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CO2 levels now higher than any time in the last 23 million years

One of the most pressing messages that climate scientists attempt to convey to the public is how today’s CO2 levels compare to those of the Geologic past. Such comparisons can provide public context for current CO2 rise, as well as important information on the response of global temperatures to rising CO2. A new study published in Geology suggests that present-day CO2 levels (412 ppmv) are now likely higher than at any time in at least the last 23 million years!

In this newly published study, a team led by Brian Schubert, Associate Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, used the remains of dead plants to produce a new record of atmospheric CO2 that spans 23 million years of uninterrupted Earth history. Their findings relied on the nearly continuous record of terrestrial photosynthesis provided by organic matter accumulated from partially decomposed plants.

“When plants grow, the relative amount of the two stable isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13, changes in response to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” says Schubert. “One can therefore measure the relative amount of these two isotopes and calculate the CO2 concentration under which the plants grew.”

The remains of land plants can be used to calculate the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Photo credit: A. Hope Jahren

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Two Graduate Students win the GSA Graduate Research Grant

Please join us in congratulating two of our graduate students who recently won a GSA Graduate Research Grant for 202

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The School of Geosciences wins prestigious Field Camp Award

As our 2020 virtual field camp is kicking off today, our School has just been informed that we are this year's recip

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April 2015 through April 2016 - Cretaceous Period

Dinosaurs are Downtown! On April 4, Fossil Giants: Dinosaurs & Mammals made its Louisiana debut at the UL Lafayette Science Museum with towering fossils, dazzling minerals, and prehistoric bones.

Unfolding over the course of three years, the exhibit will show how dinosaurs, and eventually mammals, evolved over the course of millions of years.  As you and your family wander among dynamically-posed fossil casts, you’ll get up close and personal with the prehistoric beasts that roamed the Earth long before we did.

The exhibit also kicks off our partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Geosciences Department. In addition to providing academic support to the dinosaur exhibit, the University’s extensive collection of fossils, rocks, and minerals will be on display for members and visitors. Unearth these beautiful specimens, learn about their chemical makeup, and explore how minerals are used. 

You know about dinosaurs from the movies — now’s your chance to come to the Lafayette Science Museum and sink your teeth into some real history. Start planning your visit now!