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This post was editted by John McDaris on Feb, 2010
Hi Folks. Ahead of the upcoming workshop, we would like to have each of you introduce yourself to the group using this discussion thread. Give us a little information about yourself including, who you are, where you are from, your interests in Deep Earth science, and something interesting you do to get your students excited about the Deep Earth.

To start things off, my name is John McDaris and I'm one of Cutting Edge's staff members. I am at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. I have a Masters degree in Geophysics from the University of Minnesota where I worked on investigating a potential low T/P analog for transition zone spinel.

I'll be your contact for all the technical aspects of the workshop and will also be moderating some of our discussions. If you have any questions as we proceed through the workshop, please feel free to contact me ( and I'll do my best to sort things out.


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This is Dave Mogk at Montana State University. I'm a metamorphic petrologist by training, with research interests in the genesis and evolution of Archean continental crust with projects in the Beartooth, Gallatin, Madison, Tobacco Root, Little Belt Mountains that expose parts of the Wyoming Province. I also am interested in petrogenetic processes (e.g. migmatization and the relation to deformation) that occurs in "middle earth", ca. 30 km depth--not the deep Earth we'll focus on in this workshop.

For the past 15 years I have worked in a variety of ways to support geoscience education. This workshop is one of many ways we have engaged the community to contribute their best ideas about contemporary Science and methods to best teach these topics. I have also served on advisory boards for EarthScope and EarthChem, and am very interested in seeking ways to integrate this great new research with new instructional opportunities.

Although I am very interested in all the great new science coming out of major new research programs like EarthScope, computational modeling, high-pressure experimental petrology, etc., I have to say that I am really a novice at understanding all of this: what the heck is "redite" and "blueite", what is the ultimate fate of subducted slabs, what information (and what are the limits of interpretation) of results from e.g. receiver functions and shear wave splitting; heck, how are tomograms made and how do you interpret them; what do we really know about deep earth in terms of the structure, composition, processes, and history; can we reconcile geochemical and geophysical evidence into one grand model about how the deep earth works; and given all this great science, how can we successfully translate this to our own classes?

I'm hugely excited about the prospect of learning from all of you! As the workshop progresses, let me know how we can best support you first at the workshop, and then, in your larger instructional mission! Rock on!


Share edittextuser=7 post_id=5546 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Mike Williams here from the University of Massachusetts. I am a structural geologist and metamorphic petrologists, and I am particularly interested in the interactions between deformation and metamorphism. Much of my research has focused on isobaric terranes, regions that have spent some period of time at a particular crustal level. For example, Precambrian rocks in many parts of the southwestern US, were in the middle crust from 1650Ma to at least 1400 MA. I am also interested in new ways to date metamorphic and deformation events. I have been working to develop the technique of monazite dating by electron microprobe.

I am a member of the EarthScope Steering Committee, and I have served as co-Chair of the committee to develop a new 10-year Science Plan for EarthScope. I believe that the discoveries of EarthScope over the past eight years and the discoveries that will be made across the US and Alaska over the next 10 years will provide a tremendous teaching opportunity. At one time or another, everyone in the country will be close to a seismometer collecting data about the deep Earth. The naturally interesting images and observations that emerge will provide an opportunity to talk about Earth processes with students, professionals and the general public. I see this workshop as an opportunity to begin to utilize this educational opportunity.


Share edittextuser=136 post_id=5730 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hello, all. This is Glenn Richard from the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences (COMPRES) and the Mineral Physics Institute (MPI), headquartered at Stony Brook University. Currently, COMPRES headquarters are in the process of transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2001, I have been engaged in promoting educational resources related to the research activities of these two organizations.

This workshop provides an excellent opportunity to build a collection of educational materials that focus on relationships between materials properties and the deep Earth. The mission of COMPRES is summarized below, and this can help stimulate ideas for new and existing educational resources to include in this collection:

From ...

"COMPRES, the Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences is a community-based consortium whose goal is to enable Earth Science researchers to conduct the next generation of high-pressure science on world-class equipment and facilities. It facilitates the operation of beam lines, the development of new technologies for high pressure research, and advocates for science and educational programs to the various funding agencies."

Based on the above, we can build a collection of resources that focus on:

1) the properties of materials under deep Earth pressures and temperatures;

2) the technologies, equipment, and facilities needed to study materials under deep Earth conditions; and

3) what materials properties research has revealed about deep Earth processes.

I welcome suggestions from other members of the COMPRES community who are enrolled in this workshop.


Share edittextuser=1579 post_id=5877 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi, this is Kanani Lee from the Department of Geology & Geophysics at Yale. I'm an experimentalist by training and do mostly laser-heated diamond-anvil cell experiments, but have also performed laser-driven shock stuff as well. I've dabbled in ab-initio computations. Tools aside, I have many interests, but the primary ones are in understanding the Earth's deep mantle, core and the boundary in between. Investigating real mantle rocks at appropriate mantle conditions allows one to better interpret seismic measurements and constrain geodynamic models.

In terms of teaching, I am looking for more hands-on activities for my students, perhaps even some that takes them out into the field. My "field" is the laboratory which can come across less-exciting, especially for someone taking a geology course. Currently I do a corn syrup demo and try to measure gravity changes with a gravimeter. We've also set up some geophones and hammered away to show some reflection seismology. I could use more ideas.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the discussions although I'm afraid my participation will be somewhat limited given that I have synchrotron beamtime at the same time of this workshop!


Share edittextuser=3399 post_id=5882 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

This is Vince Cronin from Baylor University. I teach structural geology (mostly to future petroleum geologists) at Baylor, but during my academic childhood I worked long hours on the kinematics of finite relative plate motion -- the shape of oceanic fracture zones, evolution of transform faults, triple junction geometric stability (or more accurately, the lack thereof) and so on.

While I spend most of my research time using earthquakes to find seismogenic faults, I also continue to be interested in understanding where everything is going on the surface using GPS, VLBI, etc., and sub-plate influences on plate motion.

I am also very interested in helping undergraduate students (and others) learn about Earth. And I plan/hope to expand my efforts to create useful geo-educational resources for the web in the coming years, working with the E&O staffs of EarthScope, IRIS, UNAVCO, MARGINS and the like.


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This post was editted by Brennan Jordan on Feb, 2010
Hello! This is Brennan Jordan from the University of South Dakota. I teach mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology (amongst other things) in the undergraduate-oriented Department of Earth Sciences at USD.

I am primarily an igneous petrologist, and have worked in Iceland, the Pacific Northwest U.S., and central Mongolia, all provinces where mantle plumes have been considered a possible mechanism driving or influencing volcanism. I have taken a keen interest in the debate over the existence of mantle plumes, and I participated in the Great Plume Debate AGU Chapman Conference in 2005 in Ft. William, Scotland. I am also taking preliminary steps into the geo-neutrino field and am excited by the potential of this approach to yield new constraints on the composition of the deep earth.

I hope to collaborate with others in this workshop to come up with fresh ideas for how to bring the excitement of an active debate in our science, like the plume debate, to students, and how to use such debates to illustrate the practical operation of science. I am also very interested in learning new strategies for teaching other deep earth topics.


Share edittextuser=3406 post_id=6131 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hello!! This is Barbara Graham from Las Vegas.. I teach physical geography, meteorology and oceanography at the College Southern Nevada. Most of my students are gen ed students with little background in science and are going on to teach K - 12.

My background is physical geography and GIS.. I currently devote my time to teaching and working with the Clark County School District in preparing teachers to teach science.

I am a newby to deep earth science, so bear with me and I promise to work hard and ask a lot of questions!! Thank you and my students thank you!!


