Studying the distant past in the Galapagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are home to a tremendous diversity of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. But why this is, and when it all began, remains something of an open question. Now scientists may have at least one more piece of the puzzle. According to a new study out today in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the geologic formation of one particular part of the archipelago--the part responsible for the huge biodiversity--formed, approximately 1.6 million years ago.
The lead author of the study is Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Fellow Kris Karnauskas, who you might say has a thing for these islands. He’s studied them extensively, authoring six peer-reviewed scientific papers with “Galápagos” in the title. But one question in particular kept nagging at him: When did the Galápagos become the Galápagos?
“I asked around and couldn’t get a straightforward answer,” says Karnauskas, who’s also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “My geology friends said anywhere between half a million to twenty million years ago, depending on what feature we’re talking about.”
Read more at University of Colorado at Boulder
Photo credit: David Adam Kess via Wikimedia Commons