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Climate and Early Humans

6 October 2010

At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/uol-str_1100610.php we have news of some remarkable research at Olduvai Gorge on the edge of the Serengeti Plain. It famous for its hominid remains. Geologists are now investigating the chemical composition of carbonate rocks that lie below the surface where early human fossils have been uncovered – in order to understand environmental changes. University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences has found evidence of dry episodes – and very wet periods of climate. These seem to have taken place fairly frequently which means they would have impacted on hominid evolution. They are looking at deposits of carbonate over a period of 300,000 years – and geochemical analysis will build a picture of the changes, hopefully some kind of geochronology.

Meanwhile, the University of Leicester is studying sedimnet movement during flooding events in rivers, large and small (go to www.physorg.com/print205406389.html ). The research will look at how river pebbles and gravel react, and larger rocks on river beds. The behaviour of rivers during periods of high flow is in the news at the moment – the floods in Pakistan for example, and in recent years we have had heavy flooding involving rivers in central Europe and in Britain. The researchers aim to examine how the flow of river water in flood situations affects the movement of sediments – and presumably the build-up of sediments. This may shed fresh light on palaeo-flooding events, and the laying down of sedimentary layers in geochronology. 

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