Geology Department News

Updated whenever news breaks!

  • XRD Panalytical Empyrean machineWe are excited that our new x-ray diffractometer, funded by a National Science Foundation grant of $305,000, has been delivered and is now being readied for use.  In the picture, Cam Davidson (on the right) is being shown the innards of the beast by Panalytical installation technician Stephen Strong.

    Authors of the grant proposal were Melissa Eblen-Zayas of the Physics Department, Steve Drew, Chemistry Department, and Cam Davidson from the Geology Department.  The new machine is housed in the Geology Department and replaces the old XRD that dated from the late 1980s.

    X-ray diffraction has many uses in both geology and chemistry.  In geology, we often use it to identify minerals by crushing rocks into a powder and then running the powder through the machine.  The machine will analyze diffracted x-rays emanating from the sample and run the results through a database to find the mineral identities and relative abundance.

    From the proposal:  "X-rays have a wavelength that is comparable to the spaces between atoms in many materials. For this reason, x-rays can provide a powerful probe for exploring materials at a level that cannot be achieved with visible light, which has a much larger wavelength. This project will support the purchase of a multipurpose x-ray diffractometer to characterize a wide variety of materials, including materials that might be useful for various kinds of chemical and magnetic sensors and clays that can help us understand the climate history of southeast Alaska. In addition to enabling multidisciplinary research to promote our understanding of materials composition and structure, the XRD system will play an important role in training the next generation of scientists as it will be integrated into the curriculum as well as providing research experiences for undergraduate students in chemistry, geology, and physics at Carleton College."

  • Jonathon Cooper, a 2007 graduate of Western Washington University, has been named to succeed Timothy Vick as our new Technical Director In Geology.  Jon plans to arrive at Carleton in mid-March, and he and Tim will work together during spring break to effect a massive transfer of Carleton Geology Dept. technical lore.

    After Jon earned his B.S. in geology and geophysics, he put in a couple of years as a logging geologist for Geological Logging Inc. in Sacramento, CA, and then moved to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where he has been a Museum Specialist since 2009.  Along the way he married Kristin O’Connell ’04 and they now have a one-year-old daughter, Eliza.

    Jon has extensive experience in a wide variety of geological and academic endeavors that richly qualify him to support the Carleton Geology Department’s program and people.  His background includes work in field geology, geological laboratory research, and museum support. 

    We’re extremely lucky to have Jon join our staff – welcome Jon!

  • Cam DavidsonIn November 2010, Cameron Davidson, Associate Professor of Geology, received a $20,000 grant from the Keck Geology Consortium to undertake field research in Alaska. Working with a collaborator at Union College (Schenectady, NY) and six undergraduate researchers, Davidson will seek to understand the tectonic evolution of unusual geological features on Kodiak Island and western Prince William Sound. The fieldwork will take place in summer 2011.