Ancient biological, climatic and environmental records
Fossils and rocks are an invaluable source of information on the history of life and the evolution of the Earth’s environments and climates over geological time. The geochemical, structural and isotopic signatures of ancient materials not only advance our understanding of the beginnings of life, mechanisms of species evolution and the dynamics of biodiversity, but also provide insight into local and global climatic and environmental changes and their relationships with ecosystems and environments. However, these paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental and paleobiological proxies have been altered by multiple taphonomic processes and are often fragmentary. It is therefore necessary to better constrain the effects of these processes by setting up experimental approaches in parallel with the in-depth study of continental, lacustrine, marine archives, etc. at different spatial and temporal scales, including the most recent periods, which are so critical with respect to the “anthropisation of the atmosphere and environments”.
In this context, the study of alteration of built heritage is essential, as it allows to trace the environmental evolutions (local atmosphere, pollutants) on the timescale of a few hundred years. The DIM supports work on improving the reading of ancient records (fine analysis of samples of various kinds, quantitative determination of their organic/mineral, chemical or isotopic composition, statistical description of 2D and 3D images). It supports research to reinforce the robustness of the information extracted from geological and archaeological sequences, notably through the acquisition of equipment for dating, imaging, experimental taphonomy, mineralogy and geochemistry.