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Indonesian Climate Shift Linked to Glacial Cycle

March 24, 2014| Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Using sediments from a remote lake, researchers from Brown University, including Jim Russell, have assembled a 60,000-year record of rainfall in central Indonesia. The analysis reveals important new details about the climate history of a region that wields a substantial influence on the global climate as a whole. The data are published this week in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.

Asteroid Vesta Has Unique "Space Weathering"

July 23, 2013| Geophysical Research Letters

Researchers, led by graduate student Kat Scanlon, have shown that some Martian valleys appear to have been caused by runoff from orographic precipitation - moisture carried part of the way up a mountain and deposited on the slopes.

November 30, 2012 | Nature

Although climate change will aggravate hydrological impacts on river systems, currently high levels of water extractions remain the pricipal contributor to reduced system flows. Changes in governance, including sharing the variability between the environment and consumers, are urgently required if the health of these rivers is to be maintained. Co-author Professor Amanda Lynch's primary role was in the Murray-Darling results-analysing rainfall and river flow variability.

November 1, 2012 | Nature

The surface of the giant asteroid Vesta is weathering in a way that appears to be completely different from any other asteroid yet visited, according to new data recorded by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft.“We know that the surface of Vesta is weathering" Professor Carle Pieters said "but it can't be happening in the same ways as these other bodies."

Mercury Probe Reveals Surprising Findings

March 22, 2012 | Science News

NASA’s Messenger probe is revealing some surprising findings about Mercury’s interior and topography. New topographic maps reveal areas in the north that probably come from volcanic activity, and suggest that the planet had a much livelier geologic history than expected. Additionally, unlike Earth’s, Mercury’s core consists of three layers instead of two. Jim Head is involved with this research.

Sun May Have Heavy Hand in Rain Cycles

March 16, 2012 | The Washington Post

New research by Yongsong Huang finds evidence to suggest that the solar cycle plays a significant role in precipitation fluctuations in the northeastern United States. Huang and another researcher analyzed a 6,800-year hydrogen isotope record from the Great Heath, a peatland in coastal Maine. They discovered a significant correlation between solar variations (high/low solar irradiance) and wet/dry periods in the Northeast.

Little Evidence of Fossil Preservation on Mars

March 15, 2012 |

A survey by a team of Brown scientists, including graduate student Tim Goudge, of 226 ancient lakebeds on Mars reveals that only a third show evidence of the mud and clays ideal for preserving fossil records on the surface today. The group pored over surface images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Odyssey Spacecraft, and the Mars Express spacecraft in search of lakes that once boasted water rushing out as well as in. They then analyzed the reflected light from each lake to determine their chemical composition, hoping to identify the muds and clays found in such systems on Earth.

Even During Coldest Times, Conifers Survived

March 1, 2012 | Science

Analysis of ancient DNA has found evidence that conifer trees like pine and spruce were alive and well in Norway as early as 20,000 years ago, during the height of the last European ice age. Thompson Webb says it is "astounding" that conifers were able to survive as far north as Norway during the height of the ice age. He calls the study "impressive, ... one of those surprising phenomena from the past that was waiting to be discovered."

Researchers Already Investigating Second Mars Mission

March 1, 2012 | Nature

After years of debating the potential landing site of the Mars rover, researchers are already discussing where they want to go next. At a recent workshop, the researchers came up with a list of 10 high-priority sites that must be characterized in preparation for future missions. Still, Jack Mustard says tensions that played out in the debate over Curiosity’s landing site are surfacing once more. “The debate hasn’t moved,” he says. “The positions have been established.”

If You Shoot a Gun in Space, Does It Make a Sound?

February 22, 2012 |

Pete Schultz contributes to this “Life’s Little Mysteries” column about what would happen if a gun was shot in space. He says that while the effect would not be very different from firing a gun on Earth, one major difference is that in space, you could theoretically shoot yourself in the back while in orbit around a planet. “The aim has to be perfect,” Schultz says.

