Assistant Professor Amanda Olsen is partnering with colleagues at Penn State and St. Francis University to create a database of environmental reactions in order to more comprehensively investigate rates of weathering, carbon sequestration, and other chemical processes that occur at Earth’s surface. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
The late Charles V. Guidotti, Professor in the U Maine Department of Earth Sciences from 1981 to his untimely death in 2005, was honored in 2010 with having a new mineral, guidottiite, named after him. Stephen Guggenheim recently sent us photograph of guidottiite taken by Ludi von Bezing. Guidottiite is the black, shiny columnar material near the center of the photograph. The column band is about 1 mm in width. The scientific paper officially reporting guidottiite was published in Clays and Clay Minerals, vol. 58, p. 364-376 under the title “Guidottiite, the Mn-Analogue of Cronstedtite: A New Serpentine-Group Mineral from South Africa,” by Michael Wahle, Thomas Bujnowski, and Stephen Guggenheim from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and by Toshihiro Kogure from the University of Tokyo.
Guidottiite is a new manganese mineral in the serpentine group discovered in the Kalahari manganese deposit in South Africa, and to date is only known from this locality. Serpentine-group minerals belong to the class of layer or sheet silicates, which also includes micas, chlorites, and clays, and were a special focus of Prof. Guidotti’s mineralogical career. He co-authored many scientific papers on sheet silicates, which are familiar to many residents of Maine as the shiny flakes of mica found in schist and granite throughout the state. He also had an interest in manganese minerals found in small deposits in Maine, so a manganese serpentine is a particularly appropriate choice for a mineral to bear his name.
Paul Mayewski, Director of the Climate Change Institute and Professor of Earth Sciences, along with Michael Cope Morrison of Opsin Imaging, has released a beautiful new book entitled Journey Into Climate: Adventure, The Golden Age of Climate Research, and the Unmasking of Human Innocence. They use stories and period photographs to follow a number of threads about the history of climate change research and their personal journeys. Read more at: http://climatechange.umaine.edu/news/article/2011/10/26/journey_into_climate__mayewski_book
Kaitlyn Anderson, an Anthropology major with minors in Earth Science and Spanish, is featured in the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) website! Anderson conducted research with the Climate Change Institute under Professor Karl Kreutz collecting bivalve shells from the ocean bottom off the coast of Maine. She focuses on chondrophores, which are decay-resistant components of clam shells. By investigating the changes in the chondrophores to changes observed in growth patterns of bivalve shells, she will learn how cultural practices, which are reflected in ancient shell middens, and climate change intersected. She uses instruments such as a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and an electric microprobe to test the effectiveness of two methodologies in determining climate change with these organisms by viewing differences in structure, color and chemical analysis of the shells. Congratulations, Kaitlyn!
Earth Science Professor George H. Denton is a coauthor of a recently published book “The Fate of Greenland”, which depicts the scientific escapades of a group of distinguished climate scientists sponsored by billionaire philanthropist Gary Comer. Comer, the former head of Lands’ End Company, once sailed his yacht through the Northwest Passage and upon experiencing no troubles with sea ice, was intrigued with the idea of climate change and how it is reflected in polar environments. Since then he has devoted much of his time and wealth to scientific investigations of the ongoing changes in polar landscapes. Along with Denton, Comer also sought the advice of Richard B. Alley of Pennsylvania State University and Wallace S. Broeker of Columbia University, one of climate science’s premier researchers most known for his discovery of the role played by the global “conveyer belt” oceanic circulation in triggering abrupt shifts in climate. On these trips, mainly to Greenland, researchers were able to take advantage of Comer’s vast assets during these expeditions, most notably his 150-foot, staffed yacht and private helicopter. “The Fate of Greenland” makes it possible for all interested in climate change and polar research to go on the expedition with the researchers and marvel at the landscape that is crucial to our understanding of Earth’s past and future climate. This book has received a number of favorable reviews, including:
The ERS 315 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy class, taught by Prof. Dan Belknap, went on a field trip October 22nd to look at sedimentary rocks and sediments in downeast Maine. Stops included Lewis Cove in North Perry to see Perry Formation, a Devonian conglomerate, Lubec tidal flats, Jasper Beach, Peasley Corner, and Hay Creek bog.
