Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists Discover Effects from Rapid, Global Climate and Ocean Changes of the Past


An international team of marine geologists has just completed an expedition to an area off the coast of Surinam known as the Demerara Rise. The scientists were part of the two-month Leg 207 of the NSF-supported Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) expedition in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. The project studied periods in Earth’s history that have undergone rapid climate and ocean circulation changes and likely led to mass extinctions of plants and animals.

The National Science Foundation supports the Ocean Drilling Program. Using equipment like the drill pictured here, workers obtain geologic samples from the deep seafloor that provide scientists with new information on Earth’s history. Examples of information documented by these samples include a history of the ocean basins and evidence of drastically changing climates on earth, including more ice ages than were previously known.
Photo Credit: Texas A&M University

Three decades ago, geologists found sediments in the Demerara Rise from the Cretaceous Period (140-65 million years ago) that contained evidence of times when the equatorial Atlantic Ocean was without oxygen. These periods, known as “ocean anoxic events,” indicate that the oceans had a vastly different circulation pattern than they do today.

"Therefore, climate would have been significantly different. We don’t yet fully understand the reasons for these differences," said Jochen Erbacher of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources in Germany. "Our objective [on this cruise] was to re-core the former site to understand past ocean circulation with respect to water depth change."

Scientists also brought up sediment cores that show other periods of dramatic change in Earth’s history. In these sediments are well-preserved intervals of the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. At that time, some 65 million years ago, a huge asteroid or comet crashed into the Earth. Scientists believe the resulting cloud of debris may have blocked out sunlight, resulting in the extinction of plants and animals, including dinosaurs.

The Leg 207 team included sedimentologists, stratigraphers, paleontologists, geochemists, engineers, and geophysicists.

"It is only through the integration of all these disciplines that we can begin to understand the causes and effects of these periods of climatic and oceanographic change," said scientist David Mosher of the Geological Survey of Canada. "With a better understanding of what happened in the past, we can perhaps know more about what the Earth is presently enduring," he said.

Adds Paul Dauphin, program director for ODP at NSF, "The research team chose this area for the potentially high-resolution paleoceanographic records that could be recovered [in sediments] for the time intervals of interest, and for the important role that tropical regions play in driving ocean and atmospheric circulation."

ODP is an international partnership of scientists and research institutions organized to study the evolution and structure of the Earth. It is funded principally by NSF, with substantial contributions from international partners.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>