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Geochronology, smokers, and dinosaurs that lived in darkness (?)

9 August 2011

See www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804081850.htm – scientists at the University of York have developed a new dating technology for geological deposits of the Quaternary Period (the last 3 million years). Its basically a refinement of an older process, the use of amino acids in geochronology that measure the breakdown of proteins in fossil snails. Snails are commonly found at archaeological sites in Britain and in geological contexts. It seems that actually dating the various inter-glacial episodes is difficult – but you would not get a sniff of that by reading your average text-book. Scientists know where the glacials fit as far as geochronology is concerned – its the periods in between that cause a problem. Might the dates not adher to the theory – I wonder? Whatever the problem might be it is hoped the new technique will clarify the dates more exactly. The idea is to get the dates of deep sea sediments and ice cores to comply with those of plants and animals (see Nature, August 2011). Further, it is said they hope the technique will enable scientists to build regional Ice Age chronologies anywhere in the world – which might be interesting for the anomalies they might throw up.

Meanwhile,  at www.marine.ie/home/aboutus/newsroom/pressreleases/MajorDiscoveryonthemid… … there is a piece on the discovery of hydrothermal vents on the Mid Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores. There are pictures of chimneys of metal sulphide found over 3000m below the ocean surface. Shrimps, limpets, scale worms and mats of bacteria have been found and strange eel like fish. Hydrothermal vents occur where cracks in the earth's crust allow sea water to penetrate into regions of subterranean volcanic activity. The sea water becomes heated and mixed with dissolved minerals and gushes back upwards giving rise to black smokers and white smokers – which look like miniature volcanoes.

And over at www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwprint.php?article=10033 we learn that dog sized dinosaurs lived near the South Pole – in darkness for months at a  time. However, their bone tissue was no different to dinosaurs elsewhere on the planet. The assumption is obvious.

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