Share edittextuser=3411 post_id=6141 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Good Afternoon, Vicki Hansen here from UMD, University of Minnesota Duluth (not U of Maryland). My research interests include Cordilleran tectonics, subduction zone processes, Venus, and Archean Earth processes, with most time spent on the last two of late. I take a whole planet view of things thanks to 20 plus years working on Venus where I have been challenged to think about this planet from core to crust, and their evolution through time. My approach generally starts in the field with real rocks, or, in the case of Venus, with the SAR (synthetic Aperture Radar) data. I currently teach Structural Geology, Earth's Dynamic Interior (EDI), and various upper level undergraduate-graduate level courses (e.g., Archean Geology, Planetary, Venus, Adv. Structure). I love teaching EDI, a sophomore-level course, and find all of the incredible advances in mineralogy, petrology, geophysics, etc. fascinating. The deep Earth, Venus, and Archean tectonics all have in common (in my opinion) the following characteristics. 1) These ‘playgrounds’ stretch our minds in wonderfully challenging ways as we must get to any understanding through careful attention to the scientific method including clearly delineating what we consider as basic boundary conditions, ‘truths’, data, and assumptions. 2) We must revisit and challenge our assumptions daily (i.e., nothing is ‘sacred’). 3) New data seems to be continually froth coming. 4) If we are clever, we can leverage key data into big picture implications and understanding of first order questions. 5) The scenarios/models/hypotheses that emerge will almost certainly be elegant in both their inherent simplicity and their inherent complexity. I am interested in the deep Earth both from the standpoint of teaching, and from the stand point to research implications, with specific applications to Venus (Earth’s sister planet, whose inners should have many similarities with Earth’s inners), terrestrial planet evolution in general, and Archean Earth (from core to crust). The deep Earth provides such a great learning environment for our students because it is a new frontier and the students can experience the importance of new first-order data sets, and the addressing of truly first-order problems. Students get the opportunity to really experience science in the making.


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This is Katie Cooper from Washington State University. I tend to stick towards the shallower end of the deep Earth - lithosphere/mantle interactions. But I like to make the connections to deeper processes both in depth and in time. So, I, too, am interested in Archean Earth and crust/lithosphere/craton formation and evolution. But now that I'm living smack dab in the Columbia River Basalts, my interests have really been peaked by the energetics required for large degrees of melting. I do most of my work through numerical and theoretical modeling, so a virtual workshop seems almost a bit too natural to me.

I really look forward to learning more about everyone's work and teaching techniques. I'm new to teaching and struggle with incorporating creative exercises & demonstrations for my upper level course (Intro to Geophysics). Unfortunately, I feel like I'm spending a lot of the time playing catch up with students who are resistant to using math. Any help or suggestions would be great.


Share edittextuser=3484 post_id=6198 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi, this John Taber from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Education and Outreach program. My research background is in seismotectonics and crustal structure in subduction zones, and seismic hazards, and I've been involved full time in education since I joined IRIS about 8 years ago. I'm very interested in how others teach about the deep earth, and in finding ways to help students get a better understanding of how we know about the Earth's interior.

IRIS E&O (, which has a history of focusing on K-12 and public education, is increasing efforts to provide undergraduate teaching resources. Through this workshop I hope to find out what good instructional tools are already available for teaching about the deep earth, to help determine what is needed, and to work with others to help create some of those resources.


Share edittextuser=3491 post_id=6272 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi! I'm Anna Courtier from James Madison University. I'm finishing up my second year teaching here, and did my PhD at the University of Minnesota before coming here. I'm a seismologist interested in using mantle discontinuities (sharp changes in density or seismic velocity) as tools to tell us more about the variability in temperature and composition within the mantle.

I teach "Geophysics" and "Field Geophysics" to Geology and Earth Science majors, along with occasional Physics or Archaeology students. Geophysics tends to be more deep Earth. Field Geophysics focuses on the near surface and takes advantage of a great collection of equipment that we have here at JMU. I also teach some general education classes, and am interested in developing activities for non-majors as well as majors (all at the undergraduate level). I am particularly interested in developing quantitative activities for majors, since I find many (most?) of them claim to be afraid of the math involved with geophysics.


Share edittextuser=3497 post_id=6315 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi! I'm Merry Yue Cai from Columbia University. I'm currently teaching an intro-level undergraduate course that has an earth science component at CU. I have a Ph.D. in isotope geology and my current research interests include using isotope tracers to study mantle heterogeneity and evolution using lavas from mid-ocean ridges and arc volcanoes. I'm excited to learn some new ideas here so that I can introduce more deep earth related activities into our undergraduate classroom.


