Archives de catégorie : only geology

Lessons from Dutch geological history might be useful for other present-day deltas

by Geological Society of America, October 9, 2018 in ScienceDaily 


Even long before medieval inhabitants reclaimed land and raised dykes at a large scale, humans have had a strong impact on river behavior in the Dutch delta plain. Physical geographers have demonstrated that two present Rhine branches developed stepwise in the first centuries CE, because of two combined man-induced effects.

Plate tectonics may have been active on Earth since the very beginning

by University of Tennessee at Knoxville, September 26, 2018 in ScienceDaily


A new study suggests that plate tectonics — a scientific theory that divides the earth into large chunks of crust that move slowly over hot viscous mantle rock — could have been active from the planet’s very beginning. The new findings defy previous beliefs that tectonic plates were developed over the course of billions of years.

The paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has important implications in the fields of geochemistry and geophysics. For example, a better understanding of plate tectonics could help predict whether planets beyond our solar system could be hospitable to life.

“Plate tectonics set up the conditions for life,” said Nick Dygert, assistant professor of petrology and geochemistry in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and coauthor of the study. “The more we know about ancient plate tectonics, the better we can understand how Earth got to be the way it is now.”

Geologists reveal ancient connection between England and France

by University of Plymouth, September 14, 2018 in ScienceDaily


The British mainland was formed from the collision of not two, but three ancient continental land masses, according to new research.

Scientists have for centuries believed that England, Wales and Scotland were created by the merger of Avalonia and Laurentia more than 400 million years ago.

However, geologists based at the University of Plymouth now believe that a third land mass — Armorica — was also involved in the process.

The findings are published in Nature Communications and follow an extensive study of mineral properties at exposed rock features across Devon and Cornwall …

Credit: University of Plymouth

Geologists uncover new clues about largest mass extinction ever

by University of Tennessee at Knoxville, August 27, 2018 in ScienceDaily from Nature.


Through the analysis of samples, Broadley and his team tried to determine the composition of the lithosphere. They found that before the Siberian Flood Basalts took place, the Siberian lithosphere was heavily loaded with chlorine, bromine, and iodine, all chemical elements from the halogen group. However, these elements seem to have disappeared after the volcanic eruption.

“We concluded that the large reservoir of halogens that was stored in the Siberian lithosphere was sent into the earth’s atmosphere during the volcanic explosion, effectively destroying the ozone layer at the time and contributing to the mass extinction,” Broadley said.

Research into deadly 2016 Italian earthquakes could improve future seismic forecasts

by Durham University, Augsut23, 2018 in ScienceDaily


The timing and size of three deadly earthquakes that struck Italy in 2016 may have been pre-determined, according to new research that could improve future earthquake forecasts.

A joint British-Italian team of geologists and seismologists have shown that the clustering of the three quakes might have been caused by the arrangement of a cross-cutting network of underground faults.

The findings show that although all three earthquakes occurred on the same major fault, several smaller faults prevented a single massive earthquake from occurring instead and also acted as pathways for naturally occurring fluids that triggered later earthquakes.

Integrated genomic and fossil evidence illuminates life’s early evolution and eukaryote origin

by Holly C. Betts et al., August 20, 2018 in NatureEcology&Evolution


We derive a timescale of life, combining a reappraisal of the fossil material with new molecular clock analyses. We find the last universal common ancestor of cellular life to have predated the end of late heavy bombardment (>3.9 billion years ago (Ga)). The crown clades of the two primary divisions of life, Eubacteria and Archaebacteria, emerged much later (<3.4 Ga), relegating the oldest fossil evidence for life to their stem lineages. The Great Oxidation Event significantly predates the origin of modern Cyanobacteria, indicating that oxygenic photosynthesis evolved within the cyanobacterial stem lineage. Modern eukaryotes do not constitute a primary lineage of life and emerged late in Earth’s history (<1.84 Ga), falsifying the hypothesis that the Great Oxidation Event facilitated their radiation…

Chemical nature of the 3.4 Ga Strelley Pool microfossils

by J. Allen et al., 2018 in GeochemicalPerspectiveLetters


The biogenicity of putative traces of life found in early-Archean rocks is strongly debated. To date, only equivocal lines of evidence have been reported, which has prevented a full consensus from emerging. Here we report elemental and molecular data from individual organic microfossils preserved within the 3.4 billion-year-old cherts of the Strelley Pool Formation, Western Australia. The present results support the growing body of evidence advocating their biogenicity, promoting them as the oldest known authentic organic microfossils. These microfossils consist of nitrogen- and oxygen- rich organic molecules that have been only slightly degraded despite experiencing temperatures of ~300 °C. Such molecular preservation emphasises the palaeobiological potential of the Earth’s oldest geological record, whilst providing a promising window into the early biosphere.

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Billion-year-old lake deposit yields clues to Earth’s ancient biosphere

by McGill University, July 18, 2018 in ScienceDaily


The findings, published in the journal Nature, represent the oldest measurement of atmospheric oxygen isotopes by nearly a billion years. The results support previous research suggesting that oxygen levels in the air during this time in Earth history were a tiny fraction of what they are today due to a much less productive biosphere.

