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Posted by Inga, 12 December 2006 · 1 views

Hi all, I just wanted to start blogging about the stuff I do in real life. Since it's pretty late already I won't blog much today. Now some of you know that I am a Geologist and Palaeontologist. My area of expertise are about 430 million year old fossil sponges called Stromatoporoids. I wrote my diploma thesis about their growth banding. Therefor I had a bunch of those sponges from the swedish island Gotland. If you ever have a chance to visit Gotland, go for it! It's wonderful. So here is my first installment I hope you like it. The story of research about the growth banding of animals already started in the late years of the 18th century with the work of Whitefield. He recognized periodical structures on shallow water corals that he took as growth structures. Although a lot of different and more accurate papers have been written in the last decades, Whitefield’s interpretations and ideas still form the basis of modern growth banding research. The so called Sclerochronology can help us to understand complex climatic coherences and their impact on both, fossil and modern animals, offering us a chance to estimate their age and growth rate. Especially in the context of rising coral and sponge death in our oceans, sclerochronological research programs are a very important subject. The data about Silurian stromatoporoids, a group that probably belongs to the phylum Porifera (Sponges) is few and far between. Only a hand full of scientist has performed a small amount of detailed analyses about these animals and their growth banding. The goal of my work was to determined weather or not the banding in Silurian stromatoporoids, can be seen as growth increments. Also it was important to understand their growth patterns. The banding in stromatoporoids results from the reduction of space between the so called Laminae, very thin stabilizing elements that are arranged in layer like structures. 20 sponges of the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea were taken and then dissected at the department of Palaeontology in Erlangen. To be able to see and analyze the banding, the sponges first had to be cut open with a special stone saw and then impregnated with an exactly measured amount of impregnating agent in order to stabilize the sample. In the next step the samples had to be sanded which, in total, took about 1000 working hours. After the sanding the halves had to be scanned in with a resolution of 600 dpi. The counting of the Laminae and the space between them, then was accomplished at the computer with the help of a 1x1 mm big grid. Since it is assumed that the creation of a Laminae was triggered by genes and happened at constant intervals, the number and space between Laminae can be used as an approximation of age and the average growth rate of the Silurian sponges. The counting and measuring in total took about 1500 working hours. So that's it for now. Inga




Hi Inga,
It sounds like a lot of work, but very interesing work at that. Wonder tho what it looked like when you scanned these sponges in.
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Wow, that sounds way too complictaed for me blink.gif I wonder if this is how my mother feels when I tell her about my research!

Do they have any ideas about what is causing the coral and sponge deaths? I'd imagine rising ocean temperatures would play some kind of part.
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the problem with the coral and sponge deaths are partly because of the temperature. They don't like too low and too high temperatures no inflow of sediment, not too less nutriens but also not too much. The main problem in my eyes is the amount of acid rain these days. The corals and sponges are mainly build up of Calcite which gets soluted by the acid rain.Hope that explains that a bit,Inga
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amazing stuff
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