Share edittextuser=3401 post_id=6368 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi! I’m Pamela Burnley from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I teach Mineralogy. I have been teaching for 13 years or so. Over the years most of my teaching has been in introductory geology and science courses for middle school teachers although I have on occasion taught intro geophysics. Due to a sudden staffing shortfall at my daughter’s school I am, for the moment, also teaching earth science one morning a week to 4-6th graders – which is really different! My research interests are in experimental mineral physics, mostly focused on ductile deformation and phase transformations in mantle minerals. My biggest challenge in mineralogy is finding time to talk about the deep earth. I work it in when we talk about phase transformations and defects, but I wish I had time to do more. At the intro level I have a lecture where I talk about the hollow earth (and how we know the earth is not hollow). In geophysics I used to have my students figure out what the earth would need to be composed of if it were hollow (using a shell thickness suggested by hollow earthers) given the radius determined by Eratosthenes and mass determined by Maskelyne. I always found that amusing but my students tended to founder on the math.


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This post was editted by Gene Humphreys on Feb, 2010
I am Gene Humphreys, University of Oregon. I am interested in the physical processes of continental tectonics and magmatism, with special interests in the western U.S. and the upper mantle (lithosphere and asthenosphere), where most of the controlling processes occur. My research includes (1) seismology, especially tomography, using distant earthquakes (which best illuminate the upper mantle), (2) geodynamic modeling of the regional stresses and strains tectonic deformation, and (3) trying to tie these results together with geologic observations to answer questions about ongoing and past deformation and magmatism.

I enjoy incorporating math into my classes, and have found success by being enthusiastic and making it cool (which it is) --
>> e^(i pi) = -1 implies the existence of God ?!
>> Cantor developed his theories of infinities while trying to answer: how many discontinuities can a function have and still have a Fourier transform. Ans: an infinite number (but only a countably infinite number).


Share edittextuser=3502 post_id=6418 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

This is Eric Christiansen from Brigham Young University. Basically, I am an igneous petrologist but I am very interested in understanding and helping students learn about how the entire Earth system works. I teach courses in introductory physical geology, petrology, planetary geology, and a required course for all of our graduate students called "Planet Earth." I use Kent Condie's "Earth as an Evolving Planetary System" which is a good way to delve a little deeper into the Earth for more advanced students. So I'm looking for new ways to teach this class as well as for ways to help beginning undergraduates understand that Earth is a dynamic system with surface processes that are affected by what happens in the core and the deep mantle.


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This post was editted by Glenn Richard on Feb, 2010
During this workshop, I hope to help all the other participants who are members of the COMPRES community with the identification of existing educational resources and the development of new ones that are needed.


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I'm Wendy Panero, at Ohio State University. I'm a deep-earth mineral physicist, and I teach mineralogy, general ed planetary geology, and a variety of other classes, including geodynamics.

In two years, Ohio State will shift from quarters to semesters, together with a large drop in number of our faculty (by at least 1/3), we must completely overhaul our curriculum. Current discussions involve stream lining the number of courses offered to undergraduate majors, which will require we integrate many sub-disciplines into each course. I am focused on developing geophysics modules which can be inserted into topical courses and taught by a variety of faculty.


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Good morning this is Suzanne Baldwin writing from Syracuse University. I’m a thermochronologist and my research investigates how planets have evolved over geologic time. Currently I am involved in studies aimed at understanding lithospheric plate boundary processes (e.g., in the Woodlark Basin of Papua New Guinea), and environmental conditions required for the origin of life on habitable planets. I direct the Syracuse University Noble Gas Isotopic Research Laboratory (SUNGIRL) where noble gases are extracted from minerals to reveal their thermal histories and my research is funded by the US National Science Foundation and NASA.

