Academic journal article Science and Children

Local Gravestones

Academic journal article Science and Children

Local Gravestones

Article excerpt

A visit to your local graveyard can provide not only a history lesson, but a science lesson as well. The new global citizen science program called EarthTrek, which is administered by The Geological Society of America, is in partnership with organizations across America and around the globe.

Historians have long scoured old burial sites to piece together the stories of those who rest there, but scientists are now learning much more from those letters carved in stone. Gravestones are telling the story of changes in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and rainfall. Moreover, scientists are asking for your help to read the stones.

The iconic white marble headstones found in most graveyards around the world are wonderful diaries of changes in the atmosphere. Chemical interactions occur between the marble and the atmosphere over time. Little by little, atmospheric gases dissolved in raindrops cause the marble to erode. Changes in atmospheric chemistry also change the rate at which the marble weathers. …

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