During day 3 of the GSA meeting I attended several talks, including part of a session on the geologic maps of Vesta being produced as a result of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft mission. Vesta’s surface has been divided into 15 quadrangles and apparently a different team is assigned to map each one. I have to admit it was entertaining to hear them argue over who had the coolest quadrangle to study. There were lots of possibilities, since like so many bodies in our Solar System Vesta is much more complex than anyone imagined. For example, Debra Buczkowski et al. described a high-density area called Vestalia Terra which they suggest may be one of the geologically oldest areas on Vesta, while Jennifer Scully et al. examined elongated troughs (“fossae”) that may be structural shear features.
In the poster session, Matthew Vrazo et al. reported a rich deposit with numerous specimens of the “sea scorpion” Eurypterus (top) from the Silurian of Pennsylvania. Many of these appear to have been molted carapaces.
In what may be the most timely poster ever (keep in mind that abstracts were submitted several months ago), Alan Benimoff et al. modeled the effects of storm surges in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area. Quoting directly from their abstract: “Our simulation suggests that even relatively minor tropical storms, striking the area with the right track and tidal combination, can produce substantial flood-related damage and destruction to shipping channels, industrial and sewage plants, subways, bridges, and high rise buildings.”
In a rather disturbing study, Anjian Wang and Shanqin Ni found elevated levels of copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, arsenic, and cadmium in the hair of children living downstream from mining areas on the Lean River in China. In most cases the average levels were not considered unsafe, but the concentrations were highly variable.
Rachel Racicot used CT scans to examine the ear region of several extant and extinct porpoises, finding some differences within the group in the semicircular canals and vestibules. It’s not clear if these differences reflect phylogenetic or behavioral differences.
There was a whole aisle of posters today on “The Math You Need, When You Need It”, including some by Jen Wenner and Eric Baer, Jacquelyn Hams, Gretchen Miller, Elizabeth Gordon, Kyle Fredrick, and Meredith Denton-Hedrick. It really is a good program.
Brett’s Physical Geology class at Patrick Henry Community College was supposed to meet this afternoon, but of course she’s here in Charlotte. So for class Brett did a video conference with her students from the poster session. Several other geologists volunteered a few minutes of their time to explain what they do and their impressions of the conference, and to answer questions.