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    ABSTRACT: The observed shear-wave velocity VS in Earth's core is much lower than expected from mineralogical models derived from both calculations and experiments. A number of explanations have been proposed, but none sufficiently explain the seismological observations. Using ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, we obtained the elastic properties of hexagonal close-packed iron (hcp-Fe) at 360 gigapascals up to its melting temperature Tm. We found that Fe shows a strong nonlinear shear weakening just before melting (when T/Tm > 0.96), with a corresponding reduction in VS. Because temperatures range from T/Tm = 1 at the inner-outer core boundary to T/Tm ≈ 0.99 at the center, this strong nonlinear effect on VS should occur in the inner core, providing a compelling explanation for the low VS observed.
    Science 10/2013; 342(6157). DOI:10.1126/science.1243651
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    ABSTRACT: We show that bimetallic surface alloying provides a viable route for governing the interaction between graphene and metal through the selective choice of the elemental composition of the surface alloy. This concept is illustrated by an experimental and theoretical characterization of the properties of graphene on a model PtRu surface alloy on Ru(0001), with a concentration of Pt atoms in the first layer between 0 and 50%. The progressive increase of the Pt content determines the gradual detachment of graphene from the substrate, which results from the modification of the carbon orbital hybridization promoted by Pt. Alloying is also found to affect the morphology of graphene, which is strongly corrugated on bare Ru, but becomes flat at a Pt coverage of 50%. The method here proposed can be readily extended to several supports, thus opening the way to the conformal growth of graphene on metals and to a full tunability of the graphene-substrate interaction.
    Scientific Reports 08/2013; 3:2430. DOI:10.1038/srep02430
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    ABSTRACT: We show the feasibility of using quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) to compute benchmark energies for configuration samples of thermal-equilibrium water clusters and the bulk liquid containing up to 64 molecules. Evidence that the accuracy of these benchmarks approaches that of basis-set converged coupled-cluster calculations is noted. We illustrate the usefulness of the benchmarks by using them to analyze the errors of the popular BLYP approximation of density functional theory (DFT). The results indicate the possibility of using QMC as a routine tool for analyzing DFT errors for non-covalent bonding in many types of condensed-phase molecular system.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 06/2013; 138(22):221102. DOI:10.1063/1.4810882
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    ABSTRACT: Following the discovery of the "Taung Child" (Australopithecus africanus) in 1924 in the Buxton-Norlim Limeworks near Taung, the fossil-bearing deposits associated with the Dart and Hrdlička pinnacles have been interpreted as the mined remnants of cave sediments that formed within the Plio-Pleistocene Thabaseek Tufa: either as a younger cave-fill or as contemporaneous carapace caves. When combined with the Plio-Pleistocene dolomitic cave deposits from the "Cradle of Humankind," a rather restricted view emerges that South African early hominins derived from cave deposits, whereas those of east and central Africa are derived from fluvio-lacustrine and paleosol deposits. We undertook a sedimentological and paleomagnetic analysis of the pink-colored deposit (PCS) from which the "Taung Child" is purported to have derived and demonstrate that it is a calcrete, a carbonate-rich pedogenic sediment, which formed on the paleo-land surface. The deposit extends 100 s of meters laterally beyond the Dart and Hrdlička Pinnacles where it is interbedded with the Thabaseek Tufa, indicating multiple episodes of calcrete development and tufa growth. The presence of in situ rhizoconcretions and insect trace fossils (Celliforma sp. and Coprinisphaera sp.) and the distinctive carbonate microfabric confirm that the pink deposit is a pedogenic calcrete, not a calcified cave sediment. Paleomagnetic and stratigraphic evidence indicates that a second, reversed polarity, fossil-bearing deposit (YRSS) is a younger fissure-fill formed within a solutional cavity of the normal polarity tufa and pink calcrete (PCS). These observations have implications for the dating, environment, and taphonomy of the site, and increase the likelihood of future fossil discoveries within the Buxton-Norlim Limeworks. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 06/2013; 151(2). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22272
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    ABSTRACT: Theropod dinosaurs show striking morphological and functional tail variation; e.g., a long, robust, basal theropod tail used for counterbalance, or a short, modern avian tail used as an aerodynamic surface. We used a quantitative morphological and functional analysis to reconstruct intervertebral joint stiffness in the tail along the theropod lineage to extant birds. This provides new details of the tail's morphological transformation, and for the first time quantitatively evaluates its biomechanical consequences. We observe that both dorsoventral and lateral joint stiffness decreased along the non-avian theropod lineage (between nodes Theropoda and Paraves). Our results show how the tail structure of non-avian theropods was mechanically appropriate for holding itself up against gravity and maintaining passive balance. However, as dorsoventral and lateral joint stiffness decreased, the tail may have become more effective for dynamically maintaining balance. This supports our hypothesis of a reduction of dorsoventral and lateral joint stiffness in shorter tails. Along the avian theropod lineage (Avialae to crown group birds), dorsoventral and lateral joint stiffness increased overall, which appears to contradict our null expectation. We infer that this departure in joint stiffness is specific to the tail's aerodynamic role and the functional constraints imposed by it. Increased dorsoventral and lateral joint stiffness may have facilitated a gradually improved capacity to lift, depress, and swing the tail. The associated morphological changes should have resulted in a tail capable of producing larger muscular forces to utilise larger lift forces in flight. Improved joint mobility in neornithine birds potentially permitted an increase in the range of lift force vector orientations, which might have improved flight proficiency and manoeuvrability. The tail morphology of modern birds with tail fanning capabilities originated in early ornithuromorph birds. Hence, these capabilities should have been present in the early Cretaceous, with incipient tail-fanning capacity in the earliest pygostylian birds.
    PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e63115. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0063115
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    ABSTRACT: Hexaaquamagnesium(II) sulfate pentahydrate, [Mg(H2O)6]SO4·5H2O, and hexaaquamagnesium(II) chromate(II) pentahydrate, [Mg(H2O)6][CrO4]·5H2O, are isomorphous, being composed of hexaaquamagnesium(II) octahedra, [Mg(H2O)6](2+), and sulfate (chromate) tetrahedral oxyanions, SO4(2-) (CrO4(2-)), linked by hydrogen bonds. There are two symmetry-inequivalent centrosymmetric octahedra: M1 at (0, 0, 0) donates hydrogen bonds directly to the tetrahedral oxyanion, T1, at (0.405, 0.320, 0.201), whereas the M2 octahedron at (0, 0, {1 \over 2}) is linked to the oxyanion via five interstitial water molecules. Substitution of Cr(VI) for S(VI) leads to a substantial expansion of T1, since the Cr-O bond is approximately 12% longer than the S-O bond. This expansion is propagated through the hydrogen-bonded framework to produce a 3.3% increase in unit-cell volume; the greatest part of this chemically induced strain is manifested along the b* direction. The hydrogen bonds in the chromate compound mitigate ∼20% of the expected strain due to the larger oxyanion, becoming shorter (i.e. stronger) and more linear than in the sulfate analogue. The bifurcated hydrogen bond donated by one of the interstitial water molecules is significantly more symmetrical in the chromate analogue.
    Acta Crystallographica Section C Crystal Structure Communications 04/2013; 69(Pt 4):324-9. DOI:10.1107/S0108270113005751
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    ABSTRACT: Heterochronic changes in the rate or timing of development underpin many evolutionary transformations. In particular, the onset and rate of bone development have been the focus of many studies across large clades. In contrast, the termination of bone growth, as estimated by suture closure, has been studied far less frequently, although a few recent studies have shown this to represent a variable, although poorly understood, aspect of developmental evolution. Here, we examine suture closure patterns across 25 species of carnivoran mammals, ranging from social-insectivores to hypercarnivores, to assess variation in suture closure across taxa, identify heterochronic shifts in a phylogenetic framework and elucidate the relationship between suture closure timing and ecology. Our results show that heterochronic shifts in suture closure are widespread across Carnivora, with several shifts identified for most major clades. Carnivorans differ from patterns identified for other mammalian clades in showing high variability of palatal suture closure, no correlation between size and level of suture closure, and little phylogenetic signal outside of musteloids. Results further suggest a strong influence of feeding ecology on suture closure pattern. Most of the species with high numbers of heterochronic shifts, such as the walrus and the aardwolf, feed on invertebrates, and these taxa also showed high frequency of closure of the mandibular symphysis, a state that is relatively rare among mammals. Overall, caniforms displayed more heterochronic shifts than feliforms, suggesting that evolutionary changes in suture closure may reflect the lower diversity of cranial morphology in feliforms.
