Tagged: Geochemistry Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on July 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Thin crust or thick? Yale researchers try to solve a continental question", , , , Geochemistry, , , The thicker continental crust is often as much as 25 miles thick., The thickness of continental crust plays an important role in everything from the gradual movement of continents to the evolution of animal species on land and in shallow waters along coastlines., The thinner oceanic crust is normally a little more than four miles thick.,   

    From The Yale University Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences : “Thin crust or thick? Yale researchers try to solve a continental question” 

    From The Yale University Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences


    Yale University

    June 30, 2022 [Just today in social media.]

    Written by Jim Shelton

    Media Contact:

    Fred Mamoun:

    Photo by Erik Christensen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

    The crusty conundrum carries fundamental implications. The thickness of continental crust — the part of Earth’s crust that forms land masses and continents — plays an important role in everything from the gradual movement of continents to the evolution of animal species on land and in shallow waters along coastlines.

    The Earth is covered by two kinds of crust — continental and oceanic. The thinner oceanic crust is normally a little more than four miles thick, while the thicker continental crust is often as much as 25 miles thick. Continental crust is also much less dense than its oceanic counterpart.

    In 1962, famed Princeton geologist Harry Hess theorized that the thickness of continental crust had to do with sea level and ocean depth. Deeper oceans enabled the formation of thicker continental crust, Hess posited. But as the crust thickens and rises above sea level, Hess said, erosion gradually starts to break it down.

    The Hess theory [The Geological Society] [below] proved quite durable, remaining unchallenged for decades. But in the past five years, new theories about oceans and land formation in the ancient world began to raise questions. For example, the geochemical signatures of ancient sediments around the world suggest to many researchers that during Earth’s Archean eon, which lasted from 4,000 million years ago until 2,500 million years ago, Earth was a “water world.” The planet was covered by deep oceans, with no continents rising above the water’s surface.

    “The notion of a water world for the early Earth has become quite popular these days, and at the same time, there is also growing evidence for the massive amount of early continental crust,” said Jun Korenaga, a professor of earth & planetary sciences in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

    “However, a water world and a large volume of continents don’t really make sense together, if continental thickness is controlled as Hess speculated. Continents can always be thickened to reach the sea level, and a water world is not possible.”

    The new study in the journal Geology [below], authored by Korenaga and a former Yale undergraduate student, Vuong Mai, offers an explanation. According to their analysis, the strength of continental crust, rather than sea level, was the prevailing regulator of crust thickness for the ancient Earth.

    Mai, the study’s first author, created a model to analyze the strength of continental crust and test its stability against gravitational forces. She found that during the Archean eon, Earth’s continental crust was hotter and weaker — and was not strong enough to reach the thickness it attained millions of years later.

    “When we first began this project, we analyzed results from rock mechanics studies to characterize the strength of Earth’s continental crust,” said Mai. “While we have enough data to understand the strength of the continental crust today, extrapolating what we know of early-Earth conditions to characterize the Archean continental crust strength is a difficult problem.

    “The plausibility of a water world hinges on the crustal strength. A weak crust won’t be able to support itself and accumulate above sea level, which provides a mechanism for a water world, whereas a strong crust will inevitably form continents and thus a water world would not be possible.”

    Mai and Korenaga said that in addition to solving a geological paradox, the findings are significant because they will help scientists understand the landscape of the early Earth, which played a critical role in the origin of life.

    “Empirical data for the Earth this long ago are scarce,” Mai said.

    Support for the research study came from the National Science Foundation and the Karen L. Von Damm ‘77 Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Yale University. The Von Damm Fellowship has supported a number of significant research projects by Yale undergraduate students.

    The Hess theory [The Geological Society] proved quite durable, remaining unchallenged for decades.

    The new study is published in the journal Geology.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest private benefactor for the first century of its existence, Elihu Yale. Yale University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities and is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation.

    Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers before moving to New Haven in 1716. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

    Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of June 2020, the university’s endowment was valued at $31.1 billion, the second largest of any educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

    As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.


    Yale is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation , Yale spent $990 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 15th in the nation.

    Yale’s faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences , 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

    Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called “Yale School”. These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale’s history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale’s Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

    In addition to eminent faculty members, Yale research relies heavily on the presence of roughly 1200 Postdocs from various national and international origin working in the multiple laboratories in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools of the university. The university progressively recognized this working force with the recent creation of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs and the Yale Postdoctoral Association.

    Notable alumni

    Over its history, Yale has produced many distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, ranging from the public to private sector. According to 2020 data, around 71% of undergraduates join the workforce, while the next largest majority of 16.6% go on to attend graduate or professional schools. Yale graduates have been recipients of 252 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Scholarships, 67 Truman Scholarships, 21 Churchill Scholarships, and 9 Mitchell Scholarships. The university is also the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars, with a total of 1,199 in its history and has produced 89 MacArthur Fellows. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked Yale fifth among research institutions producing the most 2020–2021 Fulbright Scholars. Additionally, 31 living billionaires are Yale alumni.

    At Yale, one of the most popular undergraduate majors among Juniors and Seniors is political science, with many students going on to serve careers in government and politics. Former presidents who attended Yale for undergrad include William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush while former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School. Former vice-president and influential antebellum era politician John C. Calhoun also graduated from Yale. Former world leaders include Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, Philippine president José Paciano Laurel, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers, Taiwanese premier Jiang Yi-huah, and Malawian president Peter Mutharika, among others. Prominent royals who graduated are Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Olympia Bonaparte, Princess Napoléon.

    Yale alumni have had considerable presence in U.S. government in all three branches. On the U.S. Supreme Court, 19 justices have been Yale alumni, including current Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Numerous Yale alumni have been U.S. Senators, including current Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Current and former cabinet members include Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen; U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi; and many others. Peace Corps founder and American diplomat Sargent Shriver and public official and urban planner Robert Moses are Yale alumni.

    Yale has produced numerous award-winning authors and influential writers, like Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Sinclair Lewis and Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benét, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, and David McCullough. Academy Award winning actors, actresses, and directors include Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, and Frances McDormand. Alumni from Yale have also made notable contributions to both music and the arts. Leading American composer from the 20th century Charles Ives, Broadway composer Cole Porter, Grammy award winner David Lang, and award-winning jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer all hail from Yale. Hugo Boss Prize winner Matthew Barney, famed American sculptor Richard Serra, President Barack Obama presidential portrait painter Kehinde Wiley, MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Sarah Sze, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and National Medal of Arts photorealist painter Chuck Close all graduated from Yale. Additional alumni include architect and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Lin, Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, and Gateway Arch designer Eero Saarinen. Journalists and pundits include Dick Cavett, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Fareed Zakaria.

    In business, Yale has had numerous alumni and former students go on to become founders of influential business, like William Boeing (Boeing, United Airlines), Briton Hadden and Henry Luce (Time Magazine), Stephen A. Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), Frederick W. Smith (FedEx), Juan Trippe (Pan Am), Harold Stanley (Morgan Stanley), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), and Ben Silbermann (Pinterest). Other business people from Yale include former chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, former Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, former PepsiCo chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton,

    Yale alumni distinguished in academia include literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman; Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project leader and National Institutes of Health director Francis S. Collins; brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; influential mathematician and chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs; National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and biochemist Florence B. Seibert; Turing Award recipient Ron Rivest; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate John B. Goodenough; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

    In the sporting arena, Yale alumni include baseball players Ron Darling and Craig Breslow and baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss; football players Calvin Hill, Gary Fenick, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and “the Father of American Football” Walter Camp; ice hockey players Chris Higgins and Olympian Helen Resor; Olympic figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nathan Chen; nine-time U.S. Squash men’s champion Julian Illingworth; Olympic swimmer Don Schollander; Olympic rowers Josh West and Rusty Wailes; Olympic sailor Stuart McNay; Olympic runner Frank Shorter; and others.

  • richardmitnick 7:27 pm on June 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Exploring New Materials Through Collaboration", Advanced microscopy, , , De Yoreo approaches science through a collaborative perspective., De Yoreo has worked with like-minded materials science researchers across Washington State., Developing new and increasingly complicated materials requires combining existing materials., Geochemistry, Interfaces-the place where two different materials meet, Jim De Yoreo, Many of these collaborations occur through university partnerships-particularly at the University of Washington., , , Natural mineral and biological systems,   

    From The DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: “Exploring New Materials Through Collaboration” 

    From The DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

    June 13, 2022
    Beth Mundy

    Jim De Yoreo’s career full of insights about materials will continue at the Energy Sciences Center.

    Scientists who study materials can be divided into three categories. “You have people who make things, people who make things do things, and people who try to understand why things do what they do,” said Jim De Yoreo, a Battelle fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He places himself into the third category.

    Through advanced microscopy techniques, De Yoreo has spent his career trying to understand and predict the behavior of materials. In 2022, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, citing his “advances in materials synthesis from nucleation to large-scale crystal growth.” De Yoreo’s work spans materials science, geochemistry, and biophysics, often focusing on natural mineral and biological systems.

    De Yoreo is particularly interested in interfaces, the place where two different materials meet. “Developing new and increasingly complicated materials requires combining existing materials,” said De Yoreo. “To effectively combine materials, we have to understand what happens at the interface.”

    De Yoreo’s research team has watched tiny crystals grow and attach together in real time, solving outstanding questions about crystal formation. The team also determined the patterns that proteins form on a mineral surface, laying the groundwork for new strategies for synthesizing semiconductor and metallic nanoparticle circuits for photovoltaic or energy storage applications.

    Some of De Yoreo’s most significant contributions occurred through his penchant for forging deep connections and collaborations. Since joining PNNL in 2012, he has worked with like-minded materials science researchers across Washington State.

    De Yoreo approaches science through a collaborative perspective [see the blog masthead about science and collaboration]. “I know that my own view is limited,” said De Yoreo. “So if I work with people who have different skills, we can start to really understand materials.”

    Many of these collaborations occur through university partnerships-particularly at the University of Washington. De Yoreo has embraced leadership roles at the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry, and Technology and the Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales, which bring together researchers from PNNL and UW.

    “I think Jim has set the stage for another decade of really fruitful materials science collaborations between UW and PNNL,” said Jim Pfaendtner, PNNL joint appointee, professor, and chair of the UW Department of Chemical Engineering. “His efforts have built bridges that didn’t exist before and led to new efforts, like CSSAS.”

    Pfaendtner isn’t the only one who noticed. The Department of Energy named De Yoreo a Distinguished Scientist Fellow in 2020, specifically citing his “leadership in National Laboratory-University partnerships.”

    Mentoring for collaboration

    A transmission electron microscopy image of an assembly of nanomaterials. (Image by Madison Monahan | University of Washington)

    Through joint faculty appointments in the UW Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering departments, De Yoreo co-mentors students like Madison Monahan. Monahan, a recent PhD graduate, helped start a collaboration among De Yoreo, PNNL materials scientist and UW joint appointee Chun-Long Chen, and UW Chemistry Professor Brandi Cossairt. Monahan’s work focuses on controlling the assembly of complex nanoscale materials.

    The different material components are like toy bricks. When assembled in a precise order, a stack of different pieces can become a car or a house. While standard toy bricks require direct human assembly, it isn’t strictly necessary at the nanoscale. It’s as if putting a set of bricks into a box and shaking it the right way produces a completed model house without extra effort.

    This is similar to what happens with assemblies at the nanoscale. However, creating a specific assembly isn’t as simple as adding all the components to a random box. Different conditions, including the overall temperature or type of materials, can change the final structure of the assembly. The goal of Monahan’s project, which is funded by CSSAS, is to understand design principles and key interactions between different building blocks. This will allow researchers to create predictable, functional materials, where final structure controls overall behavior, from a wide range of starting materials.

    The collaboration centers on combining carbon-based (organic) and non-carbon-based (inorganic) materials.

    “We want to try to fit these two different worlds together and find a place where they have complementary chemistry,” said Monahan.

    The Chen group designed peptide-like molecules, called peptoids, to serve as the organic component. Monahan created inorganic nanocrystals and used microscopy to study the forming of organic-inorganic assemblies and their final structures.

    The team explored whether starting assembly with either the organic or the inorganic components produced different results.

    The team found that order of operations matters. When the organic base gets assembled first, it controls the overall structure. When starting with the nanocrystals, the results become less clear. It turns out the size and composition of the nanocrystal also matter. With smaller nanocrystals, the organic structure and nanocrystal both affect the final material. When the nanocrystal is larger, it primarily determines the final structure.

    This work, recently published in ACS Nano, required expertise in developing biologically inspired molecules, synthesizing inorganic materials, and using advanced imaging techniques. It involved bringing together different perspectives to create and understand these complex material assemblies.

    “Jim has opened my eyes to these different ways to study nanomaterials,” said Cossairt. “There are things we’d just never consider being viable for our inorganic systems. He really is the dream collaborator.”

    Developing the next generation of scientific leaders

    Students who work with De Yoreo have ready access to advanced microscopes and other instruments at the new Energy Sciences Center (ESC). It’s more than the instruments, though. The ESC was designed as a collaborative environment for accelerated scientific discovery and features a combination of research laboratories, flexible-use open spaces, conference rooms, and offices.

    “Everyone in Jim’s group has such different backgrounds,” said Monahan. “It means that you constantly get great ideas and have access to so much knowledge. I get to hear from experienced physicists and materials scientists at PNNL as well as the chemists I work with at UW.”

    Monahan is just one of De Yoreo’s UW student mentees. While some stay based at UW for their full graduate career, others spend from months to years on the PNNL campus.

    “I always wanted to mentor graduate students jointly,” said De Yoreo. “Working with another mentor makes sure my students have a full lab experience no matter where they are. I also think if they can learn both synthesis and measurement, it makes their work more successful.”

    Jim’s collaborators echo that sentiment. “There’s no way a student advised just by me would have been able to develop such deep microscopy skills,” said Cossairt. “The joint approach gives a student the best of both worlds.”

    An adventurous approach to life and science

    Collaborators note that they never know what the background of De Yoreo’s video calls will be as he often features photos of previous travels that range from savannah wildlife to snowy slopes. These backgrounds often come with an anecdote about the corresponding trip.

    Once, he took instruments to explore a cave in Mexico where a unique set of crystals naturally formed. A sense of adventure permeates his personal and professional life. “You never know where he’s calling you from,” said Monahan.

    “Jim has an adventurous approach to life, and you can see it in his science,” said Monahan, describing her mentor. “He has these wildly ambitious ideas, but he’s practical enough to know they might not happen now. But he’s going to break it down to where in 10 years, he’ll be able to do it.”

    Others echo this sentiment. “Jim has a boundless intellectual energy and the ability to deeply think about numerous problems simultaneously,” said Pfaendtner. “It’s incredible.”

    Pfaendtner collaborates with De Yoreo on multiple projects. “My group does computational modeling and he does experimental characterization,” said Pfaendtner. “Our work fits nicely together.”

    Previously, a collaborative effort [Journal of the American Chemical Society] that included De Yoreo and Pfaendtner’s research groups explored how solid-binding peptides attach to a mineral surface. These biological molecules can potentially direct the formation of complex mineral-biological hybrid systems. The team used a combined approach of protein engineering, microscopy, computations, and surface bonding experiments to understand what controls peptide binding. They found that binding ability is substantially determined by a small section of the peptide structure. Using this core structure, researchers can create and identify new peptides to assemble materials.

    “Every time I meet with Jim, he has new ideas about whatever we’re working on,” said Pfaendtner. “I leave most of my conversations with him feeling energized.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is one of the United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, managed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The main campus of the laboratory is in Richland, Washington.

    PNNL scientists conduct basic and applied research and development to strengthen U.S. scientific foundations for fundamental research and innovation; prevent and counter acts of terrorism through applied research in information analysis, cyber security, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; increase the U.S. energy capacity and reduce dependence on imported oil; and reduce the effects of human activity on the environment. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965.

  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on May 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "In wake of hurricane microbial ecosystem remarkably resilient", , , , , , , Geochemistry, , Microbial mats, ,   

    From Johns Hopkins University via phys.org : “In wake of hurricane microbial ecosystem remarkably resilient” 

    From Johns Hopkins University



    May 27, 2022

    Photos taken before and after the hurricane demonstrate the resilience of the microbial mats. Credit: Johns Hopkins University.

    After sustaining seemingly catastrophic hurricane damage, a primordial groundcover vital to sustaining a multitude of coastal lifeforms bounced back to life in a matter of months.

    The finding, co-led by a Johns Hopkins University geochemist and published today in Science Advances, offers rare optimism for the fate of one of Earth’s most critical ecosystems as climate change alters the global pattern of intense storms.

    “The good news is that in these types of environments, there are these mechanisms that can play an important role in stabilizing the ecosystem because they recover so quickly,” said Maya Gomes, a Johns Hopkins assistant professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences. “What we saw is that they just started growing again and that means that as we continue to have more hurricanes because of climate change these ecosystems will be relatively resilient.”

    The team, co-led by California Institute of Technology and University of Colorado, Boulder, researchers, had been studying Little Ambergris Cay, an uninhabited island in Turks and Caicos, in particular the island’s microbial mats. Microbial mats are a squishy, spongey ecosystems that for eons have sustained a diverse array of life from the microscopic organisms that that make a home in the upper oxygenated layers to the mangroves it helps root and stabilize, which in turn provide habitats for even more species. Mats can be found all over the world in wildly different environments, but the variety this team studied are commonly found in tropical, saltwater-oriented places, exactly the coastal locations most vulnerable to severe storms.

    In September 2017, the eyewall of Category 5 Hurricane Irma directly hit the island the team had been working on.

    For eons microbial mats have hosted a diverse array of life from the microscopic organisms vital to the survival of the ecosystem. Credit: Johns Hopkins University.

    “Once we learned everyone was OK, we were uniquely well-poised to investigate how the mat communities responded to such a catastrophic disturbance,” Gomes said.

    The tropical cyclone’s impact was immediately devastating, choking the mats with a blanket of sandy sediment that decimated new growth. However, as the team checked on the site first in March 2018, then again in July 2018 and June 2019, they were excited to see the mats regrowing, with new mats visibly sprouting from the sand layer in as little as 10 months.

    New mat growth proceeded rapidly and suggested that storm perturbation may facilitate these ecosystems adapting to changing sea levels.

    “For islands and tropical locations with this type of geochemistry, Florida Keys would be one in the United States, this is sort of good news in that we think that the mangrove ecosystem as well as the microbial maps are pretty well stabilized and resilient,” said lead author Usha F. Lingappa, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California-Berkeley.

    The team also included: Co-senior author Woodward W. Fischer, Nathaniel T. Stein, Kyle S. Metcalfe, Theodore M. Present, Victoria J. Orphan and John P. Grotzinger, all of California Institute of Technology’s Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences; Andrew H. Knoll of Harvard University; and co-senior author Elizabeth J. Trower of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

    The Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named for its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. His $7 million bequest (approximately $147.5 million in today’s currency)—of which half financed the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States up to that time. Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution’s first president on February 22, 1876, led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research. Adopting the concept of a graduate school from Germany’s historic Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE), Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the United States. Over the course of several decades, the university has led all U.S. universities in annual research and development expenditures. In fiscal year 2016, Johns Hopkins spent nearly $2.5 billion on research. The university has graduate campuses in Italy, China, and Washington, D.C., in addition to its main campus in Baltimore.

    Johns Hopkins is organized into 10 divisions on campuses in Maryland and Washington, D.C., with international centers in Italy and China. The two undergraduate divisions, the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering, are located on the Homewood campus in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood. The medical school, nursing school, and Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center are located on the Medical Institutions campus in East Baltimore. The university also consists of the Peabody Institute, Applied Physics Laboratory, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, School of Education, Carey Business School, and various other facilities.

    Johns Hopkins was a founding member of the American Association of Universities. As of October 2019, 39 Nobel laureates and 1 Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Johns Hopkins. Founded in 1883, the Blue Jays men’s lacrosse team has captured 44 national titles and plays in the Big Ten Conference as an affiliate member as of 2014.


    The opportunity to participate in important research is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Hopkins’ undergraduate education. About 80 percent of undergraduates perform independent research, often alongside top researchers. In FY 2013, Johns Hopkins received $2.2 billion in federal research grants—more than any other U.S. university for the 35th consecutive year. Johns Hopkins has had seventy-seven members of the Institute of Medicine, forty-three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, seventeen members of the National Academy of Engineering, and sixty-two members of the National Academy of Sciences. As of October 2019, 39 Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with the university as alumni, faculty members or researchers, with the most recent winners being Gregg Semenza and William G. Kaelin.

    Between 1999 and 2009, Johns Hopkins was among the most cited institutions in the world. It attracted nearly 1,222,166 citations and produced 54,022 papers under its name, ranking No. 3 globally [after Harvard University and the Max Planck Society (DE)] in the number of total citations published in Thomson Reuters-indexed journals over 22 fields in America.

    In FY 2000, Johns Hopkins received $95.4 million in research grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, making it the leading recipient of NASA research and development funding. In FY 2002, Hopkins became the first university to cross the $1 billion threshold on either list, recording $1.14 billion in total research and $1.023 billion in federally sponsored research. In FY 2008, Johns Hopkins University performed $1.68 billion in science, medical and engineering research, making it the leading U.S. academic institution in total R&D spending for the 30th year in a row, according to a National Science Foundation ranking. These totals include grants and expenditures of JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

    The Johns Hopkins University also offers the “Center for Talented Youth” program—a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and developing the talents of the most promising K-12 grade students worldwide. As part of the Johns Hopkins University, the “Center for Talented Youth” or CTY helps fulfill the university’s mission of preparing students to make significant future contributions to the world. The Johns Hopkins Digital Media Center (DMC) is a multimedia lab space as well as an equipment, technology and knowledge resource for students interested in exploring creative uses of emerging media and use of technology.

    In 2013, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships program was established by a $250 million gift from Michael Bloomberg. This program enables the university to recruit fifty researchers from around the world to joint appointments throughout the nine divisions and research centers. For The American Academy of Arts and Sciences each professor must be a leader in interdisciplinary research and be active in undergraduate education. Directed by Vice Provost for Research Denis Wirtz, there are currently thirty-two Bloomberg Distinguished Professors at the university, including three Nobel Laureates, eight fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ten members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and thirteen members of the National Academies.

