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fossilized shells magnified

Shells reveal the past

Seafloor sediments are full of tiny, lovely shells of single-celled ocean organisms that lived, died, and sank to the ocean bottom, building up in layers over the ages. The fossil shells (seen under a microscope) contain chemical clues to the ocean temperature and rainfall where and when the cells lived. Joint Program graduate student Fern Gibbons studies the shells to learn about patterns of monsoons in the Indian Ocean during thousands of years, part of WHOI research on past ocean climate. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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