Martin J. Kennedy

Sedimentary Geology/Geochemistry

Martin Kennedy


University of California, Riverside
Department of Earth Sciences

Contact Info:
Office Phone: (951) 827-2025
Fax: (951) 827-4324

Page Navigation
Student Opportunities | Research Interests
Selected Publications | Lab Facilities

Important Links

Research Interests:

My research and teaching interests lie in paleooceanographic and paleoclimate events recorded in the stratigraphic record, particularly focused on controls of the ancient carbon cycle and biogeochemical feedbacks within the biosphere. I utilize an integrated field-stratigraphic and isotope-geochemical approach and maintain a well-equipped sedimentary geochemical lab capable of preparing samples for a broad range of analyses including stable and radiogenic isotope analysis and quantitative analysis of clay minerals with our X-ray diffraction facility. My current research is focused on oceanographic events surrounding Neoproterozoic glaciation and biotic events and the oceangraphic controls on organic carbon burial and deposition of black shales. I am interested in changes in geochemical cycles through planetary evolution and its potential influence on life. In addition I maintain and active interest in modern and quaternary biogeochemical systems as well as tertiary sedimentary environments in California.

All of my projects are strongly field oriented, but supplemented with a wide variety of geochemical techniques. The integration of different types of data with concepts incorporated from both modern and ancient environments is most interesting to me.

Current Projects are based in:

Sierras, Utah/Whyoming, Monterey, Namibia, S. China, central Australia, Death Valley CA, Anza Borrego, CA, Norway

Places we work and People in the Field

High Sierras studying the climate change record

Glacial Morraine in the SierrasStudents from the Global Climate Change program discuss the fine points of dating glacial morraines in the Sierras

Bishop Tuff RoadcutStudents from the GCEC program examine the Bishop Tuff near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Sierran Glacial Lake
Sierran Glacial Lake, GCEC 2007 Field Trip

Death Valley, CA

 Shoshone from the air
Field work in Death Valley: Flying into Shoshone CA

Black Mountain Field Area Spring 2004Amargosa Chaos Field Area, Black Mountains, Death Valley

DV Facies Change
Vertical Pliocene Creek Lake Beds at Hole in the Wall; amazing example of facies changes

Permian RhythmitesPermian Rhythmites, Darwin Canyon, CA

Martin's Students in Death Valley
Karl Thompson, Damon deYoung and Tom Bristow crossing the mighty Amargosa in Death Valley

Anza Borrego, CA

 Fish Creek
Above & Below: Miocene-Pliocene work in the Salton Trough. How did the uplift of the coast ranges and Gulf of California alter the climate in this region?

 Anza Borrego

Utah & Wyoming

Green River Fm. in Hells HoleGreen River Fm. Hells Hole Canyon

Green River Fm. Facies Change
Lateral Facies Changes in the Green River Fm.

Green River Stromatolites
Tops of Green River Fm. Stromatolitic Mounds


Tidewater GlacierModern tide water glaciers in Patagoni

Cretaceous Black ShaleAbove & Below: Cretaceous black shale study in Northern Italy and Southern Switzerland
Cretaceous Black Shale

Dave and Ganqing
Dr. Ganqing Jiang and PhD student David Mrofka interupted in thier studies of Namibian carbonates by the arrival of a heard of elephants (above) and Martin with Himba girls in northern Namibia (bottom)Martin & Himbas


Selected Publications:

Bristow, T.F., Kennedy, M.J., Derkowski, A., Droser, M.L., Jiang, G. and Creaser, R.A., 2009, Mineralogical constraints on the paleoenvironments of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation. PNAS v. 106, p. 13190-13195.

Knauth, L.P. and Kennedy, M.J., 2009, The late Precambrian greening of the Earth. Nature v. 460, p. 728-732.

Bristow, T.F., and Kennedy, M.J., 2008, Carbon isotope excursions and the oxidant budget of the Ediacaran atmosphere and ocean. Geology v. 36, p. 863-866.

Kennedy, Martin, Mrofka, David D., 2008, Snowball Earth termination by destabilization of equatorial permafrost methane clathrate. Nature. v. 453, p. 642-645.

