Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Geologists Use Particles From Galaxy's Far Reaches To Understand Processes At Earth's Surface

Date:
July 19, 2005
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Scientists at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European Commission of the European Union have announced a new initiative--called CRONUS, for cosmic-ray produced nuclide systematics--to measure cosmic rays from far-distant supernovas to time the history of the Earth's surface. Billions of cosmic rays impact Earth every year. The infinitesimal particles blast apart the atoms of Earth's atmosphere and rocks, changing them into new elements. Now, NSF has awarded $5.8 million over five years for geologists to measure the accumulated results of these atomic transmutations in rocks at Earth's surface.

Supernovae such as this one, named SN 1993J, give off blasts of cosmic rays that bombard the Earth and change the atomic make up of its surface rock. Researchers supported by the international CRONUS project will measure the effects of cosmic rays to determine the timing of ancient geologic events. The color scale represents the brightness of the radio emission detected by very large array radiotelescopes. Blue depicts the faintest emission; red depicts brightest.
Credit: Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and N. Bartel, M. Bietenholz, M. Rupen, et al.

Scientists at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European Commission of the European Union have announced a new initiative--called CRONUS, for cosmic-ray produced nuclide systematics--to measure cosmic rays from far-distant supernovas to time the history of the Earth's surface.

Galactic explosions known as supernovas unleash torrents of fantastically energetic atomic particles. Billions of these cosmic rays impact Earth every year. The infinitesimal particles blast apart the atoms of Earth's atmosphere and rocks, changing them into new elements. Now, NSF has awarded $5.8 million over five years for geologists to measure the accumulated results of these atomic transmutations in rocks at Earth's surface.

Fred Phillips of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology will coordinate the U.S. arm of the project, which includes 13 U.S. universities.

"The CRONUS initiative will benefit all disciplines in the Earth sciences," said Herman Zimmerman, director of NSF's division of earth sciences. Whether geomorphology, tectonics, volcanology, hydrology, geologic hazards, or paleoclimatology, he said, "Each needs an improved understanding of geochronology at the Earth's surface."

The European Union, through its Marie Curie Actions, has awarded 3.4 million Euro ($4.4 million) over four years for the project, a research-training network involving research teams in France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland the United Kingdom. Training of early stage and experienced researchers in the novel technique is an integral part of the European CRONUS effort to contribute to the mobility, exchange and training of high-quality European scientists.

Tibor Dunai, now at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, will coordinate the European arm. He will relocate to the University of Edinburgh in the fall of 2005.

"The ability to date changes in landscapes with cosmogenic nuclides has already revolutionized our understanding of Earth processes," said Dunai. "CRONUS will allow us to unlock the great potential this novel technique has, helping us to better understand the environment around us."

Powerful cosmic-ray particles penetrate only a few feet below the Earth's surface, so deeper rocks are shielded from the buildup of cosmic-ray transmutations. The number of new atoms produced by cosmic rays can thus show the amount of time passed since geological events such as earthquakes, landslides and glaciers. They can also reveal how fast Earth's surface changes from such forces as erosion by rivers.

"As scientists who use geochronology techniques in the course of their research," U.S. coordinator Phillips said. "We need to know exactly how cosmic rays are distributed on our planet's surface, taking into account variables like longitude, latitude, and elevation, as well as changes occurring over geologic time scales, such as periodic shifts in Earth's magnetic field."

Scientists affiliated with CRONUS will work to understand the fundamentals of cosmic-ray reactions so that they can routinely use them as methods for reconstructing and analyzing environment changes. When perfected, the new cosmic-ray methods will shed light on Earth's past climate cycles, changes in soil erosion, frequency of floods and landslides, and how weathering of rocks affects global warming and cooling.

Scientists from the United States and Europe will work together sampling rocks from key sites around the world, exposing elements to nuclear beams in high-energy accelerators, and counting cosmic-ray impacts with detectors aboard high-altitude aircraft. These results will all be synthesized in a broad-ranging effort to understand all aspects of the cosmic phenomenon.

"This is a way of bringing the projectiles of exploding stars down to very practical use on earth," said Phillips.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Geologists Use Particles From Galaxy's Far Reaches To Understand Processes At Earth's Surface." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002036.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2005, July 19). Geologists Use Particles From Galaxy's Far Reaches To Understand Processes At Earth's Surface. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002036.htm
National Science Foundation. "Geologists Use Particles From Galaxy's Far Reaches To Understand Processes At Earth's Surface." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002036.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — The initial blast from the record-setting explosion would have appeared more than 10,000 times more powerful than any flare ever recorded. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins