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Liesbeth Jorissen
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E.L. Jorissen, MSc
Paleomagnetic Laboratory
Fort Hoofddijk
Department of Earth Sciences
Utrecht University 
Budapestlaan 17, 3584 CD Utrecht 
The Netherlands 

Phone +31 30 253 1361


Research of Liesbeth Jorissen

Paleoenvironmental changes in the
Pontocaspian basin during the Plio-Pleistocene 
The PRIDE (Drivers of Pontocaspian Biodiversity Rise and Demise) programme is a Marie-Currie Innovative Training Network, taking place from 2015 to 2019. This programme comprises 15 interdisciplinary Early Stage Researchers in geology, climatology and biosciences.

The programme focuses on the Pontocaspian region, is located in Eastern Europe and includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The purpose is to identify environmental drivers of past biodiversity changes in the area in order to evaluate the causes, severity and future prospects of the current biodiversity crisis, which affect the endemic Pontocaspian bivalves and molluscs.

Sampling a section along the Black Sea coast of Russia on the Taman Peninsula

Liesbeth's project focuses on the successive paleoenvironmental changes that the Pontocaspian basin has endured during the Plio-Pleistocene. It changed several times between endorheic systems, with brackish or continental environments, to exorheic systems, marked by marine environments due to the connection with the Mediterranean. In this basin, endemic Pontocaspian bivalves and molluscs had succeeded to shelter 2.5 million years ago. Since then, these endemics have been able to adapt to those drastic environmental changes, such as sea-level or salinity variations. Nevertheless, recent habitat degradation marked a significant decrease of the Pontocaspian fauna over the last 100 years,. Pontocaspians are currently facing a severe biodiversity crisis.

The objective of this project is to establish detailed paleoenvironmental and facies reconstructions of the Pontocaspian depositional environments for the last 6 million years, by combining sedimentary, stratigraphic, paleontological, and geochemical data. The aim is to identify the drivers for environmental changes in the Pontocaspian domain, to determine when and how fast these changes occurred, and to diagnose their impact on the rise and the demise of the Pontocaspian fauna.

Sampling cores in the Razim-Sinoe Lake complex of the Danube Delta in Romania

Three sections have been identified: one outcrop on the Black Sea coast of Russia on the Taman Peninsula, one in Azerbaijan along the Caucasus and one in Romania in Buzau area. In the coming years, I will investigate those locations to better apprehend the drivers of the environmental changes and their effect on the different depositional environments in this basin. In addition, I will also study several deltas, such as the Danube, Volga, Kura or Dnieper Delta, in order to understand endemic species habitat conditions and their biodiversity repartition in the Pontocaspian region nowadays.

Publications of Liesbeth Jorissen
  • Jorissen, E.L. de Leeuw, A. van Baak, C.G.C., Mandic, O., Stoica, M., Abels, H.A. and Krijgsman, W. (2018). Sedimentary architecture and depositional controls of a Pliocene river-dominated delta in the semi-isolated Dacian Basin, Black Sea, Sedimentary Geology, in press