Carleton Geology Alums In The News
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Is there life on Mars? It's a question asked time and time again. And NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover may be a step closer to answering the question. The rover has measured a tenfold spike in plumes of methane. They have been detected in a small area in the so called Gale Crater, that's the 154 kilometre wide crater Curiosity has been exploring. And it's the concentrated nature of the methane which has scientists wondering about the possibility of a life form being responsible.
- October 25, 2014
Minnesota’s black bear population — which now numbers 10,000 to 15,000 after peaking around 25,000 — appears to have stabilized after state officials deliberately reduced the population by boosting hunter numbers.
Bruin numbers topped out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, then fell dramatically as the Department of Natural Resources issued more permits to hunters.
“Our bear population was increasing quite fast during the 1980s and ’90s, and the only way to control it was to increase the number of hunters,’’ said Karen Noyce, DNR bear research biologist in Grand Rapids.
- August 13, 2014
Tyler Mackey has experienced cold like few others have. A Geology doctoral student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Mackey conducts most of his research under thick sheets of ice in water just above freezing temperatures – in the middle of a frozen continent. "I have made three trips down to Antarctica in the course of my graduate work, and I am currently gearing up for a fourth," says Mackey.
Situated in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, Mackey's research consists of diving expeditions to the bottoms of near-frozen lakes. To train for these scientific dives, Mackey works with UC Davis' diving program at the Bodega Marine Lab, where he tests his equipment and enjoys experiencing the warmer Northern California coast when not in Antarctica or working on campus.
Mackey was drawn to pursue his studies at UC Davis because of his advisor, Dawn Sumner, a geobiologist and professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “I was interested in the types of questions that she was asking about Earth history and the relationship between life and its surrounding environment,” he says. Sumner introduced Mackey to new areas of study, providing the tools necessary for his investigations and giving him the freedom to explore his own questions and connect them to the broader field of study.
- August 1, 2014
For Jennifer Wenner, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is where geology and creativity meet.
Wenner is a creative and curious person at her core, she played outside a lot as a child and had parents who encouraged her to pursue education.
“It wasn’t even a question I was going to go to college,” said Wenner, who was raised by parents with advanced college degrees.
But Wenner, who now has a doctorate from Boston University, didn’t always know she’d pick a career choice that revolved around science.
After a national search Vassar has named Art Rodriguez to be the college’s new Dean of Admission and Financial Aid. Rodriguez is currently the Senior Associate Dean and Director of Admissions at Pomona College (Claremont, CA), and he will begin his new position on September 1.
As the senior member of the Pomona admissions staff Rodriguez’s roles range from day-to-day management of the Office of Admissions to development and implementation of admissions policy. He also has been responsible for incorporating new technologies to support the college’s admissions efforts. Rodriguez began his career at Pomona in 2000 and has also served there as assistant, associate, and acting dean of admissions.
Bacteria are everywhere, in numbers we can scarcely imagine.
We may think of them as agents of disease and filth, the cause of cholera, syphilis, anthrax, leprosy, bubonic plague, and tuberculosis. But we can’t live without them.
Our debt to bacteria goes back to a time when Earth’s early atmosphere had no oxygen, but consisted of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. Without oxygen, multicellular life wasn’t possible. The exact form of the very earliest life remains a puzzle, but the earliest fossils of life, dating back 3.5 billion years, are colonies of bacteria. “Microbes ruled the world,” says Jennifer Macalady ’91, an associate professor of geosciences at Penn State University. These bacteria took energy from waterborne chemicals, such as sulfide and iron. Sometime later, bacteria learned how to manufacture their own food through photosynthesis, probably increasing the mass of Earth’s biosphere by orders of magnitude. Cyanobacteria—photosynthetic bacteria that expel oxygen as waste—appeared more than 2.7 billion years ago, and slowly oxygen began accumulating in the atmosphere.
WISCONSIN has been an environmental leader since 1910, when the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment promoting forest and water conservation. Decades later, pioneering local environmentalists like Aldo Leopold and Senator Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day in 1970, helped forge the nation’s ecological conscience.
But now, after the recent passage of a bill that would allow for the construction of what could be the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine, Wisconsin’s admirable history of environmental stewardship is under attack. [...]
Before the passage of the bill, Marcia Bjornerud, a geology professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., testified before the legislature that samples she had taken from the mine site revealed the presence of sulfides both in the target iron formation and in the overlying rock that would have to be removed to get to the iron-bearing rocks. (When exposed to air and water, sulfides oxidize and turn water acidic, which can be devastating to rivers and streams, along with their fish populations.) Sulfide minerals, Professor Bjornerud said, would be an unavoidable byproduct of the iron mining. But the bill does not mandate a process for preventing the harm from the sulfide minerals that mining would unleash.
- February 16, 2014
Forecasts of when a volcano is ready to erupt could be a little closer thanks to work by geologists at the University of California, Davis, and Oregon State University published online Feb. 16 in the journal Nature.
For an eruption to occur, the magma, or molten rock under the volcano must be sufficiently mobile to erupt.
"The question is, what percentage of time is the magma in an eruptible state?" said Kari Cooper, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Davis and lead author on the paper.
- February 12, 2014
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – More than 400 years after its discovery by Galileo, the largest moon in the Solar System – Ganymede – has finally claimed a spot on the map.
A group of scientists led by Dr. Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College (Norton, MA) has produced the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s seventh moon. The map, which was published by the U. S. Geological Survey, technically illustrates the varied geologic character of Ganymede’s surface, and is the first complete global geologic map of an icy, outer-planet moon. The geologic map of Ganymede is available for download online. [...]
"Three major geologic periods have been identified for Ganymede that involve the dominance of impact cratering, then tectonic upheaval, followed by a decline in geologic activity," said USGS research geologist Dr. Ken Tanaka.
- January 16, 2014
Geologic time is shorthand for slow-paced. But new measurements from steep mountaintops in New Zealand shows that rock can transform into soil more than twice as fast as previously believed possible.
The findings were published Jan. 16 in the early online edition of Science.
“Some previous work had argued that there were limits to soil production,” said first author Isaac Larsen, who did the work as part of his doctoral research in Earth sciences at the University of Washington. “But no one had made the measurements.”