Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geologist’s Discovery May Unlock Secrets to Start of Life on Earth

03.07.2002


Scientist continues to build case for origin of plate tectonics



A Saint Louis University geologist has unearthed further evidence in his mounting case that shifting of the continents -- and perhaps life on Earth -- began much earlier than many scientists believe.

Tim Kusky, a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences, has discovered the world’s first large intact pieces of oceanic mantle from the planet’s earliest period, the Archean. The nearly mile-long section of rock, which is billions of years old, may hold clues as to when life developed on the planet. The major finding was reported today in the July issue of GSA-Today -- the premier journal of the Geological Society of America.


Working with colleagues from Peking University, Kusky uncovered the rare find at a site near the Great Wall where last year the team discovered the planet’s oldest complete section of oceanic crust. Reported in Science, their work recently was heralded by the Chinese government as one of the most significant scientific findings of 2001.

This latest discovery may prove even more remarkable. For years, scientists have longed to find large pieces of the planet’s deep interiors. But until now, they’ve had to rely on only tiny fragments to study. Formed tens of kilometers below the ancient sea floor, this new discovery’s massive mantle rocks are preserved in a highly faulted belt 100 kilometers long. Unlike the sea floor samples Kusky found last year, the mantle rocks preserve 2.5 billion-year-old minerals that hold clues to the origin of plate tectonics. The minerals, including an unusual type of chromite deposit only known from deep ocean floor rocks appear to have been deformed at extremely high temperatures before they were completely crystallized by volcanic

This shows that the mantle rocks were flowing away from the ridges on the oceanic floor, evidence that the continents began shifting more than 500 million years earlier than now widely believed. Because the discovery shows that the plates were moving in that early period, these findings could have a more far-reaching effect on theories related to the development of life on the planet. Just when single-celled organisms evolved into more complex organisms has been contested for years. Because hot volcanic vents on the sea floor may have provided the nutrients and temperatures needed for life to flourish, Kusky said it’s possible that life developed and diversified around these vents as the plates started stirring.

Kusky and Peking University’s J.H. Li have initiated a series of studies on the section of ancient mantle and it’s minerals aimed at understanding the conditions of the Earth 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is being funded by U.S. National Science Foundation, the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation, Saint Louis University and Peking University. The Chinese government also has dedicated a natural geologic park at the site of the discovery.

Saint Louis University is a leading Catholic, Jesuit, research institution ranked among the top 50 national, doctoral universities as a best value by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1818, the University strives to foster the intellectual and spiritual growth of its more than 11,000 students through a broad array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain.

Clayton Berry | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geosociety.org/
http://www.eas.slu.edu/People/TMKusky/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline
16.10.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht WSU researchers document one of planet's largest volcanic eruptions
12.10.2017 | Washington State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study suggests oysters offer hot spot for reducing nutrient pollution

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

17.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

World first for reading digitally encoded synthetic molecules

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>