Taking the laws of physics and reversing them to understand what happened in the Earth’s interior 55 million years ago. UF Geologist ALESSANDRO FORTE’s along with fellow researchers collaborate to reconstructed the phenomena occurring under the North Atlantic Ocean 55 million years ago, during a period known as the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM),  that may have led to a period of rapid global warming or a “greenhouse gas ‘burp”.

The full story can be viewed here:

UF Publications | Looking Deep Inside The Earth


Forte. A reconstruction on the 3-D structure of the Earth's mantle below the North Atlantic 55 million years ago.
Forte. A reconstruction on the 3-D structure of the Earth’s mantle below the North Atlantic 55 million years ago.
Ellen and Jon Martin led three NSF-funded field deployments to Greenland over the past two summers, for a total of 20 weeks in the field.  The project introduced 2 UF Postdocs, 2 PhD students and 3 undergraduates to high latitude field work in remote locations, and has employed additional undergraduates to help analyze samples back at UF.
The goal of the project is to sample two types of streams in Greenland, those that drain ice sheet meltwater from newly exposed landscapes and others that drain annual precipitation and permafrost melt (no glacial water) from more mature landscapes.  The team analyzes the chemical composition of these two stream types to determine how they differ and how those differences may vary over a range of time scales from daily, to annual, to millennial.
Jon Martin, Andrea Pain (Postdoc), Scott Schnur (PhD student, Emory University), Mark Robbins (PhD student), and Hailey Hall (undergraduate) sampling waters and gas exchange along a river outside of Sisimiut, a town of ~1500 residents on the west coast of Greenland. (Photo by Ellen Martin)

Their results should contribute to our understanding of how weathering in these two types of streams affects delivery of nutrients to the ocean as well as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the oceans to help refine predictions of future responses to ice-sheet retreat and to provide context that will allow scientists to interpret past ice-sheet retreats and climate changes, based on chemical records.

See information about ongoing NSF-funded Greenland Research aimed at developing a holistic understanding of weathering across forelands of retreating ice sheets: https://grainfluxes.geology.ufl.edu/

The trip: organized by GeoClub officers Ashlyn Spector, Nikita Kepezhinskas, and Graduate student Anthony Pivarunus, exposed sophomore and junior undergraduate students to excellent examples of igneous and sedimentary geologic structures in the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri and the highlands of Arkansas.

St. Francois Mountains
Over the course of three days, students practiced rock and outcrop identification and descriptions, as well as a mock mapping assignment in local roadcuts, outcrops, and quarries. Students were split into groups of two or three (upper-level student with a lower division student) and introduced to the area’s extrusive and intrusive features.
Students were familiarized with the geography of the area, frequently identifying major rivers, hillocks, ridges, and other defining topographic features. Students were stressed the importance of systematic note taking-comments on notes were compiled each night during the trip by Anthony Pivarunus and Nikita Kepezhinskas.
The last full day in the St. Francois Mountains was spent on two large-scale activities. The first being a roadcut exposing ignimbrite, a micro gabbro dike, and Paleozoic strata was given as practice in rock identification, outcrop sketching, and geologic history construction. The second activity involved rudimentary mapping introduced at Johnson Shut In’s State Park. Students practiced mapping the contacts of three rock units (rhyolite, siltstone, rhyolite) in a defined area, along with providing relative thickness and simplified rock descriptions on a final map.
Arkansas Highlands
After our time in the St. Francois Mountains, students were given a brief overview of Arkansas geology with stops at Buffalo National River (Ozark Plateau), Mt. Nebo State Park (Arkansas River Valley), Hot Springs National Park (Ouachita Orogeny), and Crater of Diamonds National Park (Ouachita – Coastal Plain transition).
At Buffalo National River, students completed basic outcrop sketches and rock identification. A small hike lead the group to an overlook exemplifying the interaction between imbedded rivers and uplifting plateaus.
At Mt. Nebo State Park, students were introduced to the concepts of hogbacks, razorbacks, cuestas, and mesas and how each morphologic feature expresses larger scale geologic structure. At a scenic overlook over the Arkansas river valley, students were given an exercise to identify the underlying geologic structure of the river valley using the exposed topographic expression.
At Hot Springs National Park, students took a tour of the historic bath houses in the park. A geologic map in the museum provided an excellent opportunity to explain the complex fold and thrust structure of the Ouachita Mountains and its relation to the park. Students were able to view one such active hot spring and taste the water from the park.
At Crater of Diamonds National Park, several students were introduced to lamproites. A review of kimberlitic and lamproitic pipes and geology was administered. Several excellent outcrops of lamproitic magma, breccia tuff, and ash tuff gave excellent context to explaining maar eruptions.

Thomas Bianchi and Elise Morrison’s article in AUG’s EOS addresses the need to establish aquatic critical zones (ACZ’s) and understand how human manipulation of the surface through canals, dammed reservoirs, irrigation ditches, and pollution effects species diversity, microbial communities, and nutrient levels in aquatic zones across the planet. Through this research, they hope to get a full picture of the extent of the Anthropocene and understand how these changes will continue into the future as climate change.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/AlexKazachok2

A study by Dr. Joseph Meert — Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences — and his colleagues suggests an unstable magnetic field may provide an explanation for major evolutionary changes at the end of the Ediacaran Period (542Ma). Read more about their study in a recent article featured in Science Magazine, “Hyperactive magnetic field may have led to one of Earth’s major mass extinctions.” The original research article is currently in press in Gondwana Research — “Organisms with the ability to escape UV radiation would be favored in such an environment.”


Meert, J.G., Bazhenov, M.L., Levashova, N.M., Landing E., Rapid changes in magnetic field polarity during the Late Ediacaran: Linking the Cambrian Evolutionary Radiation and increased UV-B radiation, Gondwana Research, doi://10.1016/j.gr.01.001
Those with UF Gatorlink access can read the in press article here.

The magnetospheric shield protects the Earth from incoming solar and cosmic radiation. During periods when the Earths magnetic field is weak, the shield is down and harmful UV-B is increased on the surface of the Earth.
The magnetospheric shield protects the Earth from incoming solar and cosmic radiation. During periods when the Earths magnetic field is weak, the shield is down and harmful UV-B is increased on the surface of the Earth.