Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant Evolution Led to Permanent Changes to the Way Rivers Looked and Behaved

27.01.2010
Cast your mind back, oh, about 420 million years ago. There are giant fish swimming in the oceans, but it’ll be nearly another 200 million before dinosaurs and the first mammals arrive on the scene.

This is a time of continents colliding, North America and Greenland hitting Europe, smashing together and making mountains. The planet’s land mass is mostly dusty and barren. Rivers were more like great expanses of water sliding into the ocean.

“You’d hardly know the place,” says Martin Gibling, professor with Dalhousie’s Department of Earth Sciences. “There was bare rock and sand, with crusts of bacteria and algae over the rock surfaces. And ancient rivers were very different, like big sheets of water carrying sand and gravel. They weren’t like channels whatsoever.”

Dr. Gibling and postdoctoral researcher Neil S. Davies wanted to find out more about those big rivers. What happened during the evolution of the Earth to throw them for a loop?

“If you think of a river, it’s wavy, it’s meandering,” explains Dr. Gibling. “A river has curves, eroding into its bank on one side, and depositing sediments on the other.”

For the answers to one of the most significant environmental changes in the Earth’s history, they turned to the fossil record using a literature compilation and fieldwork. Their research took them to 35 sites around the globe, including Port-au-port, Newfoundland, the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, the Channel Islands off the coast of France and Death Valley in California.

The difference, they discovered, was the earliest plants, stretching their roots down and stabilizing river banks. Instead of wide and sheet-like, rivers evolved to become more confined and narrower. Their research, highlighting the co-evolution of land plants and river landscapes, has just been published in the journals Geology and Earth-Science Reviews.

“Once the plants started to get a toehold, they sent spores into more inland areas,” says Dr. Davies, who hails from Birmingham, England. “The entire process took about 50 million years, with vegetation spreading until it dominated every landscape except total desert. The Earth could never be the same again.”

SEE: “Cambrian to Devonian evolution of alluvial systems: The sedimentological impact of the earliest land plants” in Earth-Science Reviews, February 2010

“Paleozoic vegetation and the Siluro-Devonian rise of fluvial lateral accretion sets” in Geology, January 2010

Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle
25.04.2017 | Rice University

nachricht New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor
25.04.2017 | British Antarctic Survey

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>