Carleton Geology Alums In The News

  • June 16, 2017 - Mercer Island High School science teacher Patty Weston has won the 2017 American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Education Glenn and Jane Crosby Northwest Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching.

    In its announcement, ACS said it was making the award to Weston “in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the quality of chemistry education in the Northwest Region.”

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  • Christopher Rautman, Carleton Geology class of 1972 passed away May 12. Chris was a well known and liked geologist having spent 26 years at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico prior to his retiring in 2011. After "retiring" Chris continued consulting with various firms, including a position with C Tech Development Corporation as chief geologist, volunteering as resident geologist at Philmont Scout Ranch, working in his woodshop and spending time with his wife, Janice,  kids and grandchildren. Chris was also a great supporter of Carleton and Carleton Geology having established the Chris Rautman endowed fund to support research and field experiences for students.  

    Memorial information and obituary can be found here.

  • For well over a century, miners have clawed huge amounts of iron ore out of the red earth of northeastern Minnesota. Other companies are hoping to tap into the region's rich deposits of copper, nickel and precious metals.

    Now, scientists believed they've unlocked the key that could lead to another kind of mining in the region.

    Researchers with the Natural Resources Research Institute, an arm of the University of Minnesota Duluth, announced Thursday they've demonstrated on a pilot-scale a new technique to separate high-purity titanium oxide from a mineral called ilmenite.

    Titanium dioxide is valued around $3,200 per ton, compared to a value of around $70 for the taconite pellets produced on the Iron Range. It's used in a range of everyday products, "ranging from paint to lotions to lip balm to the white on your powdered donuts," said George Hudak, NRRI's minerals, mining and metallurgy director.

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  • Pipestone Vineyards recently sold its west Paso Robles property, but the label will carry on, owner Jeff Pipes said.

    The winery, begun by Pipes and his wife, Florence, in 1996, still has two vintages of Pipestone wine aging in barrels and is looking to start sourcing other westside fruit to carry them forward, he said.

    The family will make future vintages at a custom crush facility and sell its wine mostly through its wine club, telephone and website sales, aiming to keep production at about 1,500 to 2,000 cases per year.

  • New research by scientists at UC Santa Cruz suggests the steep slopes of West Coast mountains, which slough off lots of sediment, make the region’s rivers unique. The study, published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” Monday, found that the more sediment is fed into a river, the more dynamic a river is. These dynamic rivers shift their channels more often, and resist forming an “armored” river bottom with unmoving gravels.

    The results could help engineers and geologists predict the effects of removing dams and restoring streams and to understand what the river’s “natural state” will look like.

    “That’s an important thing we can be able to answer,” said UC Santa Cruz doctoral candidate Allison Pfeiffer, who is the lead author of the new study. “For the practical engineering-side purposes ... and in part for predicting salmon habitat.”

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  • A new web-based app developed by the Department of Natural Resources gives people the ability to submit reports on the location of springs in Minnesota.

    The data will help researchers with important groundwater research.

    A spring is any natural flow of water from an aquifer–an underground layer of rock–to the Earth’s surface. “We can’t protect something we don’t know is there,” said DNR research scientist Jim Berg. “We need a better inventory of springs in Minnesota, and this new app is the tool to improve the inventory.”

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  • BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.

    The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.

    The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials. [...]

    Virginia Gillerman, an associate research geologist with the Idaho Geological Survey, said the area is rich in phosphate because it was once an 116,000-square-mile inland sea where organic material from fish, plants and small animals was deposited over a 5-million-year span about 265 million years ago.

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  • By the time fireworks are set off to celebrate the end of 2016 and champagne glasses are hoisted to toast the arrival of 2017, nearly 3 million people will have visited Glacier National Park this calendar year, the most ever.

    As the historic National Park Service centennial year draws to a close, officials at Northwest Montana’s largest attraction are taking a hard look at how Glacier Park handled the huge crowds and what to expect in the future, said Superintendent Jeff Mow.

    “We’re still evaluating what we saw this year,” Mow said of the record visitation. “There is a lot to learn from 2016.”

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  • Karen Merritt, public health educator, street photographer and SEA Semester alumna (W-98), has been selected to receive this year’s Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship award.  Karen plans to use the award to investigate and document the “invisible history” of 16th and 17th century mercury and silver mining in Spain and Mexico, which she describes as one of the “longest continuous maritime transport endeavors in history.” [...]

    Examining the cultural history and environmental legacy of mercury and silver mining and transportation during Spain’s “Silver Age,” the project represents a convergence of Karen’s interests: health, science, engineering and photography.

    Karen will travel to a former mine in Almadén, Spain where an estimated 6,500 metric tons of mercury were extracted and brought to Mexico for use in silver mining between approximately 1550 and 1700.  She will also explore the site of silver mines in Zacatecas, Mexico.  Karen is interested in the long-term environmental and societal consequences of the Spanish silver era and, through photos and text, will research and document conditions in Almadén and Zacatecas through the lens of the mining history of those locations.

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  • WASHINGTON (DTN) -- On-farm sustainability metrics have improved in a lot of areas going back to the 1980s, but also may have plateaued.

    With agricultural sustainability becoming a growing industry focus, the group Field to Market released its third report onDec. 8,looking at environmental and socioeconomic measures for commodity crops across the country. The official title of the 71-page report is the "Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On-Farm Agricultural Production in the United States." To keep it brief, that is shortened to the 2016 National Indicators report.

    The analysis looks at eight environmental and five socioeconomic indicators for 10 crops -- barley, corn for grain, corn for silage, cotton, peanuts, potatoes, rice, soybeans, sugar beets, and wheat -- from 1980 to 2015. [...]

    Allison Thomson, science and research director at Field to Market and lead author of the report, pointed out that the term "sustainability" translates into a complex mix of topics and several layers of both environmental and economic factors.

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