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Carleton Geology Alums In The News

  • Laura Veirs '97 Ranked #1 On Billboard Charts

    March 10, 2010

    Laura Veirs has had a great 2010 so far.

    The folk singer/songwriter's seventh studio album, "July Flame," recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers and Folk charts.  It has also been garnering unprecedented media attention, earning overwhelmingly positive reviews from NPR and the New York Times, among others.

    But Veirs isn't fazed by the attention. Instead, the Portland, Ore., native watches how the media hype translates into fan appreciation -- and enjoys it.

    "I haven't done much reading of the press on this record or previous ones," Veir tells "But I can say that the reaction to this new album has been great in terms of turnouts at shows and general interest from the media. That's a great feeling."

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  • Adam Maloof '98 Discusses Effects Of Polar Ice Meltwater On Earth's Orientation

    March 3, 2010

    The magnitude 8.8 quake in Chile this weekend apparently changed the length of the day — and shifted the way the Earth wobbles, according to scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    [ .... ]

    But if these planetary effects are trivial on a day-to-day basis, they can really add up over geological time. Adam Maloof at Princeton University notes that ice has been melting over the past 12,000 years, as we come out of the last ice age. That's changing the Earth's orientation by about an inch, each and every year.

    "You can imagine that as the ice melts you are redistributing the mass on the surface of the Earth," Maloof says. "So all this water that's caught up in the ice in poles is melting and moving into the oceans at lower latitudes."

    And if you go way back in time — like to a period 800 million years ago — this kind of movement was dramatic. Over the course of a few million years, the land mass at the North Pole shifted monumentally: It slid south by 50 degrees.

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  • Galen Ward '01 Heads Growing Online Real Estate Search Service

    March 2, 2010

    Seattle online real estate startups Redfin and may grab a lot of headlines. But Estately -- which also offer an online real estate search service -- continues to gather steam. The profitable company today announced that it has expanded into Washington D.C and Baltimore, allowing home buyers and sellers to browse listings in parts of D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

    Estately has added an additional 60,000 for-sale listings as a result of the expansion. And Chief Executive Galen Ward said the company will continue to grow in 2010.

    Ward said that traffic at Estately is up about 50 percent in the past three months, and by this summer he hopes to grow the team by 50 percent as they attempt to "really blow out the real estate search market."

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  • Heather Macdonald '76 And Cathy Manduca Honored By AAAS For Professional Development Website

    February 26, 2010

    A consortium led by William & Mary geologist Heather Macdonald has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for its web-based compendium of professional-development resources for geosciences faculty.

    AAAS awarded the group its Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) for the group’s website “On the Cutting Edge.” In addition to Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology at William & Mary, the group includes David Mogk of Montana State University, Barbara Tewksbury of Hamilton College and Cathryn Manduca of Carleton College.

    Macdonald notes that the SPORE-winning web site is based at Carleton’s Science Education Resource Center, where Manduca is director. Several staff members of the center were honored as well. The web site is an integral part of the professional development program, also called On the Cutting Edge, which has received considerable support, including a total of $6.2 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

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  • Jim Pizzuto '75: What Are The Old Milldams Hiding?

    February 4, 2010

    It's a picturesque early American image -- a gristmill complete with a water wheel perched on the banks of a swiftly flowing river or stream. Many of these mills are long gone today, but scientists are discovering that the dams associated with them can have lasting environmental effects.

    The University of Delaware's Jim Pizzuto and Michael O'Neal have documented those effects in Virginia, where they've been working to decrease the amount of mercury entering the South River. The College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) scientists are part of an interdisciplinary team that's trying to understand how mercury is still getting into the river even though a nearby former DuPont plant known to have caused the contamination stopped using the substance in 1950. The pair's research, published in Geology earlier this year, concluded that one of the mercury sources is related to milldams.

    “The dams may have played a role in trapping the mercury and their demise is key to getting it back into the river,” said Pizzuto, professor of geology.

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  • Carleton People Present Papers At GSA and AGU Annual Meetings

    January 28, 2010

    The following Carleton Geology Department people presented papers in technical sessions at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, OR in October and the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, CA in December. Carleton people are indicated in bold face type, and students and alums are indicated with their class years. The papers listed are only those which involved a current Carleton student or employee; many other Carleton alums, too many to list here, also presented papers at the meetings.

  • Vicki Hansen '80 Proposes Plate Tectonics Initiated By Meteorite Impacts

    January 25, 2010

    Recently, geologist Vicki Hansen, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, proposed a hypothesis that plate tectonics were triggered by ancient bolides crashing into Earth.

    Hansen theorized that early in Earth’s history - perhaps as much as 2.5 billion years ago - impacts from large extra-terrestrial objects could have been the catalyst for two prime elements of plate tectonics: the spreading out of new crust, and particularly subduction. Since numerous impact craters can be found on Mars and on the Moon, it’s a good bet that Earth suffered a similar steady barrage of meteor impacts in its formative years. According to Hansen, the Earth’s crust at the time was more uniform in thickness, except in certain zones where mantle heat rising up from below would have caused it to thin.

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  • Cam Davidson and Laura Cleaveland Peterson '01 to Explore Field-Based Science Program at Summer Workshop in Italy

    January 25, 2010

    Why would anyone propose starting up an off-campus study program – and a science program, at that – in a tiny village, perched on a ridge in the Apennine Mountains in central Italy?

    The answer, according to geology professor Cameron Davidson from Carleton College and environmental studies professor Laura Peterson from Luther College, is that the village in question – Coldigioco – is a center for geological research and is superbly situated for a field-based program in the earth and environmental sciences.

    And though it's not part of the "official" answer, Coldigioco happens to be, Peterson said, "one of those places that people just seem to fall in love with."

    This summer, with the support of a grant from the ACM Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Project, Davidson and Peterson will take a group of faculty from ACM colleges to Coldigioco for a five-day workshop, "Earth and the Environment in Italy." The deadline to apply for the June workshop is February 10.

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  • Laura Veirs '97

    NPR Interview With Laura Veirs '97: "July Flame"

    January 9, 2010

    With much of the country in a deep freeze this week, it might be good therapy to daydream about summer. July Flame is the summery title of the new album from Laura Veirs. She's known for writing songs about the great outdoors, and this new record — her seventh — is no exception.

    You needn't look any further than the title track as a way to warm up; it's about a peach grown in Veirs' home of Oregon. She saw the peach at a farmer's market and thought it was such a great name that it eventually became a song.

    Listen To The Interview

  • Walter Alvarez '62 Publishes "In The Mountains Of St. Francis," A Thoughtful Discussion Of The Apennines

    January 8, 2010

    Walter Alvarez is not just a supremely lucky scientist, but also a first-rate geologist. His luck is well known. He was alert enough to spot the signs, by an Italian roadside, of the "crater of doom" impact widely thought to have ended the Cretaceous Period and with it the dinosaurs. He was forceful enough to push forward a wave of research and take on the doubters, leading a classic and timely (and widely overstated) paradigm shift away from "conservative uniformitarian thinking" in geology. One never sets out to accomplish such a thing.

    If you think of science in terms of American football (not so outlandish), Alvarez worked hard and when the ball happened to fall into his hands, he took it for a touchdown. In that superstar role he has gained glory, left bruises and done a little end-zone celebrating in his previous book T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. But at the time of his discovery he had spent years in Italy, and would spend decades more there, doing something else.

    In the Mountains of Saint Francis is about that something else. It's about the rewards of playing on the team: being a first-rate geologist for more than 30 years in a field area of exceptional beauty, history and scientific fruitfulness. The mountains of the title are Alvarez's fanciful name for the central Apennines around the ancient land of Tuscany, where Francis earned his sainthood and where, as it happens, five centuries later the first true geologist studied the land and rocks. 

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