Tiny triangular, textured fossils of ancient pollen grains swim on a beautiful blue icy background on the cover of Nature's December issue, released yesterday. Frozen in time, these fossilized pollen extracted from ocean sediments tell a story about how Antarctica's largest ice sheet has changed throughout history.
Sophie Warny, Associate Professor in the LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics and Associate Professor and Curator of the Center for Excellence in Palynology (CENEX) in the LSU Museum of Natural Science, meticulously captured portraits of rare Antarctic pollen grains for a Nature research paper she co-authored. Sophie and collaborators at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of South Florida found that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may not be as stable as it seems. This ice sheet has been very dynamic, with a long history of expanding and shrinking. The glaciers in this region may be particularly susceptible to climate change because they flow from the Aurora Basin, a region of East Antarctica that mostly lies below sea level.
This means that, today, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may contribute substantially to global sea level rise as Earth's climate warms.
But let's get back to the role those tiny fossilized pollen grains played in helping researchers decipher the history of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet - and in earning this paper a spot on the illustrious cover of Nature magazine. Read on to learn about the story and science behind the Nature cover this month from G&G's own ancient pollen expert Sophie Warny.
Research Findings Highlighted in October Edition of NATURE Geoscience
The first 1.5 billion years of Earth's evolution is subject to considerable uncertainty due to the lack of any significant rock record prior to four billion years ago and a very limited record until about three billion years ago. Rocks of this age are usually extensively altered making comparisons to modern rock quite difficult. In new research conducted at LSU, scientists have found evidence showing that komatiites, three-billion-year old volcanic rock found within the Earth's mantle, had a different composition than modern ones. Their discovery may offer new information about the first one billion years of Earth's development and early origins of life.
Results of the team's work has been published in the October 2017 edition of
LSU faculty, students and staff presented nearly 200 research talks, posters, press conferences and events at the largest Earth and space sciences conference in the world, the American Geophysical Union, or AGU. From Dec. 11-15, about 20,000 scientists convened in New Orleans for the AGU Fall Meeting. The annual meeting is typically held in San Francisco. However, since the convention center in San Francisco is closed for renovations, scientists from around the world met at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans this year. Researchers from multiple disciplines across LSU presented their research spanning the physical and life sciences that increases our understanding of Earth, sea and space.
Peter Clift Receives Thomas A. Philpott Excellence of Presentation Award
G&G's Charles T. McCord Chair in Petroleum Geology, Dr. Peter Clift, for being selected to receive the First Place Thomas A. Philpott Excellence of Presentation Award for his paper "Sediment transport processes and rates in the Indus Submarine Fan, Arabian Sea."
Clift's paper was presented at the 2017 GCAGS Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Barb Dutrow Receives AFMS Honorary Award for "Distinguished Achievements in the Field of Earth Science"