News and Outreach Events 2011

Annual Holiday Dinner and Screwball Competition

The annual GeoSci holiday dinner was held on December 15th. At that time the winner of the Screwball Competion was named: David Polly won the overall competition.

Career Opportunities for Geoscientists

November 16-18 Bob Stewart from ExxonMobil conducted interviews and taught a 1.5 day short course on Integrated Basin Analysis

Department Chess Tournament Winner is Sam Blazey
Sam Blazey

Samuel Blazey has officially won the Geology department chess tournament. Sam defeated Simon Brassell in an intense game Friday. Congratulations to Sam on winning, and thanks to all who participated in the tournament!

Background: Kevin Webster and Jeremy Maurer, two Graduate Students in the Department of Geological Sciences, started playing chess in the lobby of the Geology building one evening at the beginning of this semester.

In Jeremy’s words, "We thought it would be fun to have a tournament, with maybe a small fee for playing and a division of the money to the top winners. We sent out an email and got about 8 or 9 people to sign up. We decided to donate the money charity to make the tournament slightly less competitive and just promote getting people together to have a good time and get to know some others maybe they haven't yet.

The tournament was open to anyone in the geo department, undergrads and grad students and professors. We charged a $3 fee to enter, and the money ($30) was donated to Bloomington Middle Way House. Kevin and I hope to make it a tradition for the department."


The Department’s First Intramural Football Team

As part of our continuing development of our own academic and professional goals in Geology, many of us sometimes neglect other aspects of being a well–rounded individual, such as social interactions and/or improving our physical well–being. In an attempt to counteract that trend, several of us graduate students have put together an intramural football team that plays on Wednesday nights at 7pm.

We, the members of "Moh’s Madness," would like to formally invite you, our fellow department members out to our season-ending game this week. In our first two games (which were quite exciting and close) we have gone 1–1. This week is our last regular season game and it is a MUST WIN to secure a playoff spot! This is a great opportunity for everyone to get together, interact, with friends, co-workers, lab-mates in a non-academic setting. Did I mention it is outside, in the Geologist’s natural environment?

If you’re a football fan, come for the intense game action; if you’re a professor, come see your favorite advisees do something other than sit at their desks and diligently work (or laugh hysterically as they face-plant into loose sediments, as I did last week); or come see friends and cheer them onto victory!! Bottom line, come out and have fun! The weather looks to be spectacular tomorrow night so, support, cheer, heckle, (or even play)! Kick-off is at 7pm!

UPDATE: Unfortunately last night did not go according to plan and we literally came up one game short (couldn’t score on the last play of the game) We finished the season 1-2 and will miss the playoffs. football team

Here’s a team photo. The roster is (from left to right): Richard Bykowski, David Riese, a friend of Liz Cola, Kellie Donoghue, Austin Hodge, Alex Riddle, Liz Cola, Sarah Spencer, Ryan Wilson, and Tracy Steinbach (a friend of ours from Physics). Click on the image to see a larger version.

Global Water Sustainability at GSA

Professor Chen Zhu chairs a session on Global Water Sustainability at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, October 9-12 in Minneapolis, MN. more


Richard Aram and Alice Stagner from ConocoPhillips conducted interviews in the Department.

IU Geosciences at the Falls of the Ohio Falls Fossil Festival more

Cathy Thibault and Michelle Gutenkunst from Chevron conducted interviews in the Department.

Professor Lisa Pratt, invited panelist on NASA press briefing.
water on Mars

From a New York Times article, Scientists Find Signs Water Is Flowing on Mars, August 4, 2011, Lisa Pratt is quoted that the best analog on Earth might be the Siberian permafrost. "This is very speculative, because we really have no idea whether or not there are extant organisms on Mars or whether there ever was life on Mars."

The NASA website on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: "Oblique View of Warm Season Flows in Newton Crater. An image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars’ Newton crater. Sequences of observations recording the seasonal changes at this site and a few others with similar flows might be evidence of salty liquid water active on Mars today. Evidence for that possible interpretation is presented in a report by McEwen et al. in the Aug. 5, 2011, edition of Science."

