Timescales of Geological Processes: The Long and the Short of it
How long do geological processes last? – The long and the short of it.
While timescales of millions and billions of years are one of the most fascinating characterizing features of the Earth and planetary sciences, these are also often responsible for a common public perception that problems in Earth and planetary sciences are too distant to be of societal relevance. However, recent technological advances – many of which draw upon tools developed in connection with nanotechnology – are demonstrating that geological processes occur over a hierarchy of timescales ranging from weeks and days to millions of years. This talk will introduce some of the tools we have developed for determining durations of processes, and illustrate case studies we have carried out on recent volcanic systems, generation of oceanic crust at spreading centers, formation of mountain belts, and the evolution of planetesimals in the early solar system.