Author Archives: Steve Drury

Early human migrations in southern Africa

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Botswana’s Okavango Delta today during the wet season (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A new paper in Nature uses mitochondrial DNA, specifically from the KhoeSan people of southern Africa, to suggest that anatomically modern humans developed in former wetlands about 200 ka ago in what is modern Botswana and spread from that area after 130 ka. Read about it at Earth-logs.

Tracing hominin evolution further back

DanuviusBones from 4 Danuvius guggenmosi individuals. Note the diminutive sizes compared with living apes (Credit: Christoph Jäckle)

Remains of a Miocene ape from Bavaria reveal clear signs that it was bipedal and therefore a possible ancestor of hominins. Details are at Earth-logs

Earth-pages has closed

Dear Earth-pages readers,

It is almost two decades since I was invited to write a regular series of articles on developments in the geosciences at Earth-pages. The site’s archives comprise more than 1200 of my commentaries, covering over 1500 publications. Since 2011 its annual readership has been between 40,000 to 80,000. Sadly, Earth-pages closed on August 1 2019 and no new posts will be added to it. Instead, activity has been transferred to a new site called Earth-logs. Titles of new additions to Earth-logs will continue to be posted here with links to the full text.

Given its wide and loyal readership, I believe that the Earth-pages archives will continue to remain useful, especially for students, teachers and those hoping to begin geoscientific research. So, with the permission of Wiley-Blackwell, they too have been transferred to the new Earth-logs site .

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The format is different: the early posts (2000 to 2018) are logged annually under 12 broad themes: GeohazardsGeomorphologyHuman evolution and migrationsMagmatismMiscellaneous CommentaryPalaeoclimatologyPalaeobioloy; Physical ResourcesPlanetary ScienceRemote SensingSedimentology and Stratigraphy, and Tectonics. Each of these pages indexes the research topics covered during each year, along with links to PDFs of the annual logs.

New posts are added regularly to the Earth-logs Home Page. I intend to continue writing these commentaries in the same style as I have adopted at Earth-pages, for as long as I can. An important addition is direct web access to most of the papers on which the posts and the entries in annual logs are based, so that readers can download them as PDFs for their own use.

Thanks for reading my stuff here. Hopefully you will continue to do so at Earth-logs

Steve Drury

More on the Younger Dryas causal mechanism

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Colour-coded subglacial topography from radar sounding over the Hiawatha Glacier of NW Greenland (Credit: Kjaer et al. 2018; Fig. 1D)

Read about new data from lake-bed sediments, which suggest that a major impact around 12.8 thousand years ago may have triggered a return to glacial conditions at the start of the Younger Dryas.

 

How does plate tectonics work?

Read about a new computer model that charts the co-evolution of the mantle and lithosphere, i.e. the linkages between deep convection and plate tectonics.

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Still from a movie of simulated breakup of a supercontinent, in bland blue-grey, showing what happens at the surface (left) and, at the same time, in the mantle (right): note the influence of rising plumes (credit: Nicolas Coltice)

What followed the K-Pg extinction event?

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Reconstruction of the 35 kg early Palaeocene mammal Taeniolabis (credit: Wikipedia)

Read about processes connected with the Chicxulub impact that may have influenced the K-Pg mass extinction and the evolution of mammalian survivors during the first million years of the Palaeocene, as revealed by a unique sedimentary sequence near Denver, Colorado, USA.

Chaos and the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum

Read how chaotic behaviour in the Solar System may have affected Milankovich cycles in the late Palaeocene

Life with the Neanderthals

Hundred of 80 thousand-years old footprints – which could only have been made by Neanderthals, have been found in a dune sand depost at Le Rozel on the Cherbourg Peninsula in Normandy, France. Their abundance and diversity has presented an opportunity to to analyse the social structure of the Neanderthal group that produced them.

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The Le Rozel excavation, with weighted plastic sheets to protect the site from erosion between visits (credit: Dominique Cliquet)

To learn more about this unique discovery visit Earth-logs

Ediacaran glaciated surface in China

Read about a unique confirmation of Snowball Earth conditions during the Ediacaran Period at Earth-logs.

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29 Ma old striated pavement beneath the Carboniferous Dwyka Tillite in South Africa (credit: M.J Hambrey)

Ecological hazards of ocean-floor mining

Read about the threat posed by deep-ocean mining of polymetallic nodules at Earth-logs

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The distribution of potential ocean-floor metal-rich resources (Credit: Hefferman 2019)