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

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A variety of scientists from Russia, Hungary, Sudan, Australia, Canada, the US, and Britain will come together to share recent findings on such topics as plate tectonics and the growth and break-up of the Earth's supercontinents, conditions and causes for life to appear and disappear on Earth, climate system changes, and internal Earth processes.

Antony Hallam, from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Birmingham, will explore six possible causes of the greatest of all mass extinctions in Earth's history. At the Permian-Triassic boundary, it is estimated that half of all marine invertebrate and terrestrial vertebrate families became extinct, together with a high proportion of terrestrial plants. Hallam uses results of investigations over the past 20 years in biostratigraphy, facies analysis, and geochemistry, to evaluate possible causes.

Cosmologist Charles H. Lineweaver, from the Physics Department at the University of New South Wales, examines the creation and the nature of Earth-like planets outside of the solar system. Many of these planets are much older than Earth, and analysis provides an age distribution for life on them and a rare clue about how we compare to other life which may inhabit the Universe.

Ferenc Varadi, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA, will propose that the ultimate cause of the K-T impact (and the resultant mass extinction and the demise of the dinosaurs) may have been a chaos-induced change in Solar System dynamics. Varadi and his colleagues found that the dynamical state of the inner Solar System changed abruptly about 65 million years ago, significantly changing the orbits of Mercury and Earth. This, in turn, may also have perturbed asteroids in the asteroid belt, throwing one or more of them into Earth-crossing orbits.

Richard Ghail, from the T.H. Huxley School of the Imperial College, will a
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Contact: Ann Cairns
acairns@geosociety.org
303-447-2020 x 1156
Geological Society of America
24-May-2001


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