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.
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
Dr. Katharina Schnell | PR&D
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