Search for Water on Mercury Could Soon See Conclusion

December 16,2011| National Geographic

Based on new data from a NASA probe, astronomers say they’re close to proving that mysterious bright spots at Mercury’s poles are patches of water ice. Peter Schultz says it remains to been seen what will be found on the planet: “With the discovery of water and other volatiles on the moon, the search by Messenger for hidden polar ices [on Mercury] surely reflects exciting times.”

Flash Heating and Earthquakes

October 18, 2011 | Our Amazing Planet

In experiments mimicking the speed of earthquakes, geophysicists at Brown, including Terry Tullis and David Goldsby, detail a phenomenon known as flash heating. They report that because fault surfaces touch only at microscopic, scattered spots, these contacts are subject to intense stress and extreme heating during earthquakes, lowering their friction and thus the friction of the fault. The localized, intense heating can occur even while the temperature of the rest of the fault remains largely unaffected.

September 30, 2011 | Los Angeles Times

Planetary scientists at Brown and participating institutions have discovered vast, smooth plains around Mercury’s north pole that were created by volcanic activity more than 3.5 billion years ago. The lava flows were epic: They filled craters more than a mile deep and cover 6 percent of Mercury’s surface, an area that would cover nearly 60 percent of the continental United States. “Volcanism is important because it represents the pulse of the planets,” says Jim Head, who led the study. “It’s like the blood of the interior: Is it not doing much inside, or is it really active?”

July 27, 2011 | Reuters

Following the end of its shuttle program, NASA announced plans for a robotic science laboratory to land on Mars in August 2012 near the Gale Crater. The purpose of the mission is to determine whether the planet has or ever had the ingredients for life. Jack Mustard says that the landing site is of interest because it is a major time boundary marking the change from an early, wet environment suitable for life to one that became more hostile.

July 12, 2011 | Wired Science

New research is shedding light on what triggered mass extinctions 200 million years ago during the end-Triassic era. Some scientists now believe that as ocean temperatures rose, potent greenhouse gases trapped in seafloor mud came bubbling up wiping out almost everything living on Earth. Jessica Whiteside says that while its unclear what role methane actually had during that time period, a possibility of a CO2-methane loop is real and probably contributed to extinctions during other time periods.

NASA Spacecraft Enters Asteroid's Orbit

July 15, 2011 | Christian Science Monitor

On Saturday, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit about the asteroid Vesta, which it will study for a year. Researchers are hoping that data on minerals and the chemistry of the asteroid’s surface will give clues to the formation of planets. Carle Pieters, professor of geological sciences and a member of Dawn’s science team, says researchers received a wealth of information as the spacecraft made its approach: “We’re just thrilled with some of the initial images. Everything is working perfectly.”

Bracing for Impact

May 17, 2011 | Washington Post

After years of studying images from space, NASA scientists have narrowed down the locations where the next Mars rover should land. After previously rooting for the Nili Fossae region, which was ruled out because it was deemed too dangerous, Jack Mustard, who is on a NASA advisory panel involved with the decision, says that he now supports going to Mawrth: “It’s not a one-trick pony. You’ve got more than enough compelling outcrops that one can test.”

March 15, 2011 | The Providence Journal

Several local scientists are studying the scientific factors that contributed to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Terry Tullis says that part of his work involves educating the public about earthquakes, particularly in areas like the Pacific Northwest, where conditions are similar to the geophysics that set the stage for Japan’s earthquake.

Comet Flyby Reveals Surprising Images

February 15, 2011 | BBC News

Researchers are looking at images returned by a NASA mission that involved the first-ever return trip to a comet. The comet, Tempel 1, was first visited in 2005, when a NASA spacecraft fired a projectile at it, forming a crater. Pete Schultz says that the crater left by the impact appears to have changed.

Scientists Eye New Source for Rare Elements

January 4, 2011 | Investment News

Gadgets such as iPads and e-readers require minute amounts of substances called rare earth elements to function. These elements are primarily mined in China, but researchers are now looking into the possibility that rare earth elements could be mined on the moon. Carle Pieters says more support is needed for such research.

December 20, 2010 | The Boston Globe
Several studies have revealed that climate change and cultural change may have gone hand-in-hand as far back as the prehistoric era. “If you persistently see these time-synchronous changes, it certainly says that climate change is playing a role in why people are changing the tool types and materials they use,’’ says Paige Newby-Henderson, visiting assistant professor of geological sciences, who participated in one such 2005 study.

