EOS researchers show that sea level rise could be mitigated by aiming for a more aggressive global temperature target
In a new study published in Environmental Research Letters,
Tufts Earth and Ocean Sciences postdoctoral researcher Klaus Bittermann and Assistant Professor Andrew Kemp
show that that aiming for a global average temperature rise just 0.5 degrees Celsius lower than the
Paris Agreement target of 2 degrees Celsius would have significant impact on the preservation of global coastlines.
Read about their research in Tufts Now >
Summer activities in the Garven Hydrogeology Lab
In June, Professor Grant Garven was invited to give a keynote lecture on regional groundwater flow
at the International Association of Hydrogeologists
meeting in Calgary, Alberta. Grant discussed his recent research on helium migration through large
faults in southern California.
Throughout July, Prof. Garven is conducting a hydro-seismology experiment with collaborators from
Harvard University. Their goal is to monitor low-frequency acoustic waves produced by the migration
of groundwater through fractured bedrock underlying the Medford campus.
In August, Prof. Garven and former student Jesse Starger will complete computational modeling studying
of reactive flow and mineralization induced by the hydrothermal convention of seawater around black
smokers along mid-oceanic ridges.
Tufts EOS Assistant Prof. Andrew Kemp and the Boston Research Advisory Group
release Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Projections
Twenty-two scientists from 13 different regional Universities and institutions have released their
final report on sea level and other climate change impacts to the city of Boston. The report was
prepared for the Climate Ready Boston project, a partnership between the City of Boston and the
Green Ribbon Commission. Prof. Andrew Kemp, an expert in the determination of historic relative
sea level rise, was part of the six-member sea level rise working group that produced a key
component of this report. Findings suggest that sea level rise for Boston will "...exceed the
global average throughout the 21st century..." (p. 6). Critically, the sea level rise impact
of three different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenarios were compared. Prior to 2050,
no matter what GHG trajectory is considered, sea level is likely to rise between 7.5 to 18 inches,
possibly as high as 30 inches. After 2050, the different GHG scenarios make a larger impact,
with likely rise of 2.5 to 7.4 feet, depending on GHG emissions (low to high), by the year 2100.
The report underscores loss of salt marsh habitats and increase in tidal range, wave energy and
elevation of coastal storm surges as a result.
Read the full report >
Study by Prof. Kemp and colleagues shows global sea level
rising faster than at any time in the past 2800 years
A report published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
Kopp et al. found that global sea level rose much faster during the 20th century due to global warming than it would have otherwise. Prof. Andrew Kemp, an expert on deriving sea-level changes through marsh sediment analysis, is a co-author in this first study to estimate global sea-level over the past 3,000 years. Media coverage from the
Washington Post links this and future sea-level predictions published in a separate paper.
Tufts Quartzite is exposed near the South Hall
dormitory at the site of the drill coring operation.
Professor Gardulski receives grant to study Tufts campus structural geology
Prof. Anne Gardulski was
recently awarded a grant from the GDL Foundation to study a major fault
zone and the surrounding rocks on the Tufts campus. The informally named
"Jackson Fault" has been intersected in several boreholes that Prof. Garven has installed on the campus for his hydrogeology courses (see
news item of 2/3/14). Prof. Gardulski is using diamond-drill cores,
drill cuttings (rock chips), and geophysical logs to unravel the history
of fluid flow, structural diagenesis, and strain on this ancient fault.
In addition, she is studying the sedimentary history of the surrounding
560-million-year old strata, and the complex Jurassic igneous intrusions
that lace the rocks. Two students are working with her on this project.
Professor Ridge to be inducted as Fellow of the Geological Society of America
Following the Kirk Bryan Award from the Geological Society of America last
year, Professor Ridge is set to be inducted as a GSA Fellow at this year's
annual Geological Society of America meeting. The GSA, established in 1888,
is a global professional society of geologists. From the GSA: "Society
Fellowship is an honor bestowed on the best of our profession…in recognition
of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences." Congratulations,
Learn more >
Professor Garven and collaborators find helium leaking from the mantle at ancient subduction zone
Using helium iostope data gathered from deep oil wells along the
Newport-Inglewood fault zone in the Los Angeles Basin, California, Professor
Garven and colleagues have discovered a high helium-3 enrichment, suggesting
a mantle source for over half the helium in the wells. The results are a
surprise given the current tectonic setting and lack of volcanic activity in
the region. The results of modeling point to a deep-seated fault that
maintains some connectivity to the mantle. The paper and media can be
located at the following links:
Undergraduate EOS majors working with Profs. Ridge
and Kemp to collect sediment cores from Boston
harbor tidal marshes, summer 2015.
