Matching Items (27)

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Transient episodes of mild environmental oxygenation and oxidative continental weathering during the late Archean

Description

It is not known whether environmental O[subscript 2] levels increased in a linear fashion or fluctuated dynamically between the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and the later Great Oxidation Event. New

It is not known whether environmental O[subscript 2] levels increased in a linear fashion or fluctuated dynamically between the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and the later Great Oxidation Event. New rhenium-osmium isotope data from the late Archean Mount McRae Shale, Western Australia, reveal a transient episode of oxidative continental weathering more than 50 million years before the onset of the Great Oxidation Event. A depositional age of 2495 ± 14 million years and an initial [superscript 187]Os/[superscript 188]Os of 0.34 ± 0.19 were obtained for rhenium- and molybdenum-rich black shales. The initial [superscript 187]Os/[superscript 188]Os is higher than the mantle/extraterrestrial value of 0.11, pointing to mild environmental oxygenation and oxidative mobilization of rhenium, molybdenum, and radiogenic osmium from the upper continental crust and to contemporaneous transport of these metals to seawater. By contrast, stratigraphically overlying black shales are rhenium- and molybdenum-poor and have a mantle-like initial [superscript 187]Os/[superscript 188]Os of 0.06 ± 0.09, indicating a reduced continental flux of rhenium, molybdenum, and osmium to seawater because of a drop in environmental O[subscript 2] levels. Transient oxygenation events, like the one captured by the Mount McRae Shale, probably separated intervals of less oxygenated conditions during the late Archean.

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  • 2015-11-20

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Astrobiological Stoichiometry

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Chemical composition affects virtually all aspects of astrobiology, from stellar astrophysics to molecular biology. We present a synopsis of the research results presented at the “Stellar Stoichiometry” Workshop Without Walls

Chemical composition affects virtually all aspects of astrobiology, from stellar astrophysics to molecular biology. We present a synopsis of the research results presented at the “Stellar Stoichiometry” Workshop Without Walls hosted at Arizona State University April 11–12, 2013, under the auspices of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The results focus on the measurement of chemical abundances and the effects of composition on processes from stellar to planetary scales. Of particular interest were the scientific connections between processes in these normally disparate fields. Measuring the abundances of elements in stars and giant and terrestrial planets poses substantial difficulties in technique and interpretation. One of the motivations for this conference was the fact that determinations of the abundance of a given element in a single star by different groups can differ by more than their quoted errors. The problems affecting the reliability of abundance estimations and their inherent limitations are discussed. When these problems are taken into consideration, self-consistent surveys of stellar abundances show that there is still substantial variation (factors of ∼2) in the ratios of common elements (e.g., C, O, Na, Al, Mg, Si, Ca) important in rock-forming minerals, atmospheres, and biology. We consider how abundance variations arise through injection of supernova nucleosynthesis products into star-forming material and through photoevaporation of protoplanetary disks. The effects of composition on stellar evolution are substantial, and coupled with planetary atmosphere models can result in predicted habitable zone extents that vary by many tens of percent. Variations in the bulk composition of planets can affect rates of radiogenic heating and substantially change the mineralogy of planetary interiors, affecting properties such as convection and energy transport.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-07-01

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Dating Deep-Sea Pelagic Clays with Osmium Isotopes to Reconstruct Sources of Iron to the South Pacific Gyre over 90 Million Years

Description

Iron (Fe) scarcity limits biological productivity in high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) ocean regions. Thus, the input, output and abundance of Fe in seawater likely played a critical role in shaping the

Iron (Fe) scarcity limits biological productivity in high-nutrient low-chlorophyll (HNLC) ocean regions. Thus, the input, output and abundance of Fe in seawater likely played a critical role in shaping the development of modern marine ecosystems and perhaps even contributed to past changes in Earth’s climate. Three sources of Fe—wind-blown dust, hydrothermal activity, and sediment dissolution—carry distinct Fe isotopic fingerprints, and can therefore be used to track Fe source variability through time. However, establishing the timing of this source variability through Earth’s history remains challenging because the major depocenters for dissolved Fe in the ocean lack well-established chronologies. This is due to the fact that they are difficult to date with traditional techniques such as biostratigraphy and radiometric dating. Here, I develop age models for sediments collected from the International Drilling Program Expedition 329 by measuring the Os (osmium) isotopic composition of the hydrogenous portion of the clays. These extractions enable dating of the clays by aligning the Os isotope patterns observed in the clays to those in a reference curve with absolute age constraints through the Cenozoic. Our preliminary data enable future development of chronologies for three sediment cores from the high-latitude South Pacific and Southern Oceans, and demonstrate a wider utility of this method to establish age constraints on pelagic sediments worldwide. Moreover, the preliminary Os isotopic data provides a critical first step needed to examine the changes in Fe (iron) sources and cycling on millions of years timescales. Fe isotopic analysis was conducted at the same sites in the South Pacific and demonstrates that there are significant changes in the sources of Fe to the Southern Ocean over the last 90 Ma. These results lay the groundwork for the exploration of basin-scale sources to Fe source changes, which will have implications for understanding how biological productivity relates to Fe source variability over geological timescales.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

Prokaryotic Cells Separated From Sediments are Suitable for Elemental Composition Analysis

Description

Cell-sediment separation methods can potentially enable determination of the elemental composition of microbial communities by removing the sediment elemental contribution from bulk samples. We demonstrate that a separation method can

Cell-sediment separation methods can potentially enable determination of the elemental composition of microbial communities by removing the sediment elemental contribution from bulk samples. We demonstrate that a separation method can be applied to determine the composition of prokaryotic cells. The method uses chemical and physical means to extract cells from benthic sediments and mats. Recovery yields were between 5% and 40%, as determined from cell counts. The method conserves cellular element contents to within 30% or better, as assessed by comparing C, N, P, Mg, Al, Ca, Ti, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Mo contents in Escherichia coli. Contamination by C, N, and P from chemicals used during the procedure was negligible. Na and K were not conserved, being likely exchanged through the cell membrane as cations during separation. V, Cr, and Co abundances could not be determined due to large (>100%) measurement uncertainties. We applied this method to measure elemental contents in extremophilic communities of Yellowstone National Park hot springs. The method was generally successful at separating cells from sediment, but does not discriminate between cells and detrital biological or noncellular material of similar density. This resulted in Al, Ti, Mn, and Fe contamination, which can be tracked using proxies such as metal:Al ratios. With these caveats, we present the first measurements, to our knowledge, of the elemental abundances of a chemosynthetic community. The communities have C:N ratios typical of aquatic microorganisms, are low in P, and their metal abundances vary between hot springs by orders of magnitude.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-07-01

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Processing of trace metals in atmospheric particulate matter

Description

Particulate trace metals can enter the atmosphere as mineral dust, sea spray, anthropogenic emissions, biomass burning, etc. Once in the atmosphere they can undergo a variety of transformations including aqueous

Particulate trace metals can enter the atmosphere as mineral dust, sea spray, anthropogenic emissions, biomass burning, etc. Once in the atmosphere they can undergo a variety of transformations including aqueous phase (cloud) processing, photochemical reactions, interact with gases, and ultimately deposit. Metals in aerosols are of particular interest because of their natural and anthropogenic sources as well as their effects on local (human health) and global (climate change) scales. This work investigates the metal component of atmospheric particles and how it changes during physical and chemical processes at local, regional and global scales, through laboratory and field studies. In the first part of this work, the impact of local dust storms (haboobs) on ambient metal concentrations and speciation is investigated in Tempe, AZ. It was found that metal concentrations substantially increase (> 10 times) during these events before returning to pre-storm levels. In a second part of this work, the impact of fog processing on metal concentrations, solubility and speciation is examined through field observations in California’s Central Valley. The observations show that fog processing has a profound effect on local metal concentrations but the trends are not consistent between sites or even between events, indicating complex processes that need further investigation. For example, fogs have an effect on scavenging and solubility of iron in Davis, while in Fresno soluble iron content is indicative of the source of the aerosol. The last part of the thesis investigates the role of particle size on the solubilization of iron from mineral dust aerosols during global atmospheric transport through laboratory experiments. The experiments showed that mineralogy and pH have the greatest effect on iron solubility in atmospheric aerosols in general while particle size and photochemistry impact mainly the solubility of iron oxides.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Kinetics, thermodynamics, and habitability of microbial iron redox cycling

