Carleton Geology Alums In The News

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.”

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  • Dan Callahan is part of the Identity Team at Mozilla who are trying to solve some of the problems of privacy and security on the Internet that have been hitting the headlines recently. Dan works on the Mozilla Persona project, a system to both replace passwords with verified identities and put that verification under user control, rather than the control of large corporate entities.

    Today's "social sign-ons" as offered by Facebook, Google, Twitter and others, offer users a fast, password-free login experience across sites, but have a significant problem. As Dan puts it, "The cost there is that I have to send all of my data, all of my logins through some central third party, usually an American advertising company. We think we should be able to find a way to give you the same login experience as Facebook or Google, but with the ability to still choose who you are."

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  • Carleton Geology would like to celebrate and acknowledge the following alums who were recently recognized at the annual GSA meeting in Denver.

    Philip E. Brown '74 and Kurtis C. Burmeister were awarded the GSA/ExxonMobil Field Camp Excellence Award for their work with the Wasatch-Unita Field Camp.

    The Association for Women Geologists recognized Diane Smith '77, with the Outstanding Educator Award. Diane is the 25th recipient of the award, which was established to "honor teachers who have played a significant role in the education and support of women geoscientists both within and outside the classroom".

    Our very own professor Mary Savina '72, was recognized for her many years of mentoring students and awarded the GeoCUR Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Read the award letter here.

    The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) recognized Scott Linneman '83 for his service for furthering geoscience education with the Bob Christman Award.

    Congratulations friends & keep up the good work!

  • The Missoula, Montana Conservation Roundtable recognized four local residents for their environmental efforts in the past year.

    [...]

    Clark Fork Coalition science director Chris Brick was honored with the Arnold Bolle Conservation Professional award. Brick was instrumental in the restoration plans for the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers when Milltown Dam was removed, as well as work on water quality and ecological health throughout the Clark Fork drainage.

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  • CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Karin Brown has been named the associate head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs at MIT announced Julie Soriero, MIT’s Director of Athletics and Department Head. Brown brings almost a decade of coaching experience to the Engineers’ programs. In addition to her coaching duties Brown will also be working as a part of the Engineers’ Communications, Promotions and Marketing staff.

    “We are thrilled to have Karin join our coaching staff and the MIT swimming and diving family,” remarked Dawn Dill, the Mary Francis Wagley, ’47 Head Coach of swimming and diving at MIT.

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  • SAN ANTONIO -  Diane Smith, professor of geosciences at Trinity University, will receive the Outstanding Educator Award on Oct. 28 from the Association of Women Geoscientists

    Hailed by colleagues as "a great mentor" who ably "balances innovation and rigor," Smith has been at Trinity for nearly 30 years. She chaired the geosciences department from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2012 to the present and served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs overseeing budgets and research from 2004 to 2011.

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