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International scientists probe unsolved puzzles of the Earth and beyond at "Earth System Processes"

Timothy Lenton of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station, considers the evolution of vascular plants and photosynthesis. He looks at how associated processes counteract loss of CO2 brought about by the interaction of such variables as increased solar luminosity, increased continental area, and decline in seafloor spreading. He predicts the extension of Earths current biosphere until catastrophic warming terminates complex life in approximately 1 Gyr.

David W. Schwartzman, Department of Biology, Howard University, addresses the question, Does life drive disequilibrium in the biosphere? Study of the carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle, or Urey reaction, has produced results counter-intuitive to a classical Gaian view.

Hiroshi Ohmoto, Astrobiology Research Center and Department of Geosciences, Penn State University, challenges the popular geological theory that oxygen didnt reach present levels until about 600 million years ago. Simulations based on a new theory linking O2 and CO2 rates of production and consumption to land area, soil erosion rate, and various other geochemical parameters, suggest that atmospheric O2 rose extremely rapidly following the emergence of cyanobacteria about 4 billion years ago. Results indicate that present levels may have been reached in less than 30 million years and produced a major divergence of aerobic and anerobic organisms. It is also probable that Earths early atmosphere already contained appreciable amounts of ozone and methane, providing a theoretical justification for NASA programs to detect life on other planets by searching for ozone and methane in their atmospheres.

SESSION 37: CRITICAL TRANSITIONS IN EARTH HISTORY AND THEIR CAUSES. Wednesday, June 27
Abstracts: http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2001ESP/finalprogram/session_185.htm
Poster Session 41 abstracts:

Contact: Ann Cairns
acairns@geosociety.org
303-447-2020 x 1156
Geological Society of America
24-May-2001


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