Archive for June 14th, 2019

Wooster undergraduate researchers expand their professional networks with cross-college collaboration

June 14th, 2019

Carlisle, PA – Our geochemistry research team spent this week at Dickinson College.

Hannah and Marisa analyzed the compositions of volcanic glasses and crystals using the scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDS).

They worked closely with Dr. Ben Edwards and Rob Dean (technician) to learn how to use the instrument. As with any new technique, it took a few days of practice to figure out how to obtain high quality data, but now we have hundreds of measurements to process when we return to Wooster.

Layali and Kendra processed major and trace element geochemical analyses of diabase from some Pennsylvanian rift basins.

They presented their work to Dr. LeeAnn Srogi and Dr. Tim Lutz, collaborators from West Chester University who visited us at Dickinson for a day. Layali and Kendra are contributing data to an oral presentation that Dr. Srogi will make at the 2019 IUGG General Assembly in July.

In the first two weeks of our undergraduate research project, our students have collaborated with scientists from three different institutions. They are building their professional networks and expanding their future opportunities.

In addition to all of the network-building and research productivity, we had a chance to sneak to nearby Hershey for a short visit (and some milkshakes).

The end of week 2 is bittersweet. Kendra, Layali, and Hannah head back to Wooster, parting ways with Marisa until we meet again in Iceland.

Thanks to everyone who made our Dickinson visit a success. We thank Dr. Ben Edwards and his family for their hospitality, Rob Dean for all of his assistance, Dr. LeeAnn Srogi and Dr. Tim Lutz for making the time to visit us and for excellent discussion, and the Dickinson Earth Science Department for their warm welcome.

Into a bit of the Czech Cretaceous

June 14th, 2019

Beroun, Czech Republic — Today the International Bryozoology Association pre-conference field party visited a fascinating quarry near Chrtníky, Czech Republic. Ordovician diabase is mined here for road gravel and other industrial uses. This rock was uplifted and exposed during the Mesozoic. In the Late Cretaceous, the sea flooded into valleys excised into the diabase, creating long, narrow seaways with steep cliffs of diabase. Cretaceous marine marls filled the valleys, enclosing lots of fossils.

One of the Cretaceous valleys can be seen in this quarry wall as a brown marl fill.

This is a small valley with whitish Cretaceous sediment between diabase walls.

The left part of the hammer head supports a calcareous sponge. The right shows a micritic limestone with a diabase clast that was eroded from the cliff side.

Earlier in the day we explored the Czech city of Olomouc, where we had spent the night. The statuary is magnificent, as seen here in the city square.

Hercules with his club.

We can’t forget what a nightmare this city was, though, for its Jews during World War II. Olomouc was dominated by Germans before and during the war. Almost all the Olomouc Jews were deported to concentration camps, where most were killed. Small plaques like these are set among the cobblestones, marking the former homes of Jews and their deportation dates.

 

A new paper has appeared: A rugose coral – bryozoan association from the Lower Devonian of NW Spain.

June 14th, 2019

I’m proud to be an author with my two Spanish colleagues, Consuelo Sendino and Juan Luis Suárez Andrés, of a paper just out in the latest issue of Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (we call it “Palaeo-cubed”). I’ll let the abstract tell the story (with some embedded links):

“A new rugose coralcystoporate bryozoan association is here described from the Devonian of NW Spain. This is the first evidence of intergrowths between Devonian rugose corals and bryozoans. In this case bryozoans provided a suitable substrate for the settlement of corals, which were subsequently encrusted by the bryozoans. The hypothesis of intergrowth between living organisms is supported by the absence of encrustation of the rugose coral calices by the cystoporates. We suggest that the association was specific and developed through chemical mediation. This symbiosis was facultative for the bryozoans but likely not for the corals. The association provided the bryozoan host with additional substrate for encrustation as well as protection from various predators, and it allowed the rugose corals to grow in a muddy environment and benefit from the feeding currents of the bryozoans.”

The above images show some of these specimens of corals intergrown with bryozoans. The caption from Figure 2: Intergrowth of fistuliporid bryozoans and rugose corals from the Aguión Formation of Asturias, NW Spain. A. General view of DGO12902. B. General view of MMAGE0033. C. Detail of the corallite, MMAGE0032. D. Magnified corallite of the right side, MMAGE0033.

This cartoon from the paper shows the process in which a coral larva (planula) lands on a living bryozoan, somehow survives the encounter, and then the coral grows together with the surrounding bryozoan colony. The fun part is sorting out the biological and evolutionary context of this relationship.

I thank my colleagues Consuelo and Juan for inviting me into this project. I learned a lot that will be applied to similar intergrowing situations in the fossil record.

Sendino, C., Suárez Andrés, J.L. and Wilson, M.A. 2019. A rugose coral – bryozoan association from the Lower Devonian of NW Spain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 530: 271-280.