“These scientists have identified an outcome of mass extinctions–that species ecologically marginalized before the extinction may be ‘freed up’ to experience evolutionary bursts then dominate after the extinction.” Quote from H. Richard Lane, Program Director, National Science Foundation.
The American Museum of Natural History has an interesting video about the Quelccaya ice cap in the Peruvian Andes, where researchers are collecting cores to document past climate change recorded in the ice.
“Temperature patterns during Earth’s last prolonged global “hot spell”–the Pliocene, some 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago–differed dramatically from those of modern times.” Quoted from the NSF press release.
“A paleontological expedition to the Tugen Hills in Kenya, led by LMU’s Professor Bettina Reichenbacher, has discovered assemblages of fossil fish at eight previously unexplored localities. “Not only is it very rare to uncover so many specimens of fossil fish, those we have found are also very well preserved,” says Reichenbacher.” Quoted from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München press release.
“More than 200 million years ago, a massive extinction decimated 76 percent of marine and terrestrial species, marking the end of the Triassic period and the onset of the Jurassic. The event cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate Earth.” Quoted from the NSF press release.
“With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have reconstructed Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.
NASA is running laboratory experiments designed to mimic the conditions at hydrothermal vents on the seafloor of ancient oceans. They are trying to determine if the vents might have been the source of simple organic molecules such as ethane, methane and amino acids.
The Arizona Geological Survey has released a new Geologic Map of Petrified Forest National Park. The map is accompanied by a booklet that contains information about the geologic setting of the Park, its historical geology, stratigraphy, descriptions of mapped rock units and macrofossil occurrences.
“Carbon dioxide levels in fossil soils from the Late Jurassic confirm that climate, vegetation and animal richness varied across the planet 150 million years ago, suggesting future human changes to global climate will heavily impact plant and animal life.”
A publication by the Oklahoma Geological Survey documents the geologic history of the state with a great presentation of maps, cross sections and text. The publication consists of four oversize pages – one is shown at right.
“A new species of coelacanth fish has been discovered in Texas. Pieces of tiny fossil skull found in Fort Worth have been identified as 100 million-year-old coelacanth bones.” Quoted from the Southern Methodist University press release.
This is not a brand new publication, however, USGS has a nice .pdf map of the Grand Canyon that can be used for online reference and for student projects. It can be viewed online, printed on a plotter and cropped with a graphics program to create printed hand-outs. The title is: “Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon 30′ x 60′ Quadrangle, Coconino and Mohave Counties, Northwestern Arizona“.
“For over 150 years, geologists have debated how and when one of the most dramatic features on our planet—the Grand Canyon—was formed. New data unearthed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) builds support for the idea that conventional models, which say the enormous ravine is 5 to 6 million years old, are way off.” Quoted from the California Institute of Technology press release.
“Once buried under detritus eroded from the uplifted Santa Catalina Mountains, the Pirate fault is currently being exhumed by the downcutting Cañada del Oro and its tributaries. [...] This field examination reveals the fault to have left a sparse but diverse collection of remains implying a varied history of fault development and evolution.” Quoted from the publication press release.
A summary of a presentation titled: “Were Dinosaurs Destined to Be Big? Testing Cope’s Rule” by Gene Hunt of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution has been posted on the Geological Society of America website.
“New geochronologic and thermochronologic data from rocks near Hatcher Pass, southwest Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska, record earliest Paleocene erosional and structural exhumation on the flank of the active Cook Inlet forearc basin.” Quoted from the USGS publication announcement.
The largest volcanic eruption in the past two million years was an enormous blast at Toba volcano in Indonesia about 74,000 years ago. An article on the Phys.org website explores the impact of the eruption.
Gene LaBerge, age 80, author of Geology of the Lake Superior Region, is working on a project that will document the geologic history of Wisconsin. He is looking for two large specimens of rhyolite and pillow basalt to feature in his collection.
“The growth of high topography on the Tibetan Plateau in Sichuan, China, began much earlier than previously thought, according to an international team of geologists who looked at mountain ranges along the eastern edge of the plateau.” Quoted from the Penn State Live press release.
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