Grant: $185,137 - National Science Foundation - Jun. 15, 2009
No votes have been cast for this award yet
Award Description: With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Leland Bement and an interdisciplinary team will conduct two years of research to substantiate or refute an exciting new claim that a comet or group of comets struck the earth 11,000 radiocarbon years ago. A team consisting of an archaeologist, soils scientist, geologist, and geochemist from two Oklahoma universities bring together a suite of perspectives and field procedures to investigate this claim. The consequences of a cosmic impact with the earth include the extinction of mammoths and other large animals, abrupt climate change, disruption of plant communities, and dramatic alterations to people and cultures. The proposed impact site is in North America and this project will concentrate on deposits on the southern Plains of North America where evidence derived from this impact has previously been identified. Among the various markers are cosmic nanodiamonds. The proposed impact should have scattered cosmic nanodiamonds across the landscape where they would become buried by sediments dating to 11,000 years ago. Support for this hypothesis requires that nanodiamonds or certain other markers or indicators of the impact are found only in deposits that date to 11,000 years ago and not in deposits of earlier or later ages. An argument against this hypothesis would include the situation where purported markers are found to be equally distributed in deposits of all ages or occur in greater numbers within deposits of other time periods. The intellectual merit of this project is founded in an interdisciplinary research team and the application of the scientific method to address a testable theory. Results of analyses by the original proponents of the impact hypothesis need to be verified by other researchers. Reproducibility of results is a cornerstone of scientific inquiry. This research has the potential to change the way scientists view the events initiated at the close of the last Ice Age. If a comet or series of comets or meteors barraged North America 11,000 years ago, then researchers will have to rethink the time scale at which changes in plant, animal, and human populations progressed during this period of undeniable change. Confirmation of such an event would significantly change previous concepts of how the last ice age ended and the cause of Pleistocene extinctions. In addition, this project provides collaborative opportunities for researchers from different backgrounds and universities and the important opportunity to promote interdisciplinary learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. Finally, this project provides a link between the scientific exploration of a topic and the general public that is familiar with the concepts of extinction caused by cosmic impacts and the associated environmental devastation.
Project Description: See Award Desciption
Jobs Summary: Graduate Research Assistant. Assisting faculty members in a research or creative activity, or assuming responsibility for a designated research area (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jun. 15, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.