I teach undergraduate mineralogy and petrology courses, as well as thermochronology and various research seminars. This workshop caught my attention because I want to stay up-to-date with geophysical constraints on the Earth’s interior. The mineralogy course is taught using a holistic approach. Students learn, and are expected to know by the end of the course, the answer to “What’s in the Earth and how do we know?” We begin with a discussion about the core and work our way outwards to the mantle, crust, and finally surface. The interdisciplinary approach to address “what’s in the core and mantle and how do we know?” requires an understanding of deep earth processes. We do not have a geophysicist on the faculty at SU, so I am looking forward to learning about how I might improve my methods for teaching about the deep earth.


Share edittextuser=3398 post_id=6508 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Good Morning, All, from sunny Florida, where it was a cold 30F....

Dave Mogk asked me to talk about seismic imaging tomorrow, so I'll be following the discussion as closely as I can to see if I can include any last-minute adjustments that might make things more relevant to you all.

My interests seem similar to many others here - how do I get math shy undergrads to feel comfortable in geophysics classes and research? We'll see.


Share edittextuser=3509 post_id=6509 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

Hi folks! I'm at Miami University of Ohio, where I teach about the deep earth in a pair of courses to advanced undergrads and beginning grads (Geophysics, Seismology) and several graduate seminars (Subduction Zones, Continental Mantle, Cordilleran Dyanmics). At the advanced undergrad level, I have made the decision to focus my efforts on improving students' computational ability as opposed to their mathematical skills. As such, a number of my in-class activities have students use the computer to understand the concepts instead of using equations.


Share edittextuser=3449 post_id=6512 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

I'm at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I teach a broad range of geo courses to undergrads. I could envision including Deep Earth materials in our intro course--Geological Oceanography--and my upper level courses that cover mineralogy, structural geology, and geophysics. I think the idea to develop Deep Earth materials to insert into geo courses that are already taught is wise, as opposed to trying to disseminate a new, specific Deep Earth courses.


Share edittextuser=834 post_id=6540 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

I'm Ben Edwards, and I teach mineralogy/petrology/hazards-related courses at Dickinson College. I'm on the road at the moment visiting Cornell U, so will be a bit behind on discussions etc. But I'll try to keep up! In the spirit of the workshop I did visit with Chris Andronicos today about BATHOLITHS work (they shot a new seismic line in British Columbia this summer to look at lithospheric structure) and about mantle xenoliths from New Mexico. My research interests are glaciovolcanism, magmagenesis in areas of continental extension and lithospheric stratigraphy.

My teaching interests are at the introductory level, where I almost always try to find a way to talk about planetary formation and Earth's chemical and rheological layering, and in a new upper level Earth Materials course, where I want to integrate more detailed information about the mineralogical structure of the deep earth. I have an exercise that I use at both levels presently that tries to get students to identify rheological vs. chemical boundary layers by looking at a figure from a geophysics text by Lillie, which show P-, S-wave velocities as well as the density structure of the Earth. For the upper level class I also include a list of minerals with densities and P-, S-wave velocities, and ask the students to decide which materials are most likely to be in which layers. I'd like to improve on this exercise by getting some feedback from other participants and maybe getting better data on properties for minerals in the mesosphere and inner core.

My research/teaching interests stem from work on different varieties of lithospheric xenoliths from northern BC and eastern Alaska, and trying to use xenoliths for 'petrological imaging' of the lithosphere. I'm supervising an undergrad SR project at the moment on an interesting suite of BC spinel lherzolite and pyroxenites xenoliths that also contain amphibole...


Share edittextuser=1523 post_id=6602 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

I'm Abby Kavner from UCLA. My research area is high pressure mineral physics. Here at UCLA I teach a GE course in planetary geology for non science majors, mineralogy (called "Earth & Planetary Materials here), solid Earth geophysics, and graduate-level mineral physics.

I am working on an excel spreadsheet program that allows students to play with bulk geochemistry and mineral physics parameters for Earth's interior (composition and equation of state) and compare that information with PREM.

Also, I would like to find ways to document and quantify some of my approaches in the classroom: such as incorporating as much math and physics as possible, showing the scientific process as a very human process, and moving away from lectures and more towards class activities and discussions.

Looking forward to working with everyone!


Share edittextuser=3395 post_id=6749 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=1693

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