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Media Advisory


NSF PA/M 03-40 - September 22, 2003

Science Journalists Invited to "Calibration of Geologic Time Scale" Workshop

Science journalists are invited to attend a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for researchers exploring the need for and implications of a precisely calibrated geologic time scale. The workshop will be held at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., October 3-5, 2003.

A precisely and accurately calibrated time scale will allow earth scientists, for the first time, to address a host of new questions about the earth. It would allow the exploration of the governing processes and interactions among the solid earth, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. A critical aspect of this future research will be to precisely quantify the timing, duration, and rates of processes - not only in the modern earth, but also in deep time, utilizing the rich geologic record of earth's past. More than forty scientists currently involved in studies of paleobiology, evolution, radiometric dating (geochronology), correlation methodologies, paleomagnetics, geochemistry, biostratigraphy, and other subdisciplines will interact in breakout group sessions and discussions to formulate an approach to addressing this critical scientific need.

Speakers include: Bruce Smith, Acting Associate Director for Research (NMNH); Margaret Leinen, NSF Assistant Director for Geosciences; and scientists Samuel Bowring (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), who will outline the need for calibrating the time scale, the limits of current analytical methods, and the need for an integrated approach; Paul Renne (University of California, Berkeley), speaking on geochronology and global correlation; Feliz Gradstein (Museum for Paleontology and Geology, Oslo), addressing the development of new comprehensive geologic time scales; Douglas Erwin (NMNH) on implications of the time scale for understanding evolutionary rates, mass extinctions and biotic recovery; and Charles Marshal (Harvard University), speaking about molecular clocks.

More information, including a complete agenda, is available at:

Journalists who plan to attend should contact Cheryl Dybas, NSF Press Officer for Geosciences,, 703/292-7734.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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