by Michael R. Rampino et al., October 2017, in Nature
Anomalous peaks of nickel abundance have been reported in Permian-Triassic boundary sections in China, Israel, Eastern Europe, Spitzbergen, and the Austrian Carnic Alps. New solution ICP-MS results of enhanced nickel from P-T boundary sections in Hungary, Japan, and Spiti, India suggest that the nickel anomalies at the end of the Permian were a worldwide phenomenon.
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by McMaster University, October 2, 2017 in ScinceDaily
Life on Earth began somewhere between 3.7 and 4.5 billion years ago, after meteorites splashed down and leached essential elements into warm little ponds, say scientists. Their calculations suggest that wet and dry cycles bonded basic molecular building blocks in the ponds’ nutrient-rich broth into self-replicating RNA molecules that constituted the first genetic code for life on the planet.
by National Science Foundation, September 26, 2017 in ScienceDaily
Expedition co-chief scientist Rupert Sutherland of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand said researchers had believed that Zealandia was submerged when it separated from Australia and Antarctica about 80 million years ago.
Big geographic changes across northern Zealandia, which is about the same size as India, have implications for understanding questions such as how plants and animals dispersed and evolved in the South Pacific.
by P. Sternal et al., 2017 in NatureGeoscience
Significant and fast reductions in sea level unload the lithosphere, which can increase the production and eruption of magma. Here we calculate variations in surface load associated with the Messinian salinity crisis and compile the available time constraints for pan-Mediterranean magmatism.
by Europlanet Media Centre, September 21, 2017 in ScienceDaily
Diamonds may be ‘forever’ but some may have formed more recently than geologists thought. A study of 26 diamonds, formed under extreme melting conditions in the Earth’s mantle, found two populations, one of which has geologically ‘young’ ages. The results show that certain volcanic events on Earth may still be able to create super-heated conditions previously thought to have only existed early in the planet’s history before it cooled. The findings may have implications for diamond prospecting.
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by University of Manchester, September 11, 2017 in ScienceDaily
The international team, including palaeontologist from The University of Manchester, found a new set of trace fossils left by some of the first ever organisms capable of active movement. Trace fossils are the tracks and burrows left by living organisms, not physical remains such as bones or body parts.
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by Gerard D. Gierlinski et al., August 31, 2017 in Proc.Geologist’sAssoc.
We describe late Miocene tetrapod footprints (tracks) from the Trachilos locality in western Crete (Greece), which show hominin-like characteristics. They occur in an emergent horizon within an otherwise marginal marine succession of Messinian age (latest Miocene), dated to approximately 5.7 Ma (million years), just prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis.
by University of Chicago Press Journals, August 30, 2017 in ScienceDaily
To date, about 1.5 million species have been formally described in the scientific literature, most of them insects. Proportionally, bacteria comprise less than 1% of all described species.
In a new paper published in The Quarterly Review of Biology (September 2017), researchers from the University of Arizona have estimated that there are roughly 2 billion living species on Earth, over a thousand times more than the current number of described species.
by Haijun Song et al., August 2017, in Nature
Banded iron formations were a prevalent feature of marine sedimentation ~3.8–1.8 billion years ago and they provide key evidence for ferruginous oceans. The disappearance of banded iron formations at ~1.8 billion years ago was traditionally taken as evidence for the demise of ferruginous oceans, but recent geochemical studies show that ferruginous conditions persisted throughout the later Precambrian, and were even a feature of Phanerozoic ocean anoxic events.
by Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum, August 22, 2017 in ScienceDaily
Researchers have used computer simulations to analyse how plate tectonics have evolved on Earth over the last three billion years. They show that tectonic processes have changed in the course of the time, and demonstrate how those changes contributed to the formation and destruction of continents. The model reconstructs how present-day continents, oceans and the atmosphere may have evolved.
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by National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, August 21, 2017 in ScienceDaily
Tremendous amounts of soot, lofted into the air from global wildfires following a massive asteroid strike 66 million years ago, would have plunged Earth into darkness for nearly two years, new research finds. This would have shut down photosynthesis, drastically cooled the planet, and contributed to the mass extinction that marked the end of the age of dinosaurs.
by David Middleton, August 18, 2017 in WUWT
If “the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat,” does this mean we can stop fretting about Gorebal Warming and the Sixth Mass Extinction? Is NASA really moving on to actual threats to the planet? Well, not threats to the planet… The planet has handled supervolcanoes, asteroids and comets quite well over its 4.5 billion year lifespan.
by Jochen J. Brocks et al., August 2017, in Nature
The ‘Rise of Algae’ created food webs with more efficient nutrient and energy transfers, driving ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms. This effect is recorded by the concomitant appearance of biomarkers for sponges and predatory rhizarians, and the subsequent radiation of eumetazoans in the Ediacaran period.
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by Oregon State University, August 15, 2017 in ScienceDaily
A Triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex bulling its way through a pine forest likely dislodged flowers that 100 million years later have been identified in their fossilized form as a new species of tree.