Welcome to GeoUnion, the graduate student body of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. GeoUnion strives to supplement the overall graduate student experience at Rice and DEEPS. GeoUnion represents DEEPS in the overall Rice grad student community, acts as a liaison between students and faculty and organizes a number of intra- and inter-departmental events throughout the academic year.
Three Rice undergraduates including EEPS own Annelise Goldman with the Rice University Science Olympiad Alumni Association (Rice SOAA) hosted the 4th consecutive Science Olympiad Invitational on January 18, 2020.
Rice undergraduates Alan Jin (co-president), Muthu Chidambaram (co-president), Annelise Goldman (vice president) managed a challenging set of science events that attracted 525 high school students from 36 teams from 21 high schools across the U.S.
Approximately 45 volunteers, mostly Rice undergraduate members of Rice SOAA, some graduate students and Rice Alumni, wrote and graded tests, proctored exams and managed science events. Nearly all the volunteers put in a long day starting with the arrival of visitors before 8 a.m. and concluding with the awards ceremony in the RMC Grand Hall around 8 p.m.
“I think it was a great science outreach effort for Rice, connecting with the greater Houston (and far beyond in some cases) community,” says says Dr. Richard Gordon, Keck Professor of Geophysics in the department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and faculty sponsor of Rice SOAA.
This is the second Rice University Science Olympiad for Sophomore Annelise Goldman, who volunteered in 2018 and then joined the organizing committee in 2019. She went from writing one exam her first year, to writing three exams and helping to manage all the 2020 event activities. But this isn’t her first brush with Science Olympiad.
Annelise has been participating since middle school. “I am a long-term fan. At my middle school it was really competitive. At the time I thought that science was really cool, but was like, ‘I’m not a person who’s cut out to do science’. But my mom suggested I try out anyway, to see if I might like it.” Like it she did, going on to participate throughout high school.
Science Olympiad is the reason why she is a science major at Rice.
Now she is giving back to the program that brought her where she is today. “I’m very grateful to this program for inspiring me and introducing me to different fields. I wanted to help other students have a similar experience,” says Goldman.
Science Olympiad invitationals are practical competitions that help Science Olympiad teams from across the country prepare for regional and national competitions. Invitational events are themselves competitive among host schools. Universities seek to not only provide high quality exams that lure nationally ranked teams, but to expose those “elite” students to what the host University has to offer.
Science Olympiad Invitationals also include key-note lectures by host institution faculty that connect and inform students about careers in science. This year’s key-note speaker was EEPS own assistant professor Dr. Sylvia Dee, who shared her pathway to science, the impact of her research, and the variety of careers available to scientists.
Data from International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 371 reveal vertical movements of 1–3 km in northern Zealandia during early Cenozoic subduction initiation in the western Pacific Ocean. Lord Howe Rise rose from deep (~1 km) water to sea level and subsided back, with peak uplift at 50 Ma in the north and between 41 and 32 Ma in the south. The New Caledonia Trough subsided 2–3 km between 55 and 45 Ma. We suggest these elevation changes resulted from crust delamination and mantle flow that led to slab formation. We propose a “subduction resurrection” model in which (1) a subduction rupture event activated lithospheric-scale faults across a broad region during less than ~5 m.y., and (2) tectonic forces evolved over a further 4–8 m.y. as subducted slabs grew in size and drove plate-motion change. Such a subduction rupture event may have involved nucleation and lateral propagation of slip-weakening rupture along an interconnected set of preexisting weaknesses adjacent to density anomalies.
R. Sutherland ; G.R. Dickens ; P. Blum ; C. Agnini ; L. Alegret ; G. Asatryan ; J. Bhattacharya ; A. Bordenave ; L. Chang ; J. Collot ; M.J. Cramwinckel ; E. Dallanave ; M.K. Drake ; S.J.G. Etienne ; M. Giorgioni ; M. Gurnis ; D.T. Harper ; H.-H.M. Huang ; A.L. Keller ; A.R. Lam ; H. Li ; H. Matsui ; H.E.G. Morgans ; C. Newsam ; Y.-H. Park ; K.M. Pascher ; S.F. Pekar ; D.E. Penman ; S. Saito ; W.R. Stratford ; T. Westerhold ; X. Zhou
– JANUARY 31, 2020
Fed grant backs Rice earthquake research
HOUSTON – (Jan. 31, 2020) – Rice University geologist Melodie French is crushing it in her quest to understand the physics responsible for earthquakes.
The assistant professor of Earth, environmental and planetary science has earned a prestigious CAREER Award, a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for $600,000 to support her investigation of the tectonic roots of earthquakes and tsunamis.
CAREER awards support the research and educational development of young scholars likely to become leaders in their fields. The grants, among the most competitive awarded by the NSF, go to fewer than 400 scholars each year across all disciplines.
For French, the award gives her Rice lab the opportunity to study rocks exhumed from subduction zones at plate boundaries that are often the source of megathrust earthquakes and tsunamis. Her lab squeezes rock samples to characterize the strength of the rocks deep underground where the plates meet.
“Fundamentally, we hope to learn how the material properties of the rocks themselves control where earthquakes happen, how big one might become, what causes an earthquake to sometimes arrest after only a small amount of slip or what allows some to grow quite large,” French said.
“A lot of geophysics involves putting out instruments to see signals that propagate to the Earth’s surface,” she said. “But we try to understand the properties of the rocks that allow these different phenomena to happen.”
That generally involves putting rocks under extreme stress. “We squish rocks at different temperatures and pressures and at different rates while measuring force and strain in as many dimensions as we can,” French said. “That gives us a full picture of how the rocks deform under different conditions.”
The lab conducts experiments on both exposed surface rocks that were once deep within subduction zones and rock acquired by drilling for core samples.
“I’m working with (Rice Professor) Juli Morgan on a subduction zone off of New Zealand where they drilled through part of the fault zone and brought rock up from about 500 meters deep,” French said. “But many big earthquakes happen much deeper than we could ever drill. So we need to go into the field to find ancient subduction rocks that have somehow managed to come to the surface.”
French is not sure if it will ever be possible to accurately predict earthquakes. “But one thing we can do is create better hazard maps to help us understand what regions should be prepared for quakes,” she said.
French is a native of Maine who earned her bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College, a master’s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University.
The award, co-funded by the NSF’s Geophysics, Tectonics and Marine Geology and Geophysics programs, will also provide inquiry-based educational opportunities in scientific instrument design and use to K-12 students as well as undergraduate and graduate-level students.
Read the award abstract at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1945264&HistoricalAwards=false.
Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.
Rheology and Deformation (French Lab): https://mefrench.com and the latest issue of Outcroppings- https://earthscience.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/French-lab-spread.pdf
An interview with Melodie French: http://earthscience.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-Outcroppings-MelodieFrench.pdf
Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences: https://earthscience.rice.edu
Wiess School of Natural Sciences: https://naturalsciences.rice.edu
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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