Department of Earth Sciences and Climate Change Institute Ph.D. student Bess Koffman was recently awarded an NSF travel grant to support development of a postdoctoral research proposal. After she completes her doctoral degree, Koffman plans to continue work on using particulate matter in snow and ice cores to better understand the complex relationships between atmospheric circulation and climate, with a focus on the southern hemisphere. As part of her planning, she visited Cornell University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
This grant program is a component of the NSF-OPP Polar Regions Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, which “supports training and research for recent doctoral degree recipients in any aspect of scientific study of the Antarctic and/or the Arctic within the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) program areas (http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=OPP). The program also provides travel grants to those eligible for fellowships for the purpose of meeting prospective mentors and colleagues, presenting seminars, discussing mutual research and/or education interests, evaluating facilities and professional development opportunities, and initiating collaborative relationships.”
More details of Bess’s award are at: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1143661
Research Professor Edward Grew, now in his 27th year at the University of Maine, was recently selected to chair the Subcommittee on Garnet Nomenclature for the International Mineralogical Association-Commission on New Minerals, Mineral Names and Classification (http://pubsites.uws.edu.au/ima-cnmnc/). The task of the subcommittee is to review existing nomenclature of the 32 approved species of garnets and closely related minerals, ten of which were discovered in the last year and a half. One of those recent discoveries, menzerite-(Y), was by former Ph.D. student Jeffrey Marsh, now a postdoc at the University of Texas – Austin, and described by Grew, Marsh, and others in 2010.
Due to its prevalence and chemical and mechanical properties, garnet is one of the most used minerals in interpreting petrological and microstructural aspects of rock histories. The garnet supergroup includes not only the familiar species almandine, pyrope, grossular, andradite and spessartine, but also species containing uranium, antimony and tin, elements not usually present in garnet. The subcommittee will be proposing a classification and procedure for recognizing species. The subcommittee currently is composed of 7 members representing Russia, Sweden, Australia and Canada as well as the U.S.
There are books about seashells and beach plants and birds, but no books about the geology of beaches. That is there were no books until Orrin Pilkey (Duke University), Bill Neal (Grand Valley State University), Andrew Cooper (University of Ulster) and Joe Kelley from the Department of earth sciences at UMaine wrote “The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline. The book, published by University of California Press, was recently reviewed in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/science/16scibks.html?ref=science). There are hundreds of color photos, yet owing to a grant from the Santa Aguila Foundation, the book sells for under $30. Topics in the book range from the very small (bubble marks where air escapes from between the sand grains) to very large (the origin of beaches as a result of sea-level rise.
JohnRyan MacGregor, an M.S. student working with Research Professor Ed Grew, took two trips in May and June, 2011 related to his investigations into boron-bearing minerals in granulite facies rocks and the crustal boron budget. The first trip was to the Geological Association of Canada-Mineralogical Association of Canada spring meeting in Ottawa, where he presented a poster on his recent observations on the microstructural relations among three borosilicate minerals in granulite-facies rocks from the Larsemann Hills, Prydz Bay, Antarctica near Australia’s Davis Station. Unfortunately he has not gotten to this remote field site where his samples came from. But following the GAC-MAC meeting, JohnRyan toured similar rock types along with Ed Grew and Dr. Richard K. Herd, Curator of the National Collections of the Geological Survey of Canada. Dr. Herd guided JohnRyan to the classic locality for prismatine near Kazabazua, Quebec, north of Ottawa. Prismatine is one of the three borosilicate minerals JohnRyan is studying, and here he could collect this mineral, which is readily seen in highway road cuts.
JohnRyan’s second trip was to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he spent two weeks in the Ion Microprobe Facility in the School of Geosciences, Grant Institute at the University of Edinburgh, measuring boron isotope ratios in the three borosilicate minerals tourmaline, prismatine and grandidierite from the Larsemann Hills. His objectives were to measure the distribution of the two naturally occurring isotopes of boron among the three minerals and learn what the isotopic ratios tell us about metamorphic processes and origin of the unusually high concentrations of boron in the Larsemann Hills rocks. JohnRyan learned to operate the Cameca ims-4f ion microprobe on his own with lab staff to assist only if a problem arose. Following the lab work JohnRyan presented his poster at the 11th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences, which was held on another campus of the University of Edinburgh. This gave JohnRyan a chance to meet scientists who had worked in the Larsemann Hills and nearby areas and hear their presentations.