Monday, June 15, 2015

Big Questions in Geology

What are the big questions in geology right now?

By/ Brook Peterson

The US National Academy of Sciences recently commissioned a study to put together a list of new research opportunities in Earth Sciences. The 7 areas of active research they highlighted were (I recast them into broad questions):

1) The early Earth. (What happened in very early geologic time?)

2) The dynamics of heat, chemicals, and volatile's in the Earth's interior. (How does material and heat circulate and mix in the planet's interior?)

3) Faulting and deformation processes. (How does faulting and deformation work to produce earthquakes?)

4) Interactions among climate, surface processes, tectonics, and deep Earth processes. (What are the feedbacks between surface processes and deep processes?)

5) Co-evolution of life, environment and climate. (What are the feedbacks between life and the planet, and how have they co-evolved through geologic time?)

6) Coupled hydrogeomorphic-ecosystem response to natural and human-caused change. (How do landscapes and ecosystems change in response to climate change, and vice versa?)

7) Biogeochemical and water cycles in terrestrial environments and impacts of global change. (How does the ocean-atmosphere system change in response to climate change, and vice versa?)

For more info, the Report In Brief explains each topic a bit; see: Division on Earth and Life Studies

I would add my personal favorite question: How does the continental crust evolve (chemically and structurally) through geologic time, and by what mechanisms?
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