What can DNA tell us about mountain uplift? Linking geological and biological evolution in tectonic landscapes


The current revolution in genetics is transforming biology in the same way that the plate tectonic revolution transformed earth sciences 50 years ago. This talk will outline recent work that captures the power of the new genetic tools for geological applications. It is difficult to determine the geological history of nonmarine landscapes because of poor preservation of evidence in surficial environments. However, some of the indigenous fauna carry a biological memory in their genetic makeup (DNA) of the topographic environments in which they evolved. Genetics of biota from alpine areas, rivers, and coastal environments are useful for elucidating some geological processes for which few other tools are available to earth scientists. The principal focus in the talk is on the young active tectonic landscape of New Zealand, where the rates of geological and biological evolution are similar. The principles can be applied in other settings as well, and examples from Australia and the Himalaya will be presented.


Dave Craw was Professor of Economic Geology at University of Otago until his retirement in 2018. His principal research activities have revolved around gold deposits: formation, exploration, mining & metallurgy, and downstream environmental issues. A particular interest has been formation of orogenic gold deposits in mountain belts around the world. As he aged and the mountains grew higher, he focused more on alluvial gold in river valleys, and now in his retirement he enjoys research in coastal settings where beaches are prominent. Various aspects of these research themes have led to a range of multidisciplinary research collaborations, and development of links between geological and biological processes. 



Room 314/315, Steele Building (#03)