4/17/2012 - How long do geological processes last? - The long and the short of it


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
3853 Slichter

Presented By:
Sumit Chakraborty - Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Geophysik


Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Geological processes is the range of timescales they span. From developing the awareness of "deep time" (many millions of years) to the appreciation of massive forces that can be exerted within minutes (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, Tsunamis, meteorite impacts), the study of geological processes has profoundly shaped our perception of time itself. More recently, discussion on topics such as climate change have underscored the convergence of time scales of human experience and geological processes. Yet, there remains a general perception that non-catastrophic processes in the interior of the Earth occur over timescales that are far too long to be of relevance for everyday human experience. Recent advances in technology and our improved understanding of kinetics (i.e. time dependence) of processes are now allowing us to recognize that such geological processes operate over a hierarchy of timescales. Geological events that last many millions of years are an amalgamation of episodes that occur over days, months or years. It is now possible to resolve these episodes. This talk will discuss some of the methods, and selected examples from the study of currently erupting volcanoes and mountain ranges that are forming today.

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