“It has been suggested for many decades now that the composition of the atmosphere has significantly varied through time,” says Peter Crockford, who led the study as a PhD student at McGill University. “We provide unambiguous evidence that it was indeed much different 1.4 billion years ago.”

The study provides the oldest gauge yet of what earth scientists refer to as “primary production,” in which micro-organisms at the base of the food chain — algae, cyanobacteria, and the like — produce organic matter from carbon dioxide and pour oxygen into the air.

Sound waves reveal diamond cache deep in Earth’s interior

by Jennifer Chu, July 16 in MITNews


There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth’s interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities. But the new results are unlikely to set off a diamond rush. The scientists estimate the precious minerals are buried more than 100 miles below the surface, far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached.

The ultradeep cache may be scattered within cratonic roots — the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates. Shaped like inverted mountains, cratons can stretch as deep as 200 miles through the Earth’s crust and into its mantle; geologists refer to their deepest sections as “roots.”

In the new study, scientists estimate that cratonic roots may contain 1 to 2 percent diamond. Considering the total volume of cratonic roots in the Earth, the team figures that about a quadrillion (1016) tons of diamond are scattered within these ancient rocks, 90 to 150 miles below the surface.

Scientists discover Earth’s youngest banded iron formation in western China

by University of Alberta, July 11, 2018 in ScienceDaily


Discovery provides evidence of iron-rich seawater much later than previously thought.

The banded iron formation, located in western China, has been conclusively dated as Cambrian in age. Approximately 527 million years old, this formation is young by comparison to the majority of discoveries to date. The deposition of banded iron formations, which began approximately 3.8 billion years ago, had long been thought to terminate before the beginning of the Cambrian Period at 540 million years ago.

The Early Cambrian is known for the rise of animals, so the level of oxygen in seawater should have been closer to near modern levels. “This is important as the availability of oxygen has long been thought to be a handbrake on the evolution of complex life, and one that should have been alleviated by the Early Cambrian,” says Leslie Robbins, a PhD candidate in Konhauser’s lab and a co-author on the paper.

New Holocene geological subdivisions. The Anthropocene nowhere to be found.

by Javier, July 9, 2018 in WUWT


The International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) has announced that the proposal by the International Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (ISQS) for the subdivision of the Holocene Series/Epoch has been ratified unanimously by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

(…)

 

nb:  ‘No Christiana, the geologists do not think the Anthropocene is a concept worthy of consideration, and you should be better informed.’

Rapid 3D analysis of rockfalls in Yosemite

by Geological Society of America, June 28, 2018 in ScienceDaily


On 27 and 28 September 2017, eight large rockfalls occurred from the southeast face of El Capitan. These rockfalls resulted in one fatality and two serious injuries, and spurred a complicated rescue and temporary closure of the main road exiting Yosemite Valley. In order to manage these challenging events, the National Park Service (NPS) had a critical, immediate need for quantitative information about the sequence of rockfalls and the potential for additional activity.

Using new “structure-from-motion” photogrammetry techniques in conjunction with baseline laser-scanning data, scientists from the NPS, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland rapidly analyzed these rockfalls. By comparing 3-dimensional (3D) models of the cliff before, during, and after the rockfalls, the researchers were able to pinpoint the exact locations, dimensions, and volumes of the rockfalls, along with the spatial and temporal pattern of their progression up the cliff.

(…)

What caused the mass extinction of Earth’s first animals?

by Arizona State University, June 27, 2018 in ScienceDaily


Scientists have argued for decades over what may have caused this mass extinction, during what is called the “Ediacaran-Cambrian transition.” Some think that a steep decline in dissolved oxygen in the ocean was responsible. Others hypothesize that these early animals were progressively replaced by newly evolved animals.

The precise cause has remained elusive, in part because so little is known about the chemistry of Earth’s oceans that long ago.

A research team, led by scientists from Arizona State University and funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, is helping to unravel this mystery and understand why this extinction event happened, what it can tell us about our origins, and how the world as we know it came to be. The study, published in Science Advances, was led by ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration graduate student Feifei Zhang, under the direction of faculty member Ariel Anbar and staff scientist Stephen Romaniello. (…)

Geologists detail likely site of San Andreas Fault’s next major quake

by Utah State University, June 26, 2018 in ScienceDaily


The discovery of the Durmid Ladder reveals the southern tip of the San Andreas Fault changes fairly gradually into the ladder-like Brawley Seismic zone. The structure trends northwest, extending from the well-known main trace of the San Andreas Fault along the Salton Sea’s northeastern shore, to the newly identified East Shoreline Fault Zone on the San Andreas’ opposite edge.

“We now have critical evidence about the possible nucleation site of the next major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault,” says Jänecke, professor in USU’s Department of Geology. “That possible nucleation site was thought to be a small area near Bombay Beach, California, but our work suggests there may be an additional, longer ‘fuse’ south of the Durmid Ladder within the 37-mile-long Brawley Seismic zone.” …