Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Facts and Fascination: "Marine Biology" at 3000m above sea level

02.09.2011
A current exhibition by National Geographic Germany at the Museum of Natural History Vienna provides visitors with a fascinating insight into the world of palaeontology.

The exhibition presents 50 breath-taking photographs of the Dolomites along with research data. Researchers obtained this data from deposits of former marine life, found in the Dolomites´ Cretaceous origin. The data provides information on what lifestyle habits and climate were like 140 to 90 million years ago.

These results, from a project of the Austrian Science Fund FWF, are supplemented with a film that further shows the beauty of the analysed fossils, as well as the adverse conditions under which science is conducted 3000m above sea level. The exhibition therefore not only presents research results, but also puts them into an exciting context.

Mountains aren´t what they used to be. This applies in particular to the Dolomites. Around 140 to 90 million years ago, they were in fact part of the sea floor rather than mountains - thousands of meters high. Over millions of years, deposits were then formed from calcareous shells of marine life from the Mesozoic era. Tectonic forces later caused these sediments to rise upward to the mountaintops of today´s well-known and popular Southern Alps. The mountain range contains one of the most complete and most accessible geological records - also being one of the richest in fossils - from the Cretaceous period in Europe. This record was scientifically analysed in-depth for the first time within the framework of a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF. In addition to basic analyses of the deposits, researchers also examined questions regarding the habitat and the biology of the original marine life, as well as the climatic conditions which existed at the time.

RESEARCH, FILM & PHOTOS
Initial results of the research project are now presented in a rather unusual way: As part of the exhibition entitled "Dolomiten - Das steinerne Herz der Welt" (Dolomites - the Stone Heart of the World), results will be presented to the public beginning on 2 September along with 50 photos by National Geographic photographer Georg Tappeiner and an exciting film. Senior researcher Dr. Alexander Lukeneder from the Geological and Paleontological Department of Vienna´s Museum of Natural History says: "When conveying the results of our research, we find it important to also present the adventure of research and its beauty, in addition to factual data. Georg Tappeiner´s beautiful photos capture the breath-taking aesthetics of the Dolomites. The film of the palaeontology team captures more than the attractiveness of research objects. It shows the difficulties and efforts of conducting research far from any infrastructure, in extreme cold and 3000m above sea level. This almost makes our results seem secondary."

Some of these results are, however, quite spectacular. Dr. Lukeneder´s international team proved that sea temperatures in the Mediterranean area rose by 10 to 12 degrees Celsius during the Lower Cretaceous period 140 to 90 million years ago. "We were able to prove this extreme greenhouse effect by means of special analyses of the calcareous stone. The origin of this stone lies in the deposits of dead nanoplankton and the sedimentation of calcareous microfossils, like the foraminifera," says Dr. Lukeneder about his work. While the marine organisms were still alive, oxygen was incorporated into their calcareous shells. The oxygen isotope ratio (18O to 16O) depended on the temperature of the surrounding water. The process of fossilisation preserved this biological thermometer perfectly for millions of years.

"HIGH" RESOLUTION
The overall aim of this international project was to conduct a high-resolution mapping of the Dolomites´ deposits from the Lower Cretaceous at 2500m above sea level. This included not only the analysis of macro- and microfossils and the isotope ratios, but also the study of rock layers (Puez Formation) and their magnetic relationships, as well as the influence of various cycles during the formation of these layers. The team consisting of 32 researchers focused especially on an area in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park, which was declared a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2009. The current exhibition at the Museum of Natural History Vienna shows, in a very impressive way, that this heritage site comprises both natural beauty and a data archive from the Cretaceous period that is many million of years old.
Image and text will be available online from Friday, 2 September 2011, 9 am CET onwards:

http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/public_relations/press/pv201109-en.html

Scientific contact:
Dr. Alexander Lukeneder
Museum of Natural History Vienna
Burgring 7
1010 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 521 77 - 251
E alexander.lukeneder@nhm-wien.ac.at
Austrian Science Fund FWF:
Mag. Stefan Bernhardt
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111
E stefan.bernhardt@fwf.ac.at
W http://www.fwf.ac.at
Copy Editing & Distribution:
PR&D Public Relations for Research & Education
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44
E contact@prd.at
W http://www.prd.at

Dr. Katharina Schnell | PR&D
Further information:
http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/public_relations/press/pv201109-en.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life 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 >>>