News / Asia

Volcanic Ash Preserves Ancient Tropical Forest for 300 Million Years

Volcanic Ash Preserves Ancient Tropical Forest for 300 Million Years
Volcanic Ash Preserves Ancient Tropical Forest for 300 Million Years
TEXT SIZE - +

Paleontologists have unearthed an ancient tropical forest in northern China that is so well preserved in volcanic ash that they say it is like seeing a snapshot of a moment in time nearly 300 million years ago.

The University of Pennsylvania-led team of U.S. and Chinese researchers says ash from a large volcanic eruption that occurred approximately 298 million years ago covered the tropical foliage so quickly - in a matter of only a few days - that many of the plants and trees fell in the exact spot where they grew. Some smaller-sized trees actually were preserved in their entirety, with leaves, branches, trunk and cones intact.  

The researchers say the high-quality and abundance of specimens allowed them to create the first reconstruction of a peat-depositing tropical forest in Asia. The extensive findings represent a new baseline on which any new, less complete finds will be evaluated.

A fossil of a Microraptor from a 130-million year old forest that existed in what is now Liaoning Province, China is displayed at the new exhibit "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (F
A fossil of a Microraptor from a 130-million year old forest that existed in what is now Liaoning Province, China is displayed at the new exhibit "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (F

The scientists say the forest remains were studied at three large sites covering a total of 1,000 square meters. It is the first peat-depositing tropical forest of this time period ever discovered. Over millions of years, such peat beds would have transformed into coal deposits that are mined today.

The paleontologists compare their ancient tropical forest to the eerily well-preserved ruins of ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried in volcanic ash in the year 79. Now an important archaeological site, Pompeii offers researchers deep insight into Roman culture more than 1,900 years ago.

The scientists say, just like Pompeii, the tropical forest in northern China captures only an instant in history, but also provides valuable context for interpreting the time before and the time after the critical moment when it was frozen by a volcanic eruption that both destroyed and saved it.

The study co-authors say the tropical forest near what is now Wuda, China flourished during the early Permian geologic period when the Earth’s landmasses were in the process of converging to form a single supercontinent known as Pangaea.

A report on the new findings is published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid