Carleton Geology Alums In The News

Posts tagged with “Alumni” (All posts)

  • Hawaii is known for its volcanoes, but most volcanoes on earth exist along tectonic plate lines. Hawaii does not! What causes Hawaii to form, and how is it related to the mystery of a magnetic bar code across the Pacific Ocean? Host Dianna Cowern chatted with geologist Noah Randolph-Flagg from UC Berkeley while hiking on the island of Kauai.

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  • The seemingly simple question of what governs the shapes of river channels has been a longstanding challenge for geologists and civil engineers. A new study led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz shows that the amount of sediment a river transports is a key factor in determining river channel geometry and the size of the sediment grains on the riverbed. [...]

    "If all channels are threshold channels, that's convenient because it helps us make predictions for management decisions and for modeling landscape evolution," said first author Allison Pfeiffer '10, a doctoral candidate in Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz. [...]

    Coauthor Noah Finnegan '99, associate professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, explained that threshold channels may only develop in settings where a low sediment supply allows the smaller grains to be swept away and not replaced. Left behind is a layer of "armoring" on the riverbed consisting of larger grains that might only move at the highest flow rates.

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  • A Caltrans worker explained last week why the rocks, mud and trees from the latest landslides that closed Highway 9 south of Felton were not being removed: “The mountain is still moving.”

    The hillside along a half-mile section of the state two-lane road that follows the San Lorenzo River has been unstable since early January, frustrating cleanup efforts. Caltrans announced March 10 they hoped to open Highway 9 by March 31. [...]

     “When you have a steep hill slope and it starts to rain at the rate of more than 1 inch per hour, you get water percolating through the hillside soil,” explained Noah Finnegan, associate professor of geomorphology – the science of erosion –  at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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  • On October 1, 2015, the 790-foot cargo ship El Faro sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. All 33 crew members died in the tragedy. The ship was equipped with a voyage data recorder, or VDR, that could reveal clues to understand what happened, but it was lost in the depths.

    The VDR was mounted on the mast on the ship’s navigation bridge. A search expedition mounted in October located the wreck and discovered that the bridge had separated from the hull. Days later, when the search team located the bridge, the mast and the VDR were not on it. In April 2016, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) asked for help from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, calling in two deep-sea vehicles WHOI operates for scientific research. [...]

    “Sentry and the Observation Vehicle were designed for oceanographic research with funds from the National Science Foundation, but they’re also well-suited for the task of ocean search and recovery,” said Adam Soule, chief scientist for the National Deep Submergence Facility at WHOI.

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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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  • Roughly 1,000 kilometers east of Madagascar lies the small tropical island of Mauritius. Seemingly adrift in the Indian Ocean, it’s home to the extinct Dodo, rolling fields of sugarcane and — according to new research — three tiny crystals that date back 2.5 to 3 billion years. Oddly, that’s billions of years older than the island itself, which scientists think formed nine million years ago from lava spewed by undersea volcanoes.

    What explains such a discovery? Lewis Ashwal at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his colleagues think the crystals once belonged to a drowned landmass and were dragged up to the surface during the formation of Mauritius. In other words: They came from an ancient continent hidden deep beneath the Indian Ocean. [...]

    But the newly discovered continent is more than just collateral damage. It’s a reminder that Earth’s continents are always on the move, continuously drifting together before breaking apart in a never-ending cycle.

    “This is really the pulse of the Earth, if you will — the fundamental rhythm,” says Ross Mitchell of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, who was not involved in the study.

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  • Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that major flooding and large amounts of precipitation occur on 500-year cycles in central China. These findings shed light on the forecasting of future floods and improve understanding of climate change over time and the potential mechanism of strong precipitation in monsoon regions.

    The research is published in the published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    "To predict how climate change will impact the future, it's important to know what has happened in the past," said Joshua Feinberg, a University of Minnesota associate professor of Earth Sciences and associate director of the Institute for Rock Magnetism, who supervised the research.

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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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  • WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — “The National Indicators Report,” recently published by Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, said the upward trajectory of environmental outcomes since 1980 affecting many agricultural practices was starting to plateau.

    The third edition of the report  since 2009 examined sustainability trends in land use, soil conservation, irrigation water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for a group of leading commodity crops raised in the United States. Three new environmental indicators also were included for the first time:  biodiversity, soil carbon and water quality.

    What the report found was continuous improvement in environmental outcomes in the period from 1980 to 2015 on most indicators, but also signs that gains started to plateau in the past 5 to 10 years. [...]

    Allison Thomson, science & research director at Field to Market, told World Grain, “We have great improvements, driven largely by improvements in yields, but also by conservation practices through the adoption of no-till and conservation till. We are also reaching a point where adoption of some of these trends has stalled out. We, as a member organization of partners in sustainability, need to focus on what is needed to turn that trend back in the right direction.

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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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