Scientists discover 36-million-year geological cycle that drives biodiversity

July 11, 2023

Dinosaur Stampede exhibit at Dinosaur Canyon, located in Queensland’s Winton Formation which was formed during the Cretaceous period. [Copyright: Australian Age of Dinosaurs]Researchers including geoscientists at the University of Sydney believe these geologically driven cycles of sea level changes have a significant impact on the diversity of marine species, going back at least 250 million years. As water levels rise and fall, different habitats on the continental shelves and in shallow seas expand and contract, providing opportunities for organisms to thrive or die. By studying the fossil record, the scientists have shown that these shifts trigger bursts of new life to emerge. The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by Associate Professor Slah Boulila from Sorbonne University in Paris.

Dinosaur Stampede exhibit at Dinosaur Canyon, located in Queensland’s Winton Formation which was formed during the Cretaceous period. [Copyright: Australian Age of Dinosaurs]

Researchers including geoscientists at the University of Sydney believe these geologically driven cycles of sea level changes have a significant impact on the diversity of marine species, going back at least 250 million years.

As water levels rise and fall, different habitats on the continental shelves and in shallow seas expand and contract, providing opportunities for organisms to thrive or die. By studying the fossil record, the scientists have shown that these shifts trigger bursts of new life to emerge.

The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by Associate Professor Slah Boulila from Sorbonne University in Paris.

Study co-author Professor Dietmar Müller, from the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney, said: “In terms of tectonics, the 36-million-year cycle marks alterations between faster and slower seafloor spreading, leading to cyclical depth changes in ocean basins and in the tectonic transfer of water into the deep Earth.

The source of this news is from University of Sydney