Sandra Passchier

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Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies

Mallory Hall 352
973 655-3185
973 655-4072
MS:University of Amsterdam
PhD:Ohio State University
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Sandra Passchier is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies. She has studied sedimentary records of polar ice sheet dynamics since 1992 in collaborative research efforts involving expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic, of which six as a science team member in international scientific drilling programs. She is a member of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC), and serves on the curatorial advisory board for the U.S. Polar Rock Repository.

At Montclair State University Dr. Passchier has taught the following courses: Planet Earth, Historical Geology, Understanding Weather and Climate, Invertebrate Paleobiology, Stratigraphy, Advanced Marine Geology, and Sedimentology/Sedimentary Petrography



The Earth's cryosphere has played an important role in global climate change. Ice sheet thickness and extent affects local and global sea level, sea-ice formation, and physical and biogeochemical processes in the ocean that control important variables in our Earth's climate system. We have carried out field work and sediment core studies, acoustic data interpretation, and physical and chemical laboratory analyses to reconstruct paleoenvironments and former ice sheet dynamics in Antarctica, Greenland, Scandinavia and the Boston basin. Our work on sedimentary archives in Antarctica has directly informed the broader understanding of polar ice sheet dynamics and future sea level rise.

Current research projects are described below under "Research Projects".

SELECTED RECENT PUBLICATIONS (*denotes MSU student author)

St. John, K., Passchier, S., Tantillo, B., Darby, D., Kearns, L., (in press). Microfeatures of Modern Sea Ice-Rafted Sediment and Implications for Paleo-Sea Ice Reconstructions. Annals of Glaciology 56 (69).

Patterson, M.O., McKay, R., Naish, T., Escutia, C., Jimenez-Espejo, F.J., Raymo, M.E., Meyers, S.R., Tauxe, L., Brinkhuis, H., Klaus, A., Fehr, A., Bendle, J.A.P., Bijl, P.K., Bohaty, S.M., Carr, S.A., Dunbar, R.B., Flores, J.A., Gonzalez, J.J., Hayden, T.G., Iwai, M., Katsuki, K., Kong, G.S., Nakai, M., Olney, M.P., Passchier, S., Pekar, S.F., Pross, J., Riesselman, C.R., Röhl, U., Sakai, T., Shrivastava, P.K., Stickley, C.E., Sugasaki, S., Tuo, S., van de Flierdt, T., Welsh, K., Williams, T., Yamane, M., 2014. Orbital forcing of the East Antarctic ice sheet during the Pliocene and Early Pleistocene, Nature Geoscience 7, 11, p. 841-847, doi:10.1038/ngeo2273.

*Orejola, N., Passchier, S., and Expedition 318 Scientists, 2014. Sedimentology of Lower Pliocene to Upper Pleistocene diamictons from IODP Site U1358, Wilkes Land margin, and implications for East Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics. Antarctic Science, doi:10.1017/S0954102013000527; FREE REPRINT:

Cook, C. P., van de Flierdt, T., Williams, T., Hemming, S.R., Iwai, M., Kobayashi, M., Jimenez-Espejo, F.J., Escutia, C., Gonzalez, J.J., Khim, B.-K., McKay, R.M., Passchier, S., Bohaty, S.M., Riesselman, C.R., Tauxe, L., Sugisaki, S., Galindo, A. L., Patterson, M. O., Sangiorgi, F., Pierce, E.L., Brinkhuis, H., and 21 others, 2013. Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during Pliocene warmth, Nature geoscience, doi: 10.1038/ngeo1889.

Passchier, S., Bohaty, S.M., Jiménez-Espejo, F., Pross, J., Röhl, U., van de Flierdt, T., Escutia, C., Brinkhuis, H., 2013. Early Eocene – to – middle Miocene cooling and aridification of East Antarctica. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 14 (5), 1399-1410, doi:10.1002/ggge.20106. (Research Highlight in Nature Geoscience, June 2013).

Stocchi, P., Escutia, C., Houben, A.J.P., Vermeersen, B.L.A., Bijl, P.K., Brinkhuis, H., DeConto, R.M., Galeotti, S., Passchier, S., Pollard, D., and IODP Expedition 318 scientists, 2013, Relative sea level rise around East Antarctica during Oligocene glaciation. Nature Geoscience, online April 21, doi:10.1038/ngeo1783.

Houben, A.J.P., Bijl, P.K., Pross, J., Bohaty, S.M., Passchier, S., Stickley, C.E., Röhl, U., Sugisaki, S., Tauxe, T., van de Flierdt, T., Olney, M., Sangiorgi, F., Sluijs, A., Escutia, C., Brinkhuis, H., and the Expedition 318 Scientists, 2013. Reorganization of Southern Ocean plankton ecosystem at the onset of Antarctic glaciation. Science. V. 340 no. 6130 p. 341-344, doi: 10.1126/science.1223646.

Passchier, S., *Falk., C. and Florindo, F., 2013. Orbitally-paced shifts in the particle size of the Antarctic continental shelf in response to ice dynamics during the Miocene Climatic Optimum. Geosphere, doi:10.1130/GES00840.1,


Office Hours


  • Tuesday 11:30 pm - 12:30 pm


Research Projects

Expedition Objective Research: Early Pliocene Record Of Antarctic Ice Rafting And Paleoenvironmental Conditions, Wilkes Land Margin, Antarctica

The Pliocene was the last epoch wherein the atmospheric pCO2 was similar to today's partial pressure and global surface temperatures were higher than the modern with a larger than average degree of warming occurring at high latitudes. This project investigates early Pliocene East Antarctic ice dynamics and paleoenvironmental conditions from variations in the production of ice-rafted debris and major element geochemistry of sediment cores collected during IODP Expedition 318 to the Wilkes Land margin of Antarctica. This portion of Antarctica carries the Wilkes and Aurora subglacial basins, where the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is grounded below sea level, and is potentially unstable. Funding: Consortium for Ocean Leadership and National Science Foundation

The Stratigraphic Expression of the Onset of Glaciation in Eocene-Oligocene Successions on the Antarctic Continental Margin

This project will investigate glacial advance and retreat of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet through the Eocene-Oligocene transition, a major episode of ice growth. In Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, a 130-170 m thick Eocene-Oligocene transition interval of glaciomarine sediments was cored in drillholes of the Ocean Drilling Program at Sites 739, 742 and 1166. Recent drilling on the Wilkes Land margin of East Antarctica recovered earliest Oligocene sediments overlying a major regional unconformity in two drillholes. The PI, one graduate and two undergraduate students will study the lithostratigraphy and weathering history of cores in the five drillholes, to establish a unique Eocene-Oligocene transition record within Antarctic continental margin sediments of glacial advance and retreat cycles, the onset of physical weathering, and glacio-isostasy and self-gravitation processes with implications for the margin architecture, sediment routing, and off-shore sediment dispersal. Cores from the five drillholes will be re-examined through detailed core description, detailed laser particle size and bulk major element geochemistry via ICP-AES. Phases of major ice growth will be recognized as marker beds of physically eroded sediment and will be correlated to isotopic records documenting Antarctic ice growth offshore in the Southern Ocean. Funded by the National Science Foundation.