NATO Science for Peace Project in the Republic of Georgia

Michigan Tech/Univ Milan Bicocca MS student Maria Diletta Acciaro showing Tbilisi State Univ doctoral student Nino Kvavadze how to measure the orientation of dipping geological layers.
Michigan Tech/Univ Milan Bicocca MS student Maria Diletta Acciaro showing Tbilisi State Univ doctoral student Nino Kvavadze how to measure the orientation of dipping geological layers.

John Gierke, GMES professor and department chair,  is a co-director of Michigan Tech’s partnership with five universities on a three-year NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme. This international, multi-institutional project is co-directed by Professor Alessandro Tibaldi of the Department of Environment and Territory and Earth Sciences at the University of Milan-Bicocca and Dr. Nino Tsereteli of the M. Nodia Institute of Geophysics of Tbilisi State University.

The project focus is the study of natural hazards that could undermine social and geopolitical stability of a delicate Transcaucasian region located between Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia, near the Enguri dam, the second highest arch dam of the world, which provides approximately half of the electrical energy for Georgia.

The US project team consists of Gierke and Michigan Tech GMES associate professor Thomas Oommen. They are advising Master’s student Maria Diletta Acciaro, who is pursuing a joint MS in Geology with Michigan Tech and her home institution, the University of Milan-Bicocca.

Their first project mission was in early November 2015 in Tbilisi with a kickoff meeting between the project scientists. The second mission, which took place last May 11-25, 2016, was focused on mapping and characterizing landslides and hillslopes surrounding the reservoir and that pose potential hazards to the safety the Enguri dam. “Landslides and rock falls are common on the steep slopes of these highly-weathered mountainous areas. Larger events could be triggered by heavy rains and seismicity,” says Gierke. He and Acciaro worked with their Georgian counterparts to measure rock and soil strength for the different surficial formations in the reservoir area.

The team is estimating the relative risk of different slopes surrounding the Enguri Dam using computer models that forecast landslide susceptibility. Their estimates are based on the topography (slope), geology, and strength properties of the soils and rocks. “One of the codes allow us to include seismicity in the forecasting and the other will let us explore rainfall intensity,” adds Gierke.

Read more about the project online. See photos from the May 2016 trip here.

News Briefs in GMES Department

The National Science Foundation (NSF) posted a news story on its website about an open-vent volcano that erupted at Fuego, near Guatemala City. It quoted Greg Waite (GMES), who is studying the volcano under an NSF CAREER award.

Ted Bornhorst, executive director of the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum and Dr. Chris Poulsen, chair of the department of Earth and environmental sciences at the University of Michigan, published an article titled: “Michigan Mineral Alliance” in the September issue of the international journal Rocks & Minerals. The article establishes a name for the legal agreement between Michigan Tech and the University of Michigan that provides for co-ownership and shared responsibility of the University of Michigan’s mineral collection. The collection is now at the museum and there is an introductory exhibit in the museum’s Thomas D. Shaffner exhibit hall.

Chad Deering (GMES) received a $77,039 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for a research and development project titled, Understanding Basaltic Volcanic Processes by Remotely Measuring the Links Between Vegetation Health and Extent, and Volcanic Gas and Thermal Emissions using HyspIRI-like VSWIR and TIR data. This is the first year of a potential two-year project totaling $212,448.

Aleksey Smirnov (GMES/EPSSI) received a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a research and development project titled, Paleointensity of the Paleoproterozoic Geomagnetic Field as Recorded by Single Silicate Crystals: Testing the “Proterozoic Dipole Low.” This is a three-year project.

GMES student Priscilla Addison received the Best Student Paper Award for “Rail Embankment Investigation Using Remote Sensing for a Permafrost Region” which she presented at the 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Cold Regions Engineering Conference: Developing and Maintaining Resilient Infrastructure, held earlier this month in Salt Lake City. The thrust of Addison’s paper was to look at remote sensing as a site investigative tool for the portion of the Hudson Bay railway embankment underlain with discontinuous permafrost in northern Manitoba, Canada. This research is jointly supported by OmniTRAX Inc. and National University Rail (NURail) Center funded by the U.S Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (USDOT-RITA). Addison is co-advised by Associate Professor Thomas Oommen (GMES) and Assistant Professor Pasi Lautala (CEE).

The US Peace Corps’ Peace Car was on the Michigan Tech campus July 9th. An eco-friendly Smart Car, the Peace Car enables Peace Corps staff to share their mission while limiting their carbon footprint. See the photo here

The Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG) featured Lauren Schaefer, a PhD student in Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, as its AEG Featured Scholar for June 2015.

Jason Gulley (GMES) has received a $194,940 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation for the collaborative research project: What Hydrogeochemical Processes Control Weathering in the Deep Critical Zone of Unburied Karst Landscapes. This is a two-year project.

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Wayne Pennington Named President of AGI

Wayne Pennington, chair of the geological and mining engineering and sciences department, has been named president of the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).

Pennington received degrees in geophysics and geology from Princeton University (BA in 1972), Cornell University (MS in 1976) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (PhD in 1979). He has been a professor of geophysical engineering at Michigan Tech since 1994 and became GMES department chair in 2003.

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Humanitarian Award to Geo Alumnus at Reunion Dinner

Alumni Reunion 2016

Outstanding alumni and friends will be recognized at the Alumni Reunion Awards Dinner on August 5, 2016.

The Humanitarian Award will be presented to James Tanis ’57, ’58 Geological Engineering / Geophysics and Janet Tanis, Sedona, Arizona.

The award is presented to those alumni and friends who, through their outstanding involvement and dedication, have made a significant contribution of volunteer leadership or service which has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on or bring honor to their Alma Mater.

