2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM

Natural Observatories/Laboratories (NLO) at the National Science Foundation

LANE, H. Richard, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22230, hlane@nsf.gov

The National Research Council 2001 study termed “Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science” expressed the need for more emphasis on Natural Laboratories/Observatories (NLOs) in the earth sciences. NSF has a history of supporting natural observatories/laboratories such as, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites, polar observatories and laboratories in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and more recently Critical Zone Observatories (CZO). All of these, as well as other established NLOs, generally focus on modern biological and environmental issues/sites. There has been no effort to evaluate the advantages of establishing similar NLOs to focus on issues related to the evolution and distribution of life in Earth's deep time record. Therefore, the proposal to establish DETELOs to study critical transitions in the history of life is novel and very intriguing. Such NLOs will require “out of the box” thinking for their creation and implementation because their mode of operation seemingly will differ significantly from established modern NLOs. Properly defined and successfully established, deep time NLOs could serve as catalysts in bringing about a needed paradigm shift in how the paleontological research community operates.