Focusing on a controversial hypothesis that ice existed at the equator some 300 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Period, two University of Oklahoma researchers originated a project in search of clues to the Earth’s climate system.
“The Paleozoic Period was a rare time in history,” says Gerilyn Soreghan, OU professor of geology. “Broadly speaking, it was the last time our planet experienced the type of climate system we have today and in the recent past.” Soreghan believes comparing more modern systems in a range of different climates might help support her hypothesis.
Soreghan and Elwood Madden, assistant professor of geochemistry, want to search for answers in four distinct environments: the cold-dry environment found in Antarctica, the cold-wet environment found in Norway, the hot-wet environment found in Puerto Rico and the hot-dry environment found in the Mojave Desert.
A National Science Foundation project proposal was submitted and the NSF responded with its own proposal recommending a pilot project to the most extreme location proposed—Antarctica. Soreghan was surprised and excited by the NSF proposal. She then began preparing for the journey of a lifetime.
The OU team flew to New Zealand at the end of December and promptly went to the clothing distribution center to be outfitted for the trip. Even though Soreghan and two graduate students would arrive in Antarctica during the summer season, the extremely cold weather proved challenging.
The trip to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, took roughly 5 hours. Upon arrival, the team met with experienced University of Maine researcher Brenda Hall, who helped the team get ready for the next few weeks. They needed food, radios, tents and other essential equipment for the expedition.
They pinpointed the glaciers where they would take water and sediment samples. When they were ready, a helicopter dropped them in the Dry Valleys and they began collecting samples in one of the smallest rivers in Wright Valley.
Summer in Antarctica was colder and drier than usual and the task of collecting samples downstream was more difficult than expected. The research team would go back on another day to collect additional samples.
The team moved to the Onyx River, the largest river in the valley. Sampling here was more successful as the river flows roughly six weeks during the summer. The water samples taken from the river showed non-random patterns—a good sign, according to Soreghan.
The team took samples at the proximal or closest location to find out what is happening where erosion begins. Glacial systems are typically dominated by physical weathering, a process where the glacier glides across bedrock and grinds it up to create lots of surface area for water to interact with it.
However, many glaciers in Antarctica are frozen to their beds, such that physical grinding is much less important than in temperate glacial systems. Chemical weathering predominates over physical weathering in warmer climates.
During analyses, researchers will examine the chemistry of the sediments and water to determine if there might be certain “markers” or indicators unique to erosion in this type of climate. An electron scanning microscope will allow them to see what kind of physical erosion is going on. Glacial striations or grooves indicate grinding or patterns of grinding.
Analyzing the samples will take about year, but preliminary samples taken from the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma can be compared with the Antarctic samples to see if there are similarities.
Sidebar—Outreach Activity: During the month-long stay in Antarctica, Soreghan initiated a Web cam discussion with three classes at McKinley Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma. The activity allowed students to ask questions about Antarctica and to also see the ice breaker within McMurdo Sound and other views of the continent.
Sidebar—About Antarctica: The United States has three research stations in Antarctica. There are a few established camps through the summer. The U.S. station at McMurdo Sound has about 1,200 people during peak season. A skeletal crew stays year round, but everyone else leaves in February.Contact: Jana Smith, Director
Jana Smith | EurekAlert!
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The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).
Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
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25.09.2018 | Life Sciences
25.09.2018 | Life Sciences
25.09.2018 | Life Sciences