  • richardmitnick 9:09 am on May 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Extraterrestrial Stone Found in Egypt May Be First Evidence on Earth of Rare Supernova", Geochemistry,   

    From Science Alert : “Extraterrestrial Stone Found in Egypt May Be First Evidence on Earth of Rare Supernova” 


    From Science Alert

    Fragments of Hypatia used for analysis. (University of Johannesburg)

    ‘Standard candle’ (or type Ia) supernova explosions are some of the most energetic events in the Universe, happening when a dense white dwarf star subsumes another star. Now, scientists think they’re found the first evidence on Earth of such a supernova.

    The claim comes after a careful study of the extraterrestrial Hypatia stone that was found in Egypt in 1996. Tell-tale signs, including the chemical makeup and patterning of the rock, suggest that the shards contain bits of the dust and gas cloud surrounding an Ia supernova.

    Over billions of years, that mix of dust and gas would have turned into a solid, the researchers say, eventually forming the parent body that Hypatia came from sometime close to when our Solar System first came into being.

    A 3-gram sample of the Hypatia stone. (Romano Serra)

    “In a sense, we could say, we have caught a supernova Ia explosion in the act, because the gas atoms from the explosion were caught in the surrounding dust cloud, which eventually formed Hypatia’s parent body,” says geochemist Jan Kramers from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

    Using detailed, non-destructive chemical analysis techniques, the team looked at 17 different targets on a tiny sample of Hypatia. From there it was a question of piecing together clues about where the stone had been and how it had formed.

    Those clues included an unusually low level of silicon, chromium, and manganese, suggesting that the rock hadn’t been formed in the inner Solar System. The researchers also noticed high levels of iron, sulfur, phosphorus, copper, and vanadium, again making the object distinct from anything in our particular neighborhood in space.

    Looking at element concentration patterns of Hypatia, there were marked differences to what we would expect to have formed in rocks from inside the Solar System and in our arm of the Milky Way. Further analysis rules out the idea that the rock had formed from a red giant star.

    The researchers were also able to show that Hypatia didn’t match what would be expected if it came from a type II supernova – it has too much iron relative to silicon and calcium – and that leaves the intriguing possibility that this is a leftover from a type Ia supernova, and the first to be found on this planet.

    “If this hypothesis is correct, the Hypatia stone would be the first tangible evidence on Earth of a supernova type Ia explosion,” says Kramers.

    “Perhaps equally important, it shows that an individual anomalous parcel of dust from outer space could actually be incorporated in the solar nebula that our Solar System was formed from, without being fully mixed in.”

    From what we know of type Ia supernovas, they should produce very unusual element concentration patterns in rocks such as Hypatia. Through a comprehensive search of star data and modeling, the team wasn’t able to find a better match for the rock.

    Of the 15 elements analyzed in the stone, several matched what would be expected if the object had come from a dense white dwarf star explosion.

    However, it’s not a closed case yet. A further six elements don’t match type 1a supernova models: aluminum, phosphorus, chlorine, potassium, copper, and zinc. However, the researchers think something further back in the supernova’s past could explain this.

    “Since a white dwarf star is formed from a dying red giant, Hypatia could have inherited these element proportions for the six elements from a red giant star,” says Kramers. “This phenomenon has been observed in white dwarf stars in other research.”

    We’ll need more research to settle the science, but at this point, it certainly looks like this mysterious rock has traveled a very long way.

    The research has been published in Icarus.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 8:55 am on April 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "These Tiny Crystals Are 'Time Capsules' of Earth's Early Plate Tectonic Activity", A chronological series of 33 microscopic zircon crystals dating from 4.15 to 3.3 billion years ago was found in an ancient block of Earth's crust found in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa, , , Geochemistry, , Mineral crystals can act as a sort of time capsule that contains information about the conditions in which they formed., , ,   

    From Harvard University via Science Alert(AU): “These Tiny Crystals Are ‘Time Capsules’ of Earth’s Early Plate Tectonic Activity” 

    From Harvard University



    Science Alert(AU)

    23 APRIL 2022

    A large zircon crystal embedded in calcite. Credit: Rob Lavinsky/iRocks.com/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA-3.0.

    Tiny crystals of zircon dated to 3.8 billion years ago contain the earliest geochemical evidence yet for plate tectonic activity here on Earth.

    Isotopes and trace elements preserved in the crystals show evidence that they formed under subduction conditions – when the edge of one tectonic plate slips beneath the edge of the adjacent plate, creating specific conditions. This provides new constraints on when plate tectonics emerged on Earth.

    Because plate tectonics played a key role in creating the conditions for life on Earth, altering the compositions of the oceans and atmosphere, understanding when and how they emerged is also important for understanding how we got here, and what makes a planet habitable.

    Understanding the geology of early Earth is something of a challenge. The crust of our world has been pretty dynamic over its 4.6-billion-year history, and the only direct record of the Hadean eon – between 4.6 and 4 billion years ago – can be found in crystals of the mineral zircon.

    These crystals seem to survive the ravages of time but rarely: just 12 locations on Earth have yielded the ancient grains, three or fewer in most locations.

    Recently, however, a team of geologists unearthed an amazing treasure. A chronological series of 33 microscopic zircon crystals, dating from 4.15 to 3.3 billion years ago, was found in an ancient block of Earth’s crust found in the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa.

    The series provided a rare opportunity to probe the changing conditions of early Earth, from the Hadean through the Eoarchaeon era, which ran from 4 to 3.6 billion years ago.

    Mineral crystals can act as a sort of time capsule that contains information about the conditions in which they formed, and zircon crystals in particular can be extremely valuable for this scientific purpose. Isotopes of the metal hafnium and trace elements found in zircon can be used to make inferences about the rocks from which they crystallized.

    A team of scientists led by geologist Nadja Drabon of Harvard University studied the Greenstone Belt zircons to reconstruct a timeline of the conditions under which they formed. They found that from about 3.8 billion years ago onwards, the crystals had hafnium and trace element signatures similar to modern rocks formed in subduction zones – at the edges of tectonic plates.

    This suggests that plate tectonics were active at the time those crystals formed, the researchers said.

    “When I say plate tectonics, I’m specifically referring to an arc setting, when one plate goes under another and you have all that volcanism – think of the Andes, for example, and the Ring of Fire,” Drabon said.

    “At 3.8 billion years [ago] there is a dramatic shift where the crust is destabilized, we have new rocks forming and we see geochemical signatures becoming more and more similar to what we see in modern plate tectonics.”

    Fascinatingly, zircon crystals older than that 3.8 billion-year cut-off were not formed in a subduction zone setting, but likely crystallized in a Hadean “protocrust” that formed from remelted mantle material, before the mantle was depleted of basaltic melt elements by tectonic processes.

    The team then compared their findings to zircon crystals dating to around the same time from around the world to make sure they weren’t just observing a localized phenomenon. These other zircons showed similar transitions.

    It’s difficult to know exactly if the tiny grains all point to the evolution of our world towards plate tectonics, but the results definitely suggest that a global change was occurring.

    “We see evidence for a significant change on the Earth around 3.8 to 3.6 billion years ago and evolution toward plate tectonics is one clear possibility,” Drabon said.

    “The record we have for the earliest Earth is really limited, but just seeing a similar transition in so many different places makes it really feasible that it might have been a global change in crustal processes. Some kind of reorganization was happening on Earth.”

    The research has been published in AGU Advances.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard University campus

    Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s bestknown landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

    The Massachusetts colonial legislature, the General Court, authorized Harvard University’s founding. In its early years, Harvard College primarily trained Congregational and Unitarian clergy, although it has never been formally affiliated with any denomination. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century, Harvard University (US) had emerged as the central cultural establishment among the Boston elite. Following the American Civil War, President Charles William Eliot’s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James B. Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II; he liberalized admissions after the war.

    The university is composed of ten academic faculties plus the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Arts and Sciences offers study in a wide range of academic disciplines for undergraduates and for graduates, while the other faculties offer only graduate degrees, mostly professional. Harvard has three main campuses: the 209-acre (85 ha) Cambridge campus centered on Harvard Yard; an adjoining campus immediately across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston; and the medical campus in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. Harvard University’s endowment is valued at $41.9 billion, making it the largest of any academic institution. Endowment income helps enable the undergraduate college to admit students regardless of financial need and provide generous financial aid with no loans The Harvard Library is the world’s largest academic library system, comprising 79 individual libraries holding about 20.4 million items.

    Harvard University has more alumni, faculty, and researchers who have won Nobel Prizes (161) and Fields Medals (18) than any other university in the world and more alumni who have been members of the U.S. Congress, MacArthur Fellows, Rhodes Scholars (375), and Marshall Scholars (255) than any other university in the United States. Its alumni also include eight U.S. presidents and 188 living billionaires, the most of any university. Fourteen Turing Award laureates have been Harvard affiliates. Students and alumni have also won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold), and they have founded many notable companies.


    Harvard University was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1638, it acquired British North America’s first known printing press. In 1639, it was named Harvard College after deceased clergyman John Harvard, an alumnus of the University of Cambridge (UK) who had left the school £779 and his library of some 400 volumes. The charter creating the Harvard Corporation was granted in 1650.

    A 1643 publication gave the school’s purpose as “to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.” It trained many Puritan ministers in its early years and offered a classic curriculum based on the English university model—many leaders in the colony had attended the University of Cambridge—but conformed to the tenets of Puritanism. Harvard University has never affiliated with any particular denomination, though many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Congregational and Unitarian churches.

    Increase Mather served as president from 1681 to 1701. In 1708, John Leverett became the first president who was not also a clergyman, marking a turning of the college away from Puritanism and toward intellectual independence.

    19th century

    In the 19th century, Enlightenment ideas of reason and free will were widespread among Congregational ministers, putting those ministers and their congregations in tension with more traditionalist, Calvinist parties. When Hollis Professor of Divinity David Tappan died in 1803 and President Joseph Willard died a year later, a struggle broke out over their replacements. Henry Ware was elected to the Hollis chair in 1805, and the liberal Samuel Webber was appointed to the presidency two years later, signaling the shift from the dominance of traditional ideas at Harvard to the dominance of liberal, Arminian ideas.

    Charles William Eliot, president 1869–1909, eliminated the favored position of Christianity from the curriculum while opening it to student self-direction. Though Eliot was the crucial figure in the secularization of American higher education, he was motivated not by a desire to secularize education but by Transcendentalist Unitarian convictions influenced by William Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    20th century

    In the 20th century, Harvard University’s reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university’s scope. Rapid enrollment growth continued as new graduate schools were begun and the undergraduate college expanded. Radcliffe College, established in 1879 as the female counterpart of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States. Harvard University (US) became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.

    The student body in the early decades of the century was predominantly “old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.” A 1923 proposal by President A. Lawrence Lowell that Jews be limited to 15% of undergraduates was rejected, but Lowell did ban blacks from freshman dormitories.

    President James B. Conant reinvigorated creative scholarship to guarantee Harvard University’s preeminence among research institutions. He saw higher education as a vehicle of opportunity for the talented rather than an entitlement for the wealthy, so Conant devised programs to identify, recruit, and support talented youth. In 1943, he asked the faculty to make a definitive statement about what general education ought to be, at the secondary as well as at the college level. The resulting Report, published in 1945, was one of the most influential manifestos in 20th century American education.

