Geology

  • The Greatest Catastrophe on Earth
    Paleontologist Peter Ward of the University of Washington discusses his latest book, entitled "Gorgon: Paleontology, Obsession, and the Greatest Catastrophe on Earth", in which he follows the fossil trail of what might be left after over seven of every ten species on Earth disappeared 250
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  • Siberia, The Big Bang of Life?
    To appear in the fossil record prominently, an animal needs to leave a hard remnant after death, like a shell or bone. The earliest candidates for many are the 400-million year old forbears of crabs and lobsters, which are now linked in the fossil record
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  • Clues to Life in the Mines of Murgul
    The Mine of Murgul sounds like an ominous place in "The Lord of the Rings," a dark cavern filled with menacing orcs and trolls. But, in fact, this copper mine in Turkey may help shed light on life's origin.
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  • Predicting Primordial Weather
    For life to begin from simple organic molecules, some preconditions for biochemistry are needed. Looking at some of the oldest rocks on our planet have posed a challenge that one has to dig deep to understand what the early Earth might have been like.
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  • Ice-Age Shell Game
    Climate models that incorporate the influence of marine life and sea shells can dramatically alter the course of evolution, according to researchers at the University of California. Their model shows that by buffering the oceans, calcium carbonates like limestone protect against wild climate extremes and
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  • Revealing Rocks on Earth – and Mars
    A British project will develop a technique to identify biomolecules in water that have been trapped in rocks for millions to billions of years. This technique will provide evidence for existence and nature of any life that was in samples when the water became sealed
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  • Methane: the Great Dying?
    Imagine a global catastrophe that could wipe out ninety percent of life in the oceans and seventy percent of land life. Just such a cataclysmic event, known as the Great Dying, happened on Earth 250 million years ago.
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  • Diamonds in the Rough
    Friedemann Freund is investigating the complex chemistry of common rocks like granite, in hopes of uncovering more clues to the origin of life and how oxygen came to support it since the early Earth.
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  • Earth’s Oldest Fossils Reverse Course
    It's a critical question of life science: Are microscopic structures found in 3.5 billion-year-old Archean rocks from Western Australia the oldest fossils of life on Earth? That depends, says one scientist, on whether you think the rocks formed from above -- or below.
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  • File Compression: New Tool for Life Detection?
    Some of Earth's oldest rocks contain intriguing layered structures. Were living organisms responsible, or was it merely a random chemical process? The answer, says one researcher, may be a simple matter of compressing a computer file.
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  • Diamond Time Capsules
    As the hardest natural substance, diamonds also preserve the early sulfur content of Earth. New research points to diamonds thrust volcanically to the surface as time capsules.
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  • Ancient Fossils – or Just Plain Rocks?
    How the 3.5 billion year history of Earth gets written depends on proposed fossilized bacteria found in rocks from Western Australia. If life did exist that early then biological beginnings predated significant atmospheric oxygen by about a billion years. The debaters have just
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  • When Did Life on Earth Begin? Ask a Rock
    Some of the oldest rocks on Earth, found in Greenland, hold important clues to life's beginnings. The problem is, experts disagree both about how to interpret the clues and about how old the rocks really are.
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  • Signs of Life in Acid-Washed Rocks
    Clues to early terrestrial life may be entombed in ancient sedimentary rocks, if only acid vapor can unveil their fossil shapes.
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  • Earth’s Oldest Mineral Grains Suggest an Early Start for Life
    The hills of Western Australia are home to zircons nearly four-and-a-half billion years old. The tiny crystals may change our understanding of the newly-formed Earth.
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