Description

Many acidic hot springs in Yellowstone National Park support microbial iron oxidation, reduction, or microbial iron redox cycling (MIRC), as determined by microcosm rate experiments. Microbial dissimilatory iron reduction (DIR)

Many acidic hot springs in Yellowstone National Park support microbial iron oxidation, reduction, or microbial iron redox cycling (MIRC), as determined by microcosm rate experiments. Microbial dissimilatory iron reduction (DIR) was detected in numerous systems with a pH < 4. Rates of DIR are influenced by the availability of ferric minerals and organic carbon. Microbial iron oxidation (MIO) was detected from pH 2 – 5.5. In systems with abundant Fe (II), dissolved oxygen controls the presence of MIO. Rates generally increase with increased Fe(II) concentrations, but rate constants are not significantly altered by additions of Fe(II). MIRC was detected in systems with abundant ferric mineral deposition.

The rates of microbial and abiological iron oxidation were determined in a variety of cold (T= 9-12°C), circumneutral (pH = 5.5-9) environments in the Swiss Alps. Rates of MIO were measured in systems up to a pH of 7.4; only abiotic processes were detected at higher pH values. Iron oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) were responsible for 39-89% of the net oxidation rate at locations where biological iron oxidation was detected. Members of putative iron oxidizing genera, especially Gallionella, are abundant in systems where MIO was measured. Speciation calculations reveal that ferrous iron typically exists as FeCO30, FeHCO3+, FeSO40 or Fe2+ in these systems. The presence of ferrous (bi)carbonate species appear to increase abiotic iron oxidation rates relative to locations without significant concentrations. This approach, integrating geochemistry, rates, and community composition, reveals biogeochemical conditions that permit MIO, and locations where the abiotic rate is too fast for the biotic process to compete.

For a reaction to provide habitability for microbes in a given environment, it must energy yield and this energy must dissipate slowly enough to remain bioavailable. Thermodynamic boundaries exist at conditions where reactions do not yield energy, and can be quantified by calculations of chemical energy. Likewise, kinetic boundaries exist at conditions where the abiotic reaction rate is so fast that reactants are not bioavailable; this boundary can be quantified by measurements biological and abiological rates. The first habitability maps were drawn, using iron oxidation as an example, by quantifying these boundaries in geochemical space.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Implications of Learning Outcomes of In-Person and Virtual Field-Based Geoscience Instruction at Grand Canyon National Park

Description

Education through field exploration is fundamental in geoscience. But not all students enjoy equal access to field-based learning because of time, cost, distance, ability, and safety constraints. At the same