Professors Ridge and Kemp seek to understand sea level change in Boston harbor tidal marshes
Professors Ridge and Kemp seek to understand sea level change and the record
of pollution and land surface disturbance in the Boston area by coring tidal
marshes. Work began this summer with the help of EOS undergraduate students
on salt marsh sediment that had accumulated continuously over at least the
last 2000 years. The sediment contains fossils of microscopic organisms
(foraminifers) that are sensitive to sea level change. Along with
radiocarbon ages of sediment at different depths, the combined data will
allow the formulation of a sea level curve. In addition, in historic times
pollution and clear-cutting of the land surface introduced magnetic
particles and increased clay deposition on the salt marsh. Concentrations of
metals of various types, including lead, arsenic, copper, and others provide
a record of historic pollution.
Prof. Andrew Kemp's research highlighted in
President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address
A paper on sea-level rise published by Prof. Kemp and
colleagues in PNAS in 2011 was cited and figured in the State
of the Union Address last month.
See Arts & Sciences Faculty Highlights for more information.
EOS winter break field trip to Death Valley a success
In early January, two Tufts EOS faculty took 11 students on a winter
break geological tour of Death Valley, California. From a base
within the national park the group spent eight days exploring
everything the area had to offer, from Precambrian metamorphic core
complexes, to the history of Pleistocene lakes in the valley, to
recent volcanic cratering. Of special interest was a very long,
bumpy drive to Racetrack Playa, home of the famous sliding stones.
Each day included at least one hike into a canyon that exposed a new
formation or structural feature, and at each location the students
took turns teaching the group about the geological phenomena
involved based on their nightly readings. Generous donations made by
Tufts geology alumni help to support the winter and spring break
geology trips, making for a thankful group of students! Photos from
the Death Valley trip can be viewed on the
EOS Facebook page.
Tufts alum interviewed on CBS "60 Minutes"
regarding research on water resources
Tufts Geology alum Jay Famiglietti,
Senior Water Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California
Institute of Technology and Professor, Earth System Science and
Civil and Environmental Engineering, UC Irvine interviewed on CBS 60
Minutes about water issues in California and beyond.
Learn more >
The work of Professor Andrew Kemp and EOS students
highlighted in Boston Globe
Prof. Andrew Kemp's "cutting-edge"
work on sea-level change was recently profiled in the Boston Globe.
Learn more >
Professor Jack Ridge Receives Two Major Awards
Prof. Jack Ridge was recently honored with two awards in recognition
of his work on the deglacial history of the northeastern United
States. The James Hall Medal, awarded by the New York State
Geological Survey for providing outstanding contributions to the
advancement, study, and understanding of New York State's geological
history and evolution was awarded to Prof. Ridge at the June 2014
Northeast Friends of the Pleistocene Annual Meeting. At the 2014
Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC,
Ridge, along with co-authors including many former Tufts students,
was honored with the Kirk Bryan Award. Established in 1951, the Kirk
Bryan Award is the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division's
only named GSA award and is bestowed upon the author or authors of a
published paper of distinction advancing the science of
geomorphology or some related field, such as Quaternary geology.
Ridge and co-authors were recognized for the 2012 publication of The
new North American varve chronology: a precise record of
southeastern Laurentide Ice Sheet deglaciation and climate,
18.2-12.5 kyr BP, and correlations with Greenland ice core records,
American Journal of Science 312:685-722.
Prof. McCanta receives 3-year NSF funding to study volcanic
deposits of the Lesser Antilles
Prof. Molly McCanta and colleagues from Oregon State University and
Boston University have received a 3-year grant from the National
Science Foundation to study layers of volcanic ash deposited in the
ocean around the Lesser Antilles islands, a group of volcanic
islands in the southern Caribbean Sea. The group will be hunting for
"cryptotephras"—layers of ash not visible to the naked eye--in
cores of seafloor sediment collected during McCanta's time on an
International Ocean Drilling Program expedition in 2012. A new
method to rapidly and non-destructively identify cryptotephras using
spectral imaging will be employed and tested that could then be
provided to the wider scientific community for future use.
