Rice University Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

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EEPS Open Position- Wiess Postdoctoral FellowshipThe Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice U...
10/09/2020

EEPS Open Position- Wiess Postdoctoral Fellowship
The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University is inviting applications for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. We are seeking candidates with independent research interests that intersect with one or more faculty within our department and who contribute positively to the diversity of the department through outreach or other means. Both domestic and international applicants are welcome.

https://earthscience.rice.edu/home-page/open-positions/
https://jobs.rice.edu/postings/24791

Rice University Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
09/18/2020

Rice University Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences

It is with deep sadness that we have to share the news of our loss of EEPS Emeritus Professor Dale Sawyer.
09/17/2020
The Passing of Dale Sawyer - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

It is with deep sadness that we have to share the news of our loss of EEPS Emeritus Professor Dale Sawyer.

We regretfully write to you that Dale Sawyer passed away peacefully on September 15, 2020. We are all devastated by this loss. Dale was truly a kind human being. He was a leader in his science and in the way he inspired everyone around him to be just as kind and generous. He will be remembered for h...

EEPS's Stand Against Systemic Racism - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
06/04/2020
EEPS's Stand Against Systemic Racism - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

EEPS's Stand Against Systemic Racism - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

The Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University stands in solidarity against the systemic racism that continues to permeate our country. Our country stands as a beacon of democracy and liberty, but we must not forget how our country was built upon the backs of black....

For those who missed Friday's graduation celebration, the presentation is available from our website.
05/19/2020
EEPS Virtual Graduation Ceremony - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

For those who missed Friday's graduation celebration, the presentation is available from our website.

EEPS Virtual Graduation Ceremony Almost 100 virtual attendees joined in celebrating EEPS graduates last Friday, May 15 2020. EEPS faculty and staff presented a program that honored seven Undergraduates, eight Professional masters in Subsurface Geoscience, two Master of Science graduate degrees and 1...

Rice University - School of Natural Sciences
05/12/2020

Rice University - School of Natural Sciences

Valerie Payre, a post-doc in Kirsten Siebach’s and Rajdeep Dasgupta’s Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences groups, investigates Martian geology. Using data collected by the Curiosity Rover about the composition of rocks around the Gale Crater, Payre seeks to understand the history of volcanism in this region of Mars.

As magma cools, the minerals with the highest melting points crystallize first and are segregated, and geologists call this process fractional crystallization. In a recent study, Payre modeled the composition of feldspar, a mineral that crystallizes in magma chambers, that would result from different conditions during the fractional crystallization process, varying temperature, pressure, and water content.

She discovered that the feldspars observed in the area around the crater could not come from a single type of magma. The magma chamber of the volcano would have filled twice with separate upwellings from the same mantle source to generate the two types of feldspars that the Curiosity Rover has observed – and at least one of those magmas would likely have contained water.

The image shows ternary diagrams displaying her results. In a ternary diagram of feldspar, samples with the highest potassium content are plotted at the top point, those with the highest sodium content at the left point, and those with the highest calcium content at the right point. Each dot represents a modeled feldspar composition, and the colors of the dots encode the degree of melting of the magma from which the feldspar crystallize after fractional crystallization, with hotter colors representing greater melting. The layered diagrams indicate increasing pressure, corresponding to greater depths within the crust, with higher pressure diagrams on the top. Finally, the left set of diagrams shows models without water, and the right set shows models with water. Payre could determine the probable conditions on Mars by matching the observed composition of feldspars with those seen in her models.

Payre finds this especially exciting because it mirrors her group’s findings based on the compositions of other minerals. “Previous studies have been showing different compositions in the volcanic rocks, and we saw that some were more alkaline, and some were sub-alkaline, and these kinds of models are producing the exact same trends and composition,” Payre explained.

This agreement confirms the credibility of the models Payre uses, but she wants to take this verification a step further. To make sure that her results are accurate despite approximations in her models, Payre performs experiments: she makes her own Martian magma by heating precise ratios of oxide powders at 1300-1450 degrees Celsius and pressures equivalent to thousands of Earth atmospheres. “I’ve been modeling magmatic processes with a software that is made for terrestrial rocks, and we know that Martian rocks have a pretty different composition,” she said. “They are, for example, iron-rich, and that could change a lot of things in any magma process, so it’s nice to be able to do experiments because we have the real composition.”

Through Martian investigations like Payre’s, researchers can learn about our own planet in ways that would never be possible through investigations here on Earth. “Everything I’ve been talking about is something that happened 4 billion years ago,” said Payre. On Earth, minerals from that time are scarce and rocks have been destroyed by various geological processes including tectonic activity, but such activity on Mars is believed to be nonexistent. The silent surface has preserved the past. “When we study crystal processes on Mars, we can understand better how these processes were on Earth at the beginning,” said Payre. Sometimes, we must look outward instead of inward to understand the ground beneath our feet.

