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Carleton Geology Alums In The News

  • Laura Veirs '97 To Issue 7th Album Soon: "Wide Eyed, Legless"

    November 6, 2009

    Laura Veirs' seventh album July Flame is out January on her Raven Marching Band imprint. The collection includes appearances by Karl Blau, Jim James, and Eyvind Kang, among others. It also includes 13 gorgeous songs. See, for instance, standout "Wide-Eyed, Legless." We asked Veirs about it.

    "Wide-Eyed, Legless" is an evocative title. It sounds like a stage direction, a Beckett moment. What inspired the narrative? Is it an Andy Fairweather Low reference?

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  • Heather Macdonald '76 Awarded NAGT's Neil Miner Award

    November 3, 2009

    Heather Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology at William & Mary, has been proclaimed the winner of the Neil Miner Award by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT).

    According to the NAGT Web site, the award is presented to “an individual for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences.”

    "All of us in the geology department are so pleased that Heather has been recognized in this way,” said Brent Owens, department chair. “She has been a role model and an inspiration to us as teachers, and to countless others across the country."

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  • Brean MacInnes '04 Provides First Documentation Of Tsunami Erosion

    October 27, 2009

    Tsunamis are among the most-devastating natural calamities. These earthquake-generated waves can quickly engulf low-lying land and bring widespread destruction and death. They can deposit sand and debris far inland from where they came ashore.

    Now, for the first time, a group of scientists working in the Kuril Islands off the east coast of Russia has documented the scope of tsunami-caused erosion and found that a wave can carry away far more sand and dirt than it deposits.

    The fortuitous observations resulted because the Kuril Biocomplexity Project had made detailed surveys of some Kuril Island coastlines during the summer of 2006, and then returned for additional work in the summers of 2007 and 2008. That provided a unique opportunity for before-and-after comparisons following a magnitude 8.3 earthquake and accompanying tsunami on Nov. 15, 2006, and an 8.1 quake and resulting tsunami on Jan. 13, 2007.

    When the scientists revisited coastlines they had surveyed in 2006, they found that in some places the amount of sand and soil removed by tsunami erosion was nearly 50 times greater than the amount deposited.

    "It was so extreme. I was really surprised," said Breanyn MacInnes, a University of Washington doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.

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  • Eric Olson '79 Discovers The First Known Herbivorous Spider Species

    October 19, 2009

    The story of the world’s first vegetarian spider appeared last week in numerous newspapers and other media, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, on BBC radio, and on dozens of science and news websites. The public’s interest in the news of the bug-eyed and furry Bagheera kiplingi (named after the panther in "The Jungle Book") revealed a healthy appetite for the novel and quirky in the 40,000-species strong arachnid universe. But the story also reveals how we sometimes miss what’s important—despite its proximity right under our noses.

    The known story of B. kiplingi goes back at least to 1896, when a Wisconsin taxonomist, who never actually saw the species in its native tropical habitat, gave the multi-colored spider its name. But then the jumping spider, which relies on hydraulically powered legs to go the distance, seems to have been largely ignored. Daniel Janzen, a luminary of tropical ecology and a specialist on plant-insect interactions, collected some specimens of the spider during his groundbreaking dissertation research on ant acacia trees in Mexico, but did not note anything unusual about the spider’s biology. 

    Fast forward to the jungles of Central America in 2001. Brandeis biologist Eric Olson had already spent two years researching spiders and herbivorous insects, and their host plant interactions, in the tropical dry forests of northwestern Costa Rica. To build an inventory of spiders he relied on Earthwatch volunteers to go out and find specimens for him to identify. But he advised them to avoid the ant acacia plant, home to colonies of stinging ants that cause impressive welts.

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  • Julia Daly '94 Wins Grant To Study Effects Of Climate Change On Alpine Ponds

    October 6, 2009

    FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington Department of Geology has been awarded a $20,000 Quimby Family Foundation grant to study the effects of climate change on high elevation ponds in Maine.

    This grant was awarded to Julia Daly, UMF associate professor of geology, and is one of only two Quimby Family Foundation grants to be received by a university within the University of Maine System since the grant's inception.

    "I was thrilled when I received the notice from the Quimby Family Foundation," Daly said. "I knew this was a very competitive year, but I also knew the significance of this research and the answers that were possible because of it."

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  • Nick Swanson-Hysell '05 and Adam Maloof '98 Refine The Magnetic Reversal Record

    September 30, 2009

    Interpreting the past latitude and geography of the continents
    from palaeomagnetic data relies on the key assumption that
    Earth’s geomagnetic field behaves as a geocentric axial dipole.
    The axial dipolar field model implies that all geomagnetic
    reversals should be symmetric. However, palaeomagnetic
    data from volcanic rocks produced by the 1.1-billion-yearold
    Keweenawan Rift system in North America have been
    interpreted to show asymmetric reversals, which had led to
    the suggestion that there was a significant non-axial dipole
    contribution to the magnetic field during this time1,2. Here we
    present high-resolution palaeomagnetic data that span three
    geomagnetic field reversals from a well-described series of
    basalt flows at Mamainse Point, Ontario, in the Keweenawan
    Rift. Our data show that each reversal is symmetric. We thus
    conclude that the previously documented reversal asymmetry
    is an artefact of the rapid motion of North America during
    this time. Comparisons of reversed and normal populations
    that were time-averaged over entire polarity intervals, or from
    sites not directly on either side of a geomagnetic reversal, have
    previously led to the appearance of reversal asymmetry.

