News and Outreach Events 2016

SGE school demo
SGE Hosts Students from St. Charles Elementary

A group of 46 first grade students from St. Charles Elementary School visited the Department of Geological Sciences on May 12. Carley Gasaway, Kevin Webster, and Alex Zimmerman led hands-on geology activities with the students, covering rock and mineral properties, plate tectonics and Pangaea, along with fossils and ancient life. The students were able to test mineral properties with a variety of mineral samples, reconstruct the continents to form Pangaea, and examine Cretaceous marine fossils and replica dinosaur skulls to think about ancient animal diets.

Amanda Whaling
Amanda Whaling’s Poster Wins Award at North Central GSA Meeting

Amanda’s poster entitled, Quantifying Avulsion Activity on river Deltas from 1984-2012, presented at the recent North-Central Section Geological Society of American meeting, has received a Great Lakes Section SEPM best undergraduate student poster award from the Great Lakes Section of SEPM (the Society for Sedimentary Geology). Amanda is an undergraduate student in Doug Edmonds’ research group.


Chaos limits predictability of hurricane intensities. If a butterfly sets off a hurricane halfway around the world, how well can we forecast the storm’s strength?

Quoting from Richard J. Fitzgerald in Physics Today: "Weather is the archetypical example of a chaotic system. Indeed, it was his calculations of weather models that led Edward Lorenz to his landmark 1963 paper that helped launch modern chaos theory. Lorenz famously gave a 1972 talk titled "Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" Chanh Kieu and Zachary Moon at Indiana University Bloomington now report on a related question: How well can we forecast the intensity of a hurricane? ...Using a minimal dynamic model, Kieu and Moon found that the limiting speed is stable: Simulated hurricanes approach that equilibrium value regardless of their initial conditions. Yet the errors in forecasts of hurricane intensity don’t go away as one might expect; rather, speed errors level off at about 8 m/s (18 mph) after four to five days in real-time intensity forecasts. Through full-physics simulations, the pair discovered that those errors arise from a so-called chaotic attractor at the maximum potential intensity limit. That finding implies that improvements in intensity forecasts are more likely to come from better modeling of the large-scale environment than from better knowledge of the storm's initial state. Even so, the researchers note, the maximum range of predictability is only about three days, and likely shorter for mature hurricanes."

Citation: C. Q. Kieu, Z. Moon, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., in press. DOI

IU Paleontology Collection Open House
Paleontology Open House

Image: Collections Manager Gary Motz illustrates the size difference between a regular snake vertebra and a vertebra from the ancient Titanoboa snake.

Held on April 30, 2016, the open house to celebrate the re-opening of the Indiana University Paleontology Collection was very well attended by both current and former IU students and faculty and by the general public.

The Collection is a research-focused repository for fossil specimens from Indiana and around the world operated by the Department of Geological Sciences, and is now housed on the 5th floor of the Geology building.

Give Now

As part of the celebration, the Gary Lane Memorial Fund to support the collection was announced. If you want to make a donation to the fund, please click on the "Give Now" button (right) and type N. Gary Lane Paleontology Collection Fund into the search area.

Inside IU Bloomington | Paleontology Collection website

Crossroads Geology Conference

The annual Crossroads Geology Conference was held on April 1st and 2nd in the Department of Geological Sciences. The presentation winners are:

  • Undergrad Poster - Amanda Whaling and Michael Lara
  • M.S. Poster - Kerry Neil, IU - SPEA
  • PhD Poster - Rebecca Caldwell
  • Undergrad Oral - Madison Ferrara
  • M.S. Oral - Ciara Mills
  • PhD Oral - Ryan Sincavage, Vanderbilt

An incredible amount of effort goes into planning the conference, and we wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who dedicated not just two days, but months of planning to ensure its success.

