Fossils & Ruins
Nature: Prehistoric impact idea smacked down — dates of reported cosmic collision can’t explain North American extinctions
The Nature piece by Alexandra Witze focuses on Meltzer’s latest study to show that a comet was not responsible for sudden climate change at the end of the Ice Age 12,800 years ago. Proponents of the comet-impact theory have pointed to sedimentary deposits that they say prove that an object from outer space hit the Earth, killing the Clovis culture and causing the mass extinction of many animals.
Comet theory false; doesn’t explain cold snap at the end of the Ice Age, Clovis changes or mass animal extinction
As proof, proponents point to sediments with deposits they believe could only result from a cosmic impact. A new study disproves the theory, said lead-author and archaeologist David Meltzer, SMU. Continue reading
Using satellite imagery to monitor which volcanoes are deforming provides statistical evidence of their eruption potential, according to a new study in Nature Communications.
The European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellite, launched April 3, should allow scientists to test this link in greater detail and eventually develop a forecast system for all volcanoes, including those that are remote and inaccessible. Continue reading
Journalist Jim Malewitz with The Texas Tribune tapped the expertise of SMU geophysicist Brian Stump, whose research has looked at the operation of saltwater injection disposal wells and small earthquakes that have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Stump is Albritton Professor of Earth Sciences in SMU’s Dedman College. His research includes seismic wave propagation, seismic source theory, shallow geophysical site characterization, and characterization of explosions as sources of seismic waves.
[caption id="attachment_6738" align="alignleft" width="220"] A female Niassodon mfumukasi protecting its calf in its natural environment by the end of the Permian (~256Ma). Illustrated by Fernando Correia.[/caption]A new species and genus of fossil vertebrate has been identified from the remote province of Niassa in Mozambique, according to an international team of paleontologists.
The species is a distant relative of living mammals and is approximately 256 million years old, the researchers reported Dec. 4 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE. Continue reading
SMU dean, earth science professor James Quick elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Vulcanologist James E. Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of Graduate Studies, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Quick is the fourth professor at Southern Methodist University recognized with the prestigious honor. Continue reading
“It is a rare event that geology is a catalyst of public cooperation and celebration,” says SMU geologist and volcano expert James E. Quick. The new Sesia-Val Grande Geopark is an example of just that, says Quick, whose international team in 2009 discovered a fossil supervolcano that now sits at the heart of the new geopark. The discovery sparked worldwide scientific interest and a regional geotourism industry. Continue reading
In an energy and environment report on Texas, NPR covered the SMU Geothermal Laboratory‘s research to locate and quantify the huge geothermal resources available for production from existing oil wells within Texas. The NPR report relied on the expertise of SMU geothermal expert Maria Richards, director of the SMU Geothermal Laboratory. Continue reading
Science journalist Jane J. Lee with National Geographic reported on the research of SMU Research Associate Michael J. Polcyn, who co-authored a new study that found the ancient sea monsters known as mosasaurs were not as slow as paleontologists once thought, thanks to their shark-like tails.