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  • Suzanne Savanick Hansen '89 Helps Macalester College Formulate Carbon-Neutral Plan

    September 17, 2009

    St. Paul, Minn. - Macalester College has completed its first long-term strategic plan to combat climate change. Among the college’s goals:

    • Achieving carbon neutrality by 2025
    • Eliminating waste by 2020 (zero waste)
    • Integrating sustainability into curriculum and student programs
    • Adopting a “green building” policy to reduce emissions in facility construction and operations
    • Decreasing carbon emissions from travel
    • Adopting a responsible purchasing policy

    "The threats posed by global climate change to our survival are daunting," says Macalester President Brian Rosenberg. "This plan demonstrates our commitment to living our values and preparing each generation to confront the challenges they will face in the years ahead. We hope that in 2025 our first-year students will be proud to attend a college that has successfully demonstrated leadership in sustainability and is carbon neutral.”

    Macalester’s plan has been submitted to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

    Macalester’s strategic sustainability plan underscores its leadership among American colleges and universities in addressing climate change, explains Suzanne Hansen, sustainability manager. Only 88 of the approximately 400 colleges and universities who were to have submitted plans this week did so, and few of those plans are as ambitious and broad as Macalester’s.

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  • Andrea Earley Coen '90 Teaches Kids A Love Of The Land

    September 16, 2009

    Being connected to the land is a way of life in the American West. Nowhere is this more evident than at Guidestone, a sustainable-farm project nonprofit organization. Its roots have been firmly planted in Colorado soil since 1992 with a dedication to creating a sustainable local food economy.

    The farm originated in Loveland. Guidestone director David Lynch relocated the farm to Buena Vista in 2007 along with its educational branch, Farmhands. Andrea Earley Coen, the education director of the program, has been teaching environmental and farm education for 20 years throughout the U.S., and was excited to take on the opportunity.

    Coen said, "Farmhands is a year-round program and during the summer, we offer farm- and nature-based educational day-camps and three-day farm camps for children ages 5 to 11, as well as Family Farm Days for families with children of all ages. All of the programs are taught from Weathervane Farm on Crossman Avenue, which serves as the 'outdoor' classroom that we use as our teaching space ... and where Guidestone is based.

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  • Kevin Uno '01 Returns To Teach Intro

    September 14, 2009

    We are most pleased to welcome Kevin Uno ’01 back to the Carleton Geology Department for fall term – Kevin will be teaching Introductory Geology.

    Kevin’s Carleton comps project was entitled "Upper Cretaceous Paleomagnetism from Umbria, Italy: ‘Anchored’ poles set proposed True Polar Wander event adrift."  From that platform he launched himself into the graduate school of the University of Utah where he completed a masters degree in 2008.  His masters research was on the use of geochemical tracers in ice to identify subglacial processes at Storglaciären, Sweden.  For his dissertation, Kevin is using stable isotopes to study past and present climates.  This includes paleoenvironmental reconstructions in East Africa using carbon and oxygen isotopes in fossil tooth enamel, and using isotopes from modern elephant  tusks as a proxy for climate and life history.

    One of Kevin’s recent papers is Uno, K.T., Cerling, T.E., Nakaya, H., Nakatsukasa, M., Kunimatsu, Y., (2008), Stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios of fossil tooth enamel from the Nakali and Namurungule Formations, Kenya: Capturing the C3-C4 transition in East African equid diet at ~9.6 Ma, J. of Vert. Paleontology, 28, 3: 155A.

    Kevin’s teaching experience is equally wide-ranging, with his student groups spanning the age range from elementary school to college. 

    Welcome Kevin!

  • Dave Schneider '99 Finds That Natural Cooling Cycle Has Been Reversed By Human Pollution

    September 4, 2009

    The Arctic is at its warmest for 2,000 years despite the fact natural cycles mean the area should be cooling, according to research which scientists say proves climate change is man-made.

    The wide ranging study used computer simulations to reconstruct summer temperatures across the Arctic over the last 2,000 years.

    It found that the area has been warming in the last one hundred years and reached its hottest years in the last decade.

    However, the Arctic should be in a cooling period caused by a "cyclical wobble" in Earth's orbit around the Sun, that means the Earth has been getting less sun on the North Pole in the summertime. 

    David Schneider, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, who carried out the research, said the Arctic should now be in a natural cooling phase but temperatures were not dropping. 

    Read The Whole Story (press release)

    Read The Whole Story (London Telegraph)