A particularly important thank you goes out to Pat Kane and Carley Gasaway for planning everything related to food (and dealing with any last minute, behind the scenes issues). Thank you to Cameron Stewart and Annie White, this year’s co-chairs (in training), for so willingly and gracefully taking on this large task. Thank you to this year’s oral session hosts, John Kearney and Cameron Stewart. Thank you to the rest of this year’s Crossroads Committee (as well as helpful bystanders!) for picking up all of the remaining slack (often, without even needing to be asked), including Anthony Frushour, Ellen Reat, Devon Colcord, Steven Davey, Elizabeth Olliver, Ciara Mills, James Lee, Molly Williams, Nic Downton, Michael Lara, and Ryan Sincavage.

Thank you to all of the wonderful staff members that helped out at every turn, in particular John Hettle, Mary Iverson, Pam Christenberry, Erica Kendall, Karla Lewis, Tammi Duzan, Diane Dupree, Ruth Droppo, John Walker, Terry Stigall, and Megan Divine.

Thank you to Lisa Pratt for all of her support (and for organizing the monetary donation from the department). Thank you to Jeremiah Mickey for helping out with budgetary needs, and Claudia Johnson for all of her support as the SGE faculty advisor. Finally, thank you to all 20 amazing Judges who spent the weekend interacting with and supporting students!

Rebecca Caldwell
GeoSci Graduate Student Rebecca Caldwell Won IU Thesis Competition

Rebecca Caldwell, a student in Doug Edmonds' group, won the Three Minute Thesis Competition at IU on February 11, 2016. She was awarded first prize in the IU competition (out of 22 participants) for her three minute presentation. She won $250 and the right to represent IU and the department in the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools final competition April 8th in Chicago. In Chicago she will present a three minute talk on How are river deltas controlled by global environmental conditions?

IU Paleontology Collection Open House April 30, 2016

The Department of Geological Sciences Geobiology faculty are hosting an Open House to celebrate the re-opening of the Indiana University Paleontology Collection.

The Collection is a research-focused repository for fossil specimens from Indiana and around the world operated by the Department of Geological Sciences. Founded in 1903 by IU geologist E. R. Cumings, the Collection now contains an estimated 1.3 million fossils that document life on Earth for the last 520 million years.

We have just moved the entire Collection into new facilities with financial assistance from the National Science Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences and have embarked on a partnership with the IU Herbarium and William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Collection to invigorate research using the University’s extensive and unique specimen holdings.

Prof. William Ausich, a prominent paleontologist and IU Alum, will speak about life in the ancient Midwest and about the importance of the IU Paleontology Collection for scientific research. Details and the schedule of events can be found on this website.

NIOSH announces appointment of Jessica Kogel (née Elzea) as new Associte Director for Mining

Jessica M. Elzea received her Ph.D under Haydn Murray and Lisa Pratt in 1990. Her dissertation title is Geology, geochemistry, selected physical properties, and genesis of the Cretaceous Clay Spur Bentonite in Wyoming and Montana. Link to her dissertation

WASHINGTON, D. C.: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announces the appointment of Jessica Kogel, Ph.D., as the new Associate Director for Mining in the Office of the Director, effective February 8, 2016.

In this role, Dr. Kogel will lead the development and implementation of a dynamic research program focused on ensuring the health and safety of mine workers. She will also work to ensure the program continues to have the resources needed to carry out its responsibilities of conducting a multi-faceted and impactful research agenda.

"Dr. Kogel brings with her expertise and experience that will be invaluable to NIOSH as we look to the future of mining research," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "I am pleased to welcome her and confident in her leadership to continue the critical work to improve the health and safety of our nation’s miners."

Dr. Kogel brings with her over 25 years of experience and has held a number of senior positions in the mining industry. Prior to joining NIOSH, she was the Senior Manager for Mining and Geology at Imerys S.A., a French multinational company which specializes in the production and processing of industrial minerals. In addition to serving on the NORA Mining Sector Council, Dr. Kogel serves on the editorial board of the Mineral and Metallurgical Processing Journal. She is the author of numerous articles in minerals research. She holds four patents in the field of minerals geology.

She has been actively involved in professional organizations, serving as president of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) in 2013 and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees of the SME Foundation. She is also the Vice-Chairman of the Board of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum.

Dr. Kogel received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Earth Science from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Science degree in Geology from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geology also from Indiana University. (NIOSH)

Indiana University and Virginia Tech geochemists show experimental verification of key principle
Chen Zhu

Quoting IU Newsroom: Geochemists at Indiana University and Virginia Tech have developed and demonstrated a technique for assessing the validity of a principle that has long been important in thermodynamics and chemical kinetics but has proven resistant to experimental verification. Called the principle of detailed balance, the concept is widely used in models to ensure the long-term safety of environmental projects such as storage sites for nuclear waste and for carbon dioxide.

The study, A stable isotope doping method to test the range of applicability of detailed balance was published in Geochemical Perspectives Letters, a publication of the European Association of Geochemists. Co-authors are IU postdoctoral researcher Zhaoyun Liu and doctoral student Yilun Zhang; J. Donald Rimstidt of Virginia Tech; and Honglin Yuan of Northwest University in Xian, China.

"Even though this principle is the cornerstone of a great deal of chemistry and quantum mechanics, it is difficult to demonstrate," said Chen Zhu, professor of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and an author of the study. "We have assumed that it works in many situations without experimental verification." This work was funded by the National Science Foundation. Link to the IU Bloomington Newsroom article.

Crossroads Geology Conference Abstract Deadline

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.

The conference will be held on April 1st and 2nd in the Department of Geological Sciences. If you are interested in participating, the deadline for abstracts is March 23. More information is available on the Crossroads website.

IU Graduate Named University President

Stephen Wells is an active member of our department Advisory Board. He grew up in Bloomington and his sister stills lives in the Unionville area. His brother-in-law is Jeremiah Young who owns Nature’s Way landscape firm.

(Compiled by Michael Reschke 812-331-4370 Former Bloomington resident and Indiana University graduate Stephen G. Wells has been selected as the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s 16th president.

He served as president of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada since 1999. Before that, he was the graduate program director for the Department of Earth Science at the University of California-Riverside from 1991 to 1995. He also served on the faculty in the Department of Geology at the University of New Mexico from 1976 to 1991.

Wells earned his bachelor’s in geology from Indiana University in 1971, and his master’s and doctorate, both in geology, from the University of Cincinnati in 1973 and 1976. He will take office on July 1, 2016.

IU Paleontology Collection seeking volunteers

Are you looking for a volunteer position? The IU Paleontology Collection, located on the 5th floor of the Geology Building, is now open and available for research purposes. We are currently seeking volunteers from the IU and Bloomington community to help with the daily management of the collection. Contact Gary Motz for more information

Rebecca Caldwell
Graduate Student Rebecca Caldwell AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award

Rebecca Caldwell, a graduate student in Doug Edmonds' group, won an Outstanding Student Paper Award at the 2015 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Her paper was titled Developing a truly global delta database to assess delta morphology and morphodynamics. Link to the award | DOI


Geological Sciences Professor Emeritus David Dilcher Co-Authored a paper in Proceedings B of The Royal Society Publishing

Image credit: Vichai Malikul, Entomology Department, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Oregramma illecebrosa consuming pollen drops on the frutification of a bennettitalean plant (Williamsonia).

The evolutionary convergence of mid-Mesozoic lacewings and Cenozoic butterflies

Abstract: Mid-Mesozoic kalligrammatid lacewings (Neuroptera) entered the fossil record 165 million years ago (Ma) and disappeared 45 Ma later. Extant papilionoid butterflies (Lepidoptera) probably originated 80–70 Ma, long after kalligrammatids became extinct. Although poor preservation of kalligrammatid fossils previously prevented their detailed morphological and ecological characterization, we examine new, well-preserved, kalligrammatid fossils from Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous sites in northeastern China to unravel a surprising array of similar morphological and ecological features in these two, unrelated clades. We used polarized light and epifluorescence photography, SEM imaging, energy dispersive spectrometry and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry to examine kalligrammatid fossils and their environment. We mapped the evolution of specific traits onto a kalligrammatid phylogeny and discovered that these extinct lacewings convergently evolved wing eyespots that possibly contained melanin, and wing scales, elongate tubular proboscides, similar feeding styles, and seed–plant associations, similar to butterflies. Long-proboscid kalligrammatid lacewings lived in ecosystems with gymnosperm–insect relationships and likely accessed bennettitalean pollination drops and pollen. This system later was replaced by mid-Cretaceous angiosperms and their insect pollinators.
Link to the on-line paper | PDF

Chanh Kieu
Geosci faculty member Chanh Kieu’s research is featured in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

A recent research study by Chanh Kieu is now featured on the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (November issue, 2015). In this study, he was able to demonstrate for the first time the stable equilibrium of the hurricane maximum potential intensity (MPI) under the wind-induced surface heat exchange hypothesis. The MPI solution was first found in 1986 by Emanuel, but its stability has been a long conjecture since then. Chanh’s recent work on QJ tackles this stability issue directly, thus answering a standing question related to the MPI equilibrium. More details can be found in this link:

Recent publication names a new species after Professor Emeritus Don Hattin

A publication titled, "Origin and phylogeny of the Cretaceous thoracican cirripede family Stramentidae" by A.S. Gale, which appeared in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, includes a new species named Leweslepas hattini sp. nov.

Abstract: A cladistic analysis of basal scalpellomorph cirripedes was undertaken in order to identify the phylogenetic position of the Stramentidae. This yielded a well-supported tree, in which the family is positioned crownwards of Archaeolepas, but basal to the families Scalpellidae and Zeugmatolepadidae. A new genus, Loriolepas, is described to accommodate some species previously referred to Archaeolepas. Basal scalpellomorphs display a remarkable change in shell mineralogy from calcium phosphate to calcium carbonate (Eolepas to Archaeolepas); the latter group is identified as a monophyletic clade, the Thoracicalcarea nov. A revised taxonomy of the predominantly Late Cretaceous cirripede family Stramentidae is presented. Stramentidae are subdivided into two subfamilies, Loriculinae subfam. nov., and Stramentinae, based on characters of tergum, carinolatus and peduncular plates. The former subfamily includes Loriculina Dames, 1885, Metaloriculinagen. nov. and, doubtfully, Blastolepas Drushchits and Zevina, 1969, and three new species are described, Loriculina ifrimae sp. nov., Metaloriculina stramentioides sp. nov and Metaloriculina norvicensis sp. nov. The Stramentinae include Leweslepas gen. nov., Stramentum Logan, 1897 and Parastramentum gen. nov. New species are Leweslepas hattini sp. nov, L. hauschkei sp. nov, L. wrightorum sp. nov, Parastramentum albertaensissp. nov, P. brydonei sp. nov, P. peakei sp. nov, Stramentum alekseevi sp. nov and S. praecursor sp. nov. Cladistic analysis of the Stramentidae, based on 25 characters, supports the monophyly of the family, but relationships between subfamilies and genera are poorly resolved. However, in north-west Europe there is an evolutionary morphocline, stratigraphically calibrated, from the early Cenomanian Leweslepas hauschkei gen. et sp. nov. through the middle Cenomanian Stramentum praecursor sp. nov. to the late Cenomanian–Turonian S. pulchellum. A split from this lineage is found in the Western Interior Basin of North America, and the early Turonian S. canadensis gave rise to the middle Turonian S. elegans, which lived epibenthically. Stramentum elegans gave rise to Parastramentum gen. nov. Here is a link to the paper (PDF)