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School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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New Geology Club officers

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The University of Maine Geological Society (more popularly known as the Geology Club) has elected officers for next academic year. They are:

President: Zach Mason

Vice President: Bailey Morton

Treasurer: Jill Pelto

Secretary: Sarah Mullis


UM Geology Club Field Trips to the Southwest

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The Geology Club of the University of Maine completed an exciting Spring Break trip starting in Las Vegas NV and ending in Phoenix AZ. The trip was organized by the club members and paid for by the Golden and Ross Undergraduate Enrichment Fund, the UM Student Government, the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, and participants. The week long trip included stunning geology and hikes at Zion National Park, Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, the Red Rock area near Sedona, AZ and on recent volcanoes and lava flows in the Flagstaff, AZ area.


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Students attend NEIGC

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Students from the School of Earth and Climate Sciences joined groups of geology students from the New England region for the New England Intercollegiate Geological Congress (NEIGC) in the Katahdin, Maine, region from October 11-13. NEIGC was established in 1901 for the sole purpose of presenting field trips in areas of current geologic work throughout the region.

Image Description: Eric and Bailey at outcrop

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Ed Grew Elected to Council of the Mineralogical Society of America

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The Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) announced that Ed Grew has been elected to serve a two-year term on the MSA Council. Together with the officers, the six-membered Council serves as the governing board of MSA, a scientific society founded in 1919 for the advancement of mineralogy, crystallography, geochemistry and petrology, and applications for mineralogy in other sciences and industry.

A member of the Society since 1971 and elevated to Fellow in 1980, Ed previously chaired the MSA Committee on External Medals and Awards (1986), and edited MSA Reviews in Mineralogy volumes on boron (1996) and beryllium (2002). He also served as associate editor of the MSA’s flagship journal American Mineralogist from 2005 to 2010.

Deb Shulman named a UMaine Hunter Teaching Fellow

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Ph.D. student Deborah Shulman was recently named a Susan J. Hunter Teaching Fellow by the UMaine Graduate School. She will teach ERS330, Mineralogy, in Spring 2014. Deb will be the instructor of record for the upper level course, with mentorship from faculty within the School. The Fellowship program requires that the faculty member who would otherwise teach the course replace it on his or her teaching schedule with a graduate level course. Chris Gerbi, the regular Mineralogy instructor, will teach a course in Spring 2014 entitled College Teaching in the Natural Sciences. It is designed primarily for Ph.D. students who plan to make teaching part of their career.

Ed Grew contributes to classification and report of (another!) new mineral

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As reported on the UMaine website, Ed Grew collaborated in the process of describing, classifying, and reporting a new boron nitride mineral. More details are also available in a story from the University of California, Riverside, the home of the lead investigators in the study.


Ed Grew, who has a history of discovering minerals throughout the world, was invited to collaborate with an international team of scientists in the finding and classifying of a new boron mineral.

Geologists at the University of California, Riverside discovered a cubic boron nitride mineral in the southern Tibetan mountains of China. The mineral, named “qingsongite,” was discovered in 2009 and was officially approved this month by the International Mineralogical Association, according to a UC Riverside press release. Ed joined UC Riverside geologists, Larissa Dobrzhinetskaya and Harry Green, as well as scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and institutions in China and Germany in reporting the discovery.

Because of his research on boron minerals and evolution of boron minerals, Ed became interested in the research after reading about the discovery in a journal article. He urged Dobrzhinetskaya to apply for official recognition of the mineral.

UMaine researchers receive grant to study the possible connection between boron and early life

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School of Earth an Climate Sciences members Ed Grew and Marty Yates are part of a collaborative team that recently was awarded funding from the Carnegie Institute of Washington for a project entitled Isua Tourmaline: A window to Boron Concentrations in the Eoarchean?

Grew is leading the project, which follows up on recent work in collaboration with Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institute of Washington.

A more complete description of the work is at; a summary of the project follows:
Scientists have proposed that boron played an essential role in the stabilization of prebiotic organic compounds critical to the formation of life on the early Earth 4 billion years ago. Their proposal assumes that boron concentrations in the Earth’s oceans and crust 4 billion years ago were comparable to concentrations today, but this assumption remains to be demonstrated. The objective of the research, which is funded by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is to estimate what boron concentrations might have been so early in Earth history. Collaborators Edward Grew (University of Maine), Martin Yates (University of Maine), Robert Dymek (Washington University in Saint Louis), Simon Harley (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) and Robert Hazen (Carnegie Institution of Washington) will analyze tourmaline from the Isua complex (West Greenland), the oldest tourmaline reported (3.7-3.8 billion years) for the two isotopes of boron, which would give the boron isotope composition of the ocean 3.7-3.8 billion years ago, not long after the critical period in the origin of life. Using a model developed by French geochemists relating sea-water boron isotope composition to the proportion of boron extracted from Earth’s mantle into the oceans and crust, we will try to determine whether concentrations of boron present on the early Earth were sufficient to play a critical role in the origin of life.

Graduate student presentation awards

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Each year, the School of Earth and Climate Sciences awards a cash prize to the master’s and Ph.D. students who give the best presentations in the School’s spring Brown Bag seminar. This year, the award for the best presentation by a Ph.D. student goes to Sam Roy, and the award for the best presentation by a M.S. student goes to Agnes Taylor.

George Denton wins book award

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Along with his co-authors Philip Conkling, Richard Alley, and Wallace Broecker, George Denton has received this year’s Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science for The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change (The MIT Press, 2011). The book focuses on the role of Greenland in recording climate history and how changes to its ice cap can be potentially abrupt, dramatically affecting sea levels.

As noted in the Phi Beta Kappa citation, “This award is offered for outstanding contributions by scientists to the literature of science. Its purpose is to encourage literate and scholarly interpretations of the physical and biological sciences and mathematics.”

Karl Kreutz appears in iseesystems highlight

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A new article highlights innovative teaching by Professor Karl Kreutz. The December newsletter for iseesystems, publisher of the popular STELLA systems modeling software, describes how Karl uses STELLA for teaching about the global carbon cycle.

In the article, Karl says “I knew that if students could really get their hands on the carbon cycle, they would be able to feel it.” Karl also notes how systems thinking is expanding into more areas of Earth and climate related research.

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Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469