Geology in the News

1 March 2020
A new geologic age has been formally named and accepted.
At a recent meeting of the International Union of Geological Sciences, geophysicists officially named the time between 770,000 and 126,000 years ago the Chibanian Age. If falls squarely in the Pleistocene, and was named after Chiba Prefecture in Japan where the strata were initially studied.
The Pleistocene is now divided into four Ages.
  • Late Pleistocene, sometimes called 'Tarantian', starting 126,000 years ago.
  • Chibanian, starting 770,000 years ago.
  • Calabrian, starting 1,800,000 years ago.
  • Gelasian, starting 2,580,000 years ago.

26 February 2020

The Smithsonian Institution's museum collections are being opened online. Most information is public domain, and all of it is available to be used by educators.This means most things can be used freely for any project you may have in mind.

Here's an example image from their collection in the National Museum of Natural History of Smithsonite from Tiger, Pinal County, Arizona.


20 February 2020

Takashi Yoshizaki (Tohoku University) and Bill McDonough (Tohoku University and University of Maryland, College Park) have proposed a planetary cross-section and composition of Mars' mantle and core based on rocks from Mars and measurements from orbiting satellites.

NEWS RELEASE from Tohoku University, at Eureka Alert. Image from there as well.

22 February 2020

The South African Cullinan mine has yielded a new 20.08 carat blue diamond. It is a Type IIb.

The same mine has produced stones for the British Crown Jewels.

Article: New Largest Blue Diamond

A 330 million year old shark head fossil has been found in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Mammoth is a Limestone cave. The limestone was deposited at a time that both Kentucky and Arizona were at the bottom of an ocean.

Rocks of this age in Pinal County have almost all been erroded, but a few outcrops can be found. You can stop by the museum, for instance, and see the Pinal Limestone (pictured at right, with fossil corals) that was deposited about the same time the shark died in Kentucky. That shark also probably swam in the waters above Arizona.

Fossils of sharks other than their teeth are rare. Most of a shark's body is cartilidge (like the center of your nose, or in the outside parts of your ears). Cartilidge does not fossilize well. Shark teeth, though, are among the most common fossils. They are made of bone, and very hard, and a typical shark may grow and shed teeth in the thousands during their lifetime.

Link to article on CNN:

You can see a number of fossil shark teeth at the Museum, including Megalodon teeth, from the extinct animal that was the largest known shark at over 50 feet. Kids can also find and take home fossil shark teeth from our fossil dig.