BOULDER - A new research consortium received $813,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the geology and paleobiology of Earth's past.

The STEPPE research consortium, formed in March, includes the Boulder-based Geological Society of America, or GSA, the Paleontological Society in Boulder, which is managed by GSA, and the Society for Sedimentary Geology in Tulsa, Oklahoma, three nonprofit, industry groups. Three new staff and several interns will be hired to work on the new research project, according to Jack Hess, executive director of the Geological Society of America.

STEPPE stands for "sedimentary geology, time, environment paleontology, paleoclimate and energy," to study the Earth's past to give clues to the future, according to a press statement from GSA. Sedimentary geology and paleobiology give a record of the ecological consequences of global climate change, among other things, the group said.

"We want to be a voice to support research on the (Earth's) sedimentary crust," Hess said. "That's where we extract all of our resources and put a lot of our waste. We'll look at information to understand past climates and evolution of life."

The GSA has 55 staff members and an annual budget of about $11 million - much of it from endowments. The group has educational contracts with federal offices such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in which geoscientists go to places such as Rocky Mountain National Park to run educational programs in the summer months, Hess said. The group also publishes journals, organizes industry meetings and schedules other education and outreach events, he said.