Skip Navigation

Carleton Geology Alums In The News

  • Lloyd Pray '41 Passes Away After A Long, Distinguished Career

    April 26, 2016

    Dr. Lloyd Pray '41 a widely respected sedimentologist and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, passed away on April 5, 2016 at the age of 96. 

    His obituary (full text here) said, in part:

    After attending public high school in Ashland, Lloyd's geological education began at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota under famed scientist and explorer Larry Gould. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1941. He earned a Masters degree at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California, in 1943. Near the end of WWII, Lloyd enlisted as an officer in the Navy to help survey Japanese harbors to determine if they were navigable. After a year with the USGS, where he completed a now-classic dissertation on the stratigraphy of New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains, he returned to Cal Tech, was awarded his Ph.D. in 1951, and became an associate professor. Lloyd moved his family to Littleton, Colorado, in 1956, where he initiated carbonate research at Marathon Oil Company's Denver Research Center. In 1968, he made Madison his permanent home as a tenured geology professor at the University of Wisconsin for 35 years.

    During his professional career, Lloyd earned an international reputation as a leader in the earth sciences. He had a profound and lasting effect on the study of sedimentary geology and the origin and characteristics of carbonate rocks. An outspoken proponent of getting away from desks and computers and out into the field, he made critical discoveries along the cliffs of the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, where he led field trips for graduate students and geologists for years. Although his fieldwork took him around the world, from the deserts of Libya to the coral reefs of Australia, he never lost his love and appreciation for the geology of his home state of Wisconsin.

    As a geologist, Lloyd will be remembered for his maverick approach, which required the scientific community to step outside of its normal boundaries and conventions. As an educator, he had a unique ability to communicate complex scientific concepts and discoveries with logic, wit, and unbounded enthusiasm. Year after year, he mesmerized the students in his popular Geology 101 class, and inspired many graduate students who went on to make groundbreaking contributions to industry and academia. Lloyd received numerous awards during his career, including one for Distinguished Achievement at his 50th reunion for Carleton College; a prestigious University of Wisconsin teaching award in 1988, and the award he was most proud of, the Wallace Pratt Stewardship Award, for his work at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. He also won the Society for Sedimentary Geology's highest honor, the Twenhofel Medal, in 1999.

    A video tribute to Dr. Pray has been posted by his son Doug, who wrote, "In 1988 I joined my father on one of his last UW geology field trips to the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas. I was a young UCLA film student at the time, and made this 20-minute documentary as a tribute to his love of field geology, teaching, and the Guadalupes. Lloyd passed away on April 5, 2016 at the age of 96. He will be missed by the many that he inspired."  Watch The Video

  • Ken Tape '99 Discusses Thawing Permafrost Research with The Washington Post

    April 12, 2016

    Artic Thawing Is Significant Concern - University of Alaska Fairbanks Artic researcher Ken Tape and colleagues recently published a paper with Nature Geoscience (April 2016, Volume 9) discussing their research into Artice permafrost melting.

    The research team discussed the work and significant concerns with The Washington Post in an article recently, highlighting the rate at which the top layer of Artic permafrost is melting and the impact this melt will have on the hydrology of the region, as well as the potential for catastrophic green house gas emissions.

  • Update: Passing of Zach Mitchell '17

    February 2, 2016

    We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to Zach's family, friends, and all who are impacted by his passing.

    A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the Church of St. Dominic [104 Linden St N] in Northfield.

    Visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2016, at the Benson and Langehough Funeral Home [201 4th St E] in Northfield. Visitation will continue at the church on Saturday one hour prior to services.

    To leave a personal message of reflection, please visit Carleton's Farewells website at This is a public website providing an opportunity for all to share messages.

    There will be a Carleton memorial service to celebrate Zach's life Saturday, April 2, 2016, at 2:00 pm., in Skinner Chapel.

  • Passing of Zach Mitchell '17

    January 29, 2016

    It is with a heavy heart that we convey the news of Zach Mitchell's passing.

    Zach was majoring in Geology with an interest in Archaeology. Zach was also active with many groups on campus including CANOE, Farm House, and Rugby. He had a love for the outdoors and spent a great deal of time in the arboretum as a Cole Student Naturalist. Zach had numerous passions and academic pursuits.

    We will remember him for the impact that he had on us all.

    There will be a remembrance service held soon at St. Dominic's- details will be updated shortly. There will also be a memorial service at Carleton Chapel on Saturday, April 2nd at 2pm.

  • Rebecca Craven '81 Is Skeptical About St. Croix River Pipeline Safety

    January 5, 2016

    Much of the oil flowing through Line 61 – the pipeline passing under the St. Croix River’s headwaters that St. Croix 360 first reported on in October 2014 – is “unconventional.”

    Unlike regular crude, it isn’t pumped out of the ground, but is mined. In its raw form, it isn’t really fluid – it resembles hot asphalt. It is diluted with other chemicals so it will flow through pipelines. The mixture is known as diluted bitumen, or “dilbit.”

