Archives de catégorie : only geology

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.” …

Why life on Earth first got big

by University of Cambridge, June 25, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Some of the earliest complex organisms on Earth — possibly some of the earliest animals to exist — got big not to compete for food, but to spread their offspring as far as possible.

The research, led by the University of Cambridge, found that the most successful organisms living in the oceans more than half a billion years ago were the ones that were able to ‘throw’ their offspring the farthest, thereby colonising their surroundings. The results are reported in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Prior to the Ediacaran period, between 635 and 541 million years ago, life forms were microscopic in size, but during the Ediacaran, large, complex organisms first appeared, some of which — such as a type of organism known as rangeomorphs — grew as tall as two metres.


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Le Précambrien de l’Afrique de l’Ouest : que d’événements globaux riches d’enseignements

by Alain Préat, 31 mai 2018, Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre- Mer

Le Précambrien représente 88% de l’histoire de la Terre âgée de 4,567 milliards d’années (Ga).

C’est au cours de cette période peu connue, peu enseignée que se sont déroulés ou mis en place des événements physico-chimiques et biologiques déterminants: différenciation des enveloppes terrestres, tectonique des plaques et premières ‘pangées’ ou supercontinents, champ magnétique, chaînes de montagnes, glaciations, anoxies des bassins, remplacement du CO2-CH4par l’oxygène atmosphérique, formation de gisements (uranium, manganèse, nickel …. et même pétrole), émergence dès 3,8 Ga des procaryotes puis des eucaryotes …

Vu l’absence de fossiles stratigraphiques, et donc de biozones, la stratigraphie du Précambrien est encore très difficile, elle  est intialement basée sur la lithostratigraphie. De grands progrès ont récemment été réalisés grâce à la chimiostratigraphie istotopique (C, O, Sr….) en plus de la radiométrie absolue.

L’exposé se consacrera aux événements sédimentaires liés au Grand Evénement de l’Oxygène il y a environ 2,5-2,1 Ga (Paléoprotérozoïque) et à ceux liés à la ‘Terre Boule de Neige’ (Snowball Earth) avec la glaciation marinoenne il y a 0,635 Ga (Néoprotérozoïque), à partir des séries de l’Afrique de l’Ouest.


When the dinosaurs died, so did forests — and tree-dwelling birds

By Field Museum, May 24, 2018 in ScienceDaily (CurrentBiology)

Sixty-six million years ago, the world burned. An asteroid crashed to Earth with a force one million times larger than the largest atomic bomb, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. But dinosaurs weren’t the only ones that got hit hard — in a new study, scientists learned that the planet’s forests were decimated, leading to the extinction of tree-dwelling birds.

Europium points to new suspect in continental mystery

by Rice University, May 16, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Clues from some unusual Arizona rocks pointed Rice University scientists toward a discovery — a subtle chemical signature in rocks the world over — that could answer a long-standing mystery: What stole the iron from Earth’s continents?

The find has weighty implications. If the iron content of continental rocks was a bit greater, as it is in the rocks beneath Earth’s oceans, for example, our atmosphere might look more like that of Mars, a planet so littered with rusty, oxidized rocks that it appears red even from Earth.

In a new paper available online in Science Advances, Rice petrologists Cin-Ty Lee, Ming Tang, Monica Erdman and Graham Eldridge make a case that garnet steals the most iron from continents. The hypothesis flies in the face of 40-plus years of geophysical thinking, and Tang, a postdoctoral fellow, and Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice, said they expect a healthy dose of skepticism from peers.

“The standard view … (…)

Volcanic hazard scenarios: Mount Taranaki, New Zealand

by Geological Society of America, May 3, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Over the last 5000 years, Mount Taranaki volcano, located in the westernmost part of New Zealand’s North Island, produced at least 16 Plinian-scale explosive eruptions, the latest at AD 1655. These eruptions had magnitudes of 4 to 5, eruptive styles, and contrasting basaltic to andesitic chemical compositions comparable to the eruptions of Etna, 122 BC; Vesuvius, AD79; Tarawera, 1886; Pelée, 1902; Colima, 1910; Mount Saint Helens, 1980; Merapi, 2010; and Calbuco, 2015.

Small earthquakes caused by migrating gasses in the underground

by GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre, May 1, 2018 in ScienceDaily

The metropolitan area of Istanbul with around 15 million inhabitants is considered to be particularly earthquake-prone. In order to be able to assess the risk correctly, researchers must decipher the processes underground. Below the Marmara Sea, an international research team detected earthquakes that were not directly caused by tectonic stresses but by rising natural gas.