Monday, August 11, 2014

Clam fossils offer 10,000 year history of El Nino Southern Oscillation

It seems like every day, clams are helping us better understand our world!  Scientists in Peru are using clam fossils to track weather patterns ten thousand years ago.  Crazy stuff:
People have been living on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Peru for a long time, and as they've done so, they've eaten clams, tossing the shells onto waste areas that grew to become huge mounds over thousands of years. In this new effort, the researchers dug down into several such mounds and extracted clam fossils they found, along with dirt and charcoal—remnants of ancient fires used to cook the clam meat. By taking measurements of oxygen isotopes in the , the researchers were able to calculate ocean  at two to four week intervals throughout the lives of the individual clams, while radiocarbon dating of the dirt and charcoal revealed when the clams made their way into the mound. Examining multiple clams at different depths in the mounds allowed for creating a historical record of , and that allowed for charting the cycle of the ENSO going back ten thousand years.

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Truly, science is going in the right direction.

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