Fairchild, I.J., and Kennedy, M.J., 2007, Neoproterozoic glaciation in the Earth system. Journal of the Geological Society, Centennial Issue, v. 164, p. 895-921.

Kennedy, Martin, Droser, Mary, Mayer, Larry M., Pevear, David, Mrofka, David D., 2006, Late Precambrian Oxygenation; Inception of the Clay Mineral Factory. Science. v. 311, p. 1446-1449.

Jiang, G., Kennedy, M.J., Christie-Blick, N., Huaichun, W., and Shihong, Z., 2006, Stratigraphy, Sedimentary Structures, and Textures of the Late Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Cap Carbonate in South China. Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 76 p. 978-995.

Jiang, G., Kennedy, M.J., Christie-Blick, N., 2003, Stable isotope evidence for methane seeps in Neoproterozoic postglacial cap carbonates. Nature. v. 426, p.822-826.

Ridgewell, A., Kennedy, M.J., Caldera, K., 2003, Carbonate deposition, climate stability, and Neoproterozoic ice ages. Science. v. 302, p. 859-862.

Ridgewell, A., and Kennedy, M.J., 2004, Secular changes in the importance of neritic carbonate deposition as a control on the magnitude and stability of Neoproterozoic ice ages. American Geophysical Union Mongograph Series. Extreme Proterozoic Environmental Conditions, Jenkins, G. and Sohl, L. eds. v. 146. p. 55-72.

Kennedy, M.J., Hedin, L.O. and Derry, L.A., 2001, Unpolluted temperate forests are nutritionally decoupled from weathering sources, PNAS, v.99, p. 9639-9644.

Kennedy, M.J., Christie-Blick, N., Prave, T., 2001, Carbon isotopic composition of Neoproterozoic glacial carbonates as a test of paleoceanographic models for snowball Earth phenomena Geology, v 29, p. 1135-1138.

Kennedy, M.J., Christie-Blick, N., Sohl, L., 2001, Are Proterozoic cap carbonates and isotopic excursions a record of gas hydrate destabilization following Earth's coldest intervals? Geology. v. 29, p.443-446.

Kennedy, M.J., Runnegar, B., Prave, A.R., Hoffmann, C., and Arthur, M.A., 1998. Two or four Neoproterozoic glaciations. Geology, Special Report, V. 26, p. 1059-1063.

Christie-Blick, N., Sohl, L., Kennedy, M.J., Hoffman, P. and Schrag, D., 1999. Considering a Neoproterozoic snowball earth. Science, V. 284 no. 5417.

Kennedy, M.J., Chadwick, O.E., Vitousek P.A., Derry, L.A. and Hendricks D., 1998 Changing sources of base cations during ecosystem development, Hawaiian Islands. Geology. V. 26, p. 1015-1018.

Vitousek, P.A., Kennedy, M.J., Derry, L.A., Chadwick, O.E., 1999. Weathering versus atmospheric sources of strontium in ecosystems on young volcanic soils. Oecologia, V. 121, p. 255-259

Kennedy, M.J. 1996. Deglaciation, d13C excursions and carbonate precipitation: Isotopic geochemistry, stratigraphy and sedimentology of Australian Neoproterozoic post-glacial cap-dolostones. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 66, pp. 1049-1063.

Kennedy, M.J. 1993. The Undoolya sequence; a new stratigraphic unit syn-depositionaly deposited adjacent to a late Proterozoic salt structure; Amadeus Basin, Central Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Science, 40, part 4, pp. 217-228.


2004, NASA Exobiology, Secular rise of clay minerals from biotic soils as a control on the rise of oxygen and advent of multicellular life. $475,000. Principal Investigator

2004, National Science Foundation. PI. Collaborative Research: Testing the methane hydrate hypothesis for the aftermath of severe Neoproterozoic ice ages, $225.00. Principal Investigator.

2002 National Science Foundation, The TMSA Hypothesis: Do clay-mineral interlayer surfaces provide an unrecognized sink for organic carbon in the geologic record? $ 170,000. Principal Investigator

2002 National Science Foundation, Isotopic Tests of Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth Phenomenon. $152,000. Principal Investigator

2002 California Parks and Recreation, Paleontologic Survey of Coyote Canyon, Phase I and II. $58,000. Principal Investigator

2001 California Parks and Recreation, Tertiary Paleoenvironmental Development of the Colorado Delta; Department of Parks and Recreations. $65,000. Principal Investigator

2001, UC Regent Faculty Fellowship, Clay Minerral Analysis, $2,500.

