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August 2009 Geology and GSA Today media highlights
Date:7/31/2009

g of water-filled sinkhole lakes, known by the Maya as cenotes. Older geologic maps showed no surface expression of the buried crater. Gilli et al. present new strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) dates of outcropping limestone, revealing a change in the age of the sediment inside and outside the ring of cenotes, with the youngest sediment deposited inside the ring between about 6 and 2.3 million years ago. The new strontium isotope map of northwestern Yucatan compiled by Gilli et al. shows a terrain of near uniform strontium isotope ratios inside the cenote ring that will offer new possibilities for both geochronology and archaeology. The study also constructed detailed strontium isotope maps around the archaeological sites of Mayapn and Chichn Itz. These base maps are valuable for documenting local strontium isotope ratios and will be used to unravel the migration history to and from these ancient Maya cities.


Natural and anthropogenic sources of East Asian dust
Gaojun Li et al., State Lab of Mineral Deposits Research, Institute of Surficial Geochemistry, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093. Pages 727-730.

Densely populated East Asia is often hit by severe dust storms. It has been suggested that the dust particles are blown from the arid lands of northern China. However, scientists know little about the accurate source regions and the role of anthropogenic activities in the production of these dust particles. Li et al. constrain the origin of dust-storm particles by the isotopic tracers of neodymium and strontium. They collected samples of loess -- a natural eolian deposit of East Asia dust that has accumulated over the past few million years -- spanning northern China.

They analyzed the isotopic composition of the samples and found that the natural background of East Asia dust is dominated by binary sources from the arid lands around the northern boundary of China and the deserts on the northern
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Contact: Christa Stratton
cstratton@geosociety.org
303-357-1093
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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