Author: Sue Hill

Aleksey Smirnov is an Outstanding Reviewer

Aleksey Smirnov
Aleksey Smirnov

Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) was named one of the American Geophysical Union’s Outstanding Reviewers of 2019. Smirnov was cited for his service to Geophysical Research Letters.

In 2019, AGU received over 16,700 submissions and published over 7,000. AGU is working to highlight the valuable role of reviewers through events (though they may be virtual) at the Fall Meeting and other meetings.

Simon Carn on the Spectacular Raikoke Image

Raikoke Volcano aerial view.
Raikoke via NASA

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the story “NASA asked the public to choose its all-time best photos of Earth. Here are 17 of them,” in UPWorthy.

An unexpected series of blasts from a remote volcano in the Kuril Islands sent ash and volcanic gases streaming high over the North Pacific Ocean.

“What a spectacular image. It reminds me of the classic Sarychev Peak astronaut photograph of an eruption in the Kuriles from about ten years ago,” said Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech. “The ring of white puffy clouds at the base of the column might be a sign of ambient air being drawn into the column and the condensation of water vapor. Or it could be a rising plume from interaction between magma and seawater because Raikoke is a small island and flows likely entered the water.”

Read more at Upworthy, by Tod Perry.

Aleksey Smirnov Publishes on Plate Tectonics

Earth boundary with Sun, atmosphere, and subterranean features.

Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) is a co-author on the paper “Paleomagnetic evidence for modern-like plate motion velocities at 3.2 Ga” published in Science Advances on April 22, 2020. This collaborative study (with Harvard University and Yale University) demonstrates that the drifting of tectonic plates (plate tectonics) may have started at least 3.2 billion years ago, earlier than previously thought.


When plate tectonics began

This process may have been underway over 3.2 billion years ago.

Plate tectonics has been the dominant surface geodynamical regime throughout Earth’s recent geological history. One defining feature of modern plate tectonics is the differential horizontal motion of rigid lithospheric plates

The mode and rates of tectonic processes and lithospheric growth during the Archean [4.0 to 2.5 billion years (Ga) ago] are subjects of considerable debate. Paleomagnetism may contribute to the discussion by quantifying past plate velocities.

While plate tectonics have characterized Earth’s geodynamics in recent geologic time, it is unknown whether long-range horizontal motion of lithospheric plates occurred before ~2.7 Ga. Resolving this uncertainty would fundamentally contribute to understanding the formation settings of Earth’s earliest crust and nascent biosphere and the evolution of geodynamics in terrestrial planets in general.


Paleomagnetic evidence for modern-like plate motion velocities at 3.2 Ga

Science Advances  22 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 17, eaaz8670
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz8670

Archean basalts from the Pilbara Craton, Western Australia record the oldest long-range lithospheric motion identified to date.

Ted Bornhorst on Finding Mineral Sodalite

Ted Bornhorst (GMES), executive director of the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum was quoted in the story “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stone!” in Michigan Blue. The story involved fluorescent rocks, popularly known as Yooperlites.

To find the fluorescing stones, Erik Rintamaki recommends Lake Superior beaches anywhere “from Whitefish Point west.” Theodore Bornhorst suggests scouring the Keweenaw Peninsula shoreline from Copper Harbor to Ontonagon. Prime picking comes in early spring after winter ice picks up stones from deeper water and transports them to the beach.

Read more at Michigan Blue, by Leslie Mertz.

Earth MRI Project Funding for James DeGraff

James M. DeGraff
James M. DeGraff

James DeGraff (GMES/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $83,995 research and development cooperative agreement with Western Michigan University. This project is titled, “Bedrock Map, Dickinson County Quadrangle and Portions of Quadrangles, Earth MRI Project (Carney Lake, Felch, Foster City, Vulcan, Waucedah, Faithorn, and Cunard, 7.5 Minute Quadrangles), Central UP Michigan.”

Aleksey Smirnov, (GMES/EPSSI) and Chad Deering (GMES/EPSSI) are Co-PI’s on this potential two-year project.

Simon Carn on the Taal Volcano

Aerial view of the plume from the eruption.
NASA Image of Taal

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the article “Map shows Taal Volcano spewing sulfur into atmosphere,” in the Philippine Star. Carn was also quoted in “Taal volcano eruption: NASA satellite scans reveal TOXIC sulphur clouds spewing from Taal,” in the Express (UK).

Although the levels of SO2 released by Taal have so far been tolerable, Michigan volcanologist Simon Carn fears more of the toxic gas could be still be released.

He said: “However, it is possible that the Taal eruption could continue and produce more SO2 in the coming days.”

Read more at Express (UK), by Sebastian Kettley.

In the News

Simon Carn (GMES) was quoted in the story “Huge Taal volcano eruption is seen from SPACE by Japan’s satellite,” in the Daily Mail (UK).

Carn was quoted in the story “The Taal Eruption Looks Even More Massive When Seen From Space,” in

Shiliang Wu on Climate Temperature Inversion Trends

Shiliang Wu
Shiliang Wu

Shiliang Wu (GMES/CEE) was quoted in the story “Climate change, inversions, and the rise of ‘super pollution’ air events,” in Environmental Health News. The story was run on several outlets including The Daily Climate.

PITTSBURGH—Residents of the Mon Valley, a cluster of townships along the Monongahela River 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, endured some of the stinkiest and most polluted air in the nation this Christmas.

Some experts say that trend is likely to continue, and that cities around the world could see an influx of similar “super pollution events” as Earth continues to warm.

“For the last at least 60 years we have data for, we can clearly see a trend of increasing temperature inversions in midlatitude regions,” Shiliang Wu, an atmospheric chemist and associate professor at Michigan Technological University, told EHN. “I believe this trend will continue in the coming decades, which will likely lead to an increase in extreme air pollution episodes.”

Read more at Environmental Health News, by Kristina Marusic.

In the News

Shiliang Wu (GMES/CEE) was quoted in the article “Climate change has led to more temperature inversions and the rise of ‘super pollution events,’ in GreenBiz.

GIS Team at Coastlines and People Workshop

Daniel Lizzadro-McPherson outside showing a demo
Daniel Lizzadro-McPherson

Don Lafreniere (SS/GLRC), Ryan Williams (GLRC), Dan Lizzadro-McPherson (GMES/GLRC), and students from the Advanced GIS Methods class attended the NSF funded Coastlines and People Workshop hosted at Northern Michigan University on December 6, 2019. The Coastlines and People workshop series is working to bring scientists and stakeholders together to produce a vision for the future of sustainable coastal development in an era of dynamic climate change.

Lafreniere, Williams, and Lizzadro-McPherson introduced attendees to several projects underway at the Michigan Tech Geospatial Research Facility including the Keweenaw Time Traveler (NEH), 300 Years of Francophone Migration (SSHRC), Keweenaw Fault Mapping (USGS), and Historic Coastlines of Michigan mapping projects (EGLE). The workshop featured additional presentations from NMU and Michigan State University faculty, as well as welcome messages from the Mayor of the City of Marquette and the President of Northern Michigan University. All presentations were well received by nearly 75 attendees. Additional workshops are scheduled in 2020.