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 Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>