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posted by hubie on Friday June 07, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

A multi-institutional team of plant specialists, microbiologists and paleontologists in the Czech Republic and the University of Minnesota, in the U.S., has found evidence of a hot spring oasis during the last ice age in a part of central Europe.

In their study, reported in the journal Science Advances, the group found and analyzed bits of leaves, wood and pollen in the area around a modern freshwater spring.

Environmental scientists have long suggested that temporary hot springs in parts of Europe may have helped trees and other types of plants survive during the last ice age, but there has been little evidence to prove the case.

In this new effort, the research team ventured to freshwater springs in the Vienna Basin looking for evidence of ancient plant life. They suspected an oasis could have existed in the area during the last ice age, as the weight of glaciers sliding down the nearby Alps set off tectonic activity, releasing geothermally heated water from deep within the Earth's crust.

The release of warm water, the researchers reasoned, would have formed an oasis, keeping the ground around the hot springs warm enough for trees and other plants to survive even though they would have been surrounded by ice.

During their search, the research team found bits of wood, pollen and fossilized bits of leaves from trees that should not have been able to survive in the area during the last ice—yet, they were dated to between 19,000 and 26,000 years ago, a span of time that correlated to the last ice age.

[...] The findings strongly support the presence of an oasis during the last ice age—one that helped some types of trees survive despite the cold.

More information: Jan Hošek et al, Hot spring oases in the periglacial desert as the Last Glacial Maximum refugia for temperate trees in Central Europe, Science Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.ado6611


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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday June 08, @12:36PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 08, @12:36PM (#1359802) Journal

    In this new effort, the research team ventured to freshwater springs in the Vienna Basin looking for evidence of ancient plant life. They suspected an oasis could have existed in the area during the last ice age, as the weight of glaciers sliding down the nearby Alps set off tectonic activity, releasing geothermally heated water from deep within the Earth's crust.

    The heating mechanism quoted above appears somewhat implausible. The last glacial period was a bit over 100k years long, ending roughly 12k years ago. They're talking about vegetation surviving 19-26k years ago. So crudely, even the oldest vegetation would have made it through 90k years of ice age. My qualm here is not how the vegetation survive that long - the hot springs heating ground (and perhaps the local environment) are the answer. But rather how did the hot springs persist that long? And do we see increased geothermal activity now from the tectonic activity generated by the removal of that weight of glaciers?

    It seems to me that we should be seeing now, geothermal activity at least as great as whatever was present in the time period of the study! If that is sufficient to create those hot springs oases, then there we go, we have a plausible scenario. But if it's not, then maybe we should be looking elsewhere for some of the answers.

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