Rice Magazine highlights the anniversary of EEPS science writer Linda Welzenbach's 2019 research cruise aboard the Natha...
02/14/2020
Rice Magazine | Winter 2020

Rice Magazine highlights the anniversary of EEPS science writer Linda Welzenbach's 2019 research cruise aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer as part of the Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research (THOR) project. (https://thwaitesglacieroffshoreresearch.org/). THOR is part of the NSF/NERC supported International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, a 5 year multidisciplinary research program that seeks to understand one of the most vulnerable marine glaciers in Antarctica. Julia Wellner, '01 (Co-PI) and Rebecca Totten Minzoni, '14 (Co-I), both former John Anderson students who are part of the THOR project.

Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share your publications and get them in front of Issuu’s millions of monthly readers. Title: Rice Magazine | Winter 2020, Author: Rice University, Name: Rice Magaz...

EEPS faculty member Dr. Melodie French is awarded an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award (CAREER) in supp...
02/03/2020
Melodie French wins National Science Foundation CAREER Award - Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

EEPS faculty member Dr. Melodie French is awarded an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award (CAREER) in support of her research to understand the tectonics of earthquakes and tsunamis. You can read the abstract of her grant titled: Path Dependent Slip of the Shallow Subduction Megathrust on the NSF Awards page- https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1945264&HistoricalAwards=false

MIKE WILLIAMS Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University’s Office of Public Affairs. – 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 phy...

EEPS own Martha Lou Broussard wins one of AAPG's most prestigious top honors- the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leaders...
12/06/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Martha Lou Broussard Wins Prestigious AAPG Award

EEPS own Martha Lou Broussard wins one of AAPG's most prestigious top honors- the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award, given in recognition of outstanding and exceptional leadership in the petroleum geosciences. It is AAPG’s second most distinguished award, second to the Sidney Powers Memorial Award.

Martha Lou Broussard Wins Prestigious AAPG Award December 6, 2019/0 Comments/in News /by Linda Welzenbach Martha Lou Broussard Martha Lou Broussard is this year’s recipient of the AAPG Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award, a very high honor. Martha Lou has played a key role in the success of AAPG...

Recent EEPS graduate James Eguchi, graduate student Johnny Seales and faculty Dr. Rajdeep Dasgupta published a paper in ...
12/04/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Breathing? Thank volcanoes, tectonics and bacteria

Recent EEPS graduate James Eguchi, graduate student Johnny Seales and faculty Dr. Rajdeep Dasgupta published a paper in Nature Geosciences on their new theory that addresses the first appearance of significant concentrations of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere about 2.5 billion years ago. (Photos courtesy of Rice University)

Breathing? Thank volcanoes, tectonics and bacteria December 4, 2019/0 Comments/in News /by Linda Welzenbach JADE BOYD, RICE NEWS – DECEMBER 2, 2019 Study points to one cause for several mysteries linked to breathable oxygen Earth’s breathable atmosphere is key for life, and a new study suggests ...

EEPS newest faculty, Dr. Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, his graduate student Nate Lindsey from University of California, Berkele...
12/02/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Telecom cables offer undersea seismic-sensing bonanza

EEPS newest faculty, Dr. Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, his graduate student Nate Lindsey from University of California, Berkeley and collaborators confirm that telecommunication cables may be useful to collect seismic readings from the seafloor and at great distances. The article appears in the most recent issue of SCIENCE (doi: 10.1126/science.aay5881)

Telecom cables offer undersea seismic-sensing bonanza December 2, 2019/0 Comments/in Faculty, News /by Linda Welzenbach MIKE WILLIAMS – NOVEMBER 28, 2019 Cutting-edge tech comes to new Rice lab on heels of Science study Undersea telecommunications cables that connect the continents may help measur...

EEPS W.M. Keck Professor Dr. Richard Gordon is elected a AAAS fellow.
12/02/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Richard Gordon, W.M. Keck Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences is elected AAAS fellow

EEPS W.M. Keck Professor Dr. Richard Gordon is elected a AAAS fellow.

Richard Gordon, W.M. Keck Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences is elected AAAS fellow December 2, 2019/0 Comments/in Faculty, News /by Linda Welzenbach JADE BOYD – NOVEMBER 26, 2019 Richard Gordon is honored by scientific society Richard Gordon AAAS fellows are elected by their...

EEPS faculty and Clever Planets PI Rajdeep Dasgupta publishes new book on carbon.
10/07/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | CLEVER Planets Rajdeep Dasgupta publishes a book on carbon

EEPS faculty and Clever Planets PI Rajdeep Dasgupta publishes new book on carbon.

