Department News

Dr. Bermingham opines about Earth's formation in NATURE

ImageWriting in Nature's News and Views, Assistant Professor Dr. Katherine Bermingham—an authority on cosmo- and geo-chemistry—comments on how the isotopic composition of very ancient rocks from Greenland help understand the building blocks of Earth. Particularly interesting is the origin of volatile compounds like water and organics, which could have arrived by carbonaceous chondrite (meteorite) collisions during the final stages of our planet's growth billions of years ago. click here for paper

Books by Professor McGhee

Distinguished Professor George R. McGhee's books about his research on macro-evolutionary processes, including a new title from The Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology on convergent evolution:

"Convergent Evolution on Earth, Lessons for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life"
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press)

"Carboniferous Giants and Mass Extinctions, The Late Paleozoic Ice Age World"
(Columbia University Press)

"When the Invasion of the Land Failed, The Legacy of the Devonian Extinctions"
(Columbia University Press)

Mcgee titles copy

Verhagen receives AGU's Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA)

VerhagenChristina Verhagen has received an OPSA for her poster at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting. Her presentation, entitled "Linking paleomagnetism and petrographic observations to long-lived hydrothermal activity at the Chicxulub crater" was rated among the top ~5% of student presentations in the Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism, and Electromagnetism Section. Paleomagnetic analysis of impact breccia from the Chicxulub impact crater showed evidence of long-lived hydrothermalism within the crater. Using electron microprobe analysis, Christina and colleagues were able to identify the main magnetic remanence carriers as hydrothermal Fe-sulfides and Ti-magnetites. These secondary minerals reveal changing temperatures and chemical conditions within hydrothermal fluids through time.

Rutgers geologists return from successful expedition to the southern Argentine margin

crew ThomasThompsonProfessor Jim Wright and four graduate students sailed on a research cruise aboard the RV Thomas Thompson, leaving from Montevideo, Uruguay on September 11th and returning on October 31st. Aaron Watters (Ph.D.), Mark Yu (Ph.D.), Tim Shamus (M.S.), and alumnus Alex Adams (MS, 2019) joined researchers and students from Texas A&M and the College of Charleston to explore the southern Argentine margin. On this 51-day cruise, the research team collected high-resolution seismic lines, multibeam bathymetry data, and a suite of cores from the southern Argentine margin. Over 4000 km (2135 nM) of high-resolution seismic data allowed the team to see the margin’s geologic architecture. One of the aims of the investigation was to image locations where sediments and deep ocean currents interact, forming large sediment drifts. Sediments are swept to the deepest parts of the continental margin (>4000 m) through a series of canyons where strong bottom water currents have sculpted the sediments producing sedimentary deposits over 2 km thick over the past 14 million years. A second sediment drift is developing in water depths between 2200 and 2800 m and appears to be a younger drift deposit. The research team also collected sixty-two cores from water depths spanning 750 to 4500 m, recovering >380 m of sediments. Eighteen jumbo piston cores (up to 14 m) recovered sediments that encompass the most recent glacial to interglacial cycles. Older sediments exposed on the margin were also recovered using a gravity core within a 20 ft steel core barrel known as Big Bertha. Shore-based biostratigraphic analysis will be conducted on these sediments. The research team will work on the data and cores collected over the next 4 to 5 years and will support a variety of graduate and undergraduate research projects.

Professor Nathan Yee explores the possibility of life on Mars and beyond

Nathan Yee, a Rutgers University–New Brunswick professor of geomicrobiology and geochemistry and a co-investigator at Rutgers ENIGMA, a NASA-funded research team focused on discovering how proteins evolved to become the catalysts of life on Earth. Yee co-created and teaches Rutgers’ first course on astrobiology, an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand whether life arose elsewhere and whether we can detect it. read more here

Students study Rodinia

Professor Jill VanTongeren led her field methods course to the Adirondacks to look at the formation of  the ancient supercontinent Rodinia. Pictured is the group sitting on top of 1.1 Ga Massif Anorthosites in the High Peaks region and enjoying the view towards Mount Marcy (NY State’s tallest peak) after a nice climb. (photo by Silke Severmann)

EPS Welcomes Our New Faculty Member Lujendra Ojha

Central peak of Hale crater on Mars (Inset: New Faculty Member Lujendra Ojha)Welcome Lujendra (Luju)! Luju holds a B.S. in Geophysics from University of Arizona (2012) and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from Georgia Institute of Technology (2016). He spent the following 3 years as a prestigious Balustein Postdoctoral Fellow and a Research Scientist, in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, before he joined us as an EPS faculty this month. An overarching focus of Luju’s research is the evolution of terrestrial planets and its effect on geological processes and habitability. Luju uses a diverse set of tools to understand these processes, including remote sensing, laboratory simulations, numerical modeling, and terrestrial field work. He is a Co-Investigator in the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) mission to Mars which is the most powerful camera that humanity has ever sent to another planet (see 3D rendering that Luju made below). Luju is always looking for talented students to work on planetary science projects. Visit him at http://www.lujendraojha.com/

EPS undergraduate studies Martian soil at NASA

Sophie Benaroya is an undergraduate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and a Rutgers Honors College senior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  Her recent work at the Lunar and Planetary Institute of NASA can be found here

new in PNAS: The first day of the Cenozoic

firstdayA new study published in PNAS on the K-Pg boundary event was contributed to by Rutgers graduate student Christina Verhagen and former EPS faculty Sonia Tikoo.  Christina's research includes identifying magnetic signatures recorded in magnetic minerals within rocks from the Chicxulub impact crater, formed 66 million years ago during the K/Pg mass extinction. She is studying how rocks are remagnetized by high velocity impacts and how impact-induced, long-lived hydrothermal systems alter crater rocks through time supplying nutrients for the recovery of life within the crater.  Very interesting work!