Soil contains many secrets that scientists are working hard to unravel. They spend their lives investigating its composition or sifting through it for shells, bones and fossils that can themselves be analysed to reveal much about the history of past climates. British scientists have helped to develop new techniques such as luminescence dating, whereby the time elapsed since a sample was exposed to heat or sunlight can be established, and have pioneered new techniques for measuring the amount of carbon in soil micro organisms. Sometimes getting samples can be hard work, involving much physical labour, so it is no surprise that scientists are always on the look-out for holes dug by others that they can jump into and explore whether they are searching for fossil beetles in a gravel pitor layers of sediment in a pit used to wash carrots
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