Education through field exploration is fundamental in geoscience. But not all students enjoy equal access to field-based learning because of time, cost, distance, ability, and safety constraints. At the same time, technological advances afford ever more immersive, rich, and student-centered virtual field experiences. Virtual field trips may be the only practical options for most students to explore pedagogically rich but inaccessible places. A mixed-methods research project was conducted on an introductory and an advanced geology class to explore the implications of learning outcomes of in-person and virtual field-based instruction at Grand Canyon National Park. The study incorporated the Great Unconformity in the Grand Canyon, a 1.2 billion year break in the rock record; the Trail of Time, an interpretive walking timeline; and two immersive, interactive virtual field trips (iVFTs). The in-person field trip (ipFT) groups collectively explored the canyon and took an instructor-guided inquiry hike along the interpretive Trail of Time from rim level, while iVFT students individually explored the canyon and took a guided-inquiry virtual tour of Grand Canyon geology from river level. High-resolution 360° spherical images anchor the iVFTs and serve as a framework for programmed overlays that enable interactivity and allow the iVFT to provide feedback in response to student actions. Students in both modalities received pre- and post-trip Positive and Negative Affect Schedules (PANAS). The iVFT students recorded pre- to post-trip increases in positive affect (PA) scores and decreases in negative (NA) affect scores, representing an affective state conducive to learning. Pre- to post-trip mean scores on concept sketches used to assess visualization and geological knowledge increased for both classes and modalities. However, the iVFT pre- to post-trip increases were three times greater (statistically significant) than the ipFT gains. Both iVFT and ipFT students scored 92-98% on guided-inquiry worksheets completed during the trips, signifying both met learning outcomes. Virtual field trips do not trump traditional in-person field work, but they can meet and/or exceed similar learning objectives and may replace an inaccessible or impractical in-person field trip.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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Extinct radionuclides in the early Solar System: the initial Solar System abundance of ⁶⁰Fe from angrites and unequilibrated ordinary chondrites and ²⁶Al-²⁶Mg chronology of ungrouped achondrites

Description

The presence of a number of extinct radionuclides in the early Solar System (SS) is known from geochemical and isotopic studies of meteorites and their components. The half-lives of these

The presence of a number of extinct radionuclides in the early Solar System (SS) is known from geochemical and isotopic studies of meteorites and their components. The half-lives of these isotopes are short relative to the age of the SS, such that they have now decayed to undetectable levels. They can be inferred to exist in the early SS from the presence of their daughter nuclides in meteoritic materials that formed while they were still extant. The extinct radionuclides are particularly useful as fine-scale chronometers for events in the early SS. They can also be used to help constrain the astrophysical setting of the formation of the SS because their short half-lives and unique formation environments yield information about the sources and timing of delivery of material to the protoplanetary disk. Some extinct radionuclides are considered evidence that the Sun interacted with a massive star (supernova) early in its history. The abundance of 60Fe in the early SS is particularly useful for constraining the astrophysical environment of the Sun's formation because, if present in sufficient abundance, its only likely source is injection from a nearby supernova. The initial SS abundance of 60Fe is poorly constrained at the present time, with estimates varying by 1-2 orders of magnitude. I have determined the 60Fe-60Ni isotope systematics of ancient, well-preserved meteorites using high-precision mass spectrometry to better constrain the initial SS abundance of 60Fe. I find identical estimates of the initial 60Fe abundance from both differentiated basaltic meteorites and from components of primitive chondrites formed in the Solar nebula, which suggest a lower 60Fe abundance than other recent estimates. With recent improved meteorite collection efforts there are more rare ungrouped meteorites being found that hold interesting clues to the origin and evolution of early SS objects. I use the 26Al-26Mg extinct radionuclide chronometer to constrain the ages of several recently recovered meteorites that sample previously unknown asteroid lithologies, including the only know felsic meteorite from an asteroid and two other ungrouped basaltic achondrites. These results help broaden our understanding of the timescales involved in igneous differentiation processes in the early SS.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Integrating metagenomics and geochemistry: functional evolution and taxonomic classification of hot spring communities

Description

The taxonomic and metabolic profile of the microbial community inhabiting a natural system is largely determined by the physical and geochemical properties of the system. However, the influences of parameters

The taxonomic and metabolic profile of the microbial community inhabiting a natural system is largely determined by the physical and geochemical properties of the system. However, the influences of parameters beyond temperature, pH and salinity have been poorly analyzed with few studies incorporating the comprehensive suite of physical and geochemical measurements required to fully investigate the complex interactions known to exist between biology and the environment. Further, the techniques used to classify the taxonomic and functional composition of a microbial community are fragmented and unwieldy, resulting in unnecessarily complex and often non-consilient results.

