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Ancient rain gauge: New evidence links groundwater, climate changes in deep time


Matthew Carroll
November 12, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Changes in groundwater millions of years ago created alternating layers of vivid yellow and brown in the mineral sphalerite, and those variations align with movements in Earth’s orbit that impacted climate in the deep past, Penn State scientists found.

The findings provide new evidence for how changes in climate influenced the planet’s rainfall and groundwater, a process that scientists have not well documented, the researchers said. 

“This study shows sphalerite banding can be used as a fingerprint of groundwater in the geological past,” said Mingsong Li, assistant research professor of geosciences at Penn State. “Groundwater is crucial for understanding global sea level change, chemical weathering and landscape evolution, and this study presents a new idea to help discern the role of groundwater in the Earth system.”  More

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