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August 2009 Geology and GSA Today media highlights

margin of the Tibetan Plateau. However, the modern spring dust in Beijing is characterized by totally different isotopic compositions, which indicate an additional contribution (about 50%) from the desertified lands in its adjacent north and west, due to anthropogenic activities. The new finding is not only critical in planning long-term strategies for dust control but also is a significant benefit to researches of environmental change-based eolian deposits.

Vertebrate extinctions and reorganizations during the Late Silurian Lau Event
Mats E. Eriksson et al., Dept. of Geology, GeoBiosphere Science Centre, Lund University, Solvegatan 12, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden. Pages 739-742.

During the Silurian Period (about 443-416 million years ago) fish faunas were struck hard by extinctions caused by the so-called Lau Event. This globally recognized event had significant effects on marine life, oceanic chemistry, and the sea-floor sediments deposited. Eriksson et al. show that the Lau Event had a profound impact on the early evolutionary history of vertebrates, wiping out almost two-thirds of the fish species and causing major ecological reorganizations over an estimated time span of 200,000 years. Immediately prior to the event, the jawed acanthodians dominated the fish faunas, whereas the event led to a diverse fauna and a brief but marked dominance of the jawless thelodonts. Both these groups of fish are now extinct but were common inhabitants in the Silurian seas. The stepwise changes observed among the fish faunas resemble those of conodonts, another extinct group of vertebrates, suggesting a similar mode of life and response to the Lau Event.

Super-heavy pyrite (34Spyr > 34SCAS) in the terminal Proterozoic Nama Group, southern Namibia: A consequence of low seawater sulfate at the dawn of animal life
Justin B. Ries et al., Dept. of Marine Sciences, 333 Chapman Hall, CB# 3300, Univ

Contact: Christa Stratton
Geological Society of America

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