Northern deglaciation has a lot of significance on earth’s life, which has shed some light about past using uranium level estimation from ancient coral reefs within deep sea.
Uranium says it all
Uranium is the answer for unending energy needs for the present world. It is a radioactive element, which decays over time. Its radioactivity perhaps aids the science in one more area- in the estimation of rocks age. Yes, uranium levels and its depleting radioactivity can tell us the age of a rock. Uranium has various isotopes of which our interests is Uranium-238 & Uranium-234. The naturally occurring one is 238 which decays in order to form 234 isotope. The U-234 is much more stable than U-238, thus it’s usually 15% more than the U-238 in rocks. When the continental rocks are weathered, they get mixed in the ocean whose uranium estimation would give an idea about the weathering process that took place.
“These weathered rocks are one source of nutrient for sea life. However, the estimation of minute traces and variations in uranium was not easy, perhaps it was one challenging task we undertook in this study” – said Dr. Tianyu Chen from the school of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. The team estimated past 50,000 years reconstruction of U234/U238, which was well persevered in the deep sea corals. ‘’The results were amazing, the U234/U238 estimation gave a detailed record regarding the past major deglaciation that took place 11,000 to 18,000 year ago” – added Dr. Chen.
What did researchers learn?
There were many questions before starting this research. One major question was regarding the previous deglaciation. Understanding the results would help science community to get an idea of evolution and survival tactics of life so many years ago. Uranium estimation would give a figure regarding the past deglaciation. This study also helps scientists understand the sea level changes and its relation with rocks underneath. One amazing finding was that the records for Atlantic and Pacific oceans were different than anticipated. The study would wave light on the behavior of uranium isotope in the ocean, paleoclimatic reconstruction of nutrients and its association with Uranium. Also, Uranium dating would be a new strategy to estimate the age of coral fossils.
Heads behind the study.
The research was handled by teams from the University of Bristol, Cardiff, Coalgate University, Leeds and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Tianyu Chen was the main author of the study. Mathew Beasley, a post graduate student from Bristol University and Louis Claxton another post-graduate student from California University were two other notable people behind this study. “Combining knowledge from various parts of the continent was the best way to solve problems on the go”. - said the Dr. Chen.