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HOME > PAST ISSUE > May-June 2002 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

The Global Transport of Dust

An intercontinental river of dust, microorganisms and toxic chemicals flows through the Earth's atmosphere

Dale Griffin, Christina Kellogg, Virginia Garrison, Eugene Shinn

Figure 6. Views of the Caribbean . . .Click to Enlarge Image

The coral reefs in the Caribbean have been deteriorating since the 1970s, and no one is quite sure why. Such environmental devastation is usually blamed on Homo sapiens, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on here. Recently, some scientists at the USGS think they’ve solved the puzzle: Bacteria and fungi have been hitching trans-Atlantic rides on dust from the Sahara desert and settling into the warm waters of the Caribbean. Microbiologist Dale Griffin and his colleagues make the case for this hypothesis and explore the dangers of dust and microbe transport across the globe.


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