This dissertation integrates environmental metagenomes with extensive geochemical metadata for the development and application of multidimensional biogeochemical metrics. Analysis techniques including a Markov cluster-based evolutionary distance between whole communities, oligonucleotide signature-based taxonomic binning and principal component analysis of geochemical parameters allow for the determination of correlations between microbial community dynamics and environmental parameters. Together, these techniques allow for the taxonomic classification and functional analysis of the evolution of hot spring communities. Further, these techniques provide insight into specific geochemistry-biology interactions which enable targeted analyses of community taxonomic and functional diversity. Finally, analysis of synonymous substitution rates among physically separated microbial communities provides insights into microbial dispersion patterns and the roles of environmental geochemistry and community metabolism on DNA transfer among hot spring communities.

The data presented here confirms temperature and pH as the primary factors shaping the evolutionary trajectories of microbial communities. However, the integration of extensive geochemical metadata reveals new links between geochemical parameters and the distribution and functional diversification of communities. Further, an overall geochemical gradient (from multivariate analyses) between natural systems provides one of the most complete predictions of microbial community functional composition and inter-community DNA transfer rates. Finally, the taxonomic classification and clustering techniques developed within this dissertation will facilitate future genomic and metagenomic studies through enhanced community profiling obtainable via Markov clustering, longer oligonucleotide signatures and insight into PCR primer biases.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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A Combined Microbiome and Geochemical Approach, Assessing Drivers of Microbial Diversity, Distribution and Activity

Description

Evaluations of chemical energy supplies for redox reactions used by chemotrophs in water-rock hosted ecosystems are often done separately from evaluations of chemotroph diversity. However, given that energy is a

Evaluations of chemical energy supplies for redox reactions used by chemotrophs in water-rock hosted ecosystems are often done separately from evaluations of chemotroph diversity. However, given that energy is a fundamental and unifying parameter for life, much can be gained by evaluating chemical energy as an ecological parameter of water-rock hosted ecosystems. Therefore, I developed an approach that combines evaluation of chemical energy supplies with 16S and 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. I used this approach to assess drivers of microbial distribution, diversity and activity in serpentinized fluids of the Samail Ophiolite of Oman and in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.

Through the application of the approach, microbiological interactions in serpentinized fluids were found to be more complex than anticipated. Serpentinized fluids are hyperalkaline and pH is often considered the driving parameter of microbial diversity, however hydrogenotrophic community composition varies in hyperalkaline fluids with similar pH. The composition of hydrogenotrophic communities in serpentinized fluids were found to correspond to the availability of the electron acceptor for hydrogenotrophic redox reactions. Specifically, hydrogenotrophic community composition transitions from being dominated by the hydrogenotrophic methanogen genus, Methanobacterium, when the concentration of sulfate is less than ~10 μm. Above ~10 μm, sulfate reducers are most abundant. Additionally, Methanobacterium was found to co-occur with the protist genus, Cyclidium, in serpentinized fluids. Species of Cyclidium are anaerobic and known to have methanogen endosymbionts. Therefore, Cyclidium may supply inorganic carbon evolved from fermentation to Methanobacterium, thereby mitigating pH dependent inorganic carbon limitation.

This approach also revealed possible biological mechanisms for methane oxidation in Yellowstone hot springs. Measurable rates of biological methane oxidation in hot spring sediments are likely associated with methanotrophs of the phylum, Verrucomicrobia, and the class, Alphaproteobacteria. Additionally, rates were measurable where known methanotrophs were not detected. At some of these sites, archaeal ammonia oxidizer taxa were detected. Ammonia oxidizers have been shown to be capable of methane oxidation in other systems and may be an alternative mechanism for methanotrophy in Yellowstone hot springs. At the remaining sites, uncharacterized microbial lineages may be capable of carrying out methane oxidation in Yellowstone hot springs.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020