuse, 
It was just coevolution, a process by 
which we got sod. 
By grazing so hard on grassy sward, 
The Ice Age no longer seems odd. 
Still we have coevolution, a way 
that we can go forth 
And use the soil against big oil 
To try to cool the Earth. 
Grassland soil (Mollisol), Dionysiou, central Greece.

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Greg Retallack - The Once and Future Global Cooling: Lessons from Prehistory

  • 1. TThhee oonnccee aanndd ffuuttuurree gglloobbaall ccoooolliinngg:: lleessssoonnss ffrroomm pprreehhiissttoorryy GGrreeggoorryy JJ.. RReettaallllaacckk UUnniivveerrssiittyy ooff OOrreeggoonn Eocene-Oligocene paleosols Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  • 2. GGrraassssllaanndd eexxppaannssiioonn cchhaannggeedd tthhee wwoorrlldd SSiinnccee 3355 MMaa,, 00--2255%% ooff llaanndd,, bbuutt nnoott AAnnttaarrccttiiccaa Crumb structure (mollic epipedon) in tall grassland paleosol (Mollisol) Dayville, OR: late Miocene (7 Ma)
  • 3. Smell the grass Grassland soil (Mollisol) Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya cis-3-hexenal carbon gray, hydrogen white, oxygen red
  • 4. QUATERNARY RECORD 1: PALEOSOLS Quaternary Palouse Loess, eastern Washington Paleosols near Kahlotus, WA, data from Busacca (1998) Paleosols near Dayton, WA
  • 5. QUATERNARY 2: SOIL TYPES Palouse Loess near Clyde, Washington, alternation of interglacial deep-calcic grassland and glacial shallow-calcic sagebrush Mt St Helens ash S 23.7 ka 36.1 ka 40.1 ka 46.2 ka Mt St Helens ash C thermoluminescence dates from Busacca (1998) Also in paleosols, are fossil mam-mals (Rensberger & Barnosky, 1993), & phytoliths (Blinnikov et al Earthworm fabric in 46 ka Nix grassland paleosol Taenidium (cicada) burrow in 40 ka Tlal sagebrush paleosol 2002)
  • 6. QUATERNARY 3: ECOSYSTEM SHIFTS Modern dry grassland near Benge, Washington Modern sagebrush near Denio, Nevada
  • 7. CENOZOIC 1: PALEOSOLS IN DEEP TIME Longview Ranch, Oregon, with green Oligocene paleosols in hill
  • 8. CENOZOIC 2:JOHN DAY FM OLIGOCENE Well dated (Ar/Ar, paleomagnetic) fossiliferous sequence
  • 9. CENOZOIC 3: SHRUB/GRASS TRACES Taenidium cicada burrow of sagebrush Edaphichnium earthworm chimney of grassland Pallichnus dung beetle nests of grassland
  • 10. CENOZOIC 4: VEGETATION FROM SOIL Blocky structure red forested paleosol (Alfisol), Painted Hills, OR: Oligocene (31 Ma) Crumb structure (mollic epipedon) in tall grassland paleosol (Mollisol) Dayville, OR: late Miocene (7 Ma) Crumb structure (mollic epipedon) in short grassland paleosol (Mollisol) Kimberly, OR: mid-Miocene (19 Ma) Merychippus seversus Dayville, OR: mid-Miocene (16 Ma)
  • 11. CENOZOIC 5: VEGETATION PALEOSOLS -bunch then sod grasslands at warm-wet times -dry times expanded sagebrush (not grassland) PHYTOLITHS -36-0 Ma abundant grassland phytoliths (Strömberg, 2002, 2004) PEDOGENIC δ13Ccarb -40 Ma of 20-40% C4 (Fox and Koch, 2003)
  • 12. CENOZOIC 6: CLIMATE FROM SOIL Red forested non-calcareous paleosols (Alfisols) pass upwards into brown calcareous grassland paleosols (Andisols) by mid-Oligocene (30Ma) Painted Hills, Oregon Paleoprecipitation estimated from paleosol Bt (blue) or Bk (red) follows decline in atmospheric CO2
  • 13. CLIMATE 1: TRANSIENT SPIKES Chesapeake impact structure 35 Ma (from Voytek, 2005) 35 Ma (Priabonian) and 16 Ma (Langhian) transient spikes of warm-wet CO2 due to impacts and flood basalts Columbia River Basalts, Oregon, Washington (17-15 Ma) (Camp and Ross 2004) Steinheim Crater, Germany 15 ma (3.8 km) by E. Stabenow Ethiopian flood basalts 35 Ma (from Wood and Guth 2010)
