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Smith Lecture-The Rocky Road of Life on Earth: Microbial Mineral Dissolution, Tropical Forest Nutrient Cycles, and the Global Effects of Open Ocean Carbonate Production

Joshua West, University of Southern California
Friday, April 19, 2019
3:30-4:30 PM
Room 1528 - 1100 North University Building Map
Life on Earth is linked inextricably to the planet’s rocky substrate. This talk will present new work exploring this connection across scales of space and time, seeking to address the general question of how life and Earth co-evolve. At the microbial scale, lab experiments illuminate mechanisms of nutrient acquisition from minerals, including how specific molecules and biofilms allow microbes to dissolve minerals and “feed” on them in the process. In tropical forests of the Amazon basin, concentration-discharge relationships in small catchments provide hints about how ecosystems that tightly recycle nutrients may be “leaky” during storm events, an effect provisionally attributed to the permeability structure of tropical soils that controls hydrological response. Lastly, over the timescales of mass extinctions, global biogeochemical modeling reveals how the evolution of marine calcifying organisms may have changed the way that the planet responds to global-scale carbon cycle perturbation, perhaps providing one mechanism for explaining apparent correlations between large igneous provinces and mass extinctions. Considered together, these distinct studies have commonality in terms of how organisms and ecosystems shape their relationship with the geological world around them.
Building: 1100 North University Building
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Lecture
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Earth and Environmental Sciences