Chen Zhu
July 2011 – Geochemist Chen Zhu is co-guest editor of special Geology issue on global water sustainability.

From the IU News Room: Zhu serves as guest editor of the special issue on global water sustainability, along with Eric H. Oelkers of the University of Toulouse in France and Janet Hering of EAWAG, a Swiss research institute. In the lead article, "Water: Is There a Global Crisis?" they examine what seems to be a paradox: The Earth’s renewable water resources are 10 times as much as required by the demands of the current population. Yet an estimated 1 billion people lack safe drinking water, and poor water quality and management are responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths per year. While there is excess water in some parts of the globe, other areas face severe shortages or water that is ruined by pollution.

Lisa Pratt announces a new NASA ASTEP grant for research in Greenland.

The grant, entitled, "Shallow-Borehole Array for Measuring Greenland Emission of Trace Gases as an Analogue for Methane on Mars(GETGAMM)", was funded for the period 5/18/11-5/17/14.

talik borehole on site in Greenland, 2009

An excerpt from the Project Summary reads: During three years of sequential field campaigns in southwestern Greenland, we propose to measure seasonal and diurnal variation in concentration and isotopic composition of methane in bedrock boreholes (0.5 to 2 meters in depth) and soil pipe wells (1 to 1.5 meters in depth) intersecting permafrost environments across a study site of about 1 square km.

Three instruments will be deployed for the measurement of methane isotopic compositions in the field: a multi-path tunable laser spectrometer that is optimized for carbon isotope discrimination will be contributed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; a cavity ring down spectrometer capable of both carbon and hydrogen isotopic measurements will be contributed by a collaboration between Goddard Space Flight Research Center and Princeton University; and a commercially produced integrated cavity output spectrometer from Los Gatos designed for carbon isotopic measurements will be operated by Indiana University.

Isotopic compositions determined in the field will be validated using duplicate flask samples and injection into conventional gas-source isotope ratio monitoring mass spectrometers in the Stable Isotope Research Facility at Indiana University. Drilling in the first two field campaigns will be progressively more robotic, leading to a technology demonstration in the third year of semi-autonomous drilling to depths of 2 meters with an integrated compression packer to seal the borehole and install one fiber optic and two capillary tubes.

At time intervals of days to months, gas in the sealed boreholes will be transferred without atmospheric contamination to a suite of above ground instruments using the capillary tubes. The proposed GETGAMM campaign directly addresses the challenge of determining concentrations and isotopic compositions for methane in soil-gas or fracture-gas samples as a means to ground truth reports of methane plumes in the Martian atmosphere.

A coordinated field test of three methane instruments will allow on-site comparison of analytical sensitivity and reproducibility as well as assessment of setup and calibration complexity for each instrument. Thus, results of the proposed study in Greenland are fundamental to engineering and scientific preparation for a proposed dual landing in 2018 of a NASA rover designed to explore and cache samples and a European Space Agency rover designed to drill down to depths of 2 meters

Gary Pavlis announces a new NSF-funded grant to help scientists see into North America’s rocky innards.

From the IU News Room: A new project led by Indiana University researchers and funded by the National Science Foundation will strategically position 120 seismometers placed to image a key part of the deep roots of North America. The $1.3 million, four-year undertaking is part of NSF’s EarthScope program, which seeks to cover the entire U.S. with a grid of seismometers, strainmeters, and GPS devices for the purpose of better understanding seismic activity and predicting earthquakes.

SGE Silent Auction

The SILENT AUCTION BIDDING HAS BEGUN! The auction this year has a number of great items, lots of sweets for your sweet tooth, as well as fossils, rocks, and books. All the items up for grabs are located in the display case across from the Chair’s office on 1st floor. Take a look, see if there is anything that you like, and if so, head on over to the main office and place a bid. John Bogeman will assign you a bidding number, and submit your bid using that number so as to remain anonymous. Bidding will conclude at noon on Friday, March 4th, so hurry on down and take a look. Remember, all the profits will be going toward SGE as we prepare for our Spring student scholarships!

CHANGE WITH TIME Crossroads Conference

The annual Crossroads Conference was held on February 25th and 26th in the Department of Geological Sciences. 17 graduate students gave oral presentations and 15 students presented posters in the Friday session. Four prizes were awarded this year: the top two oral presentations went to Sarah Beth Cadieux and Xin Liu, and the top two poster presentations went to Robert Waddle and Ryan McAleer. On Saturday, industry representatives from INEXS, ARCADIS, Chevron, TGS, and Rincon Energy met with students in morning and afternoon sessions.

Professor Michael Hamburger announces a new NSF-funded grant for earthquake and earth structure research

The National Science Foundation has funded a major, four-year collaborative research project to study earthquakes and earth structure in the region. The project, which is entitled Structure and Dynamics of the North American Craton – An EarthScope swath from the Ozarks to the Grenville Front, is a collaborative effort with the University of Illinois, Purdue University, and the Indiana Geological Survey, and the Illinois State Geological Survey. Gary Pavlis (with the IU Department of Geological Sciences) is the lead PI. The project provides $1.3M to the five organizations, with IU receiving approximately $700,000 (final budget has not yet been determined by NSF).

The project is an ambitious field experiment that will coordinate with deployment of a major continental-scale research experiment called EarthScope (see and for details). The experiment will involve deployment of 120 state-of-the-art seismic sensors over a four-state area extending from central Missouri through Illinois and Indiana to central Kentucky, and will focus on imaging the architecture of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle in order to better understand dynamic processes in Earth’s continental interiors. The project will also include a major educational outreach component, including professional development workshops for teachers in the region and a hazards education program specifically focused on the state of Indiana. A PDF copy of the project summary can be downloaded here.

February 24th: Deadline for 2011-2012 College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Research Fellowships

The Graduate Division of the College of Arts and Sciences invites graduate programs to nominate their most outstanding Ph.D. or M.F.A. candidates for the 2011-2012 College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Research Fellowships. Stipends for the dissertation year fellowships are $18,000 each. These fellowships enable advanced students to engage in focused work leading to the completion of their dissertations or thesis projects. These fellowships do not include fee remission. Fellowship winners are expected to devote full time to research. Please make this information available to interested students as well as notify students of any internal department deadlines or practices regarding the nomination process.

Only Ph.D. candidates and M.F.A. candidates are eligible. Doctoral nominees must be formally advanced to Ph.D. candidacy by the nomination deadline. Nominations must include: the nomination form (submitted by the student online), two letters of recommendation submitted online, and the department's ranking. All nominations and supporting letters of recommendation must be submitted online February 1-March 1, 2011.

Students begin the nomination process by completing and submitting the online form available here. Students will need their ten digit university student ID number to proceed. Students are responsible for providing their letter of recommendation writers this link along with their network ID (username not ten digit student ID number) for the online submission of letters of recommendation. One of the supporting letters must be written by the director of the dissertation or thesis.

The student nomination and letter of recommendation forms are also available by visiting this link, and selecting College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Year Research Fellowships.

The department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and Graduate Secretary will automatically be notified as students apply and have access to view each student's online nomination. Please provide the names of additional faculty members serving on your department's internal review committee needing to receive the electronic notifications and have access to review student files to by February 7, 2011. Please also include names of faculty members who may have previously served and whose access should be removed.

The department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Secretary must add a departmental ranking for each student on the student’s nomination form (1, 2, 3, or "unranked") and any additional comments by March 4, 2011. Duplicate rankings such as 1,1, 2 or 1, 2, 2 will not be considered for review. The College will consider the three top-ranked nominees from each program. Selection criteria include demonstrated academic excellence, proposed use of fellowship funds, and potential for significant research contributions. Awards will be announced in April.

If you have questions concerning the fellowships, the competition, or if members of the department’s review committee have changed, please contact Assistant Director NaShara Mitchell in Kirkwood Hall 207 (856-3687 or