Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, believes that if scientists are able to measure Venus’ atmosphere and surface, we can better understand the climate, volcanic activity and the habitability of Earth-size worlds. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
On Sept. 30, NASA’s Discovery Program selected five planetary mission investigations for study during the next year as a first step in choosing one or two missions for launch as early as 2020. Wesleyan’s Martha Gilmore is on two of the investigation teams.
Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is an expert on terrestrial planets. She studies the morphology and mineralogy of the surfaces of Venus and Mars using data from orbiting and landed spacecraft. She also is on the Executive Committee of NASA’s Venus Exploration Analysis Group which identifies scientific priorities and strategy for exploration of Venus.
Each of the five selected investigations will receive $3 million for one year to strengthen their proposed mission by doing in-depth concept design studies. At the end of the year, it is expected that one or two of the mission concepts will then be selected for flight.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic about this opportunity,” Gilmore said. “Venus is key to understanding how Earth-size planets operate in this solar system and in other solar systems. The driving question is why are Venus and Earth so different? Why is Earth the habitable twin planet? The measurements of Venus’ atmosphere and surface proposed by these missions are necessary to better understand the climate, volcanic activity and the habitability of Earth-size worlds.”
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The 107th New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference will be hosted by Wesleyan in October. (Click to enlarge)
Wesleyan’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is hosting the 107th New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Oct. 9-11 on campus and in the field. Several Wesleyan faculty, students and alumni are participating in the conference, which includes trips to local sites of ancient and modern geological interest.
Participants will have the opportunity to examine tectonic slivers of oceanic terrain near New Haven; explore groundwater flow patterns and geologic deposits in Bloomfield; observe a gravel bed channel affected by a dam removal on the Naugatuck River in Waterbury; learn about the bedrock geology in Collinsville; examine common continental facies that comprise the Jurassic Portland Formation in the Hartford Basin at multiple locations; observe mineral forming geoenvironments near Trumbull; study a cranberry bog restoration in Massachusetts, and much more.
In addition, Wesleyan’s Johan Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, and Ellen Thomas, University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, research professor of earth and environmental sciences, will lead a tour of coastal marshes
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Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, and her former graduate student Patrick Harner MA ’13 are the co-authors of a paper titled “Visible–near infrared spectra of hydrous carbonates, with implications for the detection of carbonates in hyperspectral data of Mars,” published in Icarus, Vol. 250, pages 204-214, April 2015.
The paper suggests that hydrous carbonate minerals might be relevant on Mars.
“We bought and made these unusual minerals in my lab and then took spectra of them to simulate what Mars orbiters might see. Carbonate minerals form in water on Earth (e.g., limestones), and are predicted for Mars, but to date are uncommon on Mars,” Gilmore explained. “We suggest this may be because Mars may host hydrous carbonates which look very different than the anhydrous carbonates everyone is looking for in the data.”
Gilmore also is chair and professor of earth and environmental sciences.
Maya Gomes ’06 working on her research.”
Maya Gomes ’06 and her co-author Matthew Hurtgen published their paper, “Sulfur isotope systematics in a permanently euxinic, low-sulfate lake: Evaluating the importance of the reservoir effect in modern and ancient oceans,” in the June issue of the journal, Geology. In the paper, the authors present data that shows how geologists can use sulfur isotope compositions of marine sediments to discover variations in oceanic sulfate levels through Earth history.
Gomes explained that the paper is very important to researchers who study the climate of the past because “marine sulfate levels play a role in regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the ocean-atmosphere system, which has implications for habitability and climate.”
“I fell in love with geology and research when I was an earth and environmental science major at Wes,” she said.
Gomes wants to share her work with the Wesleyan community because she hopes that it will show that the strong foundation she received in science while attending Wesleyan University has allowed her to “pursue high quality research as a PhD student.
“My thesis adviser at Wesleyan was [Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences] Marty Gilmore,” Gomes notes. “She served as an excellent mentor to me while at Wes and beyond. However, I was also advised by and heavily influenced by many other members of the department, including Professors Johan Varekamp, Jim Greenwood, and Suzanne O’Connell.”
The paper is online here.
Jelle de Boer
In the 19th century, the guardian hills of New Haven known as East and West Rock, attracted much attention from poets, painters and scientists. More than two dozen painters sought to capture the magic of the Rocks and the views they allowed of the city.
Jelle de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus, has combined these artists’ works for a current exhibit at the New Haven Museum. De Boer is the author of Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture.
“New Haven’s Sentinels: The Art and Science of East and West Rock” opened Jan. 12. The New Haven Register features an article on the exhibit, online here.
The painters’ combined output is classic American, little influenced by European styles, and represents an imaginative body of work with considerable depth.
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Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, Emeritus, presented “Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture” Nov. 19 in the Exley Science Center. Fertile soil in the Central Valley fueled the state’s development into an agricultural power house, and iron ores discovered in the western highlands helped trigger its manufacturing eminence.
More than 100 students and faculty attended Zeilinga de Boer’s talk. He explained that geology not only shaped the state’s physical landscape, but also provided an economic base and played a cultural role by inspiring folklore, paintings and poems.
The talk was sponsored by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.
Zeilinga de Boer is the author of Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture published by Wesleyan University Press in July 2009. The book is available online from The University Press of New England.
New book by Jelle Zeilinga de Boer.
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science emeritus, is the author of Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture published by Wesleyan University Press in July 2009.
In the 228-paged book, geoscientist Zeilinga de Boer describes how early settlers discovered and exploited Connecticut’s natural resources. Their successes as well as failures form the very basis of the state’s history: Chatham’s gold played a role in the acquisition of its Charter, and Middletown’s lead helped the colony gain its freedom during the Revolution. Fertile soils in the Central Valley fueled the state’s development into an agricultural power house, and iron ores discovered in the western highlands helped trigger its manufacturing eminence. The Statue of Liberty, a quintessential symbol of America, rests on Connecticut’s Stony Creek granite. Geology not only shaped the state’s physical landscape, but also provided an economic base and played a cultural role by inspiring folklore, paintings, and poems.
Illuminated by 50 illustrations and 12 color plates, Stories in Stone describes the marvel of Connecticut’s geologic diversity and also recounts the impact of past climates, earthquakes, and meteorites on the lives of the people who made Connecticut their home.
The book is available online from The University Press of New England.
Jelle Zelinga de Boer, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus, was cited in April 3 edition of The Hartford Courant. In an article titled ” Remnants Of Old Mine In Middletown Date to Revolutionary Times,” de Boer explains why an abandoned silver mine in Middletown, Conn. played a supporting role in the history of the country’s industrial past.
According to de Boer, the Middletown mine was originally opened to mine lead and was one of only two sites in New England that produced the metal for the Continental Army during the early stages of the Revolutionary War. The operation began in earnest in 1775 when smelting works were built along the river to provide lead for ammunition, including cannonballs. According to the article, records show that the mine produced 15,563 pounds of lead and even helped defeat British Gen. John Burgoyne and 6,000 British troops during the Saratoga Campaign in 1777. The mine was opened periodically over the years after the Revolution, including a stint as a silver mine in the mid-1800s when huge stampers crushed tons of rock laden with silver.
De Boer has a upcoming book titled Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture.