Research May Solve Lunar Fire Fountain Mystery

Lunar surface

Tiny beads of volcanic glass found on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions are a sign that fire fountain eruptions took place on the Moon’s surface. Now, scientists from Brown University and the Carnegie Institution for Science have identified the volatile gas that drove those eruptions.

Fire fountains, a type of eruption that occurs frequently in Hawaii, require the presence of volatiles mixed in with the erupting lava. Volatile compounds turn into gas as the lavas rise from the depths. The expansion of that gas causes lava to blast into the air once it reaches the surface, a bit like taking the lid of a shaken bottle of soda.

“The question for many years was what gas produced these sorts of eruptions on the Moon,” said Alberto Saal, associate professor of earth, environmental, and planetary sciences at Brown and corresponding author of the new research. “The gas is gone, so it hasn’t been easy to figure out.”


Solar System Formation Don't Mean a Thing Without That Spin

Alan Boss

New work from Carnegie's Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser provides surprising new details about the trigger that may have started the earliest phases of planet formation in our solar system. It is published by The Astrophysical Journal.

For decades, it's been hypothesized that our Solar System's genesis was initiated by a shock wave from a supernova. According to this theory, the wall of pressure formed by a shock wave from the exploding star smacked into a cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse and contract into the core of a new proto-star—our Sun. This young Sun was surrounded by a rotating disk of dust and gas that eventually aggregated to form the planets of our Solar System.

Boss and Keiser have explored this theory of cloud collapse—as opposed to a previous theory of shock wave-caused cloud shredding—using advanced 2-D and 3-D modeling for several years and have published a series of papers supporting it.    




South American Example Illustrates Rocky Mountain Formation

Lara Wagner

New work from an international team of researchers including Carnegie’s Lara Wagner improves our understanding of the geological activity that is thought to have formed the Rocky Mountains. It is published by Nature.

Subduction is a geological process that occurs at the boundary between two of the many plates that make up the Earth’s crust. An oceanic crustal plate sinks and slides under another plate—either oceanic or continental—and is plunged deep into Earth’s mantle.

Usually the lower plate slides down into the mantle at a fairly steep angle, sinking rapidly into the warmer, less-dense mantle material. However, in a process called “flat-slab” subduction, the lower plate moves nearly horizontally underneath the upper plate, sometimes for great distances.


DTM @ the Goldschmidt Conference 2015

Goldschmidt 2015

DTM will travel to Prague next week for the annual Goldschmidt Conference on 16-21 August, 2015. 

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Goldschmidt conference series this year, this meeting will feature 25 plenary talks highlighting the 25 greatest advances in geochemistry in the past quarter century, one of which will be given by DTM's Conel Alexander titled "Theme 24: Cosmochemistry and Astrophysics" on Thursday, 20 August. 

Also on Thursday, 20 August, Richard Carlson will present the Shen-su Sun award to former DTM postdoc Liping Qin, now professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Science and Technology in China, for her work on "Chromium Stable Isotope Composition of Meteorites and its Cosmochemical and Geochemical Significance" . This award recognizes exceptional geoscientists younger than 40-years-old who work in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in commeration of the late Dr. Shen-su Sun who made tremendous contributions to the geochemistry of the solid Earth and mantle dynamics.

In addition to these two presentations, DTM will be represented by Steve ShireyMarion Garçon, Rita Parai, and Jianhua WangKevin Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of the Geochemical Society which moved to Carnegie in May 2015, will also be in attendence. 



A Champagne Toast to Celebrate the Career of Alan Linde at DTM

Alan Linde

Last week, DTM celebrated the 46-year career of DTM seismologist Alan Linde with a champagne toast on his final day on campus.

Old and new coworkers, collaborators and friends gathered in the Tuve dining hall on Friday, 30 July 2015, to eat cake, drink champagne, and tell stories about Linde's major contributions in the field of geophysics during his tenure at DTM.


Beloved Mentor Ernst K. Zinner Passes Away

Carnegie News

Ernst K. Zinner, astrophysicist at Washington University, former DTM Merle A. Tuve Fellow (2010), and trusted mentor of DTM's Conel Alexander, Larry Nittler, and several former postdocs, died Thursday, 30 July 2015, at the age of 78 of complications of mantle cell lymphoma.