Read more at Tech Today, by Brenda Rudiger.

Tarshizi Nominated by the SME as a Henry Krumb Lecturer

Ebrahim Karimi Tarshizi
Ebrahim Karimi Tarshizi

Ebrahim Tarshizi, an assistant professor of mining engineering, has been nominated by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) as a Henry Krumb Lecturer for the 2016-2017 series.

Tarshizi presentation for this year’s series is “Simulation and Animation of Marigold Mine with Dynamic Pit Operation.” SME Henry Krumb Lectures will be scheduled from October 2016 to May 2017.

Read more at Tech Today, by Kelly McLean.

Eagle Mine Collaborates with Michigan Tech’s Mining Engineering Program

Eagle Mine is collaborating with Michigan Tech’s Mining Engineering Program on creating a custom-made simulation program with dynamic visualization to model and analyze the effectiveness of emergency evacuation plans and equipment in the operation.

“It’s just a start. We look forward to developing our relationship with the Lundin’s Eagle Mine and conducting various simulation studies, while looking for mutual benefits,” stated Ebrahim Tarshizi, the principal investigator of this research investigation.

Eagle Mine, a subsidiary of Lundin Mining, is a high-grade nickel and copper underground mine located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

From Tech Today, by Ebrahim Tarshizi.

Mi-START Participants Contribute to Geoscience Monograph

Research associate and curriculum development director Stephanie Tubman (Michigan Tech Mi-STAR) was lead author on two contributions appearing in the recently published monograph titled, “Geoscience for the Public Good and Global Development: Toward a Sustainable Future” (edited by Gregory R. Wessel and Jeffrey K. Greenberg, Geological Society of America Special Papers 520).

Postdoctoral research fellow Rudiger Escobar Wolf co-authored the Tubman paper titled, “The geoscientist as international community development practitioner: On the importance of looking and listening.”

Former project coordinator Essa Paterson and John Gierke (GMES) were co-authors on Tubman’s paper titled, “A Peace Corps Master’s International program in mitigation of natural geological hazards: Student outcomes and lessons learned.”

Curriculum development assistant Luke Bowman (Mi-STAR) was lead author on a paper in the same monograph titled, “University contributions to risk reduction following a disaster: A case study of reorienting natural hazards research efforts at San Vicente volcano.”

His paper was co-authored by Gierke and Agronomy Engineering Professor J. Fredy Cruz Centeno from the Universidad de El Salvador Facultad Multidisciplinario Paracentral.

From Tech Today.

Public Discussion on Keweenaw Geoheritage

Today, June 22, 2016, several geoscientists will host a public discussion about the Keweenaw Geoheritage Project. The event begins with a wine and cheese reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the presentation at 7 p.m. at the Quincy Mine Hoist.

Two special guests will speak to options available for increasing awareness and economic and educational opportunities for the Keweenaw.

They are: Thomas Casadevall, the United State Geological Services chair of the U.S. National Committee for Geoparks, and Cecile Olive, project manager for the Puys de Dome and the Limagne Fault World Heritage Project in France.

The project is led by Bill Rose (GMES) and Erika Vye.

Read more at Tech Today, by Allison Mills.

Alumni Scholar Medal for Jackie Huntoon

Jackie Huntoon
Jackie Huntoon

Provost Honored with Penn State’s Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal

Provost Jackie Huntoon has received the Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Medal from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS). She was presented with the award at the college’s annual spring Wilson Awards Banquet.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Huntoon. “I feel particularly fortunate for having been able to meet Dr. Hosler at the Wilson Banquet and learn more about his life and achievements.”

Huntoon earned her doctorate in geology from Penn State in 1990.

Read more at Tech Today, by Jenn Donovan.

Menominee Crack Research in Discover Magazine

Menominee Crack
Menominee Crack, copyright Wayne Pennington, Michigan Tech.

Discover magazine published an article about Dean Wayne Pennington’s (COE) research on the Menominee Crack, a strange geological disruption known as a pop-up.

From Tech Today.

Major geologic transformations don’t usually happen in real time without explanation — especially in seismically quiet areas like the Upper Midwest. So, when Michigan Technological University geophysicist Wayne Pennington saw reports about a crack the length of a football field suddenly appearing in some swamp and woods in the northern area of the state’s Upper Peninsula, he assumed it was a small landslide.

Read more at Discover, by Steven Potter.

Third annual Keweenaw Geoheritage Tours to be July 25-28, 2016

GeoTours MapHOUGHTON — The Keweenaw Peninsula is a place of natural beauty with a fascinating mining history. Join local experts Bill Rose and Erika Vye in reading the landscape to learn how the Copper Country came to be the way it is today. In July Erika and Bill will lead one-day field trips exploring one of four major events in Earth’s history that make up the geology of the Keweenaw — Lavas, the Keweenaw Fault, the Jacobsville Sandstone, and Copper Mining Waste.

Read more at Keweenaw Now.

Burkwald Awarded Copper Club Scholarship

Cory Burkwald, a third-year Geology major, has been chosen to receive a Copper Club scholarship. The $10,000 award is for the 2016-17 school year.

Burkwald, a Naperville, Illinois native, also participates on Michigan Tech’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams.

Headquartered in New York City, the Copper Club Inc. is a leading organization for networking, educational grants and events for those who support the copper industry.

In a letter informing Burkwald of his scholarship, Andrew G. Kireta, Sr., executive director of the Copper Club, said, “through this program, the copper industry identifies and recognizes exceptional individuals who have excelled in the study of mining and metallurgy.”

Burkwald is Michigan Tech’s first recipient of a Copper Club Scholarship in the 20-year history of the award.

From Tech Today, by Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.