    Between 1945 and 1960, admissions were opened up to bring in a more diverse group of students. No longer drawing mostly from select New England prep schools, the undergraduate college became accessible to striving middle class students from public schools; many more Jews and Catholics were admitted, but few blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, Harvard became more diverse.

    Harvard University’s graduate schools began admitting women in small numbers in the late 19th century. During World War II, students at Radcliffe College (which since 1879 had been paying Harvard University professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard University classes alongside men. Women were first admitted to the medical school in 1945. Since 1971, Harvard University has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard University.

    21st century

    Drew Gilpin Faust, previously the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, became Harvard University’s first woman president on July 1, 2007. She was succeeded by Lawrence Bacow on July 1, 2018.

  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on April 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Marine geochemist seeks to unravel how carbon is stored in the ocean", , , , , Earth’s carbon cycle, Geochemistry, It could be 1000 years before carbon from the deep ocean comes back to the surface again so the ocean provides a longer carbon sink than land does., ,   

    From The University of Miami-Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science: “Marine geochemist seeks to unravel how carbon is stored in the ocean” 


    From The University of Miami-Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science


    The University of Miami

    Janette Neuwahl Tannen

    Hilary Close, an ocean scientist, examines a concentrated sample of amino acids purified by filtering out 500 liters of seawater from the deep ocean. She will later analyze them in an isotope ratio spectrometer to understand how carbon is transferred through ocean organisms. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami.

    Hilary Close, an ocean sciences assistant professor at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, is using a unique strategy to understand how carbon is transferred through living things into the deep ocean.

    When Hilary Close was in college, she was fascinated to learn that the Ohio farm she grew up on was once covered by a warm ocean, millions of years ago.

    The discovery attracted her to the field of geology, which reveals important answers about the past that can also help scientists predict the future. Later, while studying rock samples that had fossils of marine life, Close developed a curiosity about the ocean.

    Today, as an assistant professor of ocean sciences at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Close studies the way that carbon from living organisms sinks into the deep ocean. Ultimately, this research helps scientists better understand how ocean ecosystems store carbon dioxide to support a cleaner atmosphere for those of us at the surface.

    “The deep ocean is incredibly important in storing carbon because the water locks in things for hundreds of years and helps balance the carbon in the atmosphere,” said Close, a marine organic geochemist. “But when we think about the overall carbon cycle, living things are the wild card, so we want to know which processes control how much and what kinds of biological carbon get into the deep ocean.”

    It is information that will help humanity understand the Earth’s carbon cycle, a delicate balance that scientists believe must be maintained to moderate climate change.

    For her research and scholarship in the field, Close was recently named one of just eight Earth scientists to receive a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship, awarded to 118 early-career scientists nationwide.

    Close deploys a large volume in situ pump into the deep ocean waters of the Sargasso Sea off of Bermuda, along with her research collaborator, Craig Carlson, a professor of marine biology, ecology and evolution at The University of California-Santa Barbara. Photo courtesy of Steve Giovannoni.

    Rana Fine, a Rosenstiel School professor emerita who was on the search committee to hire Close, said the young researcher distinguished herself by developing a method that uses isotopes (found by measuring the atoms of chemical elements) to unlock information about our oceans. Using “compound-specific isotope analysis,” a rare technique employed by just a handful of geochemists, Close is analyzing the remains of tiny plants and animals that are able to sink into the deep ocean.

    “This is important because it will help us learn whether certain forms of carbon are quickly buried and removed from the ocean, or whether they take thousands of years moving from one living organism to another,” said Fine.

    Beyond that, Fine added, Close is a skilled teacher who is also able to juggle research, the development of new laboratory methods, and mentorship of students toward their own research careers. Her current .olleagues, ocean sciences chair Brian Haus, and ocean sciences professor Denis Hansell, agree.

    Hansell and Close are both part of a small global network of scientists working to understand how the oceans absorb 25 percent of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the atmosphere. But while Hansell focuses on biological carbon that is produced in the upper ocean and is distributed with the currents, Close concentrates on particles of biological carbon that sink into the deep ocean from living things.

    “It could be 1000 years before carbon from the deep ocean comes back to the surface again so the ocean provides a longer carbon sink than land does, but we still don’t know how long that is,” said Hansell. “We’re both looking at how carbon is biologically modified, and society needs to understand how this system works so that we can project threats, or opportunities, to conserve our oceans.”

    Raised in rural northern Ohio, Close thrived as a geology major at Oberlin College but became increasingly interested in the ocean, as well as in chemistry.

    For graduate school, she went on to Harvard University to study under professor Ann Pearson, one of the foremost chemical oceanographers in the nation. Pearson taught Close about compound-specific isotope analysis, which allows scientists to identify patterns that can help them understand what’s happening in a natural environment—ocean or otherwise, Close said. It also means she knows her way around an isotope ratio spectrometer, a massive machine that allows Close and her students to isolate these patterns.

    “It’s a pretty uncommon technique, but we get so much data from this type of analysis,” she said. “For example, last year an undergraduate student did their honors thesis on deep sea mussels, and we did isotope analysis on the growth bands of its shell, which allowed us to make inferences about how the diet of that mussel was changing over its lifetime.”

    After graduate school, Close did her postdoctoral training at The University of Hawaii. This allowed her to spend more than 100 days aboard research vessels in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. While there, she became even more proficient at using sampling pumps that can reach more than 1,000 meters under the ocean’s surface and filter out thousands of liters of water to collect a tiny circular sample of “biomass” from the deep ocean.

    “If we can learn what organisms are important in different locations and depths of the ocean, it helps build the picture about the balance of carbon being produced and consumed from the surface ocean into the deep ocean,” she said. “Then, we can see how the community in the ocean is influencing how much carbon is sequestered in the deep ocean.”

    Close said she will likely use some of the Sloan fellowship funding to enhance her sampling and analysis equipment. She would also like to do some more field research in the Atlantic Ocean, using the University’s research vessel, the F.G. Walton Smith, to work in the Florida Straits and other deep areas that can add more variety to her research, which has been focused on Bermuda and Hawaii. Close said a huge part of why she loves ocean research is the diversity of her findings.

    “While geology is all about the past, it has similar concepts, and the field looks at patterns, like oceanographers do,” she said. “Because of my training, I can measure things happening in real-time and experiment with different ways of collecting samples in the ocean, so it’s been a great evolution for me, and I’m so glad to be a part of this field. The present-day ocean is constantly changing, and there’s always something new and different to explore.”

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is an academic and research institution for the study of oceanography and the atmospheric sciences within the University of Miami. It is located on a 16-acre (65,000 m^²) campus on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida. It is the only subtropical applied and basic marine and atmospheric research institute in the continental United States.

    Up until 2008, RSMAS was solely a graduate school within the University of Miami, while it jointly administrated an undergraduate program with UM’s College of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, the Rosenstiel School has taken over administrative responsibilities for the undergraduate program, granting Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science (BSMAS) and Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs (BAMA) baccalaureate degree. Master’s, including a Master of Professional Science degree, and doctorates are also awarded to RSMAS students by the UM Graduate School.

    The Rosenstiel School’s research includes the study of marine life, particularly Aplysia and coral; climate change; air-sea interactions; coastal ecology; and admiralty law. The school operates a marine research laboratory ship, and has a research site at an inland sinkhole. Research also includes the use of data from weather satellites and the school operates its own satellite downlink facility. The school is home to the world’s largest hurricane simulation tank.

    The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2020, the university enrolled approximately 18,000 students in 12 separate colleges and schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami’s Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

    The university offers 132 undergraduate, 148 master’s, and 67 doctoral degree programs, of which 63 are research/scholarship and 4 are professional areas of study. Over the years, the university’s students have represented all 50 states and close to 150 foreign countries. With more than 16,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff, The University of Miami is a top 10 employer in Miami-Dade County. The University of Miami’s main campus in Coral Gables has 239 acres and over 5.7 million square feet of buildings.

    The University of Miami is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The University of Miami research expenditure in FY 2019 was $358.9 million. The University of Miami offers a large library system with over 3.9 million volumes and exceptional holdings in Cuban heritage and music.

    The University of Miami also offers a wide range of student activities, including fraternities and sororities, and hundreds of student organizations. The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper, and WVUM, the student-run radio station, have won multiple collegiate awards. The University of Miami’s intercollegiate athletic teams, collectively known as the Miami Hurricanes, compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The University of Miami’s football team has won five national championships since 1983 and its baseball team has won four national championships since 1982.


    The University of Miami is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. In fiscal year 2016, The University of Miami received $195 million in federal research funding, including $131.3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services and $14.1 million from the National Science Foundation. Of the $8.2 billion appropriated by Congress in 2009 as a part of the stimulus bill for research priorities of The National Institutes of Health, the Miller School received $40.5 million. In addition to research conducted in the individual academic schools and departments, Miami has the following university-wide research centers:

    The Center for Computational Science
    The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS)
    Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy
    The Miami European Union Center: This group is a consortium with Florida International University (FIU) established in fall 2001 with a grant from the European Commission through its delegation in Washington, D.C., intended to research economic, social, and political issues of interest to the European Union.
    The Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies
    John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics – studies possible causes of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration.
    Center on Research and Education for Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE)
    Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research

    The Miller School of Medicine receives more than $200 million per year in external grants and contracts to fund 1,500 ongoing projects. The medical campus includes more than 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m^2) of research space and the The University of Miami Life Science Park, which has an additional 2,000,000 sq ft (190,000 m^2) of space adjacent to the medical campus. The University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute seeks to understand the biology of stem cells and translate basic research into new regenerative therapies.

    As of 2008, The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science receives $50 million in annual external research funding. Their laboratories include a salt-water wave tank, a five-tank Conditioning and Spawning System, multi-tank Aplysia Culture Laboratory, Controlled Corals Climate Tanks, and DNA analysis equipment. The campus also houses an invertebrate museum with 400,000 specimens and operates the Bimini Biological Field Station, an array of oceanographic high-frequency radar along the US east coast, and the Bermuda aerosol observatory. The University of Miami also owns the Little Salt Spring, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, in North Port, Florida, where RSMAS performs archaeological and paleontological research.

    The University of Miami built a brain imaging annex to the James M. Cox Jr. Science Center within the College of Arts and Sciences. The building includes a human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) laboratory, where scientists, clinicians, and engineers can study fundamental aspects of brain function. Construction of the lab was funded in part by a $14.8 million in stimulus money grant from the National Institutes of Health.

    In 2016 the university received $161 million in science and engineering funding from the U.S. federal government, the largest Hispanic-serving recipient and 56th overall. $117 million of the funding was through the Department of Health and Human Services and was used largely for the medical campus.

    The University of Miami maintains one of the largest centralized academic cyber infrastructures in the country with numerous assets. The Center for Computational Science High Performance Computing group has been in continuous operation since 2007. Over that time the core has grown from a zero HPC cyberinfrastructure to a regional high-performance computing environment that currently supports more than 1,200 users, 220 TFlops of computational power, and more than 3 Petabytes of disk storage.

  • richardmitnick 8:51 am on April 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Complex Life May Have Started on Earth Much Earlier Than We Thought", All life on Earth likely emerged from one spark in Earth's early history. Some time later it diversified., , , , , , , Geochemistry, , , Mineralology, , University College London(UK)   

    From University College London(UK) via Science Alert(AU): “Complex Life May Have Started on Earth Much Earlier Than We Thought” 

    UCL bloc

    From University College London(UK)



    Science Alert(AU)

    14 APRIL 2022

    Detailed view of an iron formation with wavy bands. Credit: D. Papineau.

    All life on Earth likely emerged from one spark in Earth’s early history. Some time later, it diversified, branching off into lineages that helped it survive.

    Exactly when these moments occurred has been a point of contention in the scientific community, but new research suggests both steps may have taken place earlier than we previously thought.

    The study, led by University College London (UK) researchers builds on evidence of diverse microbial life inside a fist-sized piece of rock from Quebec in Canada, dated to around 3.75 billion to 4.28 billion years.

    In 2017, the researchers who discovered it speculated that structures in the rock – tiny filaments, knobs, and tubes – had been left by ancient bacteria.

    But not everyone was convinced that these structures – which would push the date for the first signs of life on Earth back by at least 300 million years – were biological in origin.

    The filaments seen here are the stem-like structures indicating oldest known fossils. Credit: D. Papineau.

    However, after further extensive analysis of the rock, the team discovered an even larger and more complex structure than those which were previously identified. Within the rock was a stem-like structure with parallel branches on one side that are nearly a centimeter long, as well as hundreds of distorted spheres, or ellipsoids, alongside the tubes and filaments.

    “This means life could have begun as little as 300 million years after Earth formed. In geological terms, this is quick – about one spin of the Sun around the galaxy,” says lead author of the study, geochemist Dominic Papineau from UCL.

    Diverse life forms may have evolved earlier than previously thought.

    The key question for Papineau and his colleagues was whether it was possible for these structures to have formed through chemical reactions not related to living things.

    According to the paper, some of the smaller structures could have conceivably been the product of abiotic reactions, however, the newly identified ‘tree-like’ stem is most likely biological in origin, as no structure like it, created through chemical reactions alone, has been found before.

    In addition to the structures, researchers identified mineralized chemicals in the rock that could have been byproducts of different types of metabolic processes.

    The chemicals are consistent with energy-extraction processes in the bacteria that would have involved iron and sulfur; depending on the interpretation of chemical signatures, there could even be hints of a version of photosynthesis.

    This finding points to the possibility that the early Earth – only 300 million years after its formation – was inhabited by an array of microbial life.

    The rock was analyzed through a combination of optical observations through Raman microscopes (which use light scattering to determine chemical structures), and digitally recreating sections of the rock with a supercomputer that processed thousands of images from two high-resolution imaging techniques.

    The piece of rock in question was collected by Papineau in 2008 from Quebec’s Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), which was once a part of the seafloor. The NSB contains some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known on Earth. The fossil-laden rock was also analyzed for levels of rare Earth elements, with researchers finding it did indeed have the same levels as other ancient rock specimens, confirming it was as old as the surrounding volcanic rocks.

    Bright red iron and silica-rich rock which contains tubular and filamentous microfossils. Credit: D. Papineau.

    Prior to this discovery, the earliest fossil evidence of life was found in Western Australia, which dates back 3.46 billion years. However, similar contention exists around whether these fossils were biological in origin.

    Perhaps the most exciting implications from this discovery are what it means for the potential distribution of life in the Universe. If life was able to develop and evolve in the harsh conditions of the very early Earth, then it may be more common throughout the cosmos than we think.

    “This discovery implies that only a few hundred million years are needed for life to evolve to an organized level on a primordial habitable planet,” state the authors of the paper.

    “We therefore conclude that such microbial ecosystems could exist on other planetary surfaces where liquid water interacted with volcanic rocks, and that these oldest microfossils and dubiofossils reported here from the NSB suggest that extraterrestrial life may be more widespread than previously thought.”

    The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCL campus

    Established in 1826, as London University by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, University College London (UK) was the first university institution to be established in London, and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion. University College London also makes contested claims to being the third-oldest university in England and the first to admit women. In 1836, University College London became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, which was granted a royal charter in the same year. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Ophthalmology (in 1995); the Institute of Neurology (in 1997); the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998); the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999); the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999); the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).

    University College London has its main campus in the Bloomsbury area of central London, with a number of institutes and teaching hospitals elsewhere in central London and satellite campuses in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London and in Doha, Qatar. University College London is organised into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. University College London operates several museums and collections in a wide range of fields, including the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, and administers the annual Orwell Prize in political writing. In 2019/20, UCL had around 43,840 students and 16,400 staff (including around 7,100 academic staff and 840 professors) and had a total income of £1.54 billion, of which £468 million was from research grants and contracts.

    University College London is a member of numerous academic organisations, including the Russell Group(UK) and the League of European Research Universities, and is part of UCL Partners, the world’s largest academic health science centre, and is considered part of the “golden triangle” of elite, research-intensive universities in England.

    University College London has many notable alumni, including the respective “Fathers of the Nation” of India; Kenya and Mauritius; the founders of Ghana; modern Japan; Nigeria; the inventor of the telephone; and one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. UCL academics discovered five of the naturally occurring noble gases; discovered hormones; invented the vacuum tube; and made several foundational advances in modern statistics. As of 2020, 34 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Fields medalists have been affiliated with UCL as alumni, faculty or researchers.


    University College London was founded on 11 February 1826 under the name London University, as an alternative to the Anglican universities of the University of Oxford(UK) and University of Cambridge(UK). London University’s first Warden was Leonard Horner, who was the first scientist to head a British university.

    Despite the commonly held belief that the philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the founder of University College London, his direct involvement was limited to the purchase of share No. 633, at a cost of £100 paid in nine installments between December 1826 and January 1830. In 1828 he did nominate a friend to sit on the council, and in 1827 attempted to have his disciple John Bowring appointed as the first professor of English or History, but on both occasions his candidates were unsuccessful. This suggests that while his ideas may have been influential, he himself was less so. However, Bentham is today commonly regarded as the “spiritual father” of University College London, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to the institution’s founders, particularly the Scotsmen James Mill (1773–1836) and Henry Brougham (1778–1868).

    In 1827, the Chair of Political Economy at London University was created, with John Ramsay McCulloch as the first incumbent, establishing one of the first departments of economics in England. In 1828 the university became the first in England to offer English as a subject and the teaching of Classics and medicine began. In 1830, London University founded the London University School, which would later become University College School. In 1833, the university appointed Alexander Maconochie, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, as the first professor of geography in the British Isles. In 1834, University College Hospital (originally North London Hospital) opened as a teaching hospital for the university’s medical school.

    1836 to 1900 – University College, London

    In 1836, London University was incorporated by royal charter under the name University College, London. On the same day, the University of London was created by royal charter as a degree-awarding examining board for students from affiliated schools and colleges, with University College and King’s College, London being named in the charter as the first two affiliates.

    The Slade School of Fine Art was founded as part of University College in 1871, following a bequest from Felix Slade.

    In 1878, the University College London gained a supplemental charter making it the first British university to be allowed to award degrees to women. The same year University College London admitted women to the faculties of Arts and Law and of Science, although women remained barred from the faculties of Engineering and of Medicine (with the exception of courses on public health and hygiene). While University College London claims to have been the first university in England to admit women on equal terms to men, from 1878, the University of Bristol(UK) also makes this claim, having admitted women from its foundation (as a college) in 1876. Armstrong College, a predecessor institution of Newcastle University (UK), also allowed women to enter from its foundation in 1871, although none actually enrolled until 1881. Women were finally admitted to medical studies during the First World War in 1917, although limitations were placed on their numbers after the war ended.

    In 1898, Sir William Ramsay discovered the elements krypton; neon; and xenon whilst professor of chemistry at University College London.

    1900 to 1976 – University of London, University College

    In 1900, the University College London was reconstituted as a federal university with new statutes drawn up under the University of London Act 1898. UCL, along with a number of other colleges in London, became a school of the University of London. While most of the constituent institutions retained their autonomy, University College London was merged into the University in 1907 under the University College London (Transfer) Act 1905 and lost its legal independence. Its formal name became University College London, University College, although for most informal and external purposes the name “University College, London” (or the initialism UCL) was still used.

    1900 also saw the decision to appoint a salaried head of the college. The first incumbent was Carey Foster, who served as Principal (as the post was originally titled) from 1900 to 1904. He was succeeded by Gregory Foster (no relation), and in 1906 the title was changed to Provost to avoid confusion with the Principal of the University of London. Gregory Foster remained in post until 1929. In 1906, the Cruciform Building was opened as the new home for University College Hospital.

    As it acknowledged and apologized for in 2021, University College London played “a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimisation of eugenics” during the first half of the 20th century. Among the prominent eugenicists who taught at University College London were Francis Galton, who coined the term “eugenics”, and Karl Pearson, and eugenics conferences were held at UCL until 2017.

    University College London sustained considerable bomb damage during the Second World War, including the complete destruction of the Great Hall and the Carey Foster Physics Laboratory. Fires gutted the library and destroyed much of the main building, including the dome. The departments were dispersed across the country to Aberystwyth; Bangor; Gwynedd; University of Cambridge; University of Oxford; Rothamsted near Harpenden; Hertfordshire; and Sheffield, with the administration at Stanstead Bury near Ware, Hertfordshire. The first UCL student magazine, Pi, was published for the first time on 21 February 1946. The Institute of Jewish Studies relocated to UCL in 1959.

    The Mullard Space Science Laboratory(UK) was established in 1967. In 1973, UCL became the first international node to the precursor of the internet, the ARPANET.

    ARPANET schematic

    Although University College London was among the first universities to admit women on the same terms as men, in 1878, the college’s senior common room, the Housman Room, remained men-only until 1969. After two unsuccessful attempts, a motion was passed that ended segregation by sex at University College London. This was achieved by Brian Woledge (Fielden Professor of French at University College London from 1939 to 1971) and David Colquhoun, at that time a young lecturer in pharmacology.

    1976 to 2005 – University College London (UK)

    In 1976, a new charter restored University College London’s legal independence, although still without the power to award its own degrees. Under this charter the college became formally known as University College London. This name abandoned the comma used in its earlier name of “University College, London”.

    In 1986, University College London merged with the Institute of Archaeology. In 1988, University College London merged with the Institute of Laryngology & Otology; the Institute of Orthopaedics; the Institute of Urology & Nephrology; and Middlesex Hospital Medical School.

    In 1993, a reorganisation of the University of London meant that University College London and other colleges gained direct access to government funding and the right to confer University of London degrees themselves. This led to University College London being regarded as a de facto university in its own right.

    In 1994, the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust was established. University College London merged with the College of Speech Sciences and the Institute of Ophthalmology in 1995; the Institute of Child Health and the School of Podiatry in 1996; and the Institute of Neurology in 1997. In 1998, UCL merged with the Royal Free Hospital Medical School to create the Royal Free and University College Medical School (renamed the University College London Medical School in October 2008). In 1999, UCL merged with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the Eastman Dental Institute.

    The University College London Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime, was founded in 2001.