A Productive Collision

October 21, 2010 | Brown Press Release
Peter Schultz and graduate student Brendan Hermalyn analyzed data from bits of the Moon’s surface kicked up by a NASA-engineered collision. They found unexpected complexity — and traces of silver.

MBL Scientists Reveal Findings of World Ocean Microbe Census

October 4, 2010 | MBL Press Release
As a result of a huge international collaboration, scientists discovered that there may be up to 1 billion kinds of marine microbes—more than 100 times more diverse than plants and animals—and as many as 38,000 kinds of microbes in a typical liter of sea water. “Believe it or not, this is unique, this coupling of (genetic) diversity data and contextual data,” says Brown Assistant Professor (MBL) Linda Amaral Zettler. Image: Linda Amaral Zettler

Moon’s Mineral Treasures Revealed

October 4, 2010 |
The moon is being eyed as a possible source of precious minerals, particularly as the United States becomes more reliant on other countries to supply these rare elements. Professor Carle Pieters says that while data indicates such minerals do exist on the moon, it’s difficult to determine their character and distribution. Image: NASA

Sediment Cores Yield 1,500-year Health History of Narragansett Bay

September 29, 2010 | Today at Brown
Graduate student Jeff Salacup took core samples of Narragansett Bay, which he hopes will paint a precise ecological history spanning 1,500 years — in eight-year increments. See also Brown Daily Herald >>

Moon's Scars Reveal a Troubled Childhood

September 16, 2010 | Discovery News
A team of researchers led by James Head create the first comprehensive catalogue of the moon’s surface. Mapping the most significant craters sheds lights on the impacts from comets, asteroids and other space matter that the moon has endured throughout its history. See also: Brown Press Release>> Image: NASA/LRO/LOLA/GSFC/MIT/Brown

Characterizing Pathways for Mantle Melt

August 31, 2010 | Science Daily
A team of Brown researchers led by Yan Liang and Marc Parmentier has investigated pathways through which Earth’s mantle melt migrates to the surface. Their results could help geologists interpret field measurements and improve models for mantle melt migration, shedding light on mantle dynamics and crust formation.

Life on Mars?

July 30, 2010 | BBC News
Planetary geologist Jack Mustard comments on Martian rocks that researchers say could contain the fossilized remains of life on early Mars. See also the Brown Press Release >> Image: ASA/JPL/JHUAPL/University of Arizona/Brown University

Graduate Student Receives STAR Grant

July 27, 2010 | Nature
Closer Look at Cosmic Impacts: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's detailed snapshots are yielding insights into the mechanics of asteroid and comet impacts and how frequently they occur. Peter Schultz said the work, “gives us another foothold into dating the Solar System”

Graduate Student Receives STAR Grant

July 27, 2010
Grad student Jeff Salacup has been awarded a NCER "Science to Achieve Results (STAR)" grant. Jeff received the award through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. At present, NCER centers its grants to focus on children’s health, hazardous substances, particulate matter, and estuarine and coastal monitoring.

Senator Whitehouse proposes national fund for ocean research

July 9, 2010 | Providence Journal
“The Insomniacs” take boats out on Narragansett Bay after midnight to measure oxygen levels in the water when they were at their lowest. The monitoring done by Dave Murray and others is used to help find ways to prevent such ecological disasters and protect the state’s waters. They said an ocean endowment fund would guarantee that their work goes on.

Brown Scientists Demonstrate How Crater is Formed

June 30, 2010 | New Scientist
Grad student Brendan Hermalyn and Professor Peter Schultz used a gun at NASA's Ames Vertical Gun Range to fire projectiles into sand at speeds of up to 5.6 kilometres per second. The resulting craters form in 100 milliseconds or less. By using high-speed video cameras that can capture up to 15,000 frames per second, the team could track individual sand particles as they were ejected from the impact.

Mars, Another "Blue" Planet?

June 13, 2010 |
Analysis of a ring of dry deltas on Mars suggests that the planet was once home to a huge body of water that covered one-third of its surface. Postdoc Caleb Fassett says the work signals a different approach to thinking about past conditions on Mars. Image: B.Hynek/University of Colorado

Ancient Climate Change 'Link' to CO2

June 9, 2010 | BBC
A "global pattern" of change in the Earth's climate began 2.7 million years ago, say a team of scientist led by Professor Tim Herbert.

Deeper Impact

June 9, 2010 | New Scientist
Researchers have postulated that an entire basin off of Mumbai is an impact crater from a meteorite. Peter Schultz disagrees. Large objects such as meteorites “have not produced impacts in the last 3 billion years,” he says.

Two Awarded NSF USSP Scholarship

May 30, 2010
Graduate students Jaime Toney and Danielle Grogan were just two of 10 U.S. graduate students selected for the NSF USSP Scholarship. They will attend Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology in Italy. This year's focus is Past Global Change Reconstruction and Modeling Techniques.

Commencement 2010

May 30, 2010
Sunday, May 30th was a beautiful day for Brown University's 242nd commencement. The department of Geological Sciences held its diploma ceremony on MacMillan Green. Check out the photo slide show >>

Crater Photos Display Martian Weather

May 20, 2010 | Christian Science Monitor
NASA’s rover Opportunity has taken new photographs of dust blowing out of a Mars crater. According to Mike Wyatt, the photographs reveal new data about Martian wind patterns through the images of the dust trail. Image courtesy NASA.

Mining Rocks and Minerals for Pleasure

May 17, 2010 | Providence Business News
For Carle Pieters, minerals and rocks are her passion. Her interests arose from her desire to explore, taking her around the world to study rare rocks and collaborating with NASA to analyze the composition of materials in space. Image courtesy Frank Mullin.

African Lake is Warmest on Record

May 16, 2010 | Reuters
Graduate Student Jess Tierney, Professor Jim Russell and several undergraduate researchers have determined that Lake Tanganyika, the east African rift lake, has experienced unprecedented warming during the last century, and its surface waters are the warmest on record.

Mars Crater Dust Reveals Clues About Weather


May 14, 2010 |
Black dust being blown from a crater on Mars can yield intriguing clues about the Red Planet’s weather, says Michael Wyatt, assistant professor of geological sciences. Image: NASA

Grad Student Helps Gregorian School Go Greener

May 11, 2010 | Today @ Brown
Fifth-grade students at Vartan Gregorian Elementary School in Providence honored Arbor Day by planting five trees on the school grounds. The project was organized by Brown graduate student Jaime Toney, who teaches science at the school as part of the National Science Foundation Graduate K-12 program.

Congratulations to Bethany Ehlmann


April 2010
Bethany Elhmann received the Joukowsky award for the outstanding Ph.D. dissertation this year in the University. Her thesis is entitled “Early Mars Environments Revealed Through Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of Alteration Minerals”

Moscow Solar System Symposium


April 2010
The first Moscow Solar System Symposium (1M-S3) will be held in October, 2010 in Moscow and will be devoted to Mars system studies. More information >>

Hartnett Fellow Selected


April 23, 2010
First year graduate student Xi Yang has been selected as this year’s Hartnett Fellow in the Brown-MBL Graduate partnership. This is an honor that is made possible by generous philanthropy funding by the Rosenthal family. A meritorious student in the Brown-MBL program is selected each year for this honor.

2010 Sarah LaMendola Undergraduate Research Award


April 23, 2010
Rising senior Ana Magali Heureux has been selected for this year's Sarah LaMendola Undergraduate Research Award. This award recognizes her excellent academic record as well as the outstanding potential of her Senior Thesis research. The award will provide funds to support travel and other research expenses associated with her thesis project.

Congrats to Don Forsyth


April 19, 2010 | Brown University Press Release
Professor Don Forsyth was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 211 new Fellows and 19 Foreign Honorary Members include scholars; scientists; jurists; writers; artists; and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders.

M3 Data Finds New Moon Rock


April 9, 2010 | Brown News and Features
Using data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, Carle Pieters has discovered an interesting rock on the far side of the moon. The lunar spinel, identified by its signature wavelength, was a stunning discovery, suggesting a new range of geological processes behind mineral concentrations on the moon and demonstrating the power of remote sensing.

Long Term Geo Employee Retires...


April 9, 2010
Pauline Fennelly, a Brown/Geo employee for nearly 18 years, retired on April 15th. The department celebrated her many years of dedicated service with a party and a "short" film in her honor. Watch the film >>

View Photos from the event >>

Epic volcanism wiped out dinosaurs’ primary competitors


March 23, 2010 | BBC
An epic surge in volcanism and spikes in atmospheric greenhouse gases are the main reasons why dinosaurs outlasted their main competitors and assumed dominion over the animal kingdom about 201 million years ago, a team led by Jessica Whiteside found.

China begins “long march” to the moon


March 16, 2010 | MSNBC
Jim Head talks about China’s lunar aspirations and the possibilities of international cooperation. Image: Shanghai Aerospace.

Powerful Earthquakes: Are they Linked?


March 10, 2010 | Today at Brown
Since January, a series of major earthquakes has struck around the world: Haiti, Chile, Taiwan, Turkey. Terry Tullis explains what is happening, and why.

Chilean earthquake 500 times more powerful than Haitian


March 1 , 2010 | MSNBC
Terry Tullis comments live on the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile.

Iceball Mars Proving a Tough Place to Find Liquid Water


February 26, 2010 | Science
Planetary geologists such as James Head aren't surprised that roughly equal amounts of ice and rock underlie Dorsa Argentea.

Real Science and How it's Done


February 23, 2010 | Today at Brown
Fourth and fifth graders at a Providence school get up close with a dogfish – and with Brown graduate student mentors like Jaime Toney who bring a passion for science to the classroom through the GK-12 project.

Fischer President-Elect as Head of AGU's Seismology Section


February 15, 2010
Professor Karen Fischer was selected as President-Elect of the AGU Seismology Section. This is a significant recognition of her leadership in the field.

Student, Skier, Islander

February 15, 2010 | The Vancouver Sun
In Vancouver, Dow Travers, a Brown junior and Geo-Bio concentrator, will compete in the giant slalom. He is the first winter Olympian from his home country, the Cayman Islands.

Hirth President-Elect as Head of AGU's Tectonophysics Section


February 12, 2010
Professor Greg Hirth was recently elected to head the Tectonophysic section of AGU. This is a significant recognition of his leadership in the field.

MARGINS Judges Award Honorable Mention


February 10, 2010
Linda Chernak was informed that the MARGINS judges awarded her 2009 AGU presentation an honorable mention. The title of her presentation was: "Antigorite Rheology: Implications for Slab-Wedge Coupling and Intermediate Depth Seismicity". This award places Linda in the top tier of the student entrants and recognizes an exceptional standard.

New Rock Type Seen on Moon’s Far Side


February 9, 2010 | The Hindu
Carle Pieters told an international conference that her team has found a new rock type on the far side of the moon. Pieters announced the finding at the Sixth Chandrayaan-1 Science Meeting being held at the Physical Research Laboratory, a unit of the Indian Space Research Organization.

Carle Pieters Receives the GSA G. K. Gilbert Award


February 1 , 2010
Professor Carle Pieters is the 2010 recipient of the Geological Society of America's G.K. Gilbert Award. The G. K. Gilbert Award is presented annually for outstanding contributions to the solution of fundamental problems in planetary geology in the broadest sense, which includes geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, geophysics, geologic mapping, and remote sensing.

Professor Elected AGU Fellow


January 25, 2010
Karen Fischer has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Only one in each thousand members is elected to Fellowship each year. The 2010 Fellows’ certificates, medals, and awards will be presented at the Honors Ceremony during the Fall AGU Meeting in December.

Horodyskyj Shares Adventure with Norton, MA Students


January 17, 2010 | The Sun Chronicle
A flag that Norton, MA students signed in November reached Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit – 19,340 feet up – when graduate student Ulyana Horodyskyj reached it November 28, 2009.

