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David Bricker
University Communications

News tips from the Geological Society of America's 2008 annual meeting

Oct. 4, 2008

The following news tips are based on presentations by Indiana University Bloomington geologists at the 2008 Joint Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America and four other professional societies in Houston, Texas, Oct. 5 - 9. The IU Bloomington scientists are presenting research that is still in progress.

Could the animal kingdom be a billion years older than previously thought?
Animal fossils associated with the Ediacaran Period (635 to 543 million years ago) have been found in sediments that date squarely in the Proterozoic Eon, 1.6 billion years ago. To make sense of this and other vexing evidence, IU Bloomington geologist Abhijit Basu suggests the possibility that Earth's first animals evolved much earlier than previously thought -- possibly as early as 2.3 billion years ago. Basu presents new radioisotopic evidence from Indian rocks and recalibrated ages of animal fossils from India and elsewhere to support his hypothesis. A full version of the paper has been accepted for publication and will be published in the Journal of the Geological Society of India. Basu is the Class of 1948 Herman B Wells Professor of Geological Sciences and a former department chair. To speak with him, please contact David Bricker, University Communications, at 812-856-9035 or

Geologists put "clean" coal technology to the test
The promise of "clean" coal technology may seem too good to be true: America can continue to rely on its biggest single source of electricity and do so without harming the environment. But does it work? And what are the long-term consequences of storing a lot of coal-borne carbon dioxide below ground? Geologists from IU Bloomington and the University of Minnesota are looking at something very specific: what is likely to happen when carbon dioxide is injected into Navajo sandstone. Chen Zhu and his student, Lu Peng, carried out laboratory experiments using Navajo sandstone, carbon dioxide and brine. They found the introduction of carbon dioxide caused changes in the sandstone, as well as a gradual increase in both silicon dioxide and the brine's acidity. To speak with Lu Peng or Chen Zhu, please contact David Bricker, University Communications, at 812-856-9035 or