News and Outreach Events 2013

Research confirms Mars once had conditions to support life

Quoting IU News: Researchers with NASA’s Mars Science Lab found what they were looking for when the Curiosity rover drilled two holes and collected samples of rock from the planet’s Yellowknife Bay: evidence that, in the distant past, Mars possessed conditions needed to support life. The latest results from the Curiosity expedition are included in six papers today by Science Express. David Bish, an Indiana University Bloomington geologist and a member of the Mars team, is a co-author on several of the papers, which discuss the mineralogy and chemistry of the rock samples. more

IU GeoSci Professor David Bish is featured in the 2014 International Year of Crystallography Calendar

printable PDF

The Department announces the Mary Iverson Graduate Fellowship
Mary Iverson

In our fast–paced world, the presence of a knowledgeable and caring staff member is an extraordinary departmental resource. Mary Iverson has taken the time and made the extra effort to solve complex problems related to the course enrollment and financial support of our graduate students for nearly 50 years. Her reassuring demeanor and unpretentious manner provided a sense of well–being and comfort to any student experiencing a crisis.

The Department of Geological Sciences at Indiana University celebrates Mary Iverson’s extraordinary impact on the department with the goal of raising $150,000 to support graduate fellowships for students who are pursuing an M.S. or Ph.D. in Geological Sciences and need an additional semester of support to finish writing their thesis or dissertation.

give now

If you would like to contribute to the Mary Iverson Graduate Fellowship in Geological Science (Account number 37AS17301), you can either send a check to the Indiana University Foundation, P O Box 500, Bloomington, IN 47402, or you can click on the "give now" button and it will take you directly to the proper account. If you send a check, please write the name of the account or the account number in the note section. Read the Inside IU article on Mary's career at Geological Sciences

Geology Building serves as a site for a BTN commercial

On November 5th and 6th, parts of the Geology building was transformed into the School of Business as IU alumnus Angelo Pizzo directed a commercial about fellow IU alumnus Mark Cuban for airing on BTN. For more than two days the film crew worked to build a true-to-1950’s-decor office in the present-day first floor lounge area, and remake the bulding’s entrance to look like the School of Business. more

The Department of Geological Sciences and the Geological Survey WON the IU FALL Energy Challenge.

Our Building is the winner of the Fall 2013 Energy Challenge for academic buildings on the Bloomington campus. There is a spectacular retro-trophy now on display in the Geological Survey and there is a water-bottle refill station on the way.

A big HIP HIP HOORAY for the leaders of the Energy Challenge Team for the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Survey: Amishi Kumar, Kaitlyn Danielle, Marni Dickson, and Michael Hamburger. more

volcano erupting
2013 Science Open House at IU – What a blast!

On Saturday, October 26, the Department participated in the annual Science Open House on Saturday, October 26. We had 10 stations with wonderful activities, fossils, geodes, earthquake and volcano simulation, etc. The Geological Sciences event was housed in Swain Hall, and ran from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with booths for a Rock/Mineral/Fossil show, a volcano simulation, fossil digging, Mars Rover activity, geode smashing, the solar system, a GPR demonstration, career opportunities in Geology, and Make Your Own Earthquake, complete with a volcano, which is predicted to erupt at 1 p.m. "Dr. Rock" was on hand to identify any rock or mineral sample. more

The IU Geophysical Society took part in the annual astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics open house. Visitors to the Geophysical Society’s booth saw, among other activities, a liquid nitrogen volcanic eruption, pictured above. The trash can shown represents a strato volcano, while the water represents lava, and ping pong balls are used for tephra. For more information on the event and on the IU Geophysical Society, please visit our website.

