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School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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New study in Nature reveals rapid global temperature redistribution

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School of Earth and Climate Sciences Professor Karl Kreutz, along with former UMaine graduate students Bess Koffman, Dan Breton, and Dominic Winski and Honors student Eliza Kane, participated in a recently published study of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide core. The study reveals that abrupt climate change that began in Greenland spread in ~200 years to the Antarctic, with ocean currents responsible for transferring the heat.

For more details, see the full UMaine news item:

The Nature article is at:

In that same issue is a paper co-authored by Kreutz’s former UMaine Honors student Matthew Kohler, now at the University of Washington. Matt’s study uses nitrogen isotopes to evaluate the origin of biological nitrogen fixation billions of years ago in Earth’s history.

Former Ph.D. student in the inaugural class of Dartmouth’s “Society of Fellows”

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Recent Ph.D. graduate Bess Koffman has been awarded one of five prestigious inaugural postdoctoral fellowships in the newly established Society of Fellows at Dartmouth College. Bess completed her Ph.D. in paleoclimatology, focusing on the record of atmospheric dust preserved in Antarctic ice cores, in 2013, and later that year began an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. A full description of the new Society of Fellows is available at:

Ed Grew part of the team describing another new mineral

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Research Professor Ed Grew was part of an international team of scientists to discover, describe, and report a new sulphate-borate mineral. The new mineral, fontarnauite, is a double salt of sodium and strontium and the eighth sulphate-borate mineral identified so far. It was discovered and characterized by a group of scientists from the Science and Technology Centres and Faculty of Geology of the University of Barcelona, Spain, in collaboration with Ed Grew and mineralogists from the University of Manitoba. The new compound was found in 2009 on a geological survey carried out in the Emet Borate District (Anatolia, western Turkey), one of the most important Miocene borate deposits in the world. Its name pays tribute to Ramon Fontarnau i Griera (1944-2007), who headed the Material Characterization Section of the Science and Technology Centres. The mineral and name received official approval by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association in September 2014, and a full description is in press in Canadian Mineralogist.

Peter Koons elected AGU Fellow

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At the 2014 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Professor Peter Koons was honored as one of the 2014 AGU Fellows. AGU Fellows are recognized as those “who have made exceptional scientific contributions and attained acknowledged eminence in the fields of Earth and space sciences. Peter’s citation for fellowship reads: “For his insightful work on interactions between diverse processes that form active mountain belts.” This is a high honor, reflecting Peter’s many career accomplishments.

AGU has published the full list of 2014 fellows, and their website describes the fellowship program in more detail.

Image Description: New AGU Fellow Peter Koons (left) alongside School of Earth and Climate Sciences director Scott Johnson at the Fellow induction ceremony in December 2014.

New, endowed professorship in Petrology and Mineralogy

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We are extremely pleased to announce that Ed Grew, a member of the research faculty in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences (and its predecessors) for 30 years, has established the Edward Sturgis Grew Professorship in Petrology and Mineralogy. This endowment supports the hire a new faculty member whose research interest falls in the fields of igneous and/or metamorphic petrology, geochemistry, and mineralogy. The search process is underway, and we look forward to welcoming a new colleague to campus for the Fall 2015 term.

Follow this link for the University’s press release and read the story from the UMaine Foundation here.

Karl Kreutz and team featured in NSF video

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Karl Kreutz and recent UMaine Ph.D. student Seth Campbell are featured in a new video released by the NSF program Science Nation. Science Nation is NSF’s online magazine and highlights new discoveries and ongoing research, particularly focusing on the relationship to society. Their work is also featured on PBS NewsHour . Current student Abi Bradford also appears in the video. Abi accompanied Karl and Seth to Alaska to assist with the field work.

Retired Professor focus of Newsweek article

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Terry Hughes, recently retired Professor of Earth Sciences and long-time member of the Climate Change Institute, is the focus of an article in Newsweek published June 5. The article describes the current scientific views about the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet and the consequent significant sea level rise. Back in 1973, Terry was one of the first to predict the instability of the region. He followed that up in 1981 with a paper considering the mechanisms that could lead to collapse in more detail. Both of those papers relied on relatively coarse data sets. Two recent papers, published last month in Science and Geophysical Research Letters, used much larger data sets that have recently become available to analyze the stability of West Antarctica. Their conclusions support Terry’s original ideas.

Site of recently discovered new minerals protected

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UPDATE (19 January 2015): This story is now featured on NSF’s website.

Antarctic Treaty nations approve protection for

Stornes Peninsula where U Maine’s Ed Grew discovered new minerals

The Antarctic Treaty signatories meeting in Brasilia in May 2014 voted to designate Stornes Peninsula as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area. UMaine Research Professor Ed Grew has discovered several minerals new to science in rocks from this area.  The Geoscience Australia announcement is here. Stornes Peninsula is in the Larsemann Hills on the coast of Prydz Bay, about 100 km southwest of Australia’s Davis Station.

The action taken at the XXXVII Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting strengthens international environmental protection for the area in Antarctica where U Maine’s Ed Grew discovered minerals new to science during field work in 2003-2004 on the Australian Antarctic Expedition. The designation formally recognizes the peninsula’s outstanding geological significance and gives it the highest level of environmental protection under the Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection .

“I am thrilled that the Antarctic Treaty nations have taken action that recognizes Stornes Peninsula as a geoheritage site of international significance,” says Grew. “Dr. Chris Carson, now head of Geoscience Australia’s Antarctic Geoscience program, and I spent the 2003-2004 field season mapping and studying its amazing mineralogy and geology. For the past 10 years, Chris has worked very hard with the Australian government team to seek protection of the unique geology and mineralogy of this remarkable area under the auspices of the Antarctic Treaty.”

Ed Grew’s discovery in the area of four minerals new to science: the borosilicate boralsilite and the phosphates stornesite-(yttrium), chopinite and tassieite, together with the abundance of the rare minerals prismatine, grandidierite and wagnerite, constitute the scientific foundation for the proposal undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Division and Geoscience Australia. The three phosphates stornesite-(yttrium), chopinite and tassieite have yet to be found anywhere else on Earth. Grew has since discovered chopinite in a meteorite.

Grew’s research in the Larsemann Hills was made possible by the U.S. National Science Foundation through an NSF Office of Polar Programs grant from 2003 to 2009, and a grant from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences from 2009 to 2013. Grew has published 10 research papers about the Larsemann Hills specimens: Chris Carson is co-author on 6 and Marty Yates at Maine is co-author on 7 of those papers. In addition, the specimens that Ed Grew collected have provided the subject material for Master’s degree theses by Ed’s students at U Maine: Eva Wadoski (2009), JohnRyan MacGregor (2012) and Derek Morris (in progress).

In addition to rare minerals, the Larsemann Hills contain more than 150 lakes. The first international measures for environmental protection of the area were taken in recognition of the important biological and limnological features, including fresh water lakes that are important to breeding seabirds and seals, and are vulnerable to physical, chemical and biological modification within their catchment boundaries. Larsemann Hills was designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) in 2007. An area where activities in Antarctica are being conducted or could be conducted in the future may be designated as an ASMA, to assist in the planning and co-ordination of activities, avoid possible conflicts, improve co-operation between Treaty Parties or minimize environmental impacts.

The next step was the proposal for the Stornes Peninsula as an Antarctic Special Protection Area (ASPA) – this designation of greater protection is granted by the Treaty nations to safeguard outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness values, any combination of those values, or ongoing or planned scientific research. As part of this effort, Grew was invited by the Australian Antarctic Division and Chris Carson of Geosciences Australia to give a talk “Rare minerals in the Australian Antarctic Territory” at the Antarctic Science Planning Workshop in Hobart, Tasmania on September 21, 2010.

Australia took the lead in preparing the proposal to the Treaty Parties, which was jointly sponsored by other nations having research programs in the Larsemann Hills, including China, India and the Russian Federation. The decision in Brasilia in May 2014 reflects international acknowledgment of the region’s potential vulnerability and of the sensitivity of these remarkable mineral occurrences to human disturbance.

Historically Antarctic conservation efforts have focused on sites of biological or cultural significance, whereas sites of geological significance, in general, have been underrepresented. “I see this decision by the Treaty Parties as part of the growing international trend toward greater appreciation of the value of protecting geoheritage sites for future generations,” says Grew. “So far, there is nowhere else in the world that rivals the array of borosilicate and phosphate minerals found at Stornes Peninsula.”

In addition to the site designation, one of Grew’s photos of the field area now appears in the NSF Multimedia Gallery.

Image Description: Australian Antarctic station map

Image Description: Larsemanns ASMA no. 6

Ed Grew joins Editorial Board of the European Journal of Mineralogy

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The European Journal of Mineralogy (EJM) founded in 1989 is one of the world’s leading international journals in the mineralogical sciences. It is owned by the national mineralogical societies of Germany, Spain, France and Italy and is published under the auspices of the European Mineralogical Union. Papers appearing in the Journal range across all aspects of mineralogy from nomenclature and crystal structure to petrology, geochronology, geochemistry and environmental mineralogy.

Ed Grew of the University of Maine was a guest editor in 2007-2008 and has co-authored 7 papers published in the journal. Ed is honored to have been appointed to the Editorial Board of the journal effective May 1, 2014. The Editorial Board currently comprises a Managing Editor, 5 Chief Editors and 21 Associate Editors from 8 countries of which only two are from the U.S.

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New Geology Club officers

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The University of Maine Geological Society (more popularly known as the Geology Club) has elected officers for next academic year. They are:

President: Zach Mason

Vice President: Bailey Morton

Treasurer: Jill Pelto

Secretary: Sarah Mullis


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Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469