Identifying these hidden layers of volcanic ash will allow the team
to expand the history of eruptive activity around these islands,
including the active Montserrat volcano.
Prof. Garven completes exploratory drilling of the
President's Lawn for the EOS 133 class
At the end of January 2014 the EOS-133 Field Methods in Hydrogeology
course drilled a "wildcat well" on the President's Lawn as part of
the course groundwater exploration project, and discovered a new
bedrock aquifer at a depth of 105-107 feet below grade. The well was
drilled to a total depth of 200-ft, and preliminary estimates
indicate a natural yield in excess of 60 gallons per minute.
Subsequent study of the drill cuttings and geophysical logging
indicate the finely-laminated Cambridge Argillite has been intruded
by Medford gabbro/diabase. Old hydrothermal fractures filled with
calcite have been weathered out, providing the permeability.
Students will be running tests and sampling the water chemistry for
further study this spring. If the well yield is found to be
sustainable, the University could convert the well to a production
groundwater well for lawn irrigation.
Research in deep fluid migration presented by Prof. Garven
At the 2013 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union,
Professor Grant Garven presented some of the latest hydrogeologic
results from his collaborative DOE-funded project on the role of
fault zones in deep fluid migration. In the presentation entitled
"Tidal Fluctuations in a Deep Fault Extending Under the Santa
Barbara Channel, California", Prof. Garven, his graduate students,
and co-PI Jim Boles (University of California, Santa Barbara) are
analyzing pore-pressure signals from 1-km deep reservoirs in the
Monterey Formation. The pressure signals display ocean tidal
behavior, albeit slightly damped and out of phase with respect to
the tides in the Santa Barbara Channel. Besides the correlations,
they are also using natural seepage data to characterize the
permeability of large fault zones in young sedimentary basins of
Tufts Announces EOS Alumni Gathering at AGU Fall Meeting 2013, on Tuesday, December 11
The Tufts Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences will host an
alumni gathering at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
We will have our reception on Tuesday evening, December 11th from
6 to 7:30 PM at the Marriott Marquis at 780 Mission Street in the
Bin 55 Restaurant and Wine Bar. The Bin 55 is located in the lobby
of the hotel, which is a block north of the Moscone Center. Look for
Anne Gardulski, Jack Ridge, Grant Garven, Molly McCanta, and Andy Kemp
(or some combination of them!). We hope to see you there!
Prof. Molly McCanta's research supports geological
interpretations of planetary surfaces
Two recent publications by Prof. McCanta and colleagues aim at the
analysis of the geology of Mars and other planets. Data returned
from a laser spectrometer (LIBS) instrument on the Mars Science
Laboratory (MSL; the Curiosity rover) currently traveling through
Gale Crater on the Martian surface is providing new insight, but how
reliable is it and what does it mean? McCanta et al.'s work with a simulated
LIBS showed that as laser beam size increases, the reliability of data
decreases. These findings will help operators of the MSL determine the
best operating conditions for the instrument as it spends the rest of
its mission on Mars.
This work was published recently in Planetary and
In addition to work with instrumentation, another study led by McCanta of
Hawaiian lavas is meant to simulate the conditions under which rocks on
other planets were weathered. On Mars and Venus, sulfur-rich gases are a
prominent part of the atmospheric mixture and play a role in the alteration
and breakdown of basaltic lava rock. Hawaiian volcanoes are natural laboratories
for the study of these phenomena because of the sulfuric gases released during
eruptive episodes. McCanta et al.'s work, to be published in American Mineralogist,
led to a better understanding of the products of the reactions between sulfuric
gases and basalt. This information can be used to identify mineral species on
the Martian surface that may be encountered by Curiosity or future instruments
sent to Mars or other planets of similar geological composition.
McCanta M.C., Dyar M.D., and Dobosh P.A. (2013) Using the LIBSSIM Program to
Calculate Rock Composition: Testing the Veracity of LIBS Analyses on Mars.
Planetary and Space Science.
McCanta M.C., Dyar M.D., and Treiman A.H. (2013, in press) Alteration of
Hawaiian basalts under sulfur-rich conditions: Applications to understanding
surface-atmosphere interactions on Mars and Venus. American Mineralogist.
Dr. Andrew Kemp's latest sea-level publication garners
A recent publication in the Journal of Quaternary Science that
combined historical data from tide gages in New York and New Jersey
with high resolution data from marsh sediment cores indicates that
flooding from storm surge will become more likely in the future.
In light of the impact from storm surge during Hurricane Sandy on
these two states, the findings reinforce the relevance of sea-level
studies to daily life. In interviews, co-author and Tufts Professor
Dr. Andrew Kemp has explained that smaller and smaller storms will be able
to cause flooding in the future due to the combined effects of sea-level
rise and land subsidence in the region.
Read the publication >
Read more about Dr. Kemp's interviews:
Kemp—New Assistant Professor in
the Tufts University Department
of Earth and Ocean Sciences
The Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences is pleased and
excited to introduce Assistant Professor Andrew Kemp to the Tufts
University community. Dr. Kemp comes most recently from Yale
University where he was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Yale Climate
and Energy Institute (YCEI). He received his PhD from the University
of Pennsylvania (2009) and BSc from the University of Durham (2002)
in the UK. Dr. Kemp will, in part, support the Tufts Environmental
Studies Program through new course offerings in climate change
Dr. Kemp's research aims to produce detailed reconstructions of sea
level over the last 2000 years and in particular to determine the
response of local, regional and global sea level to known climate
deviations such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age, and
20th century warming. Dr. Kemp takes an interdisciplinary approach
to this work using coastal stratigraphy, biological, and geochemical
proxies, varied dating methods and quantitative paleoenvironmental
reconstruction techniques to reconstruct sea level at unprecedented
resolution. These records provide a constraint for future
projections of sea-level rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (AR5) is consulting these reconstructions to place
current and projected sea level changes in an appropriate geological
context. It is hoped these new geological data will aid coastal
management under scenarios of future sea level change.
Dr. Kemp's first course at Tufts will be offered Fall 2013: EOS 191
Global Climate Change. This course will be an introduction to the
workings of Earth's climate system to better understand the causes
of present and future climate change. Emphasis will be placed on
processes that control Earth's modern climate, such as global energy
budgets and the behavior of greenhouse gases. Important features of
global and regional climate systems such as El Nino South
Oscillation will be studied. Students who complete the course will
have a deepened understanding of how and why climate changed in the
recent past and the science behind forecasts of future global
Review the selected recent peer-reviewed publications by Dr. Kemp
and colleagues >
Prof. Jack Ridge publishes culmination
of work linking New England glacial sediments
with Greenland ice core records
Prof. Jack Ridge and a colleague from the Berkeley Geochronology
Center, along with six former Tufts undergraduates have published
a landmark paper now available in the current issue of the American
Journal of Science entitled "The new North American Varve Chronology:
A precise record of southeastern Laurentide Ice Sheet deglaciation
and climate, 18.2-12.5 kyr BP, and correlations with Greenland ice
Key to this research was work supported by a grant from the National
Science Foundation that located and sampled new sections of glacial
varves in the Connecticut River valley. Varves are annual deposits
of sediment distinguished by a winter layer and summer layer, and
in this case they were deposited in a glacial lake that filled the
valley during the end of the last Ice Age. By counting the annual
layers and using carbon dating on the new sections of varves, much
of which was work performed by Tufts undergraduates, Ridge and
colleagues were able to piece together the "missing links" in the
timeline of the retreat of the ice sheet from New England. In addition,
more precision in the new varve records provided links to some key
archives of climate change during the last ice age: Greenland ice cores.
This result allowed Ridge and colleagues to infer that the processes
of climate change that affected the Greenland ice sheet starting at
about 15,000 years ago were synchronous with changes in the ice sheet
in New England. They conclude that a widespread regional change in
climate mechanisms, rather than local ice sheet conditions in either
locale, were acting to cause ice retreat.
The paper can be located at the
American Journal of Science
or downloaded from the
from the North American Glacial Varve Project website.
The Earth and Ocean Sciences Spring 2013 course catalog is now available for
Fall 2012 EOS Courses
Please download the Fall
2012 EOS course listing for a list of available courses!
Changes to the Earth and Ocean Sciences 'Geological Sciences' major
The Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences has recently revised the
Geological Sciences major, providing both more breadth in the Earth Sciences and
more flexibility in the supporting sciences. Current Earth and Ocean Sciences
majors should review this information and discuss with their advisors, as it may
have bearing on your choice of major. The following are the new requirements for
the Geological Sciences major, one of the two majors the department offers.