October 9: G420 Regional Geology Field Trip

Bob Wintsch and Julie Fosdick led the fall, 2013 G420 field trip in which three graduate and six undergraduate students from IU Geology were enrolled. The trip started on Wednesday Oct. 9th in Pennsylvania, where Acadian foreland-basin sediments were examined. The second stop was to examine very high-grade rocks in Connecticut on Thursday. Then on Friday we examined igneous rocks and their metamorphic contact aureoles associated with the Acadian Orogeny in southern Maine. The highlight of the trip was our visit to lower grade metamorphic rocks and magma mingling in Devonian igneous rocks in east central Maine on Saturday, where IU Ph.D. student Hind Ghanem and junior undergraduate student Joe Biasi led an official field trip for the 2013 New England Intercollegiate Conference (NEIGC). This field trip was well attended by other scholars and their students, including Boston College, Queens College, Stony Brook University, the universities of Maine and Rhode Island, among others. On the return trip on Sunday and Monday, a quick stop was made again in southern Maine and features of the Valley and Ridge province were discussed in Pennsylvania as we drove through it. Below are some photos that were taken by IU student Andrew Redifer.

penobscot river
Group of participants examining outcrop near Penobscot River.
penobscot river
Hind Ghanem co-led a field trip for the 2013 New England Intercollegiate Conference (NEIGC)
penobscot river
Joe Biasi co-led a field trip for the 2013 New England Intercollegiate Conference (NEIGC)
energy challenge
The Department of Geological Sciences and the Geological Survey WON the IU FALL Energy Challenge.

It is official! The Department of Geological Sciences is participating in the FALL Energy Challenge. Now in its fourth year, the Energy Challenge is to help instill conservation habits in participants. It rewards participants for making small behavior changes that, when performed collectively, can substantially decrease Indiana University's environmental impact. Over the past four years, this effort has saved an estimated 3 million kilowatt-hours of energy and 6 million gallons of water. That is real money that the university is saving (and ideally turning directly into increases in the bloated graduate student stipends!). This year, our participation in the Energy Challenge is co-sponsored by SGE.

This is a 4-week challenge, beginning Monday October 7 and ending Monday November 4, to reduce energy and water consumption in our building. We are in the Academic Buildings Division once again. We’ll be competing with 7 academic buildings (Kelley Grad, Swain, SPEA, Geology, Informatics, Wright, Woodburn) for this year’s prize: a Water Bottle Refill Station. So if we want to win back our prize (and our trophy), we will have our work cut out for us. We’ll be working together with our neighbors at the Indiana Geological Survey to show what we geologists are made of!

How Does It Work?
Same as in the Spring: we are competing against our own past record. A baseline has been established for our building based on the same 4-week period over the past three years, not on the new, lower levels we have achieved. The goal is to have the highest, combined percentage reduction of electricity and water. Readings will be taken once a week, tallied, and posted on the IU Energy Challenge website:

Conservation Suggestions

  • TURN OFF LCD PROJECTORS WHEN NOT IN USE (i.e, log out of lecterns in lecture rooms)
  • Get some exercise and kick the elevator habit!
  • Don’t leave appliances plugged in when not in use
  • Don’t constantly charge laptop or phone (charge when present...not overnight
  • Turn off computer display and peripherals when not in use
  • Dim screen on laptop/computer so to charge it less often/uses less electricity
  • Put computer into sleep mode when leaving the office
  • Use ambient light or small desk light instead of having whole room lit
  • Set AC to 78 degrees and heat to 68 (optimal for energy efficiency)
  • Make sure all windows and doors are closed when heat or AC is on
  • Pull down drapes when sun is out and it’s hot out...your AC won't have to work as hard
  • When cooking, match size of pan to size of heating element
  • Use cold water instead of hot
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Don’t leave water running

We will be posting signs around the building to inform visitor to the building of the challenge and our goals. We will have additional signs for staff, as well as emails, to serve as friendly reminders and to provide some facts, tips, and tricks for greener living. If you have any ideas, please share them with us!

If you have any questions about the Energy Challenge or general green activities, please feel free to contact me, Michael Hamburger ( or our co-chairs from SGE, Amishi Kumar ( and Kaitlyn Waling (

We were able to significantly reduce our energy/water consumption over the past three years' Energy Challenges and we developed great practices that we incorporated into our everyday work environment. For this challenge we simply need to expand the effort. Encourage everyone, including hourlies, students, and visitors, to join in the challenge!

