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Lava, climate change, and amber

7 April 2010

Science Daily April 7th (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100406142602.html ) new research suggests the Columbia Plateau in the NW of the US was formed by a series of lava flows – and these happened much more quickly than previously imagined. It may even have changed earth’s climate and caused some fauna and flora to become extinct. Basically, the plateau is made of lava that flowed out of the earth on several occasions – but on each occasion the timescale was in months rather than decades or centuries, it is now being proposed in the journal Lithos. Siberian lava flows are known to have coincided with the Permian-Triassic ‘mass dying’ event and another bout of lava flows in NE South America and SE North America coincided with the end of Triassic event. The Deccan traps lava flow is known to have happened at the same time as the asteroid strike that terminated the Cretaceous so what caused the lava flows in the NW region. These occurred 16 million years ago and as yet no grand extinction event has been discovered – but is expected.

Meanwhile, over at Nature Geoscience (see www.physorg.com/print189778550.html ) a geologist thinks she has discovered a pattern that connects regular changes in the earth’s orbital cycles to changes in earth’s climate – by examining ocean sediment cores …

… but at www.physorg.com/print189787051.html we are being warned by Dutch researchers that shallow lakes in South America are saturated in dissolved C02 – carbon sinks is the terminology. Apparently, they are surprised to find that warmer lakes (with more vegetation) have more C02 that cooler lakes (with little vegetation or life). Rising temperatures, we are told, will cause cool lakes to warm which will stimulate the growth of algae and water plants and the lakes will then emit C02 and contribute to AGW…

… and at www.dailygalaxy.com April 6th there is a story about 95 million year old amber deposits discovered in Africa – containing trapped insects such as ants, and these are now known to have existed in the dinosaur age. What is so interesting about this story, and not mentioned by the Daily Galaxy people, is that amber usually has an origin in the resin of conifer trees – but conifers are usually associated with the cooler regions of the temperate zone. The discovery comes from the tropical zone of Africa – not far from the present equator. Was it tropical back in the Cretaceous?

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