Pacific Ocean from Newcastle, New South Wales and remants of ancient Panthalassa

Pacific Ocean from seacliff near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Seacliff is the weathered remains of an ancient Carboniferous, coal-bearing delta at the margins of Panthalassa, the late Paleozoic global ocean. The petrified stump is moored in the remnants of an interdistributary marsh/lagoon of the upper delta plain. Abundant leaf fossils of Glossopteris are present in the fine sandstones and silts of the delta. Glossopteris was one of the key fossils used to reconstruct Gondwana and Pangaea at the end of the Paleozoic.

--copyright WB Leatham (2002)


CSUSB Ocean Sciences Lab (OSL)

Spring 2012

Room & Time: BI-116, MW 1600-1750; M 1800-2050

  • Coordinator: WB Leatham
  • Office hours: MT 1200-1400, or by appointment
  • Office: BI-113b
  • Tel. 909.537.5322  (prefer email)
  • email:
  • Last updated May 31, 2012
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Tentative Schedule

Monday morning 9-11 GEOL 330 (Stratigraphy) seminar
Monday afternoon 12-2 Office Hours
Monday afternoon 4-6 GEOL 250 (Historical Geology) seminar
Monday evening 6-9 GEOL 250 (Historical Geology) Lab
Tuesday afternoon Office Hours
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Ocean Sciences Lab
grave of unknown prospector near mono craters, eastern California

The oceans are where it all started--life, evolution, and even the origin of many commerical and natural materials that we as humans exploit on our planet. So what it is the focus of the CSUSB Ocean Science Lab (OSL)?

We can answer or discover how the oceans have changed our planet, how they currently operate, and how they they affect human society and our biosphere. Ocean science is not just limited to modern "oceanographic" disciplines, it incorporates those that discover how ocean systems have changed through time and affected both the bio- and the geosphere. Much of that record is decipherable from the rock and sediments that blanket our planet. Most of Earth's history is recorded in rock, sediment and fossils that accumulated along the edges of continents, and in shallow epicontinental seaways that blanketed the continents where orogenic events had either been eroded down, or never occurred. Modern oceanographic research has also opened up the last several hundred million years of the unwritten record on the abyss and continental rise. Even the former US president George Bush tried to establish a controversial US national marine sanctuary in the deepest area of the modern oceans, the Marianas Trench, because of its penultimate depth and proximity to the US territory of Guam.

Since essentially 1996, CSUSB has been a participating member of the Ocean Studies Institute and the Southern California Marine Insititute (see CSUSB is also a member of COAST (Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology), a CSU system-wide initiative to better document and decipher the ocean systems that flank California (see

Here at CSUSB, ongoing ocean science continues to search for and find solutions to questions about both modern and ancient oceans. Those ongoing studies include dcoumenting the nature of the sediments blanketing the San Pedro Shelf, which is an analog for the shallow seas that covered most of North America during the Paleozoic. Recent sedimentological studies involve oceanographic sampling of the San Pedro Shelf, analyzing its sediments, and comparing them to possible sources, such as the few relict outcrops on the San Pedro Peninsula. Other studies include the documentation of much older sediments exposed near Death Valley, CA that based on fossil evidence, seem to represent an early to middle Devonian marine environment, and sheds light on the paleoenvironmental intepretation of early fish of the Devonian in the western US. Much of this effort has been instituted with significant undergraduate student involvement (see and )

row of pebbles