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Snapshot: From the Office of Emmy Smith

photo of objects in Professor Emmy Smith's office

Smith, a field geologist and sedimentologist, is referring to tubular body fossils and strange soft-bodied fossils called Ediacaran biota that are the earliest known forms of macroscopic complex life (see striated shape in lower left­—found in southwestern Nevada) that are about 550 million years old.

Also in her lab are (clockwise) a topographical map; a field notebook in which to record GPS coordinates, sample collection data, and observations; and a Brunton compass, used to measure fault and bedding planes.

“By carefully documenting where these fossils are occurring in sedimentary rocks and collecting complementary geochemical datasets, we can start to piece together a picture of what environments these strange early forms of life lived and died in.”

Emmy Smith, Assistant Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences