Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

National Geographic features University of Miami's work on Bahamas 'blue holes'

27.08.2010
Expedition led by UM scientist sheds light on evolution, archaeology and climate change

The cover story of the most recent issue of National Geographic Magazine (August 2010) features a University of Miami (UM) led expedition to the underwater caves of the Bahamas, known as 'blue holes.'

These unique environments are one of the least understood ecosystems on the planet, largely due to the challenges involved in studying these extreme environments, which include complete darkness, dramatic reversing currents, extreme depths, poisonous gasses, and silty, tight squeezes. The expedition made significant findings related to the past history of the earth, including human occupation, previously undiscovered microbial life, and abrupt climatic changes.

The expedition was conceived of and led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad, Director of UM's Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and Associate Professor at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Funded by The National Geographic Society, the National Museum of the Bahamas, and the National Science Foundation, this work included more than 150 dives and involved unique collaboration between cave divers, scientists from several different fields, and a specialized film team led by the late Wes Skiles, a renowned filmmaker, conservationist and cave explorer. The expedition also was featured in a one-hour NOVA PBS special entitled "Extreme Cave Diving."

"What may look like an insignificant little muddy hole in the woods is actually a window into a world we know little about, a time capsule of evolutionary history that not only provides us with information about where we came from, but what surprises the climate may have in store for us," said Broad. "In addition to the scientific value of these caves, underground aquifers are critical reservoirs of fresh water on a global scale. Like many out of sight -out of mind situations, they are largely ignored, and are threatened by overuse, pollution and increasingly, sea-level rise."

Broad worked closely with UM colleagues and students, including geochemist and professor Peter Swart, whose focus was dating and isotopic analysis of stalagmites to reconstruct past climate changes back nearly 500,000 years and Amy Clement, associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography, who was analyzing this data in the context of current theories on abrupt climate change. Several UM students were also involved in the expedition, including Monica Arienzo, a marine geology and geophysics Ph.D. student analyzing geological samples that include Saharan dust found deep underwater, Bahamian native Nikita Shiel-Rolle, a marine science undergraduate and cave diver who worked on the unique microbiology in these holes, and Colton Hoover Chase, an aspiring filmmaker, who assisted the National Geographic film team.

"The isolated nature of the Bahamas, free of any input from rivers, makes it an ideal place to study the flux of atmospheric-derived dust," said Swart. "As the stalagmites can be dated very accurately, we can examine for the first time the relationship between dust and abrupt climate change in the sub-tropics, and whether the sub-topics may be the actual driver of climate change."

Other key team members included Dive Safety Office and explorer, Brian Kakuk, and Project Coordinator Nancy Albury from the National Museum of the Bahamas, led by Dr. Keith Tinker. University members included astrobiologist Jenn Macalady from Pennsylvania State University, who studied water chemistry and microbes found in the different blue holes, biologist and cave explorer Tom Ilffe of Texas A&M University, who studies extremophile living creatures that live in the submerged caves, David Steadman, professor and curator of ornithology at the Florida Museum of Natural History and a world leader in studying extinct species, and archeologist and cave diver Michael Pateman from the National Museum of the Bahamas, who was excavating and studying the remains of Lucayan indians found in this deep, anoxic environment, which is ideal for the preservation of organic materials.

About the National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu.

About the University of Miami The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. www.miami.edu

Marie Guma-Diaz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umiami.edu
http://www.rsmas.miami.edu

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>