CLEVER Planets Rajdeep Dasgupta publishes a book on carbon October 7, 2019/in News /by Linda Welzenbach By Mejs Hasan Clever Planets Website, Education & Outreach Coordinator One of the main tasks of CLEVER Planets is to study how elements like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and others ended up on Earth....

https://earthscience.rice.edu/2019/08/26/cin-ty-lee-awarded-2019-fellow-of-the-geochemical-society/Professor Cin-Ty Lee ...
08/27/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Cin-Ty Lee awarded 2019 Fellow of the Geochemical Society

https://earthscience.rice.edu/2019/08/26/cin-ty-lee-awarded-2019-fellow-of-the-geochemical-society/

Professor Cin-Ty Lee is among 13 scientists that are the 2019 Geochemistry Fellows of the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry. Cin-Ty was selected for: “His diverse, creative and prolific work, his provocative ideas that have inspired debate and action, and his fundamental contributions to the understanding of our planet’s continents.”

Professor Cin-Ty Lee is among 13 scientists that are the 2019 Geochemistry Fellows of the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry.

08/26/2019
Goldschmidt2019 Wednesday plenary: Caroline Masiello

Professor Carrie Masiello was given the honor of presenting the Paul W. Gast plenary lecture on Wednesday August 21st at the 2019 Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

The Paul W. Gast Lecture Series honors mid-career scientists for outstanding contributions to geochemistry.

Paul Werner Gast (1930-1973) pioneered the study of rare earth elements from the Earth's core to its crust. Gast is credited with leading the development of rubidium-strontium and uranium-lead radiometric dating methods for all rocks, which was especially important for dating samples from the Moon. His studies of trace elements improved our understanding of the origin of volcanic fluids.

New Synthetic Biology Tools to Track Microbial Processes in Soils and Sediments

Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | The Passing of Albert Bally
08/01/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | The Passing of Albert Bally

Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | The Passing of Albert Bally

It is with great sadness that we must report that our beloved Bert Bally passed away this week. Bert joined Rice in 1981 as chairman of what was then the Department of Geology and Geophysics. He was appointed the Harry Carothers Wiess Professor of Geology, a position he held until he retired.

07/23/2019
Rice University - School of Natural Sciences

Watch graduate student Alana Semple talk about her research to model mantle flow and its impact on movement of the Earth's tectonic plates.

Graduate student Alana Semple is working with Adrian Lenardic, professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences to understand how the movement of the Earth's mantle affects what happens to us here on the surface. Their recent simulations have shown that flow in the mantle is a huge driving force behind tectonic plate movement.

“Tectonic plates float on top of the asthenosphere, and the leading theory for the past 40 years is that the lithosphere moves independently of the asthenosphere, and the asthenosphere only moves because the plates are dragging it along,” said Semple. “Detailed observations of the asthenosphere from a Lamont research group returned a more nuanced picture and suggested, among other things, that the asthenosphere has a constant speed at its center but is changing speeds at its top and base, and that it sometimes appears to flow in a different direction than the lithosphere.”

Semple's computational modeling offers a theoretical framework that can explain these puzzling observations.

Video produced by Henry Baring/Rice University

Dr. Adrian Lenardic , EEPS geodynamicist and investigator on the NASA NExSS Clever Planets team joins Ethan Siegel on hi...
06/17/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Clever Planets: Adrian Lenardic on life beyond Earth

Dr. Adrian Lenardic , EEPS geodynamicist and investigator on the NASA NExSS Clever Planets team joins Ethan Siegel on his podcast Starts With A Bang #45 - Beyond Earth 2.0

Clever Planets: Adrian Lenardic on life beyond Earth June 17, 2019/0 Comments/in Clever Planets, News /by Linda WelzenbachDr. Adrian Lenardic , EEPS geodynamicist and investigator on the NASA NExSS Clever Planets team joins Ethan Siegel on his podcast Starts With A Bang #45 – Beyond Earth 2.0 Desc...

Surveying the landscape where Linda Welzenbach Fries will spend the next 53 days.
01/26/2019
Rice Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences | Sea Ice at Thwaites Glacier

Surveying the landscape where Linda Welzenbach Fries will spend the next 53 days.

Sea Ice at Thwaites Glacier January 26, 2019/0 Comments/in Blog /by Linda WelzenbachLike all good explorers who are preparing for the unknown, I went looking for information about what to expect in the place where we will spend the better part of two months. Thanks to Rob Larter who had tweeted info...

Former Rice University postdoctoral fellow Ghasideh Pourhashem led an effort to gather and categorize a list of governme...
01/14/2019
Feds, states can help biochar live up to its soil-saving potential

Former Rice University postdoctoral fellow Ghasideh Pourhashem led an effort to gather and categorize a list of government resources available to promote the development of biochar to preserve valuable soil, enhance agricultural production and improve air quality.

Researchers at Rice and North Dakota State University have assembled current and potential sources of government support to promote the production and use of biochar, which helps preserve valuable soil, enhance agricultural production, improve local air quality and sequester carbon dioxide.

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@HouGeoSoc #GCAGS2019 --The call is ON for scientific oral talks and posters for the Oct 23-26 GCAGS Convention in Houston. Send an abstract of 300 words to [email protected] by March 4! Meet the GCAGS team at
The 3rd Annual SCI Summer Research Colloquium is Aug 11. Register online to attend and submit abstracts: https://sci.rice.edu/colloquium