    Journal of Evolutionary Biology 03/2013; 26(6). DOI:10.1111/jeb.12127
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    ABSTRACT: We have performed athermal periodic plane-wave density functional calculations within the generalised gradient approximation on the bcc, fcc and hcp structures of Fe1−XNiX alloys (X=0, 0.0625, 0.125, 0.25, and 1) in order to obtain their relative stability and elastic properties at 360 GPa and 0 K. For the hcp structure, using ab initio molecular dynamics, we have also calculated the elastic properties and wave velocities for X=0, 0.0625, and 0.125, at 360 GPa and 5500 K, with further calculations for X=0, and 0.125 at 360 GPa and 2000 K. At 0 K, the hcp structure is the most stable for X=0, 0.0625, 0.125, and 0.25, with the fcc structure becoming the most stable above X∼0.45; the bcc structure is not the most stable phase for any composition. At 0 K, compressional and shear wave velocities are structure dependent; in the case of fcc the velocities are very similar to pure Fe, but for the hcp structure the addition of Ni strongly reduces VS. Ni also reduced velocities in fcc iron, but to a lesser extent. However, at 5500 K and 360 GPa, Ni has little effect on the wave velocities of the hcp structure, which remain similar to those of pure iron throughout the range of compositions studied and, in the case of VS, >30% greater than that from seismological models. The effect of temperature on Fe–Ni alloys is, therefore, very significant, indicating that conclusions based on the extrapolation of results obtained at much lower temperatures must be treated with great caution. The significance of temperature is confirmed by the additional simulation at 2000 K for X=0, and 0.125 which reveals a remarkably linear temperature dependence of the change in VS relative to that of pure iron. At 0 K, the maximum anisotropy in VP is found to be only very weakly dependent on nickel content, but dependent on structure, being ∼15% for fcc and ∼8% for hcp. For the hcp structure at 2000 and 5500 K, the maximum anisotropy in VP is also ∼8% and almost independent of the Ni content. We conclude that Ni can safely be ignored when considering its effect on the seismic properties of hcp-Fe under core pressures and temperatures and that the negligible effect of nickel on the physical properties of iron in the core arises not because of the chemical similarities between iron and nickel, but because of the high temperature of the system.
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters 03/2013; 365:143–151. DOI:10.1016/j.epsl.2013.01.007
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    ABSTRACT: Across West Bengal and Bangladesh, concentrations of Cl in much groundwater exceed the natural, upper limit of 10mg/L. The Cl/Br mass ratios in groundwaters range up to 2500 and scatter along mixing lines between waste-water and dilute groundwater, with many falling near the mean end-member value for waste-water of 1561 at 126mg/L Cl. Values of Cl/Br exceed the seawater ratio of 288 in uncommon NO(3)-bearing groundwaters, and in those containing measurable amounts of salt-corrected SO(4) (SO(4) corrected for marine salt). The data show that shallow groundwater tapped by tube-wells in the Bengal Basin has been widely contaminated by waste-water derived from pit latrines, septic tanks, and other methods of sanitary disposal, although reducing conditions in the aquifers have removed most evidence of NO(3) additions from these sources, and much evidence of their additions of SO(4). In groundwaters from wells in palaeo-channel settings, end-member modelling shows that >25% of wells yield water that comprises ≥10% of waste-water. In palaeo-interfluvial settings, only wells at the margins of the palaeo-interfluvial sequence contain detectable waste water. Settings are identifiable by well-colour survey, owner information, water composition, and drilling. Values of Cl/Br and faecal coliform counts are both inversely related to concentrations of pollutant As in groundwater, suggesting that waste-water contributions to groundwater in the near-field of septic-tanks and pit-latrines (within 30m) suppress the mechanism of As-pollution and lessen the prevalence and severity of As pollution. In the far-field of such sources, organic matter in waste-water may increase groundwater pollution by As.
    Science of The Total Environment 09/2012; 437:390-402. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.07.068
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    ABSTRACT: We report ab initio density functional theory calculations on iron–nickel (Fe-Ni) alloys at conditions representative of the Earth's inner core. We test different concentrations of Ni, up to ∼39 wt% using ab initio lattice dynamics, and investigate the thermodynamic and vibrational stability of the three candidate crystal structures (bcc, hcp and fcc). First of all, at inner core pressures, we find that pure Fe transforms from the hcp to the fcc phase at around 6000 K. Secondly, in agreement with low pressure experiments on Fe–Ni alloys, we find the fcc structure is stabilised by the incorporation of Ni under core pressures and temperatures. Our results show that the fcc structure may, therefore, be stable under core conditions depending on the temperature in the inner core and the Ni content. Lastly, we find that within the quasi-harmonic approximation, there is no stability field for Fe-Ni alloys in the bcc structure under core conditions.
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters 09/2012; 345–348:126-130. DOI:10.1016/j.epsl.2012.06.025
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