All About Microfossils

What are microfossils?

Microfossils are the fossilized remains of microscopic single-celled organisms and other once-living flora and fauna.  Examples include:

  • calcareous nannofossils
  • foraminifera
  • diatoms
  • radiolarians
  • silicoflagellates
  • pollen

Many, including those featured here, are planktonic organisms that inhabit the sunlit surface waters of the world ocean. Others may have inhabited the benthos or have blown to the sea from the land on dry winds.  The tiny shells and remains of microfossils are the sediments that cover vast areas of the seafloor.

How are microfossils used in The JR's research?

When a core is brought up on the deck of The JR, scientists look at reference slides to identify the microfossils found in the core. Identifying microfossils helps scienctists determine the age of the sediment. These microfossils also contain clues to Earth's paleoclimate.

Here are some resources to help you and your students learn more about microfossils.

These resources are developed by the Deep Earth Academy to help you and your class learn more about microfossils and their role in The JR's scientific drilling and paleoclimate research. Still have questions? Ask a scientist!