    It turns out that its environmental impacts are also unconventional. [...]

    At least one pipeline safety advocate seems skeptical that the report will lead to significant change. Rebecca Craven at the Pipeline Safety Trust wrote in a blog post that changing the regulations “will be no easy feat.” She pointed to a 2011 report that called for an audit of the federal agency in charge of pipelines, reviewing its spill response program. That audit has still not been released.

    “This NAS study identifies a number of major corrections that are needed specific to improving plans that relate to potential spills of dilbit. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another four years to enact these recommendations,” Craven writes.

    Read The Whole Story


  • John Goodge '80 Is Drilling To The Bottom Of The Antarctic Ice Sheet

    December 17, 2015

    An Antarctic research project with close ties to the University of Minnesota Duluth has reached a major milestone in its quest to gather new scientific information from the depths of the ice-locked continent.

    The Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) — which researchers say will dramatically reduce the time required to bore deep into ice sheets — has been completed and is scheduled to be shipped to Antarctica this month.

    It'll be put to use as part of a research project involving researchers from UMD and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. John Goodge, an earth and environmental sciences professor at UMD, is co-leader of the project that received a $9 million grant last year from the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation.

    Read The Whole Story


  • Chris Brick '79 Helps Lead Fight To Clean Up Montana's Natural Waters

    December 5, 2015

    Ronald Reagan was in the White House, men wore frighteningly short shorts and Missoulians threw everything from crap to concrete in the Clark Fork River when a new organization decided some changes needed to happen.

    But since 1985, the list of things that have gone away – or come back – at the urging of the Clark Fork Coalition is balanced only by the things it still plans to do.

    Milltown Dam and its reservoir of century-old arsenic and lead tailings have been replaced by a restored river confluence and extensive state park complex. Riprap and raw sewage no longer routinely wind up in the river. But more water does, thanks to agreements with irrigators and landowners along the Blackfoot, Bitterroot and Clark Fork to preserve more in-stream flow. [...]

      “We became much more well-known through Milltown,” CFC science director Chris Brick said. “It’s always hard to explain what you’re doing sitting in long, legal meetings, but that’s how most of the work gets done. This was a big, visible project that raised our profile.”

    Read The Whole Story

  • Noah Randolph-Flagg '11 Determines Origin Of Mysterious Stone Columns At Crowley Lake, CA

    November 15, 2015

    The strange pillar-like formation emerged after Crowley Lake reservoir was completed in 1941: stone columns up to 20 feet tall connected by high arches, as if part of an ancient Moorish temple.

    They had been buried and hidden for eons until the reservoir's pounding waves began carving out the softer material at the base of cliffs of pumice and ash.

    In the ensuing decades, the columns were regarded as little more than curiosities along the eastern shore of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reservoir, which is best known as a trout fishing hot spot about 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes.

    But now answers are emerging from a study at UC Berkeley. Researchers have determined that the columns were created by cold water percolating down into — and steam rising up out of — hot volcanic ash spewed by a cataclysmic explosion 760,000 years ago

    "These columns are spectacular products of a natural experiment in the physics of hydrothermal convection," Noah Randolph-Flagg, 25, a PhD candidate and lead author of the study, said in an interview.

    Read The Whole Story

  • Ken Tape '99 Documents A Moose And Arctic Hare Invasion In Alaskan River Valleys

    November 13, 2015

    Warming Climate, Shifting Habitats - University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Ken Tape recently published on shifting habitats for moose and hares on the North Slope.

    Listen To The Story

  • Jennifer Macalady '91 Discovers New Microbe In Dominican Republic Cave

    November 4, 2015

    In 2009 geomicrobiologist Jennifer Macalady got a phone call from a cave diver in the Dominican Republic who told her about a cave there with amazing curtains of slime. Her first thought was, “Who is this crackpot?” but she sent him a sample kit. “The sample he sent back to us was so interesting we knew we had to mount an expedition,” Macalady told Eos Monday. Macalady discussed the findings about these slime curtains in a talk Sunday at the Geologic Society of America’s 2015 meeting in Baltimore.

    During the expedition 2 years later, Macalady, who is with Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and her colleagues enlisted the aid of divers, whose video of their underground explorations shows rust-colored fronds of slime. These fronds descend from the ceiling and walls of some saltwater-filled chambers of a flooded cave in the country’s southeast called Manantial del Toro.

    Whereas the challenge and exotic beauty of Manantial del Toro attracts explorer-divers, the metabolisms of the slime curtains’ microbes lured Macalady. The microbial communities that inhabit these fingers of slime are specialized not only for nitrogen cycling but also iron cycling. Could a previously undiscovered microbe capable of both reducing nitrate and oxidizing iron hang from the walls of Manantial del Toro?

    Read The Whole Story