A rich record of past climate change in the diatom ooze on the oceans’ floor

North Carolina A&T has been chosen by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership to host a distinguished lecture.  Dr. Ivano Aiello of the Moss Landing Marine Lab will speak on the remarkable record of past climate change that researchers are examining in layers of fossilized plankton on the ocean floor.  He will speak on Thursday, October 14, 3:30 p.m., in Stallings Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union.

The title of his talk is, “Diatom Oozes: Archives of Past Climate Change and Habitats for Microbial Life.” His talk is part of the consortium’s the 20th annual Distinguished Lecture Series, presented at A&T by the NOAA ISET center.

Abstract for Dr. Aiello’s talk:

Since their appearance in the oceans more than 600 million years ago, planktonic plants and animals have been the largest producers of marine biomass (living matter) and form the base of most marine food webs. For millions of years, layer after layer, the fossilized remains of these tiny yet important creatures have accumulated as sediments on seafloors. Because these organisms thrive on nutrient-rich seawater, their population cycles have played a fundamental role in regulating Earth’s climate. Through oceanic drilling, marine geologists are able to study these sediments to unveil past climate change. Marine diatoms are one of the most important groups of marine microfossils since these tiny algae “bloom” only when both sunlight and nutrients are in abundant supply. Oceanic drilling has unveiled the coupling between climate change and accumulation of diatoms on the west coast of South America, the eastern equatorial Pacific, and in the sub-Arctic waters of the Bering Sea. Oceanic drilling has also shown that deeply buried fossilized remains of marine microfossils are one of the largest and as yet unexplored realms for modern microbial life, suggesting a fascinating link between past climate change and life in extreme environments. Dr. Aiello has sailed on Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 201 and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 323. He has also served on one of the IODP advisory panels.

Dr. Aiello is an assistant professor at Moss Landing, located on Monterey Bay in California, and San Jose State University.  His current research involves several innovative studies on modern and past biosiliceous and biocalcareous marine sediments. Working with a number of other institutions, he is studying the relationships between deeply buried marine sediments and microbial habitats, global carbon cycles, fluid flow in the continental margins, and life in extreme environments.

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is a Washington-based nonprofit that represents 95 leading public and private ocean research education institutions, aquaria and industry to advance research, education and sound ocean policy.  The organization also manages ocean research and education programs in areas of scientific ocean drilling, ocean observing, ocean exploration, and ocean partnerships.  More information is available at http://www.oceanleadership.org/.

NOAA ISET — Aiello talk 2010-10-14 (PDF)

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