Cutting Edge > Geology and Human Health > Workshop 04 > Icebreaker

Icebreaker Activity

Each workshop participant brought an image that represents their interests in the field of geology and human health. The images were passed around randomly. Each participant had to find the person who was holding their image, then explain what the image was showing. This fostered conversations about different perspectives in geology and health. As you can see, a broad spectrum of interests were represented here.

Click on any image for a larger view.

Map of arsenic concentrations and bedrock geology in SE Wisconsin Jean Bahr
Distribution of wells in SE Wisconsin with elevated arsenic concentrations
Leukemic cells and healthy red blood cells in contrast with an image of the pores in a sandy sediment sample. Scott Bair
Image of leukemic cells (stained blue) and healthy red blood cells (off white) in contrast with an image of the pores (blue) in a sandy sediment sample. These are metaphorical images, best viewed side by side, symbolizing the cluster of childhood leukemia cases and the movement of contaminants to two municipal wells at Woburn, Massachusetts.
Map of the high incidence of breast cancer in Marin County CA Janice Barlow
A map of the high incidence of breast cancer in Marin County, CA
Ray holding his hand in a spring. Is it hot or cold Ray Beiersdorfer
Plunging my hand into a 'hot' spring. But is it really hot?(no)
Industry along the Buffalo River Barry Boyer
Industry along the Buffalo River
Six inch biowells at a hazardous waste site in Utica New York about to receive a healthy dose of oxidant. Jeff Chiarenzelli
A row of six-inch biowells at a hazardous waste site in Utica, New York about to receive a healthy dose of oxidant.
Images about trace metals and your health Lynn Chyi
Trace elements and your health
The Monchegorsk smelter Kola Peninsula Russia Nelson Eby
The Monchegorsk smelter, Kola Peninsula, Russia, has been a major source of air, soil, and water pollution. Contaminants from this smelter have had a wide impact on the health of residents over a broad region of the Kola Peninsula.
Mercury contamination in San Francisco Bay Russ Flegal
Mercury sources, fluxes, and biogeochemical cycles in San Francisco Bay
Bones in an hourglass Laura Gehrig
Bone health and the environment
Atmospheric Pollution Martin Golhaber
The image shows a plume from a coal fired power plant. I have been working on the impact of particulate emissions from northeastern US power plants on sediments and soils. These emissions include potentially toxic trace elements such as arsenic and mercury.
Reservoir in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY Jean Grassman
"No entrance for any purpose" A sign at a drinking water reservoir in the Catskills of upstate NY
Sheep lungs Mickey Gunter
The center of the photo shows sheep lungs and begs the question "What is the mineral content of these lungs?" (Note rock pick for scale.) The bottom of the photo shows a single particle of amphibole from Libby, Montana. And this one begs the question "Is this a asbestos, or not?" My view would be the left side would be considered asbestos while the right side would not be. These sorts of particles present a challenge for routine morphological characterization.
Back scatter electron image and Pb and Fe abundance maps. Andrew Knudsen
Electron microprobe of Pb-contaminated soils from the Couer d'Alene river valley. The image on the left is a BSE image, the smaller figures to its right are Pb and Fe abundance "maps" of the same grain. This is a fairly typical grain, showing a strong affinity between the Pb and poorly crystalline Fe-oxyhydroxides (determined by XRD).
Hawk Helen Lang
West Virginia, tourism vs. industry: the Hawk's Nest tunnel takes off just to the right of the picture. Over 764 men died of acute silicosis as a result of working in the Hawk's Nest tunnel in 1930-31. This incident introduces my students to the importance of minerals in human health.
A cider press from southern England William Manton
A cider press from southern England. Apples were placed in the circular stone trough and were crushed by the large wheel which rotated about an axle attached to a post in the center. Some kind of a harness was attached to the wheel to allow it to be pulled by horses. By virtue of its size the trough had to be made in sections and an obvious problem was how to make to joints between them free of leaks. In the county of Devon it was the practice to seal the joints by pouring in molten lead. The soft metal was macerated by the heavy wheel and the fine particles dissolved in the acidic apple juice. The resulting disease was known as the Devonshire Colic. In 1767 Sir George Baker correctly identified it as lead poisoning and traced it to the cider. Both he and Benjamin Franklin were fellows of the Royal Society and some say that Franklin, being familiar with lead poisoning from the printing trade, may have assisted Baker.


Giant boulder transported during floods Tibi Marin
Effects of floods in Venezuala
Health care without harm logo Ann Melamed
Health care without harm
Photomicrograph of asbestos Wayne Powell
Photomicrograph of asbestos
Overview of open pit gold mine Kaye Savage
Overview of the Harvard pit at Jamestown, California, in the Mother Lode gold mining district. Arsenic concentration in the pH 8 lake is approximately 1000 ???g/L. Sources include both ground water, and efflorescent weathering products of arsenian pyrite which accumulate on the pit walls in summer which are washed into the lake during early winter storms.
hugging rocks Catherine Shrady
The use of rocks and geological materials in traditional medicine
Kids swimming in the polluted Buffalo River Jill Singer
Kids enjoying a summertime swim in the Buffalo River, which has been contaminated with industrial pollutants.
Molecular structure of fluorapatite Catherine Skinner
Molecular structure of fluorapatite
Wyoming landscape Suki Smaglik
Wyoming landscape
Images and maps of  water uses and pollution sources Nancy Thorpe
Connections bewteen water quality and childhood cancers
Sources of agricultural nitrate pollution Margaret Townsend
Sources of nitrate pollution
Ozark stream affected by mining activities Thomas Van Biersel
Ozark stream affected by mining activities.
Sculpture of the god of the baths Kenneth Verosub
God of the baths from Bath, England
Collecting lizards using a fishing rod and a noose Caryl Waggett
One of my major research interests is reducing exposure to Lyme disease, an infection caused by a spirochete transmitted by a tick. In California, we have found that there is a borreliacidal factor in the blood of lizards, one of the preferred hosts of the nymphal stage of the vector tick, that reduces the force of pathogen transmission. In the image, I am collecting lizards using a fishing rod and a noose, which can be used to collect the lizards unharmed. Ticks feed on the lizards in the nuchal pouch (behind the ear drum). While biotic factors influence dispersion of ticks (host distribution and density, vegetation), there appear to be numerous abiotic and climatic features that influence tick density as well, including soil structure, pH, and relative humidity. Further, larger-scale processes influence density as well, including El Nino cycles, drought cycles, regions with glacial till, and land use patterns by humans–including suburban sprawl expansion and deer management.


Viral pathogens found in groundwater William Woessner
Types of viral pathogens found in groundwater
Map showing concentrations of arsenic in groundwater in Bangledesh Yan Zheng
The concentration of arsenic in 6000 tube wells in Bangladesh, from Columbia University's SBRP program