2010 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences and geography at CUR’s Posters on the Hill, April 13, 2010.

Indiana

STUDENT: RONALD DEAN TAYLOR
INSTITUTION: INDIANA STATE UNIVERSITY EARTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS
FACULTY ADVISOR: SCOTT E. ISHMAN | JONATHON B. MARTIN | ANTHONY EARL RATHBURN
POSTER TITLE: USING BENTHIC FORAMINIFERA TO ASSESS SEASONAL CHANGES OF MARINE ECOSYSTEMS IN THE ANTARCTIC

ABSTRACT: Polar ecosystems respond quickly to environmental changes, and as a result, are on the front lines of global climate change. Understanding how marine ecosystems respond to seasonal changes in polar regions is crucial for assessments of ecological responses to environmental changes of the past, present, and future. Foraminifera (marine organisms) are particularly sensitive indicators of past and present environmental change , and to better understand the impacts of seasonal changes, the SEASONS Project (Seasonal Ecological Analysis of Seafloor Organic Nutrient Supplies) examined sediment core samples collected across food availability gradients off the coast of the western Antarctic Peninsula in April 2008 (following a surface productivity bloom) and July 2008 (low surface productivity). Distribution patterns of Rose Bengal stained benthic foraminifera were determined from core samples taken in water depths of approximately 600-1200m. Dominant species found in this region included: Pullenia bulloides, Astrononion echolsi, and Bolivina psuedopunctata. Differences in assemblage characteristics and distribution patterns appear to be related to changes in organic input over space and time. Information about the responses of foraminifera to seasonal changes yields critical base line data for seafloor biodiversity and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems in the Antarctic. This study provides the first census of living Antarctic foraminifera on these timescales in this region, and generates modern analogs for reconstructions of environmental variability in the past based on fossil foraminifera. This information is important for predictions of ecological impacts of future environmental changes, including those affecting seasonality and food availability in the Antarctic.

Pennsylvania

STUDENT: SARA E. NEVILLE
INSTITUTION: PENN STATE BRANDYWINE
FACULTY ADVISOR: LAURA A. GUERTIN
POSTER TITLE: INTEGRATING GOOGLE EARTH WITH THE QUEST FOR SCIENCE LITERACY
FUNDING: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION – GEOSCIENCE TEACHER TRAINING (GEO-TEACH)

ABSTRACT: As technology advances, students have access to an ever-growing library of resources to enhance their learning. Young students, however, may not choose to read nonfiction, Earth science-based books during their free time. With the help of Google Earth, a new method of learning called the Google Earth QUEST (Questioning and Understanding Earth Science Themes) brings visualization, technology, and relevant scientific content into the classroom. Inspired by the award-winning Google Lit Trips and the National Science Foundation-funded TESSE (Transforming Earth Systems Science Education) Workshop for pre-service and in-service 6-12 teachers, the Google Earth QUEST was formed to bring the content of nonfiction books into TESSE participants’ classrooms.  Teachers struggled with communicating the knowledge they gained from the workshop’s common read, The Control of Nature by John McPhee, to their students in a fresh and meaningful way. One public showing of the QUEST for The Control of Nature to the workshop’s participants has provided great feedback, unanimous praise, and a desire for more. Immediately, several teachers requested Google Earth QUESTs for Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David Montgomery, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert. A Google Earth QUEST not only summarizes important content for students, but pairs technology and a visual experience with science literacy. Google Earth QUESTs are satiating a hunger for innovative ways to teach; with Google Earth’s easy, free access, a QUEST has the ability to bring science literacy to a worldwide demographic.

Texas

STUDENT: JAYME PETERSON
INSTITUTION: TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY AT GALVESTON
FACULTY ADVISOR: GLENN A JONES
POSTER TITLE: USING HURRICANE IKE TO ASSESS THE FEMA 500/100YR FLOOD LINE AND THE ECONOMIC
IMPACT OF INCREASED FLOOD INSURANCE RATES ON GALVESTON ISLAND

ABSTRACT: In September 2008 Hurricane Ike’s 12-13 ft storm surge damaged over 75% of the structures behind the Galveston Island Seawall, displacing thousands of residents, including all faculty, staff and students of Texas A&M University at Galveston. However, the surge also left exceptionally well-preserved flood lines on buildings throughout the city providing a unique opportunity to assess FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), specifically the placement of the 500/100yr flood zone boundary. For a home located in the 500yr flood zone, insurance is optional and relatively inexpensive ($200-300/yr). Whereas, a home located in the 100yr flood zone, insurance is required and relatively expensive (>$1,300/yr). A combination of differential GPS and laser leveling were used to establish precise vertical elevations of the flood line throughout the city. This data was integrated with the NOAA digital elevation model (DEM) for Galveston, and the USGS’ real-time pressure sensors deployed near the island prior to hurricane landfall. Results show that the preserved flood lines accurately recorded the height of the surge and that the FEMA 500/100yr flood line was accurately placed throughout most of the city. However, projections of global sea-level rise over the next 30 years will require moving this line from the nominal 9 ft contour to the present-day 10 ft contour. Examination of the city tax assessor records show that moving this line will place an additional 2000-3000 homes within the 100yr flood zone, thus increasing Galveston Island flood insurance payments by over 1 million dollars annually.

STUDENT: MEGAN DERRICO
INSTITUTION: TRINITY UNIVERSITY
FACULTY ADVISOR: BENJAMIN SURPLESS
POSTER TITLE: FLOW CHARACTERISTICS AND GEOCHEMISTRY OF BASALTIC LAVAS IN THE BLACK GAP AREA, WEST
TEXAS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CO2 SEQUESTRATION IN FLOOD BASALT FORMATIONS

ABSTRACT: Worldwide flood basalt formations are considered promising targets for permanent CO2 capture and storage. The evaluation of flood basalts for extensive geologic sequestration requires focused, small-scale studies to assess the porosity and permeability characteristics of basalt flows as well as these flows’ potential to react with and trap CO2 within new, stable carbonate minerals. More than 14 laterally-continuous, well-exposed 22 million year old basalt flows in the Black Gap (BG) volcanic field, east of Big Bend National Park (BBNP) in west Texas, are ideal for this type of study. Based on detailed field analysis of vesiculation patterns in the 2 – 6 meter thick BG flows, storage of CO2 would occur in the porous, highly permeable, upper vesicular zone, which makes up 40-70% of the total flow thickness. The middle dense zone, with low permeability and porosity, would function as a cap between flows and limit CO2 movement, allowing time for mineralization to occur., These distinct vesiculation patterns and other field evidence were used in my study to conclude that the dominant emplacement mechanism for these flows was inflation, also common in flood basalt formations. Another important aspect of my research was geochemical analysis of the BG flows. Based on collected data, I concluded that BG lavas are geochemically distinct from older rocks exposed in BBNP, suggesting the flows were derived from a different mantle source. Further geochemical research on BG basalt flows could constrain the possible in-situ carbonate mineralization rates in crystalline silicates, which would permanently stabilize dissolved CO2.

 

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