Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gravestones Talking through Time

Date:
December 15, 2009
Source:
The Geological Society of America
Summary:
A visit to your local graveyard can provide not only a history lesson, but a science lesson as well. Historians have long scoured old burial sites to piece together the stories of those who rest there, but today scientists are learning much more from those letters carved in stone. Gravestones are telling the story of changes in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and rainfall. Moreover, scientists are asking for your help to read the stones.

EarthTrek draws upon the local citizenry to build global information databases. Here, Canadian student Pascal records data from a gravestone in Sydney, Australia, as part of the EarthTrek Gravestone Project.
Credit: Image courtesy of The Geological Society of America

A visit to your local graveyard can provide not only a history lesson, but a science lesson as well. Historians have long scoured old burial sites to piece together the stories of those who rest there, but scientists are now learning much more from those letters carved in stone. Gravestones are telling the story of changes in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and rainfall. Moreover, scientists are asking for your help to read the stones.

The iconic white marble headstones found in most graveyards around the world are wonderful diaries of changes in the atmosphere. Chemical interactions occur between the marble and the atmosphere over time. Little by little, atmospheric gases dissolved in rain drops cause the marble to erode. Changes in atmospheric chemistry also change the rate at which the marble weathers.

By accumulating volunteers' measurements of marble gravestones of different ages around the world, scientists hope to produce a world map of the weathering rates of those gravestones and thereby deduce how the atmosphere has been changing.

Participants are asked to take measurements using simple calipers and GPS, following a set of scientific protocols that are explained online. Data is then logged by participants directly into the scientific database via the project Web site.

The project is part of the new global citizen science program called EarthTrek, which is administered by The Geological Society of America in partnership with organizations across America and around the globe. People interested in participating can register online and follow links to the Gravestone Project or any of several other scientific research projects currently underway through the EarthTrek program.

"Being involved in EarthTrek provides people with the opportunity to be involved in real scientific research," says Gary Lewis, EarthTrek Director.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Geological Society of America. "Gravestones Talking through Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209193159.htm>.
The Geological Society of America. (2009, December 15). Gravestones Talking through Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209193159.htm
The Geological Society of America. "Gravestones Talking through Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209193159.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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