    Proposals for a merger between University College London and Imperial College London(UK) were announced in 2002. The proposal provoked strong opposition from University College London teaching staff and students and the AUT union, which criticised “the indecent haste and lack of consultation”, leading to its abandonment by University College London provost Sir Derek Roberts. The blogs that helped to stop the merger are preserved, though some of the links are now broken: see David Colquhoun’s blog and the Save University College London blog, which was run by David Conway, a postgraduate student in the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies.

    The London Centre for Nanotechnology was established in 2003 as a joint venture between University College London and Imperial College London (UK). They were later joined by King’s College London(UK) in 2018.

    Since 2003, when University College London professor David Latchman became master of the neighbouring Birkbeck, he has forged closer relations between these two University of London colleges, and personally maintains departments at both. Joint research centres include the UCL/Birkbeck Institute for Earth and Planetary Sciences; the University College London /Birkbeck/IoE Centre for Educational Neuroscience; the University College London /Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology; and the Birkbeck- University College London Centre for Neuroimaging.

    2005 to 2010

    In 2005, University College London was finally granted its own taught and research degree awarding powers and all University College London students registered from 2007/08 qualified with University College London degrees. Also in 2005, University College London adopted a new corporate branding under which the name University College London was replaced by the initialism UCL in all external communications. In the same year, a major new £422 million building was opened for University College Hospital on Euston Road, the University College London Ear Institute was established and a new building for the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies was opened.

    In 2007, the University College London Cancer Institute was opened in the newly constructed Paul O’Gorman Building. In August 2008, University College London formed UCL Partners, an academic health science centre, with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust; Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In 2008, University College London established the University College London School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide, Australia, the first campus of a British university in the country. The School was based in the historic Torrens Building in Victoria Square and its creation followed negotiations between University College London Vice Provost Michael Worton and South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

    In 2009, the Yale UCL Collaborative was established between University College London; UCL Partners; Yale University; Yale School of Medicine; and Yale – New Haven Hospital. It is the largest collaboration in the history of either university, and its scope has subsequently been extended to the humanities and social sciences.

    2010 to 2015

    In June 2011, the mining company BHP Billiton agreed to donate AU$10 million to University College London to fund the establishment of two energy institutes – the Energy Policy Institute; based in Adelaide, and the Institute for Sustainable Resources, based in London.

    In November 2011, University College London announced plans for a £500 million investment in its main Bloomsbury campus over 10 years, as well as the establishment of a new 23-acre campus next to the Olympic Park in Stratford in the East End of London. It revised its plans of expansion in East London and in December 2014 announced to build a campus (UCL East) covering 11 acres and provide up to 125,000m^2 of space on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. UCL East will be part of plans to transform the Olympic Park into a cultural and innovation hub, where University College London will open its first school of design, a centre of experimental engineering and a museum of the future, along with a living space for students.

    The School of Pharmacy, University of London merged with University College London on 1 January 2012, becoming the University College London School of Pharmacy within the Faculty of Life Sciences. In May 2012, University College London , Imperial College London (UK) and the semiconductor company Intel announced the establishment of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, a London-based institute for research into the future of cities.

    In August 2012, University College London received criticism for advertising an unpaid research position; it subsequently withdrew the advert.

    University College London and the Institute of Education formed a strategic alliance in October 2012, including co-operation in teaching, research and the development of the London schools system. In February 2014, the two institutions announced their intention to merge, and the merger was completed in December 2014.

    In September 2013, a new Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) was established within the Faculty of Engineering, one of several initiatives within the university to increase and reflect upon the links between research and public sector decision-making.

    In October 2013, it was announced that the Translation Studies Unit of Imperial College London would move to University College London, becoming part of the University College London School of European Languages, Culture and Society. In December 2013, it was announced that University College London and the academic publishing company Elsevier would collaborate to establish the UCL Big Data Institute. In January 2015, it was announced that University College London had been selected by the UK government as one of the five founding members of the Alan Turing Institute(UK) (together with the universities of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh(SCL), Oxford and University of Warwick(UK)), an institute to be established at the British Library to promote the development and use of advanced mathematics, computer science, algorithms and big data.

    2015 to 2020

    In August 2015, the Department of Management Science and Innovation was renamed as the School of Management and plans were announced to greatly expand University College London’s activities in the area of business-related teaching and research. The school moved from the Bloomsbury campus to One Canada Square in Canary Wharf in 2016.

    University College London established the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) in 2015 to promote interdisciplinary research in humanities and social sciences. The prestigious annual Orwell Prize for political writing moved to the IAS in 2016.

    In June 2016 it was reported in Times Higher Education that as a result of administrative errors hundreds of students who studied at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute between 2005–06 and 2013–14 had been given the wrong marks, leading to an unknown number of students being attributed with the wrong qualifications and, in some cases, being failed when they should have passed their degrees. A report by University College London’s Academic Committee Review Panel noted that, according to the institute’s own review findings, senior members of University College London staff had been aware of issues affecting students’ results but had not taken action to address them. The Review Panel concluded that there had been an apparent lack of ownership of these matters amongst the institute’s senior staff.

    In December 2016 it was announced that University College London would be the hub institution for a new £250 million national dementia research institute, to be funded with £150 million from the Medical Research Council and £50 million each from Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

    In May 2017 it was reported that staff morale was at “an all time low”, with 68% of members of the academic board who responded to a survey disagreeing with the statement ” University College London is well managed” and 86% with “the teaching facilities are adequate for the number of students”. Michael Arthur, the Provost and President, linked the results to the “major change programme” at University College London. He admitted that facilities were under pressure following growth over the past decade, but said that the issues were being addressed through the development of UCL East and rental of other additional space.

    In October 2017 University College London’s council voted to apply for university status while remaining part of the University of London. University College London’s application to become a university was subject to Parliament passing a bill to amend the statutes of the University of London, which received royal assent on 20 December 2018.

    The University College London Adelaide satellite campus closed in December 2017, with academic staff and student transferring to the University of South Australia(AU). As of 2019 UniSA and University College London are offering a joint masters qualification in Science in Data Science (international).

    In 2018, University College London opened UCL at Here East, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offering courses jointly between the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. The campus offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate master’s degrees, with the first undergraduate students, on a new Engineering and Architectural Design MEng, starting in September 2018. It was announced in August 2018 that a £215 million contract for construction of the largest building in the UCL East development, Marshgate 1, had been awarded to Mace, with building to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2022.

    In 2017 University College London disciplined an IT administrator who was also the University and College Union (UCU) branch secretary for refusing to take down an unmoderated staff mailing list. An employment tribunal subsequently ruled that he was engaged in union activities and thus this disciplinary action was unlawful. As of June 2019 University College London is appealing this ruling and the UCU congress has declared this to be a “dispute of national significance”.

    2020 to present

    In 2021 University College London formed a strategic partnership with Facebook AI Research (FAIR), including the creation of a new PhD programme.


    University College London has made cross-disciplinary research a priority and orientates its research around four “Grand Challenges”, Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

    In 2014/15, University College London had a total research income of £427.5 million, the third-highest of any British university (after the University of Oxford and Imperial College London). Key sources of research income in that year were BIS research councils (£148.3 million); UK-based charities (£106.5 million); UK central government; local/health authorities and hospitals (£61.5 million); EU government bodies (£45.5 million); and UK industry, commerce and public corporations (£16.2 million). In 2015/16, University College London was awarded a total of £85.8 million in grants by UK research councils, the second-largest amount of any British university (after the University of Oxford), having achieved a 28% success rate. For the period to June 2015, University College London was the fifth-largest recipient of Horizon 2020 EU research funding and the largest recipient of any university, with €49.93 million of grants received. University College London also had the fifth-largest number of projects funded of any organization, with 94.

    According to a ranking of universities produced by SCImago Research Group University College London is ranked 12th in the world (and 1st in Europe) in terms of total research output. According to data released in July 2008 by ISI Web of Knowledge, University College London is the 13th most-cited university in the world (and most-cited in Europe). The analysis covered citations from 1 January 1998 to 30 April 2008, during which 46,166 UCL research papers attracted 803,566 citations. The report covered citations in 21 subject areas and the results revealed some of University College London’s key strengths, including: Clinical Medicine (1st outside North America); Immunology (2nd in Europe); Neuroscience & Behaviour (1st outside North America and 2nd in the world); Pharmacology & Toxicology (1st outside North America and 4th in the world); Psychiatry & Psychology (2nd outside North America); and Social Sciences, General (1st outside North America).

    University College London submitted a total of 2,566 staff across 36 units of assessment to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, in each case the highest number of any UK university (compared with 1,793 UCL staff submitted to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008)). In the REF results 43% of University College London’s submitted research was classified as 4* (world-leading); 39% as 3* (internationally excellent); 15% as 2* (recognised internationally) and 2% as 1* (recognised nationally), giving an overall GPA of 3.22 (RAE 2008: 4* – 27%, 3* – 39%, 2* – 27% and 1* – 6%). In rankings produced by Times Higher Education based upon the REF results, University College London was ranked 1st overall for “research power” and joint 8th for GPA (compared to 4th and 7th respectively in equivalent rankings for the RAE 2008).

  • richardmitnick 11:56 am on March 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "The mysterious Hiawatha crater in Greenland is 58 million years old", , , Geochemistry, , The crater was spotted 2015 during a scan by NASA’s Operation IceBridge., The powerful impact that created a mysterious crater at the northwestern edge of Greenland’s ice sheet happened about 58 million years ago.   

    From Science News: “The mysterious Hiawatha crater in Greenland is 58 million years old” 

    From Science News

    Carolyn Gramling

    Pebbles at the edge of Greenland’s ice sheet, shown here in 2019, contain zircon crystals that were altered by an impact about 58 million years ago. Credit: Pierre Beck.

    The powerful impact that created a mysterious crater at the northwestern edge of Greenland’s ice sheet happened about 58 million years ago, researchers report March 9 in Science Advances.

    That timing, confirmed by two separate dating methods, means that the asteroid or comet or meteorite that carved the depression struck long before the Younger Dryas cold snap about 13,000 years ago. Some researchers have suggested the cold spell was caused by such an impact.

    Scientists spotted the crater in 2015 during a scan by NASA’s Operation IceBridge, which used airborne radar to measure the ice sheet’s thickness. Those and other data revealed that the crater, dubbed Hiawatha, is a round depression that spans 31 kilometers and is buried beneath a kilometer of ice (SN: 11/14/18).

    The next step was to determine how old the Hiawatha crater might be. Though the depression itself is unreachable, meltwater at the ice’s base had ported out pebbles and other sediments bearing telltale signs of alteration by an impact, including sand from partially melted rocks and pebbles containing intensely deformed, or “shocked,” zircon crystals.

    Pebbles near the Hiawatha impact crater in northwestern Greenland contain grains of zircon (one at left) that contain many tiny crystals, some altered by the impact (right). These zircon crystals act as tiny time capsules, helping researchers estimate when the impact occurred. Credit: G. Kenny.

    Geochemist Gavin Kenny of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm and colleagues dated these alterations using two methods based on the radioactive decay of isotopes, or different forms of elements. For the zircons, the team measured the decay of uranium to lead, and in the sand, the researchers compared the abundances of radioactive argon isotopes with stable ones. Both methods suggest that the impact occurred about 57.99 million years ago.

