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
Image Description: group with Marvinney
Image Description: maddie and Bob
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.
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.
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.
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 http://umaine.edu/news/blog/2013/06/24/in-the-beginning/; 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Geologists at the University of Silesia in Poland have discovered two minerals new to science and have named them edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite in honor of University of Maine geologist Edward Grew.
The new minerals were discovered by Evgeny Galuskin and Irina Galuskina in the Chegem caldera in the Northern Caucasus, near Mount Elbrus in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in Russia. The Galuskins are Russian mineralogists who have worked for more than 20 years at the University of Silesia. A caldera is a huge crater-like structure produced in very large explosive volcanic ash eruptions. Examples of calderas in the United States are found in Yellowstone and Crater Lake National Parks. When blocks of pre-existing sedimentary rocks were caught up in the Chegem caldera eruption, they were heated up to temperatures of 900 degrees Centigrade (1,650 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat turned these “xenoliths” of former sedimentary rock into calcium silicate metamorphic rocks called skarns that contain many rare minerals, including edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite. The Galuskins have already discovered 18 minerals new to science in xenoliths of the Chegem caldera.
“The field area where the Galuskins discovered my namesake minerals is so remote that I don’t expect ever to be able to visit the locality in person,” says Ed. “But now that these minerals have been described in the scientific literature, I am hoping that mineralogists will look for edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite, and hopefully discover other localities for them in the world.”
Edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite were only found as tiny crystals less than 0.4 mm long and could only be identified under the microscope –they are smaller than the typical size of a period at the end of a sentence in a newspaper. Chemically, the new series ranges from edgrewite Ca9(SiO4)4F2 to hydroxyledgrewite Ca9(SiO4)4(OH)2 in which oxygen and hydrogen (“hydroxyl”) replaces fluorine in the formula. These new minerals are structurally related to the humite group of minerals. The diagram of the edgrewite crystal structure determined by Biljana Lazic and Thomas Armbruster shows its similarity to the magnesium fluorosilicate clinohumite.
Edgrewite and hydroxyledgrewite have been officially approved as new minerals by the International Mineralogical Association, and as required, a peer-reviewed scientific report of the discovery has just been published in the November-December issue of the journal American Mineralogist. The authors are Evgeny Galuskin, Irina Galuskina and 9 colleagues from Germany, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. The team includes crystallographers Biljana Lazic and Thomas Armbruster, as well as mineralogist Nick Pertsev, all of whom had collaborated with Ed on previous mineralogical studies during his career.
In the article, the authors wrote that the name edgrewite honors Ed as “a well-known scientist in the areas of mineralogy and petrology at the University of Maine,” who has “discovered or collaborated in the discovery of 10 new minerals.” The citation continues that “since his first expedition to the Antarctic from 1972 to 1974 when he wintered at Molodezhnaya Station, Ed Grew has collaborated successfully with Russian scientists.”
“I am thrilled to have two new minerals named after me,” says Ed. “It is a life-long dream come true. I have always valued my international collaborations in science, and so I was especially honored that colleagues in Europe proposed my name for the new minerals they discovered.”
In the most recent rankings of the US New and World Report (2010), the Department of Earth Sciences (now the School of Earth and Climate Sciences) was ranked higher against our national peers than any other ranked graduate program at the University of Maine. We ranked 69 in the nation among Earth Sciences programs. The School of Earth and Climate Sciences is also ranked by the National Science Foundation as being in the top 30 Earth Sciences programs in the country by research expenditure (most recent ranking in 2009). These are impressive numbers, but our program has improved significantly over the past few years, so we expect that our rankings have also improved.
For more information, see these reports: