News and Outreach Events 2014

December 17, 2014 From the Toronto Star: Possibility of widespread ’deep-Earth life’ jolts scientists.

What if Earth hosts another ’biosphere’ of tiny microbial organisms deep below the surface?

"In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, research led by University of Toronto geoscientist Barbara Sherwood Lollar demonstrates that the environment that could host "deep-Earth life" is far vaster than previously imagined. And the possibility that we could find the same thing on other planets received an electric jolt Tuesday with the announcement that NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover had detected a plume of methane on the red planet that spiked and then dissipated – a potential signal of microbial life.

"It’s a critical reminder that the oceans and rivers and lakes on Earth give us a skewed view of the places where life could exist and evolve in another setting or another planet," said Lisa Pratt, a geochemist at Indiana University who was not involved in either paper. Pratt chairs the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, a community of scientists that advises NASA." Link to the article

David Bish and colleagues
Research links soil mineral surfaces to key atmospheric processes

From the IU Newsroom: Research by Indiana University scientists finds that soil may be a significant and underappreciated source of nitrous acid, a chemical that plays a pivotal role in atmospheric processes such as the formation of smog and determining the lifetime of greenhouse gases. The article, “Soil surface acidity plays a determining role in the atmospheric-terrestrial exchange of nitrous acid,” is being published this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is available online. Melissa A. Donaldson, a Ph.D. student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is the lead author. Co-authors are Raff and David L. Bish, the Haydn Murray Chair of Applied Clay Mineralogy in the Department of Geological Sciences.more

IU Geologist Julie Fosdick Wins Early Career Award

Professor Julie Fosdick just won the Early Career Award for her paper in the journal Basin Research entitled, "Detrital thermochronologic record of burial heating and sediment recycling in the Magallanes foreland basin, Patagonian Andes." more

IU geologists identify new seismic zone near Illinois-Missouri border

From the IU Newsroom: Geologists at Indiana University have characterized widespread seismic activity in an area they call the Ste. Genevieve Seismic Zone, suggesting a greater possibility of earthquake effects than was previously recognized in southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri. more

November 19: AAPG/IGS Career Panel

What are public service careers in the geosciences? Through resource mapping, environmental protection, and hazards mitigation, geoscientists with public service careers provide information for making sound decisions about complex social concerns. They utilize traditional and advanced technologies to deliver data and information to both the public and private sectors. The event included a dinner/networking portion, followed by a traditional panel-style introduction of six panelists. There was a speed-round-table style portion where panelists rotated from table to table in 5 minute intervals and answered questions from student participants.

There were approximately 40 students in attendance (both undergrad and grad students). Rebecca Caldwell organized the event with significant help from John Steinmetz (IGS) and AAPG student members Carley Gasaway, John Kearney, Ross Caton, and Ellen Reat. Karla Lewis provided significant logistical assistance. IGS, through John Steinmetz, funded the dinner provided.

November 15: IU Brownie Math and Science Day

The Brownie Math and Science Day is hosted by the Department of Physics and will take place in Swain Hall West from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on November 15th. Five women geology students are participating in IU Brownie Math and Science Day where they will lead one of six rooms for 180 central Indiana Girl Scouts to participate in hands on science activities. In the geology room, Brownies will learn how geologists identify minerals and rocks on Earth and learn how the Curiosity rover helps scientists explore Mars’ geology.

Results of the 2013 IU Recruiting Commercial

Some may recall the commercial that was filmed in our building a year ago. Below are the original announcements concerning the project.

The commercial is here

The announcement on the Indiana University Facebook page is here

Most of the indoor scenes in the commercial were filmed in our building. The office scenes were filmed in room GY 103 (the vending machine room), they appear to be two separate offices as the film crew had two separate setups for the same room, which they swapped halfway through filming. The hallway scene and bulletin board scene were both in our first floor corridor, the classroom scenes were in room GY 143, and the scene entering a building was our front lobby with a faux stone panel in place to the left that read “SCHOOL OF BUSINESS”.

Now in its 23rd year, IU Brownie Math and Science Day provides an opportunity for young Girl Scouts to interact with women faculty, staff, and students in various departments. This year the girls will participate in activities from six different disciplines: anthropology, chemistry, lasers, physics, geology and health sciences. Each hands-on activity aims at keeping young girls interested in math and science fields and expose them to positive women leaders in these fields.

Geology Students from Purdue to Visit IU

SGE students along with faculty members will be hosting a group of geology undergraduates from Purdue University. IU students will discuss current research in the department and tour facilities including the flume lab, clean room and MC-ICP/MS, XRD lab, stable isotope facility and the seismic station.

October 25: SCIENCE FEST 2014 – Brought to you by the IU Geophysical Society

Grateful thanks for your support on the IU Science Fest event! We had another successful departmental outreach event this year. Photos taken by the event photographers Anas Rabie and Michael hamburger have been uploaded to IUGS Facebook page. Check them out through the links above.

We had eight stations this year including Rock/Mineral/Fossil Show, Volcano Eruption, Fossil Digging, Mars Rover: You Are the Driver, Geode Smashing, Solar System, Make your own Earthquake, Quake Cottage Accelerations.

This year, we had 31 volunteers based on our record. The following is the list of our volunteers (alphabetical order): Alex Zimmerman, Amishi Kumar, Anas B. Rabie, Annie Gwaltney, Annie Dufficy, Anthony Frushour, Augustus Schaefer, Bryan Wathen, Darlene McDermott, Derek Prokopf, Ellen Reat, Gary Pavlis, Ian Wang, Joel Leonard, John Talley, Laura Wasylenki, Madeline Lewis, Mathew Shirley, Matt Lilley, Michael Bramnik, Michael Haluska, Michael Hamburger, Molly Williams, Panagiotis Bordovalos, Pat Kane, Ross Caton, Ryan Yohler, Scott David, Terry Stigall, Veronica Biesiada, Zach Osborne

IUGS IU Science Fest Committee 2014 Members (by alphabetical order): Anna Nowicki, Scott David, Xiaotao Yang, Yinzhi Wang. There are pictures of the event on the Department Science Fest Website

Emeritus Professor Erle Kauffman awarded The Paleontological Society’s 2014 Medal

The Paleontological Society’s medal is presented to a person whose eminence is based on advancement of knowledge in paleontology. Erle received the medal at the Society’s annual meeting which was held in conjunction with the GSA annual meeting in Vancouver. More here

SGE Salvation Army Coat Drive

This year, Sigma Gamma Epsilon is participating in the annual coat drive for the Salvation Army. There is a box for in room 127 where coat donations are being collected. Look through your closets and bring in any coats that you do not need anymore and donate to this wonderful cause. Any size is acceptable and children sized coats would be a great addition! The coat drives runs through October 31. Contact Cherie Achilles for more information.


Oktoberchess is an annual charity chess tournament in the Department of Geological Sciences. The proceeds of the event benefit Middle Way House in Bloomington which offers support for victims of domestic abuse. In addition to being a great way to interact with members of the department in a different social setting, the tournament provides a way for the Department of Geological Sciences to be involved in the larger Bloomington community.

2014 RESULTS: Professor Simon Brassell defeated Ryan Deasy for the Championship. We had a record number of players, received donations from a record number of people, and raised the most money for Middle Way House in Bloomington which offers support for victims of domestic abuse.


The image above represents the results of the first and second rounds of play. The games, which run until the end of October, are meant to create comradary among scientists in the department, and give back to the larger Bloomington community by supporting the work of Middle Way House. If you would like to make a donation to Middle Way, please email Kevin Webster or Alex Zimmerman.

nature cover
Article by Professor Doug Edmonds and former Postdoc William Nardin is featured on the cover of the journal Nature Geoscience

Titled, "Optimum vegetation height and density for inorganic sedimentation in deltaic marshes", the article can be seen here. Cover image credit: Elizabeth Olliver.

Abstract: River deltas support a disproportionate percentage of the world’s population and some are drowning as sea level rises1. Resilient deltas theoretically balance relative sea-level rise with vertical growth from surface sedimentation. Vegetation generally enhances inorganic sedimentation and resiliency in some settings, such as tidal saltwater marshes8, but the effect of vegetation on freshwater marshes in river deltas is less clear. Here we use a hydrodynamic numerical model9 to simulate deposition in a river delta with varying vegetation characteristics and water discharge and show that vegetation does not always enhance sedimentation on a freshwater marsh. For a given flood, we find that intermediate vegetation height and density are optimal for enhancing both sand and mud deposition, whereas tall or dense vegetation causes sand to remain in the river channel, reducing marsh sedimentation. A multivariate regression analysis of remote-sensing data from Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana, USA shows that the delta exhibits a hydrodynamic response to vegetation in agreement with model predictions. Because most sediment is delivered to freshwater deltaic marshes by infrequent storm and flood events, we further suggest that the timing of such events relative to seasonal vegetation growth determines the integrated effect of vegetation on delta resiliency.

IU geochemist Chen Zhu plays key role in international study of Earth’s critical zone

From the IU Newsroom: Critical zone science is reaching critical mass, according to researchers who are involved in the new and comprehensive approach to studying environmental processes. And IU geochemist Chen Zhu is helping take it there. Chen Zhu, professor of geological sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, is focusing on expanding the approach to China, where population growth and industrialization are putting heavy pressure on the critical zone. more

IU Bloomington geophysicist Michael Hamburger explains the Napa earthquake.

Following the Napa earthquake on August 24th, Professor Michael Hamburger conducted a few press interviews with the local NBC news affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis. He used the opportunity to plant a seed for a little press coverage of the OIINK project.

Here’s the original story. There is a teaser at the end about OIINK, including a reference to the participating organizations. And then the follow up piece includes a visit to the G141 "Earthquakes and Volcanoes" class.


Representatives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips will be in the Department from September 10-19 holding interviews with students who are seeking jobs and internships in the energy field. On this website there are instructions for submitting applications prior to the interviews.

Geology Career Skills Workshop

Jeff Oslund, former Anadarko recruiter and IU alumnus met with students to discuss resumes and CVs, cover letters, interviewing skills, and networking venues and tips. This workshop ran on August 30th in the Department of Geological Sciences. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. PDF.

Unique Opportunity for Two Geoscience Students

Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, sponsored a Sustainability Seminar from August 25th through September 2nd, 2014. Out of an applicant pool of more than 150 U.S. students competing for only twelve seats, these four IU students were selected: Amishi Kumar, (Grad, Geological Sciences), Joseph Spaulding, (Engineering), Faith Groff, (Undergrad, Geological Sciences), and Meghan Ploch, (Environmental Science).

Project: Go Green On Campus. Turkey’s youth is slowly becoming aware of the global environment. Nevertheless, many young people neither understand what they are doing that contributes to the problem nor what they can do to help, mostly because of the hard-work, no-fun stigma surrounding green topics.

U.S. student involvement is crucial to the program’s success. The conference exposes U.S. students to a new region and market engaged in green dialogue and Turkish students to alternate problem-solving techniques outside the Turkish box. The mix of students also fosters new friendships and greater awareness of the issues in question. (link to PDF)

Emeritus Professor Erle Kauffman has been awarded The Paleontological Society’s 2014 Medal

The Paleontological Society’s medal is presented to a person whose eminence is based on advancement of knowledge in paleontology. Erle received the medal at the Society’s annual meeting which was held in conjunction with the GSA annual meeting in Vancouver.

The 2014 edition of the Hoosier Geologic Record is now online!

This interactive publication is a flip book that can be viewed on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Scattered throughout the booklet are blue highlighted text and QR codes that link to research and course websites within the Department. Clicking on these links will allow you to view the programs in more detail.

To access the navigation buttons, maximize your browser window before you open the URL. Here is the HGR WEBSITE

If you prefer a hard copy of the 2014 HGR, please contact Alumni Secretary Mary Iverson by phone at 812-856-3694, or email and she will send it by US mail.


David Polly
David Polly elected President of The Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is the primary professional society for vertebrate paleontologists, with more than 2000 members and endowments totaling about $2 million. The Society publishes the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and co-publishes Palaeontologia Electronica. The Society is also active in developing federal policy on the protection of vertebrate fossils, including advocacy for legislation in Congress.

Founded in 1940, the society now has more than 2,300 members representing professionals, students, artists, preparators, and others interested in VP. The society is organized exclusively for educational and scientific purposes. The object of the society is to advance the science of vertebrate paleontology and to serve the common interests and facilitate the cooperation of all persons concerned with the history, evolution, comparative anatomy, and taxonomy of vertebrate animals, as well as field occurrence, collection, and study of fossil vertebrates and the stratigraphy of the beds in which they are found. The society is also concerned with the conservation and preservation of fossil sites. Visit the Society’s website for more information.

New Summer Field Course in Geoarchaeological Methods: G490/690 Field Course in Geoarchaeological Methods

Join our field team as we learn about rockshelter formation, 10,000+ years of human occupation, and environmental change! Go to the course website for more information.

Michael Hamburger
Michael Hamburger is the recipient of the W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service.

This award, also known as the W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service, honors faculty members who are considered to be shining examples of dedication and excellence in service to others. Recipients are selected from more than 4,000 faculty members on all eight campuses. The awards are presented at the Celebration of Distinguished Teaching each spring, and they are accompanied by a cash award and a certificate.

W. George Pinnell, former executive vice president of Indiana University and former president of the Indiana University Foundation, was known for his stewardship as dean of the Kelley School of Business, for leadership in university administration, for initiatives in the Campaign for Indiana, and for service to state and national government. The Pinnell award, established in 1988, recognizes faculty members and librarians who have shown exceptional breadth of involvement and depth of commitment in service to the university, to their profession, or to the public.

Yifeng Wang selected Asian-American Engineer of the Year
Yifeng Wang

By Neal Singer
SANDIA LAB NEWS • February 21, 2014

Yifeng Wang has been selected by the Chinese Institute of Engineers/USA to receive the Asian American Engineer of the Year (AAEOY) award for 2014. The award annually recognizes "American individuals of Asian descent who have made exceptional contributions to the field of Engineering, Science, and/or as a Corporate Leader." Since 2002, some 180 corporate executives, managers, engineers, and researchers from leading US technology corporations, research institutions, and the US Armed Forces have received the AAEOY award, including seven Nobel laureates.

Yifeng was nominated by Sandia executive VP Kim Sawyer for "pioneering contributions to nanogeochemistry, nonlinear geochemistry, and environmental material development and sustained contributions to backend nuclear fuel cycle research." "This is a very real honor and I am thrilled by the selection. I would like to thank my colleagues and managers for their support and encouragement over the years," Yifeng says.

Yifeng, who grew up in a small village in China, came to the US in 1988 and became an American citizen in 2001. "For those like me who came to the US at that time, each person has his or her own interesting story," he says. "Mine is that when I first arrived in Bloomington, Indiana, as a visiting student I barely spoke English. I communicated with my graduate advisor mostly through writing in a notebook. Additionally, China and the US were so different. The cultural shock was huge." Yifeng earned a PhD degree in geochemistry from Indiana University in 1993. "I was lucky to have a chance to join the Indiana group, which was working on geochemical self-organization studies. The concepts I learned there, such as nonlinear dynamics and system complexity of Earth systems, have influenced my career in many ways."

After working a year and half at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral student, Yifeng joined Sandia in 1995. In the course of his 18-year career at Sandia, he became known for the broadness of his geological research interests, which span nanogeochemistry, biogeochemistry, early Earth evolution, environmental materials, and geologic repository science. A pioneer in nanogeochemistry, he was the first to demonstrate the effect of nanopore confinement on mineralwater interface chemistry and gave this new research field its name: nanogeochemistry. "Sandia is a good place for idea hybridization," he says. "Nanogeochemistry is a hybridization of geochemistry with nanoscience. Interestingly, the concepts we developed turned out to be quite useful for nuclear waste isolation and shale gas research."

At DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), Yifeng conceived and developed an innovative concept that used magnesium oxide to sequester microbially generated carbon dioxide and, additionally, to control WIPP disposal room chemistry. The concept proved critical to the EPA’s ultimate approval of WIPP. Magnesium oxide, in use since WIPP opened, is still the only engineered backfill in the WIPP repository design. "WIPP is the first project in which I was involved at Sandia," Yifeng says. "It was great for a fresh-out-of-school graduate to see his contribution become an integral part of a prominent engineering project, such as WIPP. This is another benefit of working at Sandia, where science and engineering come together naturally."

Yifeng, a distinguished researcher in geoscience engineering, is the technical lead for the DOE Used Fuel Disposition Crystalline Disposal R&D Work Package. He coordinates dozens of technical staff across eight national laboratories and other research organizations for this project. He’s also the principal investigator of an LDRD project involving shale gas disposition and release. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and has six patents issued or pending. He was joined by other recipients to receive the award at the AAEOY Award Ceremony on Saturday, March 1, in San Francisco.

IU Geosciences Professor Rebecca Barthelmie will give the Distinguished Faculty Research Lecture

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Wind energy now supplies enough electricity to power 15 million homes in the United States. According to the American Wind Energy Association, at the end of 2013, there were more U.S. wind power megawatts under construction than ever before, with projects underway in at least 20 states.

This phenomenal growth of wind energy and the future directions of the wind energy industry are the topics of the 2014 Distinguished Faculty Research Lecture, "Wind Energy 2030," presented by Rebecca J. Barthelmie, professor of atmospheric science and sustainability in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geological Sciences at IU Bloomington. The lecture takes place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in the IU Cinema, 1213 E. 7th Street.

Barthelmie, an internationally recognized expert in wind energy research, leads a number of large projects, with funding from the European Union, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, focused on studying wind turbines and large wind farms offshore and in the Midwest/Great Plains. For example, in 2011, she led a project of six institutions awarded $700,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to study offshore wind resources in the Great Lakes. In 2009, Barthelmie received the outstanding scientist award from the European Wind Energy Academy for her extraordinary efforts and sustained contributions in the field of wind energy research.

As demand for stable and reliable renewable energy sources increases, wind-generated electricity production is growing rapidly, Barthelmie notes, making research on the interactions between wind turbines and the surrounding atmosphere increasingly important. Wind energy is also a critical component of future low-carbon energy scenarios and can play a critical role in climate change mitigation.

"All utility-scale wind energy production now occurs in large wind power plants where tens or hundreds of wind turbines are deployed in arrays," Barthelmie says. "But how should turbines be placed, how can we maximize their lifetimes? My work is about optimizing the design and operation of wind farms so we can find even better ways to harness the power of the wind."

The Distinguished Faculty Research Lecture series is co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Provost at IU Bloomington. Begun in 1980, this annual event recognizes the research achievements of an IU Bloomington faculty member and is accompanied by a $3,000 award to support the distinguished lecturer’s continuing research. Past awardees include Elinor Ostrom, Ellen Ketterson, Richard DiMarchi, and Susan Williams.

Doug Edmonds
Doug Edmonds named 2014 Sloan Research Fellow

IU Geoscience Researcher Doug Edmonds is a 2014 recipient of the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation's Research Fellowship.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of 126 outstanding U.S. and Canadian researchers as recipients of the 2014 Sloan Research Fellowships. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.

From the IU Newsroom: His research focuses on developing scientific theories and models aimed at understanding how river deltas are created. The fate of deltaic coastlines is a pressing environmental problem. River deltas are slowly disappearing as sea level rises, resulting in a net loss of coastal land. And deltas are important: They are the link between land and ocean environments, are ecologically rich and support approximately 15 percent of the world population.

The $50,000 fellowship will further Edmonds’ research on predicting the resilience of deltaic systems to environmental stressors, such as sea-level rise, coastal subsidence and declining sediment supply. more

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance. More on the Sloan Foundation Website

Crossroads logo
Welcome to Crossroads Geology Conference 2014!

Crossroads will be held at Indiana University-Bloomington on March 28 and 29, 2014.

Abstract Deadline is February 28, 2014!

The student members of the Rho chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon at Indiana University invite you to participate in the annual Crossroads Geology Conference at Indiana University. This conference is a student-organized event featuring research presentations by graduate and undergraduate students in the geological and environmental sciences from a number of regional colleges and universities, at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Feel free to email us for more information. At the time of submission, applicants should specify whether they are requesting an oral or poster presentation. Oral presentation slots will be offered on a limited basis. Applicants who are not selected for oral presentations will have the option to present a poster. Conference Website

Geology and Paleoanthropology Field School in Tanzania May 13-June 24 2014

G349/549. Applications are now being accepted for a new field course. This Geo-paleoanthropology course will take advantage of IU’s long established reputation for field school instruction in the Earth sciences. Together with the research experiences available at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, a famous paleoanthropological site known for the discoveries of early human fossils by Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey, this field course will provide first-hand experience in the application of interdisciplinary field methods in physical, biological and cultural contexts of human evolution. more

Research confirms Mars once had conditions 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