The remarkable new core was extracted during the recent Antarctic summer from record-setting drilling depths 4,214 feet below the sea floor beneath Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, the Earth's largest floating ice body. Laced with sediment dating from the present day to about 10 million years ago, the core provides a geologic record of the ice shelf's history in unprecedented detail.
In fact, a polar research news feature in the March 2007 edition of the journal Nature called the sediment core "a frozen time capsule from Earth's icy past."
Greenish rock layered throughout the "time capsule" indicates periods of open-water conditions, suggesting that the Ross ice shelf retreated and advanced perhaps as many as 50 times over the last 5 million years in response to climate changes, says FSU AMGRF Head Curator Matthew Olney. He notes that signs of fluctuations such as these are critical because the Ross Sea ice is a floating extension of the even bigger West Antarctic Ice Sheet -- an area of the southernmost continent so unstable that scientists foresee its collapse in a world overheated by global warming.
A collapse there could raise sea levels worldwide by a catastrophic 20 feet.
Credit for the core's record-setting extraction goes to the inaugural expedition of ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) -- a $30 million multinational project for which FSU is playing the key curatorial role. The collaborative research initiative is the most ambitious seafloor drilling effort ever undertaken at the Antarctic margins. The National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs largely funds both ANDRILL and the AMGRF at FSU.
May 1-4, members of FSU's geology faculty and AMGRF staff will welcome to campus more than 100 ANDRILL researchers -- scientists, drillers, students and educators from Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the United States -- for the first post-drilling meeting.
"The upcoming ANDRILL workshop at FSU will focus on the review and completion of an initial report on the first ANDRILL expedition as well as giving the scientists an opportunity to re-examine the cores now safely stored at the AMGRF," Olney said.
The workshop also will feature a special recognition. At a reception May 1, FSU Vice President for Research Kirby Kemper will present a certificate from NSF and the international "Committee on Antarctic Geographic Names" to Dennis Cassidy, who served as AMGRF's head curator from 1962 to 1992, and for whom a mountain in Antarctica has been named in his honor.
"Needless to say, this is a high honor for Dennis, and one that exemplifies the level of service our Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility has provided the global community over the years," said FSU geology Professor Sherwood W. Wise, Jr., a co-principal investigator at AMGRF, a participating (off-ice) scientist for ANDRILL and a member of the ANDRILL U.S. advisory committee.
FSU's ANDRILL role kicked off in December when university staff, undergraduates Charlie King and Kelly Jemison, graduate student Steve Petrushack, visiting research associate Davide Persico, AMGRF Head Curator Matthew Olney and Assistant Curator Matthew Curren began a three-month stint on the curatorial team. Only one member of the team had previously been to Antarctica.
Their curatorial duties included transporting sediment core sections seven miles from the drill site to the McMurdo Station laboratory; splitting them longitudinally into working and archive halves, then imaging each split face; taking samples from the working half for on-ice scientific description; and safely packing, logging and transporting them back to the FSU research facility.
Wise pointed out that the recent ANDRILL expedition to Antarctica was the second such project involving AMGRF scientists, curators, and students within a six-month period -- the first being the SHALDRIL ("Shallow Drilling") cruise in which FSU took a leadership role. "It's been a very busy year at our facility, with six FSU participants on both projects involved in the science to various degrees while providing curatorial support to both," he added.
FSU and its ANDRILL partners already are gearing up for the next excursion, scheduled for October 2007 during the Antarctic spring. Still, the inaugural trip was especially memorable.
"So many scientists and technicians brought together from around the world for the first time and under taxing conditions made for a challenging work environment," Olney said. "Yet, the entire ANDRILL team did a superb job with one aim in mind: recovering a record-breaking geological record that will remain a legacy to the scientific community for decades to come."
Matthew Olney | EurekAlert!
NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D
26.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle
25.04.2017 | Rice University
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
26.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy