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 Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy