Stanford School Of Earth Science - Earth Matters

Dean's Letter

Pam Matson  
Welcome to our second newsletter of the 2013-14 academic year.  It’s been an exciting year thus far, with more interesting and important news than can be shared in just one venue.  We hope you read, watch the videos and enjoy this newsletter!  Meanwhile, I’d like to use this moment to share a bit about our most critical resource: our faculty.
 
Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences has two important missions: to educate future leaders and to carry out innovative research.  Some of that research is focused on making discoveries about the workings of Earth and some is about developing knowledge needed to solve challenges that are among the greatest facing society.
 
The key to success in our teaching and research mission is, of course, our faculty.  Today, we have 61 amazing, world-class scientists and engineers who teach and advise undergraduates, train and mentor graduate students, carry out game-changing research, and serve the university and their communities in numerous other ways.  I know many of you remember your Stanford teachers and advisers with great warmth and respect.  We continue in that tradition with each new hire that we make.
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News & Discoveries

Refinery  

A comprehensive study led by Adam Brandt, assistant professor of Energy Resources Engineering, confirms that U.S. methane emissions have been significantly underestimated.  Leaks from the nation's natural gas system were identified as an important part of the problem. The study’s findings have important implications for natural gas as a possible replacement fuel for coal. Read more...

Greg Beroza  
Scientists in Geophysics Professor Greg Beroza’s research group developed a new technique and used it to confirm a prediction that Los Angeles would experience stronger-than-expected ground motion if a major quake occurred along the southern San Andreas Fault.  Their technique capitalizes on the ambient seismic field – signals that are generated by ocean waves interacting with solid Earth. Read more...
Noah Diffenbaugh and Daniel Swain at desk.  
It’s well understood how blocking ridges cause drought conditions, but why the current circumstance affecting California is so persistent is less clear.  Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor of Environmental Earth System Science, and his grad student Daniel Swain are investigating the extent to which climate change influences the formation of the ridge and whether extreme droughts will be more likely in California. Read More...
Kate Maher  
Scientists have long been puzzled by how magnesite veins were formed millions of years ago, including those at a mine near campus.  A solution proposed by Assistant Professor Kate Maher of Geological and Environmental Sciences and her research team may lead to a novel technique for permanently converting the greenhouse gas CO2 into a solid that can be stored underground safely. Read more...
Research locations on a globe  
In a lecture for Stanford Continuing Studies, Professor Rob Dunbar discussed his recent explorations in Antarctica, illustrated by stunning video and still images. He gave a broad overview of his research ranging from seasonal changes in the carbon-rich Southern Ocean food chain to Antarctica’s climate history as revealed through sediment cores. Dunbar is the W.M. Keck Professor of Earth Science. Read more...

Faculty News & Honors

Rod Ewing at desk  
Rod Ewing is combining his science and policy expertise to tackle issues ranging from nuclear wastes to renewable energy sources. The recipient of a PhD in geology from Stanford in 1974, Ewing returns to The Farm with joint appointments in the School of Earth Sciences and the Center for International Security and Cooperation. Read more...
Tiziana Vanorio standing in her lab.  
As a teenager, Tiziana Vanorio was part of a mass evacuation from her hometown of Pozzuoli, Italy, an ancient port city nestled in the center of a giant volcanic crater. In 1983, the town experienced thousands of "microquakes" and ground swelling, causing residents to flee.  When it came time for college, Vanorio, who was recently promoted to assistant professor of Geophysics, knew she wanted to study the Earth sciences. Read more...

Student News

Students on rock outcrop.  
A field trip to eastern California gave many undergrads their first opportunity to explore the Golden State at any significant distance from the Stanford campus. View video...
Students look at poster.  
From Ecuador to Palau to here on The Farm, more than 30 undergraduates spent last summer working intensively on scientific projects through the popular School of Earth Sciences Undergraduate Research Program. And some made waves by presenting their research at the recent AGU Oceans Conference.  Read more...
Nora flying drone.  
Graduate student Nora Nieminski recently returned from New Zealand, where she used a remote-controlled quadcopter to measure the thickness of coastal sandstone beds. Her findings could lead to improved models for locating hidden oil caches. Before using the drone in the field, Nora tested it around campus. Read more...
Buildings at Inian Islands Institute  
After organizing a successful sophomore college class in the wilderness of southeast Alaska last fall, a team of four Earth Sciences PhD students and alums are dreaming a possible dream: they aim to establish a not-for-profit, experiential field school called the Inian Islands Institute.  Read more...

Alumni News & Class Notes

Siemon Miller  
Siemon Muller: An unforgettable teacher 
Wendell A. Duffield writes that Professor Siemon Muller (far left) became a permanent part of his existence. In a short essay, Duffield pays tribute to Muller, whom he encountered while working toward degrees in Geology: '65, MS and '67 PhD. Duffield is shown on a field trip in Baja.
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Paul Zweng in forest.  
After a career as an exploration geologist, Paul Zweng bought land on Oahu, where much of the native ecosystem had been overrun by invasives.  As featured in the New York Times, Zweng (‘80, BSc, Geology and BA, Mineral Economics; ‘93, PhD, Applied Earth Sciences) is both removing the invasives and restoring native species. Volunteers needed! Read more...
 
Throughout the world, Earth Sciences alumni are moving, shaking and even retiring.  Scan our alphabetical listing for updates on your fellow alums about their post-Stanford lives.  We’d love to hear from you too – about work, life, honors or awards – so please send updates for the Earth Matters newsletter and for posting on the SES website. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Please visit earth.stanford.edu/events for a comprehensive list of on-campus events including seminars and lectures.

*Alumni who do not attend the conference are welcome to join us at the reception.