Carleton Geology Alums In The News
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.”
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.”
- January 18, 2017
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.
- December 24, 2016
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.”
- December 12, 2016
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.
- November 23, 2016
Every year, trade winds over the Sahara Desert sweep up huge plumes of mineral dust, transporting hundreds of teragrams — enough to fill 10 million dump trucks — across North Africa and over the Atlantic Ocean. This dust can be blown for thousands of kilometers and settle in places as far away as Florida and the Bahamas.
The Sahara is the largest source of windblown dust to the Earth’s atmosphere. But researchers from MIT, Yale University, and elsewhere now report that the African plume was far less dusty between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago, containing only half the amount of dust that is transported today.[...]
“In the tropical ocean, fractions of a degree can cause big differences in precipitation patterns and winds,” says co-author David McGee, the Kerr-McGee Career Development Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “It does seem like dust variations may have large enough effects that it’s important to know how big those impacts were in past and future climates.”
- November 17, 2016
Between the jungle and the rice paddies, Fidel Costa struggled to find bare rock on the slopes of Mount Gede, a towering volcano near the western tip of the Indonesian island of Java. But an abandoned quarry hewn into the mountainside offered a rare chance to nab a few samples. So on a muggy day in 2011, Costa, a volcanologist at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, scrambled up the steep wall to some rocks, marbled like rye bread, which he pried loose with a hammer. Four thousand years ago, they erupted from Gede and fell out of a cloud of hot ash. [...]
Already, the few researchers adept at using the technique have found that magma can tear through the crust at searing velocities, and that volcanoes can gurgle to life in a geologic instant. Instead of taking centuries or millennia, these processes can unfold in a matter of decades or years, sometimes even months, says Kari Cooper, a volcano geochemist at the University of California, Davis. The results help explain why geophysicists haven't found simmering magma chambers under volcanoes like Yellowstone, and why some eruptions are more violent than others. "This is something that has the potential to really be a game changer in a lot of ways," she says.
- November 17, 2016
Conversations surrounding climate have come to surpass the limitations of government, economy and society. Climate change and discourses surrounding sea level rise, arctic ice melt, habitat degradation and extreme weather conditions are increasingly politicized. [...]
Chair of Earth Science and Geography Mary Ann Cunningham said, “Getting off of fossil fuels is inconceivable to most Americans.” Here at Vassar, there have been some efforts to adopt lower emission practices. Electricity has become the main vehicle for these efforts. The College has power purchase agreements for hydroelectric and solar energy. New buildings are equipped with on/off light motion sensors and LED bulbs, which conserve energy. Future clean energy efforts look towards geothermal heating. Heat is a major cost and comprises 60 percent of Vassar’s carbon emissions. However, it is possible to dramatically turn around campus consumption through sustainable renovation efforts.
The standstill agreement on softwood lumber trade expired recently, leaving Canadians holding their breath for the U.S. Lumber Coalition to launch legal proceedings.
In the calm before the storm of the next Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, speculation about how the issue will unfold has crystallized around two options: a tax or a quota. The differences may appear merely technical, but they would mean vastly different things economically.
While a quota would impose a cap on exports to the United States, a tax would allow the level of exports to fluctuate with U.S. consumers’ willingness to pay for Canadian lumber. In other words, as U.S. lumber prices increase, Canadian lumber would still be able to enter the U.S. market to meet demand.
- October 25, 2016
The Altiplano-Puna plateau is a high, dry region in the central Andes that includes parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, with vast plains punctuated by spectacular volcanoes. In a study published October 25 in Nature Communications, researchers used remote sensing data and topographic modeling techniques to reveal an enormous dome in the plateau.
About 1 kilometer (3,300 feet) high and hundreds of miles across, the dome sits right above the largest active magma body on Earth. The uplifting of the dome is the result of the thickening of the crust due to the injection of magma from below, according to Noah Finnegan, associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz and senior author of the paper.
"The dome is Earth's response to having this huge low-density magma chamber pumped into the crust," Finnegan said.