Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




CARBON WORLDS
Buried fossil soils found to be awash in carbon
by Terry Devitt for UWM News
Madison WI (SPX) May 28, 2014


An eroding bluff on the US Great Plains reveals a buried, carbon-rich layer of fossil soil. A team of researchers led by UW-Madison Assistant Professor of geography Erika Marin-Spiotta has found that buried fossil soils contain significant amounts of carbon and could contribute to climate change as the carbon is released through human activities such as mining, agriculutre and deforestation. Image courtesy Jospeh Mason.

Soils that formed on the Earth's surface thousands of years ago and that are now deeply buried features of vanished landscapes have been found to be rich in carbon, adding a new dimension to our planet's carbon cycle.

The finding, reported May 25, 2014 in the journal Nature Geoscience, is significant as it suggests that deep soils can contain long-buried stocks of organic carbon which could, through erosion, agriculture, deforestation, mining and other human activities, contribute to global climate change.

"There is a lot of carbon at depths where nobody is measuring," says Erika Marin-Spiotta, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of geography and the lead author of the new study.

"It was assumed that there was little carbon in deeper soils. Most studies are done in only the top 30 centimeters. Our study is showing that we are potentially grossly underestimating carbon in soils."

The soil studied by Marin-Spiotta and her colleagues, known as the Brady soil, formed between 15,000 and 13,500 years ago in what is now Nebraska, Kansas and other parts of the Great Plains. It lies up to six-and-a- half meters below the present-day surface and was buried by a vast accumulation of windborne dust known as loess beginning about 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers that covered much of North America began to retreat.

The region where the Brady soil formed was not glaciated, but underwent radical change as the Northern Hemisphere's retreating glaciers sparked an abrupt shift in climate, including changes in vegetation and a regime of wildfire that contributed to carbon sequestration as the soil was rapidly buried by accumulating loess.

"Most of the carbon (in the Brady soil) was fire derived or black carbon," notes Marin-Spiotta, whose team employed an array of new analytical methods, including spectroscopic and isotopic analyses, to parse the soil and its chemistry. "It looks like there was an incredible amount of fire."

The team led by Marin-Spiotta also found organic matter from ancient plants that, thanks to the thick blanket of loess, had not fully decomposed. Rapid burial helped isolate the soil from biological processes that would ordinarily break down carbon in the soil.

Such buried soils, according to UW-Madison geography Professor and study co-author Joseph Mason, are not unique to the Great Plains and occur worldwide.

The work suggests that fossil organic carbon in buried soils is widespread and, as humans increasingly disturb landscapes through a variety of activities, a potential contributor to climate change as carbon that had been locked away for thousands of years in arid and semiarid environments is reintroduced to the environment.

The element carbon comes in many forms and cycles through the environment - land, sea and atmosphere - just as water in various forms cycles through the ground, oceans and the air. Scientists have long known about the carbon storage capacity of soils, the potential for carbon sequestration, and that carbon in soil can be released to the atmosphere through microbial decomposition.

The deeply buried soil studied by Marin-Spiotta, Mason and their colleagues, a one-meter-thick ribbon of dark soil far below the modern surface, is a time capsule of a past environment, the researchers explain. It provides a snapshot of an environment undergoing significant change due to a shifting climate. The retreat of the glaciers signaled a warming world, and likely contributed to a changing environment by setting the stage for an increased regime of wildfire.

"The world was getting warmer during the time the Brady soil formed," says Mason. "Warm-season prairie grasses were increasing and their expansion on the landscape was almost certainly related to rising temperatures."

The retreat of the glaciers also set in motion an era when loess began to cover large swaths of the ancient landscape. Essentially dust, loess deposits can be thick - more than 50 meters deep in parts of the Midwestern United States and areas of China. It blankets large areas, covering hundreds of square kilometers in meters of sediment.

The study conducted by Marin-Spiotta, Mason, former UW-Madison Nelson Institute graduate student Nina Chaopricha, and their colleagues was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

.


Related Links
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carbon Worlds - where graphite, diamond, amorphous, fullerenes meet






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





CARBON WORLDS
Flatland optics with graphene
Madrid, Spain (SPX) May 27, 2014
Researchers from CIC nanoGUNE, in collaboration with ICFO and Graphenea, introduce a platform technology based on optical antennas for trapping and controlling light with the one-atom-thick material graphene. The experiments show that the dramatically squeezed graphene-guided light can be focused and bent, following the fundamental principles of conventional optics. The work, published yes ... read more


CARBON WORLDS
Earth's gravitational pull stretches moon surface

NASA Missions Let Scientists See Moon's Dancing Tide From Orbit

Water in moon rocks provides clues and questions about lunar history

NASA Invites Public to Select Favorite Moon Image for Lunar Orbiter Anniversary Collection

CARBON WORLDS
LDSD Testing for Large Payloads to Mars

New Mars Lander to Probe Interior of Red Planet

A habitable environment on Martian volcano

Mars Curiosity rover may have transported Earth bacteria to Mars

CARBON WORLDS
SpaceX founder unveils his 'future of space travel' capsule

First Phase To Certify New US Space Transport System Completed

NASA faces identity crisis, funding battle

US may lose 'star wars' to Russia

CARBON WORLDS
Chinese lunar rover alive but weak

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

Chinese space team survives on worm diet for 105 days

Moon rover Yutu comes closer to public

CARBON WORLDS
Russian Soyuz with New Crew Docks at ISS in Automatic Mode

Russian, German and US astronauts dock with ISS

Six-Person Station Crew Enjoys Day Off Following Docking

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrives at ISS

CARBON WORLDS
SpaceX unveils capsule to ferry astronauts to space

Roscosmos Scolded for 'Pestering Society' with Proton Crash Theories

Elon Musk to present manned DragonV2 spacecraft on May 29

Russia puts satellite in orbit from sea platform after 2013 flop

CARBON WORLDS
'Godzilla' of Earths circles distant star

Astronomers find a new type of planet: The 'mega-Earth'

Because you can't eat just one: Star will swallow two planets

'Neapolitan' exoplanets come in three flavors

CARBON WORLDS
Russia preparing to launch Okno space surveillance system at full capacity

Citizen Scientists Contact Vintage Spacecraft

New Method of Wormlike Motion Lets Gels Wiggle through Water

Stronger than steel




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.