Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geochemist Aids Development of Geologic Time Scale for Study of Earth’s History

23.05.2013
A Boise State University researcher has taken a lead role in developing the most current timetable on Earth’s geologic history.

Geochemist Mark Schmitz is one of four editors on The Geologic Time Scale 2012, or GTS2012, a 1,144-page compilation of the latest understanding of Earth’s history, and the means by which geoscientists around the world investigate the rock record. In addition, the Isotope Geology Laboratory at Boise State directly produced 47 of the 260 radiometric ages used in the GTS2012, more than any other geochronology lab in the world, as part of the lab’s comprehensive studies of the Late Paleozoic era of Earth history.

“Our understanding of Earth’s history is constantly evolving as we collect and interpret more data from the geologic record,” Schmitz said. “Geology is very much a forensic science. We are trying to reconstruct Earth’s past to predict as accurately as possible what might happen in its future. The Geologic Time Scale gives us a quantitative basis for that.”

Schmitz, his students, and a network of colleagues collect volcanic rocks from around the world and bring them back to the Boise State lab where they extract miniscule amounts of rare minerals that serve as natural clocks.

“If you were to break a paperclip into a million pieces, and break one of those pieces into a million more, that’s the tiny bit of matter we’re analyzing from a single crystal of a rock, that’s the scale that we work on,” Schmitz said. “Our lab has become well known around the world for the detail we put into understanding the accuracy of these difficult measurements.”

In addition to understanding Earth’s timetable, there also is an economic element to the work Schmitz does. Most of the coal and significant shale gas resources on Earth come from the time period in which he specializes. A team including Schmitz and two undergraduate researchers will return to southern Alberta, Canada, this summer to continue their studies of 360 million-year-old organic-rich sediments that preserve one of the largest biological extinction events in Earth history, and are a source rock for shale gas throughout North America. His work has been funded through the National Science Foundation as well as industry partnerships.

The GTS2012 reference work serves as the standard international framework for deciphering the history of the planet, providing a complete stratigraphy of all periods and stages with regional applications. Schmitz was invited in 2006 to serve as co-editor on the publication, with a specific charge to compile the full set of radiometric ages—those determined via measurements of natural radioactive decay in minerals and rocks—that are used to calibrate the geologic time scale.

The GTS2012 is available in digital format through Albertsons Library at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/book/9780444594259.

In addition to the GTS2012, Schmitz also served as guest editor and author of a recent issue of the journal Elements, published bimonthly by the Mineralogical Society of America and 16 other geochemical and mineralogical societies. Each issue of Elements explores an invited theme of broad and current interest in the mineral sciences. Schmitz proposed and guest-edited the first issue of 2013 entitled “One Hundred Years of Isotope Geochronology” and co-authored an article titled “High-Precision Geochronology.”

Learn more at http://elements.geoscienceworld.org/content/9/1/15.full.

Schmitz is associate professor of geochemistry at Boise State and director of the Isotope Geology Laboratory. He has extensive research experience and broad interests in the development and application of radiogenic isotope geochemistry and high-precision U-Pb geochronology to problems of Earth systems and history.

His work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers EAR-0418703, EAR-0521221 and EAR-1148499. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

About Boise State University
A public metropolitan research university with more than 22,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees, doubled its masters degrees and now offers 13 online degree programs. Learn more at www.BoiseState.edu.

Sherry Squires | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.boisestate.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks
17.06.2018 | Kyushu University, I2CNER

nachricht Decades of satellite monitoring reveal Antarctic ice loss
14.06.2018 | University of Maryland

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A sprinkle of platinum nanoparticles onto graphene makes brain probes more sensitive

15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Perovskite-silicon solar cell research collaboration hits 25.2% efficiency

15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>