1997 City College of New York. Tectono-stratigraphic development of the Congo Craton. $25,000 chemostratigraphy sub-contract from A.R. Prave.

1996 National Science Foundation. Tracing mechanisms of base cation cycling in forest biogeochemical systems: Application of a new tool. With L. Hedin (Cornell University) and L.A. Derry (Cornell University). $320,000.

1998 National Science Foundation. Sources, consequences, and fates of atmospherically derived elements during soil and ecosystem development. With P.A. Vitousek (Stanford University), O. Chadwick (University of California, Santa Barbara), B. Hubert (University of Hawaii) and L.A. Derry (Cornell University). $80,000.

1996 Namibian Geological Survey. The geochemical finger print of post-glacial cap carbonate horizons and their use for correlation in Neoproterozoic successions in the Congo and Kalahari Cratons. Field Support.

1994 National Science Foundation. Origin and isotopic signature of Neoproterozoic post- glacial carbonate rocks; Australia. With N. Christie-Blick (Columbia University) and L.A. Derry (Cornell University). $227,000.

1992-1993 Pacific Oil and Gas. Field facies mapping of the fluvial-deltaic Gaylad sandstone; a potential Neoproterozoic reservoir for hydrocarbons generated from the Bitter Springs formation. $3,000.

1992 Australian Research Council. The influence of salt movement on the late Proterozoic stratigraphy of the Amadeus Basin. $5,000 AUD.

1990-1991 Magellan Petroleum Research Grant. Neoproterozoic stratigraphy of the Amadeus Basin. $10,000.


2007-current Professor of Sedimentary Geology and Geochemistry,University of California, Riverside

2003-2006 Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside

2000-2003 Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside

1998-2000 Senior Research Geologist, Exxon Production Research Co. Research focused on paleoenvironmental controls of organic rich sediments in modern and ancient settings, isotopic geochemistry, field relations

1996-1998 Rubey Faculty Fellow/Adjunct Assistant Professor of Geology and Geochemistry, UCLA, Department of Earth and Space Sciences. Research and teaching of paleoenvironmental analysis using field sequence stratigraphic methods integrated with isotope geochemistry (stable and radiogenic). Principal investigator of biogeochemistry lab including a stable isotope/ICPOES facility.

1994-1996 Post-doctoral Research Associate, Cornell University, Department of Geological Sciences and the Section of Ecology and Systematics. Research in stable isotope geochemistry of carbonate/glacial cycles and radiogenic isotopic tracers in terrestrial ecosystems

Geochemistry Lab:

We are equipped for a variety of analyses including, stable isotope analysis. X-ray diffraction, elemental determination using ICPMS and ICPOES. In addition we have extensive rock prep facilities for quantitiative X-ray determination of fine grained sediments, ion chomatography for preparation of samples for radiogenic isotope analysis, petrographic micoroscopes including cathodoluminescence and floursecence.

Delta V

Stable isotope lab supporting CF-IRMS on a Thermo Delta V (above) and dual inlet IRMS on a VG Prism II with a 10 port automated manifold and hydrogen spur. (below)

Prism II


Kratos XRD

Shmiadzu Kratos 6000 Powder Diffractometer used for Quantitative mineral determination. All necessary equipment for clay mineral analysis is available, including Centrifuges, ultra sonifiers, shaker mill, low temperature ovens and a furnace.

Student Opportunities

  • the stratigraphic and geochemical record surrounding Neoproterozoic ice ages
  • the role of clay mineral surfaces in controlling organic carbon burial and the formation of black shales (Mesozoic and Tertiary).
  • Tertiary paleoclimatic and depositional history of the Salton Trough
  • Plantery development of geochemical cycles; Astrobiology
  • UCR has a strong paleoclimate/paleoecological group with an emphasis on Precambrian-Cambrian transition and early animal evolution. It is a growing and vibrant department located several hours from the Neoproterozoic succession in Death Valley. Great rocks at the door step and a fun group of students and postdocs.