  • 14. CLIMATE 2: HIMALAYAN COOLING? PRO. Mountain uplift promotes weathering and albedo (Ruddiman and Raymo 1988) CON. Physical not chemical weathering, metamorphic CO2
  • 15. CLIMATE 3: ANTARCTIC CURRENT? PRO. Thermal isolation ices Antarctica, consumes H2O, raises albedo (Kennett 1978) CON. Warms mid-latitudes, minor reductions of atmospheric H2O, CO2 and albedo
  • 16. CLIMATE 4: GRASSLAND EXPANSION? Grasslands not due to drying, expanding into wetter regions -from 35-0 Ma expanded from 0-25% of land Mollic and near-mollic paleosol records from 3 continents (Retallack 2001)
  • 17. COEVOLUTION 1: GRASSES-GRAZERS BIOLOGICAL MECHANISM -adaptation to others not to environment -grasses best withstand grazers -grazers best cope with phytoliths and growth of grasses from Retallack 2007
  • 18. COEVOLUTION 2: PACK HUNT & HERDS Paratomarctus euthos middle Miocene, Valentine Formation, Gordon Quarry, Nebraska Hesperocyon gregarius 32 Ma Mesocyon sp. 27 Ma Tomarctus euthos 16 Ma Canis meso-melas (living) 5 cm from Radinsky 1969 Prorean gyrus -prorean gyrus found in pack hunting wolves and dogs, not foxes -prorean gyrus appears in boro-phagine dogs of Nebraska 19 Ma
  • 19. COEVOLUTION 4: DUNG AND SOD Agate Springs, NE: Miocene (19Ma) by Jay Matternes bear dog den (Daphaenodon) Mollisol paleosol Silica husk of grass (Panicum elegans) cursorial, hypsodont, tridactyl (Parahippus tyleri) Dung cake of ruminant - pack hunting - running escape - prey herding - hypsodont grazing - siliceous grasses - dung cakes - weedless sod - mollic soil
  • 20. COOLING 1: CARBON STORAGE - organic C like net primary productivity increases with precipitation -grasslands rule strategic zone (300-1200 mm mean annual precip.) African grasslands Mean annual precipitation (mm) Soil organic carbon (kg/m2) Australia from Wynn et al. 2005, Africa from Zinke et al 1984 y = 1.7492Ln(x) - 8.4142 R2 = 0.7439 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Australian woodlands 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000
  • 21. COOLING 2: TRANSPIRATION - grasslands have moist soil, dry air -woodlands have drier soil (20-30%), moist air -water vapor is a green-house gas, although easily rained out Nairobi National Park, Kenya Kakamega Forest, Kenya
  • 22. COOLING 3: ALBEDO - grasslands light (albedo 15-19 %), covered by snow (albedo 40-85%) -woodlands dark (albedo 8-13%) hard to cover with snow
  • 23. CARBON FARMING 1: MOTIVATION - global warming due to CO2 could be offset by C storage in farm soils -tests already underway in Australia, baseline soil C assay, then carbon credit payment for gains
  • 24. CARBON FARMING 2: TECHNIQUES 1. CELL GRAZING Pen cattle with electric for each days grazing: grazing takes out weeds leaving sod grasses. 2. PASTURE CROPPING Drill seed and raise crop through sod: prevents soil oxidation by plowing. 3. CONTOUR COPPICING Plant trees at inflexion point in slopes: prevents Electric fence and cell grazing, Horsham, Victoria gully erosion.
  • 25. CONCLUSIONS There’s some good news beneath the horizon, Next to swamps, grassland soils have more carbon, Since these are the soils that we already use We can manage soil carbon and curb soil abuse, It was just coevolution, a process by which we got sod. By grazing so hard on grassy sward, The Ice Age no longer seems odd. Still we have coevolution, a way that we can go forth And use the soil against big oil To try to cool the Earth. Grassland soil (Mollisol), Dionysiou, central Greece.