Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Climate secrets -- past, present and future revealed with new tool

A few years ago, chemical analyses of deep sea muds that used a new X-ray technology were able to help explain why the Classic Mayan civilization collapsed more than a thousand years ago.

At the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, a new tool will apply a similar technology to find answers to historic climate changes from earth and marine sediment core samples. The XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) Core Scanner is only the second to make its way to the United States, and the first of this new and improved model made by Avaatech, a company based in the Netherlands.

"From a paleoclimate researcher's perspective, this is a dream come true," said Larry C. Peterson, associate dean of students and the marine geology professor whose lab houses the scanner. "There is a tremendous amount of information about earth history preserved in the chemical composition of sediments deposited on the ocean floor, in lakes, and on land. By measuring the concentration of specific elements in these sediments, the XRF Core Scanner can help us document the history of drastic climate variations and past geological events, giving us more of an idea of the current and future state of our environment."

Made possible through National Science Foundation funding, the XRF Core Scanner will be able to chemically analyze sediment cores quickly and without any physical damage. "Previously, analyses of this type could only be done by a time-consuming process of sampling the cores, then preparing and chemically analyzing the individual samples. The Core Scanner now allows us to determine the complete chemical composition of the same cores without disturbing them, and at a speed and measurement resolution previously unimaginable. What normally would take weeks or months of laboratory time can now be done within a few hours," said Peterson. Data collected from each scan are transferred directly to computers in his lab for analysis. Once cores are loaded in the Core Scanner, the instrument can be operated from remote locations over the Internet.

Peterson and his German collaborator, Gerald Haug, were featured in the July/August 2005 issue of American Scientist for their work studying core samples taken from the Cariaco Basin off the Venezuelan coast. Using a similar XRF machine, the scientists were able to find geological records of severe droughts between 800 and 1000 AD – coincident with the collapse of Classic Mayan civilization.

"We have a collection of several thousand sediment cores from all the world's oceans stored here at the university," Peterson said. "For each sample we take or receive, we usually study half and archive the remaining portion. Those archives will comprise the greater part of our research right now. We have a number of ongoing research projects, focusing mostly on climate change in the tropics, for which this new instrument will be invaluable."

Ivy Kupec | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>