Students intending to continue in fields of Earth and Ocean Sciences after
graduation should complete the following courses:
- EOS 1, 2, 11 and 22.
- In addition, students must select a total of 6 more courses from the
- 3 courses from EOS 12, 13, 32 and 42
- 1 course from EOS 131 and 133
- 2 courses from above EOS 9 or approved related fields courses
- Students must complete Mathematics 32, Chemistry 1 and Physics 1 or 11
- Students must select two additional courses from Mathematics 34,
Chemistry 2, Physics 2 or 12, and 1 approved statistics course
- Chemistry and Physics courses must be taken with labs
- Research experience and a six-week geology summer field camp are
Future majors or interested students should also feel free to discuss major
options with any of the Tufts Earth and Ocean Sciences Faculty. Full
descriptions of major and minor options in the Earth and Ocean Sciences can
be found here.
Department of Geology to take on new name in Fall 2012!
Meet the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences! We are excited to announce
an update of our departmental identity to more accurately describe our research
and teaching activities. The Tufts Daily recently ran a story about this change
that you can
This change of name will result in a change of abbreviation in the course
catalog. From now on, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences courses will be
listed under the 3 letter abbreviation "EOS".
Prof. McCanta Joins Joides Resolution Scientific Cruise to Lesser Antilles
Professor Molly McCanta recently departed for a research cruise on the RV
Joides Resolution to participate in an IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program)
investigation deep sea sediments deposited near the Lesser Antilles island
chain. She provides this update from aboard ship:
"We're currently drilling off several islands in the Lesser Antilles
(Montserrat, Martinique, Dominica) in order to study the construction and
destruction of volcanoes. To do this we're looking at the submarine
tephrachronology of the region, which is usually better than the subaerial
record, and the submarine debris avalanche history. After the cruise the data
collected will be analyzed and we'll have a better understanding of subduction
zone processes and hazards.
The core retrieval process operates 24/7, so we all work 12-hour shifts. I'm
on midnight to noon. When a core is recovered from depth it's first divided into
~1.5m sections (total length of a core with total recovery = ~10m). It's then
equilibrated at surface T and P for 2+ hours. After another 2+ hours of whole
core data collection (NGR, MagSus), the core is finally split for us to log. We
run the archive half through a high resolution imager and a magsus/reflectance
spectrometer. Then we log the lithologic units, structures, contacts, etc. It
can be crazy when we're piston coring and material is coming up every ½ hour or
so. The rotary coring process slows the recovery down which gives us a bit more
time to focus on the science. We've certainly logged >100m in a single 12-hour
shift (~14 cores)! This is impressive if you consider the number of tephra
layers in each core to be described (150 in one 10m section! Each had to be
logged separately.). Finally, all the data is input into a giant searchable
database by hand."
You may continue to follow the progress of IODP Expedition 340 and Professor
McCanta on the expedition's blog
or via twitter @TheJR.
Past Climate and Ice-Volume Changes in Antarctica: Looking Back to Our
A seminar presented by Dr. Stephen Pekar, School of Earth and
Environmental Sciences, Queens College, NY
Friday, Nov. 18th, 4pm, Lane Hall 100
Carbon dioxide levels are predicted to rise during this century to levels not
seen in 25 to 50 million years. Back during this time, the Earth changed from a
generally ice-free 'greenhouse world' to a more much colder and heavily
glaciated 'icehouse world'. Dr. Pekar will provide an overview of Antarctic
climate changes when CO2 levels were similar to what is predicted for this
century and also provide some of early results from IODP Wilkes Land Expedition.
Dr. Pekar is traveling to Tufts University as part of the Integrated
Ocean Drilling Program Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer Series.
Download the announcement.
New GEO Course: Field Methods in Hydrogeology
A new course offered by Professor Grant Garven, Field Methods in
Hydrogeology, will be offered in the Spring 2012 semester.
Download the announcement.
Spring 2012 Geology Course Listing
Geology Department courses for the Spring 2012 semester are now available as
a PDF download here: GEO Spring 2012 Courses
(~3 MB PDF)
Fall 2011 GEO courses appropriate for first- and second-year students
Download an information sheet regarding Fall 2011 courses appropriate for
first- and second-year students interested in Earth Sciences