October 2: IU Bloomington geologist P. David Polly and former IU Master’s student David Grossnickle co-authored a report on the decline of early mammal varieties.

Quoting the IU Bloomington Newsroom: The dramatic explosion of flowering plant species that occurred about 100 million years ago was thought to have been good news for evolving mammals, providing them with new options for food and habitat. But research by geologists at Indiana University Bloomington suggests that wasn't necessarily the case.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, David Grossnickle and P. David Polly present evidence that mammal varieties declined during the great angiosperm radiation of the mid-Cretaceous, a time when a great diversity of flowering plants appears in the fossil record. more

September 26: IU Bloomington geologist reports results of Mars mineralogy investigation. more
Department mourns the passing of Dr. Al Rudman

Dr. Albert Rudman, Born: November 14, 1928, Died: September 21, 2013. It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our friend and colleague Al Rudman, following complications from a heart condition. More information.

June, July, August
August 30:
SEISMOPHOTOGRAPHY: "Imag(in)ing Science" Exhibition at the Grunwald Gallery

James Nakagawa, Professor of Photography in the School of Fine Arts, collaborated with geophysicist Michael Hamburger to produce a suite of images that combines photography and earth science. Photography is a medium that records information and data, producing visual representations of the world around us. The study of earth science creates visual data as well. The goal of this collaboration was to create work that transcended just the presentation of information but became a fully realized artistic endeavor.

As part of this unique collaboration between artist and earth scientist, Michael Hamburger modified the photographs using a number of traditional recording techniques that have been used by seismologists for over a century: smoke–paper and ink–pen recording of current seismic activity on rotating seismograph drums. They also experimented with manual tracing of specialized engineering recordings from "strong-motion seismographs" positioned close to the location of the photographic images. These techniques produced a new medium, "seismophotography": images that bring together photographic and seismological impressions of dynamic Earth activity. The combination of seismographic data and photographic images produce a mysterious, evocative, and sometimes powerful impression of the impacts of Earth activity on human agency and the ways in which we strive to understand and respond to them. More information: PDF

Date: Friday, August 30th. Location: Grunwald Gallery, School of Fine Arts. Panel Discussion: 5:00-6:00 p.m. Opening Reception 6:00-8:00 p.m. Themester wesbite

August 22: IU Research and Teaching Preserve Open House

Diverse natural habitats span the nearly 1600 acres that are the IU Research and Teaching Preserve. The propertes and 6000 sq. ft. field lab are close to campus and available for research, teaching, meetings, and outreach activites. Come and go as your schedule permits. See that the IU Research and Teaching Preserve has to offer you! For more information, contact Terri Greene (812-855-8742). Here is more information about the IU Research and Teaching Preserve.

The Department welcomes Dr. Julie Fosdick, Assistant Professor of Sedimentary Geology.

The renovations for Julie’s new Basin Analysis and Thermochronology Laboratory are currently underway. She is seeking students with interests in sedimentary basins and tectonics. If interested, please contact her about research opportunities in field–based projects and quantitative thermochronologic analysis. more

Field Trip: G190 Volcanoes Seminar "Volcanoes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada."

The annual field trip was held May 18-June 1, 2013. Papers and images can be found on the course website here

Judson Mead Geologic Field Station

Summer courses from June 30th through August 12th at the IU Judson Mead Geologic Field Station more

GETGAMM Research

The GETGAMM research team traveled to field sites in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland from July 9 through August 2. more

The mystery of "eternal flames"

Quoting the IU News Room: "Eternal flames" fueled by hydrocarbon gas could shine a light on the presence of natural gas in underground rock layers and conditions that let it seep to the surface, according to research by geologists at the Department of Geological Sciences and the Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University Bloomington.

A little-known but spectacular flame in Erie County, N.Y., is the focus of an article in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology, co-authored by Agnieszka Drobniak, research scientist with the Indiana Geological Survey, and Arndt Schimmelmann, senior scientist in the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. more

Students enrolled in courses at the Indiana University Geologic Field Station prepare to travel to Cardwell, Montana.

Classes start on June 30 and run until August 12. The Field Station’s flagship course, G429, Field Geology in the Rocky Mountains, is the frequently required capstone course for advanced college geosciences majors.

Professor Michael Hamburger to recieve the Distinguished Service Award
Michael Hamburger

Michael Hamburger has been selected to receive the Bloomington campus Distinguished Service Award for the 20 12-20 13 academic year. In the words of Vice Provost Tom Gieryn, "Your exemplary career at Indiana University represents an extraordinary picture of truly distinguished service. The Bloomington Faculty Council created the Distinguished Service Award in order to recognize leadership and dedication within the university, within a discipline, and/or in the community.The committee and I single out your persistent and thoroughly successful efforts to launch an Office of Sustainability on the Bloomington campus. Without your steadfast commitment to this project, in the face of many obstacles eventually overcome, the magnificent sustainability programs at IUB simply would not exist." A reception will be held on April 22, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. in the President’s Room, University Club, Indiana Memorial Union.

Crossroads Conference at IUB

The annual Crossroads Geology Conference at IUB was held April 5th and 6th, 2013 in the Geology building.

Dr. Erika Elswick, Faculty sponsor of SGE, writes: "The Rho Chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon (SGE) did a great job of organizing and conducting the Conference with a record number of 60 student participants from the department and guests from IUPU South Bend, Wright State University, Indiana State, IUPUI, and the University of Northern Illinois.

Congratulations to the Crossroads Committee: Jeremy Maurer (chair), Kellie Donoghue, James Wallace, Justin Zabrecky and Scott David and SGE Officers Rebecca Caldwell, President; Robin Green, Treasurer; and Liz Cola, Secretary. You and the SGE members did a great job and the Department is very proud of your accomplishments and those of the student participants. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations to the Student winners acknowledged by the judges in the following six categories:

  • PhD: Rebecca Caldwell – Best Poster; Rich Bykowski – Best Oral Presentation
  • MS: Anna Nowicki – Best Poster; Teresa Ditz (IUPUI) – Best Oral Presentation
  • Undergraduate: Erica Cotter (IUPU South Bend) – Best Poster; Emily Stewart – Best Oral presentation"

The Edmonds lab renovation is complete. GY 441 is the new home of Doug Edmonds’ laboratory. His research focuses on the stratigraphy and dynamics of depositional sedimentary systems. SedSystems Website

IU seismic network "OIINK" records North Korea’s nuculear explosion

The North Korean nuclear explosion was recorded at our midcontinent "OIINK" seismic network. The blast, which occurred at 0257:51 GMT (9:57 PM Monday, February 11th, local time) produced seismic energy equivalent to a magnitude 5.1 earthquake. Given the distance from southern Indiana (about 90 degrees, or a quarter of the way around the globe) that’s pretty close to our recording threshold, so it’s hidden in the background noise at many sites. The seismic waves arrived here around 13 minutes later, at 0311 GMT.

recordings of North Korea blast

Abive are two recordings of the event, which show the strong, high-frequency P-waves produced by the blast. It is seismic recordings like these that provide the primary constraint on underground nuclear testing and the basis for verification of most nuclear testing treaties. IU Press also covered the story.

January 14. Terry Engelder Gives Tudor Lecture on "Shale Gas: Technical Details Behind Environmental Concerns." more

Quoting IU News Room: "Engelder’s Tudor Lecture will focus on technical issues surrounding natural gas development in the Appalachian Basin. The talk will be preceded by coffee and cookies in the lobby of the Geology Building. Copies of "The End of Country" will be available for purchase at an informal reception following the evening forum.

"Dr. Engelder’s visit to IU offers an extraordinary opportunity for our faculty and students," said Michael Hamburger, professor of geophysics in the IU College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Geological Sciences. "He is a highly respected research scholar, as well as a leader in the application of geological knowledge to critical energy issues. Our evening forum will allow Engelder to team up with writer Seamus McGraw to examine the complex social, economic and policy implications of natural gas exploration in America's heartland."