Palaeosoils database to aid reconstruction of past climates
Geologists from Baylor University are developing a soils database that will help geologists, archaeologists and soil scientists to more quickly and accurately analyse data from fossilized soils to determine and reconstruct ancient climates.
“Research in ancient climates recorded in the geologic past provides us with our only means of testing climate models for the future, particularly the anticipated climate change that would be brought about by increased anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane,” reported Steven Driese, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Geology Department at Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences.
There is a problem with data overload due to the numerous global and continental-based soil geochemical databases that are becoming more widely available.
The overwhelming nature of available data makes ancient climate construction difficult and time consuming and the emerging field of data analytics addresses the overload problem by providing a systematic process for data acquisition, cleaning, initial analysis, and main analysis.
Accurate and easily accessible data can then help build more reliable models on a global scale that will answer climate and environmental questions from various crucial periods of the past.
Called the Baylor University Paleosol Informatics Cloud (BU-PIC), it combines soil, climate, topography, and vegetation data from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), the PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model) Climate Group, the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and peer reviewed journals.
The database is fully searchable and can be queried using various whole-soil and geochemical parameters to predict specific ancient climate conditions.
Driese reported on the new database, currently still in the development phase, at the recent meeting of the International Goldschmidt Conference on Geochemistry in Montreal and will present further improvements and a test of the database at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Charlotte, N.C. in November 2012.
Source: Baylor University
Example of Palaeosoil research use in Archaeology:
N. B. Leonova, S. A. Nesmeyanov, E. A. Spiridonova, S. A. Sycheva (Moscow, Russia) The Stratigraphy of the Paleosoil Layers and Reconstruction of the Early Man’s Environmental Conditions on the Late Paleolithic Site Kamennaya Balka II – pay per view article
- Soil Science
- IPSS – Institute of Professional Soil Scientists
- BSSS – British Society of Soil Science
- SSSA – Soil Science Society of America
- National Soil Resources Institute