Rice Earth Scientists at CIDER 2015 Summer Program

Several Rice Earth Scientists (PhD students Laura Carter, Shuo Ding, Michael Farner, and Lacey Pyle, post-doc Julia Ribiero, and Professor Helge Gonnermann) have just returned from the month-long CIDER workshop hosted at UC Berkeley in California. CIDER (Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research) is a FESD-funded grant tasked with the ambitious goals of: 1) providing an optimal environment for transformative studies requiring a concerted effort of leading researchers from different areas of Earth Sciences: high pressure material science, geodynamics, seismology, geochemistry and geomagnetism, and 2) educating a new generation of Earth scientists with breadth of competence across the disciplines contributing to understanding of the deep earth.

This summer’s theme was “Solid Earth Dynamics and Climate—Mantle Interactions with the Hydrosphere and Carbosphere,” ( focusing on interactions between the mantle and the major surface reservoirs of water and carbon influence sea level, icesheet dynamics, the volume of the ocean, magma production, the volcanic flux of CO2 to the atmosphere, and the loss of carbon via subduction into the mantle. The first 2 weeks were lecture-based. Lectures were given by various renowned senior scientists in various disciplines from all over the world, with topics including solid Earth dynamics, ocean/glacial loading driving volcanism, paleoclimate models and sensitivity. In afternoon tutorials, we learned how to use various computational, laboratory, and field based tools, including ASPECT (convection software),  SEATREE (seismic tomography software), MELTS (melting/crystallization software), cheese deformation (hands-on lab about rheology, see picture with Shuo and Mike in the upper left corner), and CO2 diffusive degassing (in-the-field measuring with CO2 IR sensor). The last 2 weeks we were broken up into student-run groups, each focusing on a different research question relating to what we’d learned in the first 2 weeks. Shuo was part of a group investigating the transport of carbon between atmosphere/ocean and the Earth’s interior in the Archean, Laura and Lacey calculated CO2 fluxes in the Eocene to explain anomalous global temperature curves, Mike and Helge explored the effects of glacial melting on Mount Mazama eruptions, and Julia looked into the fate of water in bend faulting during subduction.


We all thoroughly enjoyed our experience. We learned a lot about various aspects and in diverse disciplines within Earth Science, and networked with colleagues and well-established senior scientists. We presented our own research in poster sessions, and look forward to continuing collaborations started with CIDER projects. California was also a beautiful location, and many of us took advantage of the local mountains and ocean on the weekend, for example hiking at Yosemite National Park (see picture with Laura Carter and Lacey Pyle).


Students in the Rice Earth Science department have a long-running tradition of attending this workshop each year. If interested, you can find more information about the fully-funded summer 2016 program, titled Flow in the Deep Earth at  (applications end February 1, 2016). Additionally, CIDER hosts a 1-day pre-AGU workshop where summer 2015 participants will present their projects, and invited speakers will introduce the theme for summer 2016 (sign up to attend here: