Bruce Levell on Bias in the Sedimentary Record
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How can we tell if the sedimentary record is good enough to make solid inferences about the geological past? After all, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to infer what is missing, or indeed whether anything is missing at all. As he explains in the podcast, Bruce Levell tackles this question by combining fieldwork with systematic analysis based on what we know about contemporary deposition and erosion. Armed with an understanding of preservational bias, he questions the confidence with which some widely held interpretations of the sedimentary record have been made. For example, by analyzing sequences of glacially-deposited rocks in southwest Scotland, he has shown with others that, contrary to the “Hard Snowball Earth” hypothesis, parts of the Earth probably experienced a persistently active hydrological cycle and were not simply fully-frozen, at least during the earlier of the two postulated snowball glaciations. Bruce Levell is a Visiting professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford. Previously, he was Chief Scientist for Geology at Royal Dutch Shell.
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