James Louis Aronson

Professor of Earth Sciences Emeritus

I use conventional K/Ar dating to determine the history of tectonically active areas such as Iceland, Taiwan and the East African rift. By dating the important potassium-bearing clay minerals illite and illite/smectite we explore the burial and subsurface fluid flow diagenetic processes that have affected sedimentary basins and volcanic terranes, including petroleum migration and ore emplacement. A current project utilizes the areal and stratigraphic distribution of K/Ar dates on detrital muscovite and illite in sandstones and shales in the Appalachian Basin to refine the history of the associated composite Appalachian orogenic belt on its east. I hope to build a single crystal laser fusion system for complementing the conventional dating approach to this problem.

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With colleagues I continue studies at the early hominid fossil site of Hadar (Ethiopia). These are aimed at refining the chronology, at establishing the environment of deposition through sedimentological analysis, and at interpreting climate change from light isotope analysis of paleosol carbonates compared to soil carbonates from a variety of modern Ethiopian environments. These proojects are described in more detail below.

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646-3338
223 Fairchild
HB 6105
Education: 
B.A. Rice University
M.S. California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology

Selected publications

Aronson, J.L., Million, H., Savin., S.M., Hominid enviroments at Hadar from paleosol studies in a framework of Ethiopian climate change., Journal of Human Evolution., 2008 1-19 doi 10.1016/j.jhevol.2008.04.0004

Altaner, S.P., Ylagan, R.F., Savin, S.M., Aronson, J.L., Belkin, H.E., and Pozzuoli, A., 2003, Geothermometry, geochronology, and mass transfer associated with hydrothermal alteration of a rhyolitic hyaloclastite from Ponza Island, Italy: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 67, p. 275-288.

Aronson, J. (prefacer), and Bish, D.L.(prefacer), 2002, Reynolds commemorative volume [modified]: American Mineralogist, v. 87, p. 1517-1740.

Hailemichael, M., Aronson, J.L., Savin, S., Tevesz, M.J.S., and Carter, J.G., 2002, delta (super 18) O in mollusk shells from Pliocene Lake Hadar and modern Ethiopian lakes; implications for history of the Ethiopian monsoon: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 186, p. 81-99.

Giday WoldeGabriel, Fraser Goff, and James Aronson, 2001, Mineralogy and K-Ar geochronology of mixed-layer illite/smectite from the Geysers coring project, Califonia, USA, 2001, Geothermics, 30 , p193-210.

Aronson, J L, X Feng, A Faiia, G. WoldeGabriel, M, Poage and C P Chamberlain, “Oxygen Isotope Studies of Clays and Cliniptilolite from Yucca Mountain: Implications for Paleohydrology,” Earth and Planetary Science Letter , 171 (1999) 95-106.

G. WoldeGabriel, R.C.Walter, W.K.Hart, J.L.Aronson and S.A. Mertzman, Temporal relations and geochemical features of felsic volcanism in the central sector of the Main Ethiopian Rift, 1999, Acta Vulcanologica, 11 ,p.53-67.

Kimbel, W.H., Walter, R.C., Johanson, D.C., Reed, K.E., Aronson, J.L. et al., 1996, Late Pliocene Homo and Oldowan Tools from the Hadar Formation (Kada Hadar Member), Ethiopia, Journal of Human Evolution, 31, 549-561.

Selected works and activities

Wgabriel, G., and J. L. Aronson, 1987, Chow Bahir Rift - A Failed Rift in Southern Ethiopia: Geology, v. 15, p. 430-433.

Aronson, J. L., and M. Lee, 1986, K/Ar systematics of bentonite and shale in a contact metamorphic zone, Cerrillos, New Mexico: Clays and Clay Minerals, v. 34, p. 483-487.

Aronson, J., and R. L. Burtner, 1983, K-Ar Dating of Illitc Clays in Jurassic Nugget Sandstone and Timing of Petroleum Migration in Wyoming Overthrust Belt: AAPG Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 67, p. 414-414.

Aronson, J., and R. L. Burtner, 1982, K/Ar Dating of Illitic Clay in Sandstone Reservoirs and Timing of Petroleum Migration: AAPG Bulletin-American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 66, p. 1442-1442.

Aronson, J. L., T. J. Schmitt, R. C. Walter, M. Taieb, J. J. Tiercelin, D. C. Johanson, C. W. Naeser, and A. E. M. Nairn, 1977, New geochronologic and palaeomagnetic data for the hominid-bearing Hadar Formation of Ethiopia: Nature, v. 267, p. 323-327.

Hoffman, J., J. Hower, and J. L. Aronson, 1976, Radiometric dating of time of thrusting in the disturbed belt of Montana: Geology, v. 4, p. 16-20.