The story of the Chalk … gets more intriguing as time goes by

21 June 2013
Geology

At www.geneticarchaeology.com/research/Chalking_up_a_marine_blooming_alga_G… … chalk deposits are formed from the white shells that envelop single celled photosynthetic alga known as Ehux, a coccolithopare with an exo skeleton made of calcium carbonate. Ehux, and related life forms, are the bedrock of most ocean food chains. Phytoplankton biomass exceeds that of all marine animals combined.

The Ehux genome was composed with sequences from other algal isolates mainly because they are thought to store co2 (in their shells) and therefore the research was funded by the well heeled CAGW lobby organisations (and your tax contributions) and the results have been published in Nature.

It turns out Ehux forms algal blooms that can actually be seen from space – but individually require a microscope to see. Ehux is abundant in what are called oligotrophic oceans (those that have little to sustain life) and it is claimed they exert a large effect on the global carbon cycle – which is best digested with a little cocking of the eye brow (maintaining the theme related to cock and its variables). The same gene set allows Ehux to thrive in low levels of phosphorus and to assimilate and break down nitrogen rich compounds (and here we may have something interesting). It may also be involved in the global sulphur cycle. The big question here is why was it so abundant in Cretaceous seas, so abundant as to form the chalk hills of southern Britain and NE France, and chalk formations in North America. Is chalk accumulation a history of algal blooms – a response to the dumping into the oceans of large amounts of nitrogen rich material (possibly with a cosmic origin)? How long did it really take for the chalk to be laid down – if we ignore the uniformitarian geochronology. However, it is worth pointing out that chalk was not laid down in a single deposit – it is divided into distinct layers (variously the Old, Middle and Upper Chalk deposits, as well as Totternhoe stone (a hard seam of chalk that surfaces on the chalk spur at Totternhoe near Dunstable and was used in church interiors and various medieval buildings, especially in that part of Bedfordshire and neighbouring Hertfordshire). We also have chalk clunch from Cambridgeshire, another hard form that was used as a substitute for stone in a region lacking the latter. Chalk has been used in the manufacture of cement, as lime for agricultural sweetening, as whitewash and numerous other manufactures (and is still being quarried in different parts of the country). Within the chalk are large nodules of flint, or seams of laminated flint (a flat slate like deposit) and flint formation is equally mysterious as the chalk.

At www.geneticarchaeology.com/research/DNA_sequencing_uncovers_secrets_of_w… …which is the same story but the angle is via the University of Exeter which participated in the research. It is said to have a direct link to global climate for over 200 million years (on the basis its shells store co2). This statement of course depends on whether co2 really does play a major role in the climate of the Earth. It seems Ehux have the potential to be used as a food supplement, in biofuels, feedstocks for cattle, and polymer precursors. So, we might end up eating co2 – consuming global warming rather like the fabled munching black holes at the heart of galaxies, busy devouring all that dust and debris swirling around.

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