Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fire clues in cave dripwater

21.07.2016

If you’ve ever visited an underground cave, you’ve likely seen stalagmites or stalactites: spiky, rocky structures that form on the ground or the ceiling inside caves. They grow when water at the surface seeps down through the soil and drips into underground chambers over hundreds or thousands of years. The water contains minerals that build up over time as the water drips to form the rocky structures, which look a bit like ice cream cones. The centre of the cone holds minerals that came from water that dripped long ago, while the surface contains minerals from more recent dripwater.

This means stalagmites and stalactites work as time capsules that scientists can use to study how the environment changed over the past hundreds or thousands of years.


Stalactites and stalagmites in Yonderup cave, where researchers found willdfire clues

Andy Baker

By looking into the chemistry of the water and the minerals in stalagmites and stalactites, researchers can find information about how the climate was changing above ground as these rocky structures formed.

Now, researchers in Australia and the UK have found that the rocky structures can also be used to help trace past wildfires that burned above the cave. Fires change the chemistry of the water above ground, and these subtle changes leave traces in the stalactites and stalagmites that form when the water drips in the caves underground.

The fire signals in cave dripwater look a lot like the signals for a change in climate, so scientists have to be careful not to confuse the two. The Australian and UK researchers compared the dripwater in a cave that had been affected by fire to dripwater at a cave (about 300 km away) that had the same climate but no fire.

Since the dripwater chemistry was different between the two locations, the researchers knew they had identified the record of a fire rather than a change in climate. This research shows that we can learn more about the Earth’s past from caves than we previously thought.

Find out more: Discuss with your teacher or parents

Why is it important to study caves and what can we learn from them?

How fast do stalagmites and stalactites grow?

To better understand how stalactites and stalagmites form, why not make your own? The simple experiment at http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/projects/stalactite.html will help you find out how minerals deposit to form rocky structures.

If you’d like to learn more about past, present and future climate changes and their impacts, check http://climatekids.nasa.gov/.


This is a kids' version of the EGU press release 'Fire clues in cave dripwater – researchers find wildfire signatures in cave formations for the first time', available at https://www.egu.eu/news/249/fire-clues-in-cave-dripwater-researchers-find-wildfi.... It was written by Bárbara Ferreira (EGU Media and Communications Manager), reviewed for scientific content by Anne Jefferson (Associate Professor, Kent State University, US) and Amelia Bulcock (PhD Student, Loughborough University, UK), and for educational content by Abigail Morton (Teacher, Chiang Rai International School, Thailand). For more information check:
http://www.egu.eu/education/planet-press/.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.egu.eu/education/planet-press/40/fire-clues-in-cave-dripwater/
http://www.egu.eu/news/249/fire-clues-in-cave-dripwater-researchers-find-wildfir...
http://www.egu.eu/education/planet-press

Dr. Bárbara Ferreira | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>