    That makes the crater far too old to be the smoking gun long sought by proponents of the controversial Younger Dryas impact hypothesis (SN: 6/26/18). The timing also isn’t quite right to link it to a warm period called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which began around 56 million years ago (SN: 9/28/16). For now, the researchers say, what impact this space punch may have had on Earth’s global climate remains a mystery.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 1:08 pm on February 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Updating Dating Helps Tackle Deep-Time Quandaries", , , Cyanobacteria likely played a key role in dramatically altering Earth’s atmosphere during the Great Oxidation Event between about 2.4 billion and 2.0 billion years ago., , , Evidence for single-celled life exists as far back as the Archean eon., Geochemistry, , , , , Scientists study Precambrian sedimentary rocks that have long endured the travails of tectonics and attempted erasure by erosion., Scientists tell time in the geologic record by measuring radioactive elements stored in rocks., The stage was set for the evolution of eukaryotes—organisms that encase DNA within their cellular nuclei—which eventually began to breathe oxygen and grow into bigger organisms.   

    From Eos: “Updating Dating Helps Tackle Deep-Time Quandaries” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    22 February 2022
    Alka Tripathy-Lang

    Geochronologists are finding fresh approaches to familiar methodologies, especially by zapping rocks with lasers to tackle classic Precambrian problems.

    The archipelago of Svalbard, located in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway, includes the approximately 6-kilometer-thick Neoproterozoic to early Phanerozoic Hecla Hoek succession, shown in part here at Claravågen, on the island of Nordaustlandet. Many of the Precambrian parts of this sedimentary succession, including those shown in this image captured by drone, await radiometric age constraints. Credit: Marjorie Cantine.

    During the immense span of time that was the Precambrian—the first 88% of Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history—the planet witnessed milestone events like the dawn of life, the atmosphere’s oxygenation, and global glaciations that helped shape the world in which humanity exists today.

    To better understand such momentous processes, scientists study Precambrian sedimentary rocks that have long endured the travails of tectonics and attempted erasure by erosion. For example, they study marine shales and limestones that record the chemistry of the water column. Because gases dissolved in seawater and those in the atmosphere interact where air meets sea, understanding the geochemistry in Precambrian marine shales and limestones lets scientists tease out clues about bygone climes.

    The unique swings in geochemistry observed in Precambrian rocks are much larger in magnitude than those that occurred in more recent and familiar periods in Earth’s history, said Alan Rooney, an Earth and planetary sciences professor at Yale University. The sedimentary strata also host evidence of the evolution of complex life, from single-celled organisms to multicellular eukaryotes. “Biologically, a lot is going on” in these rocks, he said.

    However, to understand cause and effect when studying a Precambrian rock, “you need to know how old it is,” said Kaarel Mänd, a research fellow at the University of Tartu in Estonia. “Otherwise, you cannot place it in the sequence of events.”

    To this end, geochronologists—scientists who tell time in the geologic record by measuring radioactive elements stored in rocks—are now applying innovative instruments to rejuvenate isotopic dating systems that had fallen out of fashion because of their often cumbersome analytical requirements, including large sample sizes and arduous preparation and measurement. In particular, these advances help geochronologists rapidly collect data for isochron diagrams, which first revolutionized the field more than 60 years ago by providing a way to determine the ages of otherwise inscrutable ancient rocks.

    Precambrian Predicaments

    Evidence for single-celled life exists as far back as the Archean eon. But the evolution of a specific type of single-celled life-cyanobacteria-likely played a key role in dramatically altering Earth’s atmosphere during the Great Oxidation Event between about 2.4 billion and 2.0 billion years ago. During this time, the atmospheric chemistry at Earth’s surface shifted from reducing conditions, in which oxygen is rapidly consumed, to oxidizing conditions replete with the gas. The Great Oxidation Event is “perhaps the most conspicuous big event that happened in the Precambrian,” said Mänd.

    This long-term process set the stage for the evolution of eukaryotes—organisms that encase DNA within their cellular nuclei—which eventually began to breathe oxygen and grow into bigger organisms, said Annie Bauer, an assistant professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Whether this happened roughly simultaneously across the globe or in geographically isolated pockets at different times is still being studied. By comparing the timing of oxygenation from place to place, she said, scientists can determine whether these first whiffs arose together as a globally synchronous exhalation or as discrete puffs.

    Later, from about 1.8 billion to 0.8 billion years ago, atmospheric oxygen levels flattened out and stabilized, leading some scientists to dub this time the “boring billion.” Yet multicellular life emerged during this time; important ores like copper, iron, lead, and zinc—sensitive to the amount of oxygen near them—were deposited; and continents such as ancient North America grew as supercontinents assembled.

    The remainder of the geochemistry tucked into the Precambrian’s rock record features evidence of unusual climate dynamics perhaps related to Earth’s carbon cycle, said Marjorie Cantine, a postdoctoral fellow at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. Understanding the Earth system changes that might have led to the flowering of diverse, complex life during the Phanerozoic—the present geological eon—requires dating the rocks that hold these clues, she said.

    The Phanerozoic “[has] this really rich fossil record that you can use to tell time,” said Cantine. In contrast, Precambrian life was not mineralized. The biostratigraphy that helps geologists sort through time in the Phanerozoic is largely unavailable in Precambrian rocks, she said.

    Scientists who delve into Precambrian rocks often rely on the physical position of different rocks in relation to one another to tell their relative ages, said Mänd. Once-molten magma, for instance, will always be younger than any sedimentary rock it cuts across. For that reason, dating that crosscutting igneous rock provides a minimum age for the sedimentary strata, although the sedimentary rock could still be many millions of years older than that minimum age, he explained.

    Even in cases where scientists have tried to directly date marine Precambrian rocks, for example, they sometimes know the rocks’ ages only to within hundreds of millions of years, said Nick Roberts, a research scientist at the British Geological Survey.

    Mathematical Tricks for Dating Rocks

    Since Marie Curie first coined the term “radioactivity” in the late 1800s, the field of radiometric dating of rocks—geochronology—has emerged and matured.

    Naturally occurring elements have different isotopes, in which the number of protons is the same but the number of neutrons varies, resulting in different masses of the same element. For some elements, certain isotopes are radiogenic, meaning they exist because of radioactive decay. Geochronology focuses on measuring the decay of a radioactive “parent” isotope to a radiogenic “daughter” one, like the decay of certain isotopes of uranium to lead or rubidium to strontium. “We know pretty well how quickly that happens,” said Cantine. By measuring parent-daughter ratios in a rock or mineral, scientists can calculate when the dated material came into existence. “We’re able to do that extraordinarily well in certain special minerals” that form with parent isotopes but without any daughter products, she said.

    One of those special minerals is zircon. A hardy mineral made from zirconium, silicon, and oxygen, zircon crystals can retain their initial geochemical signatures despite being bathed in magma or doused in water. Crucially for geochronologists, zircon crystals readily incorporate uranium as they form—when the clock starts, so to speak—but they do not initially incorporate daughter isotopes of lead. Any lead found in zircon today, said Cantine, is there solely because of radioactive decay over time.

    Measuring uranium and lead in zircons can sometimes help geochronologists when they’re able to find these time capsules. For example, layers of ash belched by volcanoes often contain zircons that effectively date the time of eruption. Such layers can provide markers in successions of marine rocks, which often lack any other indicator of time. Modern laboratory techniques enable the development of very high precision dates from zircon crystals, making it so that finding zircon-bearing ashes is the dream scenario for Precambrian geologists. Unfortunately, volcanic ashes do not occur everywhere Earth scientists seek geochronology on sedimentary rocks, said Cantine. In another approach, geochronologists date many tens, or even hundreds, of zircons extracted from sandstones. Known as detrital zircons, these minerals initially formed in other rocks that were then eroded and redeposited—sometimes multiple times—before arriving at their terminal sedimentary destination. Detrital zircons can help fingerprint the source regions of the sands in a sandstone and provide a maximum age constraint for the rock, said Bauer, but they can’t tell you the actual time at which the rock formed. Recent research used a high number of detrital zircons dated at low precision using quick laser methods and then dated the youngest of those grains with more time-consuming high-precision methods. Although this process can sometimes get close to the formation age, it will still be a maximum age.

    Luckily, geochronologists have several other radiometric systems at their disposal to directly date marine sedimentary rocks like shales and carbonates. Unfortunately, as shales and carbonates form, they incorporate various radiogenic daughter products in addition to parent isotopes, meaning a single measurement is likely to yield an erroneously old age for a rock.

    To overcome such limitations, though, “we’re able to do some mathematical tricks by measuring multiple different locations within the same rock,” said Cantine.

    The ultimate trick is the isochron method, first conceived in 1961, which requires no knowledge of how much radiogenic daughter isotope a sample incorporated at the time it formed. A “device of magnificent power and simplicity,” wrote Brent Dalrymple in The Age of the Earth in 1991, “an isochron is a line of equal time.” Obtained by analyzing several minerals from the same rock or several rocks that formed together but that contain different amounts of the parent element, the simplest form of an isochron requires measurement of only a parent, its radiogenic daughter product, and a third quantity—the relative amount of a nonradiogenic isotope of the daughter element, which should remain constant over the lifetime of a sample. The inherent assumption, said Cantine, is that the rocks or minerals in question began with the same amount of all isotopes of the daughter, regardless of whether they were produced by radioactive decay, and that no later process has perturbed that balance.

    By dividing both the amount of the parent and the amount of the radiogenic daughter by the amount of that third quantity—a nonradiogenic daughter isotope—and then plotting the resulting values on the x and y axes, respectively, wrote Dalrymple, “the points will fall on a line whose slope is a function of the age of the rock.” In other words, simple division allows geochronologists to exploit the equation of a line.

    Resuscitating an Old Method

    Continental rocks exposed to water and weather at Earth’s surface deteriorate into smaller bits, including clay minerals, through physical and chemical erosion. When these flecks of former rocks end up in the seas, they eventually form layers of fine-grained sedimentary rocks called shales. That’s how shales have formed for more than 3 billion years, Mänd said.

    Often rich in organic matter, these thinly layered rocks often form in deep ocean waters. One way to date shales as old as about 2.5 billion years, said Rooney, is by using the decay of a radiogenic isotope of rhenium, a metal, to another metal, osmium. But the process of isolating rhenium from osmium is arduous, involving several days of complicated laboratory work. Dates developed through such arduous research are playing increasingly important roles in telling time in ancient sedimentary rocks lacking zircon-bearing ashes.

    When rhenium decays to osmium, it does so via a process called beta decay, in which an atom loses or gains a proton (i.e., the daughter becomes a different element) but has the same mass as the parent (i.e., the two have the same combined total number of protons and neutrons). This process holds true for any beta decay system, including rubidium’s transformation to strontium, said Mikael Tillberg, a postdoctoral fellow at Linnaeus University and the University of Gothenburg, both in Sweden. The isochron method was first demonstrated using the rubidium-strontium dating system, but other methods that often proved faster or cheaper to employ partially supplanted its use. As such, said Tillberg, rubidium-strontium dating is often viewed as antiquated. However, innovative technologies are reinvigorating this vintage timepiece that can constrain the finicky ages of those fine-grained shales.

    Laser ablation systems let geochronologists shoot holes on the scale of tens of micrometers in target materials, said Tillberg, dramatically reducing the sample size needed per measurement. The laser ablates the target rock, turning it into an aerosol that is immediately piped to a mass spectrometer.

    Because the parent and daughter isotopes used in rubidium-strontium geochronology have the same mass, attempting to measure them simultaneously in an instrument designed to measure different masses may seem counterintuitive. A triple quadrupole mass spectrometer solves this quandary, said Tillberg. (A quadrupole in this context consists of four parallel rods, with each opposing pair having a different voltage that attracts or repels charged particles.)

    When ablated, aerosolized rock enters the instrument, and a plasma ionizes it into charged particles. Then, the first quadrupole separates the particles according to mass, explained Tillberg. The next quadrupole contains a gas like nitrous oxide, which donates oxygen to strontium but not to rubidium. The strontium, now combined with oxygen, has a higher mass that is easily separated from rubidium by the third quadrupole, he said. This potent combination of laser ablation and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry allows both isotopes to be measured from the same imperceptibly small slug of sample while eliminating the complicated and time-consuming laboratory work needed to dissolve a rock and physically separate parent and daughter isotopes.

    “Honing into a single layer in the rock record…especially if samples come from drill cores that already have small sample sizes,” becomes much simpler with this updated method, said Darwinaji Subarkah, a doctoral student at the University of Adelaide in Australia. Because the measurement process is so fast, multiple spots from a single sliver of sample can be ablated and analyzed in hours, generating the data necessary for an isochron, he said. Furthermore, whereas traditional rubidium-strontium methods consume entire samples, laser ablation preserves the sample, leaving the measured rock available for future reference, said Subarkah. Moreover, because laser ablation requires much smaller amounts of material, additional sample is often available for analysis by other methods.

    However, to generate a robust isochron, the analyzed parts of a rock must be texturally equivalent. “You need to be able to assume that your initial strontium composition of all the [sample] was the same,” said Bauer. “That’s what makes sedimentary rocks really tricky.”

    Careful petrographic characterization, especially at the nanoscale, can potentially solve this problem, helping to differentiate among clays that came from eroding continents, clays that grew as the sediment became a rock, and clays that changed as the rock warmed and recrystallized, said Subarkah. By combining petrographic analyses with laser ablation, he said, “we’re actually looking at individual relationships between the different mineral phases.”

    Carbonate Conundrums

    Phanerozoic carbonate rocks—limestones and dolomites—are “often completely composed of these big pieces of fossil [animals] stuck together,” Mänd said, which helps tell time.

    But carbonates exist from more than 3 billion years ago, well into the Precambrian, when they were “completely built, as far as we know, by microbes,” according to Cantine.

    Sedimentary carbonates can be dated using uranium’s decay to lead. But carbonates don’t incorporate much uranium, and they tend to include lead as they form, said Cantine. “That means that we have problems on both the parent and the daughter side.” A variation on the simple isochron, along with lasers, has rejuvenated uranium-lead dating for carbonates.

    The first attempt at uranium-lead carbonate geochronology began in the 1980s, said Roberts, and continued through the late 1990s with studies of Precambrian rocks, mostly. Early papers describe methods that involved drilling carbonate rock samples, dissolving chunks with acids, chemically separating the uranium and lead, and making measurements on a thermal ionization mass spectrometer (TIMS) instrument, Roberts explained. This required big samples, a lot of time in the lab, and expensive equipment. However, carbonates are notoriously complicated at relatively small spatial scales, and by dissolving a large piece for analysis, any variations of uranium or lead within individual crystals or across the sample are lost as they are averaged into a single data point, he said.

    Because geochronologists can focus their lasers to zap rocks at a scale of tens of micrometers, many measurements can be obtained rapidly from a single sample, allowing researchers to observe small-scale variations. These previously inscrutable variations provide the spread in measurements needed for a good isochron, said Roberts. Although individual measurements obtained by laser ablation come with higher uncertainties than data collected by traditional methods, the sheer number of measurements made possible by using lasers means that isochron-determined ages also can be precise.

    Carbonates “are wonderfully sensitive to the environment around them,” said Cantine. Carbonate rocks can record temporally distinct processes, such as the initial deposition or precipitation of carbonate, its transformation into rock, any subsequent deformation by burial or tectonic processes, and even uplift from the ocean floor to the tops of mountains. Within a single sample, she said, “you could potentially have multiple meaningful ages preserved.” Because these different processes often leave behind texturally distinct carbonates visible only under the microscope, combining petrographic examination with laser ablation techniques is critical for connecting a date to a specific geological process, she said.

    Nevertheless, just because we have lasers doesn’t mean it’s time to leave the old methods in the past. TIMS measurements in particular are highly precise, said Cantine. In her work, she’s aiming for the best of both worlds, she said, by rapidly assessing carbonate dates using laser ablation and then following up with TIMS analyses to confirm the results.

    What Came First?

    By precisely dating sedimentary rocks with updated geochronologic techniques, said Mänd, scientists can begin to solve some long-standing chicken-and-egg problems in Precambrian geology. For example, snowball Earth glacial events recorded in sedimentary rocks that happened about 2.4 billion and 0.6 billion years ago coincide with both atmospheric oxygen fluctuations and peculiarly large swings in Earth’s carbon chemistry.

    The older snowball Earth event (the Huronian glaciations) may have been triggered by excess oxygen produced by cyanobacteria. But the widely accepted age constraints for this event come from 2.45-billion-year-old Archean rock that sits below the sedimentary rocks recording the past global freezes, along with a 2.22-billion-year-old crosscutting igneous intrusion into the sedimentary rocks, leaving a span of nearly 300 million years, said Bauer. With better time constraints, scientists parse just how many glaciations occurred, whether they were truly global, and what their relationship is to the cyanobacteria-fueled oxygen spike and the carbon swings recorded in these rocks, she explained.

    During and after the younger snowball Earth events during the Cryogenian period, Earth’s earliest animals evolved amid continued episodic glaciations and more curious carbon records. But as in the Huronian, the relations and timing of these glaciations, carbon fluctuations, and evolution of life are unclear. Understanding the time component with the help of the best available geochronologic systems and instrumentation, said Cantine, “is critical for figuring out how and in what ways these events might be connected.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 12:22 pm on February 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "13000 Years Ago a Firestorm Covered 10% of Earth's Surface Triggering an Ice Age", , As dust clouds smothered Earth they kicked off a mini ice age that kept the planet cool for another thousand years-just as it was emerging from 100000 years of being covered in glaciers., Computations suggest that the impact would have depleted the ozone layer causing increases in skin cancer and other negative health effects., , Geochemistry, , High concentrations of platinum-often found in asteroids and comets-and high levels of dust were also noted in the samples analyzed by the researchers., Human culture would have had to adapt to the harsher conditions with populations declining as a result., One of the pieces of analysis was on patterns in pollen levels which suggested pine forests were suddenly burned off to be replaced by poplar trees-a species specializing in covering barren ground., Parts of the comet that disintegrated in space are still likely to be floating around our Solar System 13000 years later., Plants died off; food sources would have been scarce and the previously retreating glaciers began to advance again., , Such a widespread impact of comet fragments and the ensuing firestorm is responsible for that extra bit of cooling known as the Younger Dryas period., The firestorm was likely caused by fragments of a comet that would have measured around 100 kilometers (62 miles) across., The University of Kansas (US)   

    From The University of Kansas (US) via Science Alert (AU): “13000 Years Ago a Firestorm Covered 10% of Earth’s Surface Triggering an Ice Age” 

    U Kansas bloc

    From The University of Kansas (US)



    Science Alert (AU)

    7 FEBRUARY 2022

    Credit: Patrick Orton/Getty Images.

    At a point some 12,800 years ago, a tenth of Earth’s surface suddenly became covered in roaring fires.

    The firestorm rivaled the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, and it was likely caused by fragments of a comet that would have measured around 100 kilometers (62 miles) across.

    As dust clouds smothered Earth they kicked off a mini ice age that kept the planet cool for another thousand years, just as it was emerging from 100,000 years of being covered in glaciers. Once the fires burned out, life could start again.

    “The hypothesis is that a large comet fragmented and the chunks impacted the Earth, causing this disaster,” said Adrian Melott from the University of Kansas, who co-authored a 2018 study detailing this catastrophic event.

    “A number of different chemical signatures – carbon dioxide, nitrate, ammonia and others – all seem to indicate that an astonishing 10 percent of the Earth’s land surface, or about 10 million square kilometers [3.86 million square miles], was consumed by fires.”

    To peer back into the burning fires and shock waves of this major event, a large number of geochemical and isotopic markers were measured from more than 170 sites across the world, involving a team of 24 scientists.

    One of the pieces of analysis carried out was on patterns in pollen levels, which suggested pine forests were suddenly burned off to be replaced by poplar trees – a species specializing in covering barren ground, as you might get when your planet has been hit by a series of massive fireballs.

    In fact, parts of the comet that disintegrated in space are still likely to be floating around our Solar System 13000 years later.

    High concentrations of platinum – often found in asteroids and comets – and high levels of dust were also noted in the samples analyzed by the researchers, alongside increased concentrations of combustion aerosols you would expect to see if a lot of biomass was burning: ammonium, nitrate, and others.

    Plants died off; food sources would have been scarce and the previously retreating glaciers began to advance again, the team noted. Human culture would have had to adapt to the harsher conditions with populations declining as a result.

    “Computations suggest that the impact would have depleted the ozone layer causing increases in skin cancer and other negative health effects,” said Melott.

    The team hypothesized that such a widespread impact of comet fragments, and the ensuing firestorm, is responsible for that extra bit of cooling known as the Younger Dryas period. This relatively brief blip in the planet’s temperature has sometimes been put down to changing ocean currents.

    However, the comet hit isn’t a completely new idea, even though this recent research goes into a great deal of depth to try and find evidence for it. Scientists have been debating whether a comet impact kicked off the Younger Dryas event for several years now.

    Not everyone agrees that the data points to a comet strike, but this comprehensive work offers up more support for the hypothesis, as do the ancient carvings found in Turkey in 2017 – carvings which depict a devastating impact from an interstellar object.

    “The impact hypothesis is still a hypothesis, but this study provides a massive amount of evidence, which we argue can only be all explained by a major cosmic impact,” says Melott.

    The research has been published here and here in The Journal of Geology.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Kansas campus

    Since its founding, The University of Kansas has embodied the aspirations and determination of the abolitionists who settled on the curve of the Kaw River in August 1854. Their first goal was to ensure that the new Kansas Territory entered the union as a free state. Another was to establish a university.

    Nearly 150 years later, The University of Kansas has become a major public research and teaching institution of 28,000 students and 2,600 faculty on five campuses (Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park, Wichita, and Salina). Its diverse elements are united by their mission to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world.

    A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (US) since 1909, The University of Kansas consistently earns high rankings for its academic programs. Its faculty and students are supported and strengthened by endowment assets of more than $1.44 billion. It is committed to expanding innovative research and commercialization programs.

    The University of Kansas has 13 schools, including the only schools of pharmacy and medicine in the state, and offers more than 360 degree programs. Particularly strong are special education, city management, speech-language pathology, rural medicine, clinical child psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, and social welfare. Students, split almost equally between women and men, come from all 50 states and 105 countries and are about 15 percent multicultural. The University Honors Program is nationally recognized, and The University of Kansas has produced 26 Rhodes Scholars, more than all other Kansas schools combined.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: