A University of Iowa geoscience professor is studying rocks and dirt from 110-million years ago in hopes of better being able to predict our future. Luis Gonzalez says his research team has been digging up fossils in Iowa and all over the region to study ancient rainfall patterns.Gonzalez’ team has just won a 258-thousand dollar, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue the research in the Cretaceous period. He explains it’s vital to learn about rainfall patterns from the long-ago era, which was considered a “greenhouse” period in the Earth’s history.With all the concern about future global warming, Gonzalez says this period of time can give us information about what happens when the glaciers are gone, when there’s no ice in the poles. He says it gives us very important information we can use to fine-tune the models and computer simulations that are used to predict what’s going to happen in the future. Gonzalez says the team often doesn’t have to dig down very far to find ancient artifacts.The grant will enable the U-of-I team to continue its research and expand the area of study, now an area called the Western Interior Basin that used to be a vast sea stretching from Texas to Alaska. The next places they’ll go include Mexico and Columbia.