Satellite Find Shows Moon Engulfed by Magma Ocean


January 11, 2010 | New Scientist
A recent discovery of a wide outcrop of iron-poor plagioclase clinches the theory that the moon was roiled by a global magma ocean soon after it was formed in a cataclysmic collision of planetary bodies, says Carle Pieters. The story was carried also by the Asian News International news service. Image: Lunar Orbit 4/NASA

Mars Gully Finding Makes Top Science Stories of Year


December 23, 2009 | BBC News (under "March")
A finding by geology graduate student Samuel Schon that a gully system on Mars may have hosted flowing water as recently as a little more than a million years ago made the list of top science stories of 2009.

Graduate Student Maps Venus's North Pole


December 20, 2009 | Today at Brown
Debra Hurwitz’s map will shed new light on a planet that has been largely ignored by planetary scientists in favor of the moon and Mars. Photo: John Abrowmowksi

Geo Grad Goes to Copenhagen Climate Summit


December 7, 2009 | Providence Journal
Aron Buffen, a Ph.D. student in geology at Brown, is attending a special side session at the Copenhagen Climate Summit hosted by Yale University and the University of Copenhagen.

Oceanic crust formation is dynamic after all


November 30, 2009 | Science 360
Oceanic crust formation is dynamic after all: A paper written by Professor Don Forsyth and graduate student Yun Wang is featured on Science 360, a web site run by the National Science Foundation. Image courtesy Google.

Eureka! Scientists Find Water Ice on the Moon


November 14, 2009 | New York Times
Peter Schultz is a member of the NASA space team that has discovered water ice on the south pole of the moon. The finding comes from the LCROSS mission, which slammed a rocket into a lunar crater and analyzed the plume of debris that arose from the impact. Schultz’s comments were also carried by the Associated Press, BBC, USA Today, the Washington Post and media outlets worldwide. Image courtesy NASA.

Hunting Climate Clues in Antarctica


November 12 , 2009 | Today at Brown
Brown geologists are braving subfreezing temperatures for three months to visit “the oldest ice on Earth.” Their goal? A better understanding of our planet’s climate history – and current conditions on Mars.

Professor Jim Head Receives Award


October 29, 2009 | European Geoscience Union
Jim Head has been awarded the European Geophysical Union's Runcorn-Florensky Medal. The medal citation reads: "This medal has been established by the Division on Planetary and Solar System Sciences in recognition of the scientific achievements of Keith Runcorn and Cyril Florensky. It is reserved for scientists for their exceptional contributions to planetology, defined in its widest sense." Image courtesy EGU.

NASA Bombs the Moon's Surface in Search of Water


October 9, 2009 | Agence France-Presse
A story featuring professor Peter Schultz’s analysis of the LCROSS impact mission was carried worldwide. Image courtesy NASA.

Brown Scientists Announce Finding of Water on the Moon


September 23, 2009 | Brown Press Release
Brown University scientists have made a major discovery: The moon has distinct signatures of water. The discovery came from a paper published in Science detailing findings from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA instrument aboard the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1. Carle Pieters is the principal investigator of the M3 instrument and the lead author of the Science paper.

$1 Million NSF Grant Funds Grassroots Support Network


September 16, 2009 | Today at Brown
Women in the male-dominated earth sciences often experience isolation and low self-confidence. Now, a Brown-based peer support network is helping them succeed. The network, Assistant Professor Meredith Hastins (pictured left) says, will act as a sounding board for early-career women geoscientists, whom she calls “the voice of a generation.”

India’s first moon probe lost, but data may yield finds


August 31, 2009 | National Geographic
India’s first moon exploration mission was cut short Sunday after the country’s national space agency lost radio contact with Chandrayaan-1, an unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon. Despite the mission’s premature end, the probe has already yielded a treasure trove of useful data, said Carle Pieters, the principal investigator of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA instrument on Chandrayaan-1. For more information, please contact Richard Lewis at 401-863-3766. Image: AP

Egg-cup craters could yield clues of ice on Mars


August, 2009 | New Scientist
Distinctive pedestal craters that look like giant, towering egg cups may yield keen insights into the past accumulation of ice on Mars. The research was led by grad student Seth Kadish. Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona