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October 2013

Expeditions and Field Work

Glider #307 has been gliding through the Gulf of Mexico for nearly a month. Follow its trajectory on the GCOOS site and its journey in the article below.
In This Issue
Dear Colleagues,

Dean Kate Miller

As usual, the semester is rolling by quickly. I have recently returned from the members meeting for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and the 125th Anniversary meeting of the Geological Society America. Tony Knap from GERG joined me at Ocean Leadership and we were very well-represented at GSA with a booth for recruiting graduate students and many faculty members and students giving research presentations. Once again, I was reminded about how important it is to leave Aggieland every now and again to learn about new trends and advances in the Geosciences.   

Last month, I reported to you that our College played a central role in a two-day workshop on the University Grand Challenge "The Natural and Built Environment: Ensuring a Sustainable Society." In this briefing, I am pleased to announce that Steven Quiring, associate professor of geography, will serve as director of this Grand Challenge, reporting to the Steering Committee that I chair. In this role, Steven will coordinate engagement of more faculty members in development of strategic plans for the main themes for the Grand Challenge, assist the steering committee in developing an implementation plan, manage and help move forward specific projects and project teams that came out of the August workshop, and create and manage communications. A website is on its way so keep an eye out. Steven is ready to talk to anyone interested in Grand Challenge activities, so don't be shy.  

I encourage all of you to consider nominating a prominent scientist to visit our College as a Texas Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) Faculty Fellow. This is an opportunity to bring a distinguished scholar to Texas A&M with funding support from the University, College, and hosting department for three months to a year to interact with our faculty members and students. The award also comes with stipend support for a graduate student to work with the fellow and a faculty host. Nominations are due Nov. 30, 2013, and must be coordinated with Executive Associate Dean Jack Baldauf prior to submission. The call for nominations and nomination form can be found on the TIAS website.

Presently, we are fortunate to have Peter Liss, a member of the inaugural class of TIAS Faculty Fellows visiting in the Oceanography Department. He is a pioneer in the chemistry of air-sea transfer of chemical species. Peter will give a public lecture on his research on Feb. 14, 2014.   

Faculty members in our Oceanography Department have recently embarked on an ambitious agenda to re-envision ocean sciences at Texas A&M University. On October 18, all faculty members in the department traveled to Galveston to participate in a joint retreat with faculty who participate in our programs in the Marine Sciences and Marine Biology departments at our Galveston campus who participate in our programs. I, along with a number of others from the Dean's office also participated. Topics at the retreat included current international trends in education and research in the ocean sciences, definition of cross-disciplinary theme areas for future research and education, and identification of new ways to enhance collaboration and communication between the two campuses. Special thanks goes to Antonietta Quigg and Patrick Louchouarn in Galveston who hosted the meeting, including a reception and poster session in the beautiful new Ocean and Coastal Studies Building opened in 2010. See below for exterior and interior images of the new building. 

Have a great month. Thanksgiving is right around the corner.


Kate Miller
Dean, College of Geosciences

College News
News from Texas A&M Galveston

(Contributed by Dr. Patrick Louchouarn, Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Texas A&M-Galveston, and Associate Provost, Texas A&M University)

Howdy from Galveston! 

Dear members and friends of the Sea Aggie community, I invite you to read the October issue of the VPAA bi-monthly newsletter. In it, you will find that the last two months have been fertile in faculty and student achievements, and filled with emotions as well as the Sea Aggie community said a last good-bye to one of TAMUG's founders, Dr. Sammy Ray. His memorial service was held at TAMUG on Saturday, Oct. 26, and brought a number of people from the Texas A&M and Galveston community, as well as former students to celebrate Sammy's life through personal stories. One that touched me the most (beyond the fact that Sammy worked at TAMUG for longer than I've lived!) was to learn that Sammy sent every year small notes to his former students to tell them how proud he was of their achievements. What a mentor. Never closing the door on that responsibility of long-lasting support. The other story that made me smile (and everyone else in the room) was to learn of the adage by which Sammy lived by: "If you work twice as hard and twice as long, you will get twice as lucky." So true, and such a mark of a life devoted to his passion, family, and friends. Sammy was a true member of "America's Greatest Generation."

High Impact Progress Report
A progress report on the seven high impact educational programs supported by College reallocation funds indicates that our faculty are engaging a range of students, undergraduate and graduate, in research and field-based studies, on the land, in the air, and at sea. A taskforce will be organized to plan for the next round of activities, focused on undergraduate research and first-year seminars.
Geosciences Joins Geodesy Group
The College of Geosciences is now a member of UNAVCO, Inc., a non-profit university-governed consortium that facilitates geoscience research and education using geodesy. The organization strives to transform human understanding of the changing Earth by enabling the integration of innovative technologies, open geodetic observations and research. UNAVCO provides comprehensive project technical support using GPS/GNSS, TLS, InSAR, airborne LiDAR and geochronology. Additionally, UNAVCO provides services in proposal planning, data management, and education and outreach.

Texas Sea Grant Publishes Texas Shores
The summer and fall edition of Texas Shores is now available. Features include a look at coastal resilience in Texas, a new restoration method being used at Sheldon Lake State Park in Houston, and a profile of the colorful Port Chaplain in the Port Arthur area.

The issue also includes a readership survey. Cindie Powell is the editor. 

GeoXers Come Back to Campus
The GeoX Class of 2013 returns to campus for a reunion, Saturday, Nov. 2. This is the third year in a row that the reunion brings students from the Geosciences Exploration Summer Program back to campus. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the Dean's Office will co-host a tailgate to welcome both ATMO former students as well as 20 junior and senior GeoX students and their parents. The two groups will enjoy Mexican food and entertainment by Aggieland Mariachi before attending the University of Texas at El Paso-Texas A&M game.

"This tailgate reunion serves as a good platform to recruit and seal the deal with GeoX alums as the deadline for admissions is December 1, 2013," said Dr. Sonia Garcia, director of recruitment. 

Make Brazos Valley Better
The State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) ends Oct. 31. Send enrollment forms to Rachel Rodriguez in the Dean's Office or enroll online through the Single Sign-on system.

Congratulations to meteorology student Dillon Amaya who received a prestigious Astronaut Scholarship, Oct. 28. Space shuttle astronaut and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana presented the check to Amaya, one of two students to receive the scholarship. Astronaut Scholarships are the largest monetary awards available to United States science, technology, engineering, and math students based solely on merit.

 Professional Activities

Dr. Carlos Zarikian (IODP) has a new ostracod species named in his honor, the Rugocythereis zarikiani. "Ostracods are tiny crustaceans that live in all aquatic environments and many species have particular environmental preferences," Zarikian explains. "Ostracods secrete a calcareous bivalve carapace that easily fossilizes after the animal dies. Because of the ostracod environmental preferences, the fossilized valves or carapaces can be used to reconstruct past oceanographic conditions."

The authors of an article in Palaeontology cited Zarikian's contributions to deep-sea ostracod studies as the reason for naming the species in his honor: Moriaki Yasuhara, Gene Hunt, Hisayo Okahashi and Simone N. Brandao. 2013. "The Oxycythereis Problem: Taxonomy and Palaeobiogeography of Deep-Sea Ostracod General Pennyella and Rugocythereis." Palaeontology, Vol. 56, Part 5, 2013, pp. 1045-1080, doi: 10.1111/pala.12035    

The Rugocythereis zarikiani, a new ostracod species, was named after IODP scientist Carlos Zarikian.  

Tony Reisinger (TXSG), Cameron County coastal and marine resources agent, received the 2013 Texas Master Naturalist Chapter Advisor Award. Reisinger is advisor to the Rio Grande Valley Chapter. He was honored at the annual Texas Master Naturalist annual conference, held Oct. 25-27, in New Braunfels.


The Texas Master Naturalist program is a partnership between Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Sea Grant and some 300 local partners. The program currently has trained 6,000 Texas Master Naturalist volunteers in 42 local chapters across the state.  


Dr. Mona Behl (TXSG) successfully graduated from the National Sea Grant Extension Academy held in Duluth, Minn., Oct. 7-12. In addition to leading Texas Sea Grant's research program, Behl accepted a new role as Texas Sea Grant's Climate Change Specialist. 
The Texas Coastal Watershed Program's WaterSmart Demonstration Rain Garden at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, led by Chris LaChance, received a Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor's Proud Partner Award on Oct. 28. At the same ceremony, Marissa Sipocz, Wetland Program Manager for the TCWP, received a Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor's Proud Partner Award Honorable Mention for her wetland restoration work with students at Sheldon Lake State Park. The TCWP is part of Texas Sea Grant and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.   


The Oceanography and GERG Glider #307 is gliding in the Gulf of Mexico and reporting data every three hours or so, reports Dr. Steve DiMarco (OCNG). The glider was deployed on the R/V Ferrel (sailing from Freeport, Texas) during a GERG GoWind/TABS Servicing cruise. The glider went into the water Oct. 2 at 27.127W, 95.7312N.


You can follow the trajectories and see the vertical sections ("Profile Plot" link on the left hand side of page under project description) on the GCOOS site.


GERG Glider Pilot is Karen Dreger (GERG) with assistance from Dr. Ruth Mullins-Perry. The GERG onshore glider team includes Dr. Joe Kuehl, Andrew Dancer, and Eddie Webb. On shore operations are being supervised by John Walpert.


Diligently working to serve the data in real time on the GCOOS website are the data team members Dr. Matt Howard and Dr. Shinichi Kobara.


The mission is scheduled for soon. "We expect to recover the glider near TABS Buoy F, weather permitting," DiMarco said. 


Armchair oceanographers can use the link to Dr. Rob Hetland's numerical model output of the northern Gulf of Mexico (funded by the Texas General Land Office) to see the wind-driven circulation.


The glider pilots are using these and other resources for planning and operations.


Special thanks to Drs. Lisa Campbell, Piers Chapman, Rob Hetland, Matt Howard, and Ann Jochens (OCNG) for special assistance with this deployment.


Visit the GCOOS and TABS sites regularly for updates.



Dr. Pamela Plotkin represented Texas Sea Grant at the Sea Grant Association meeting in Mobile, Ala., Oct. 21-23.

Dr. Piers Chapman (OCNG) attended the annual meeting of SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) Oct. 4-5, in San Antonio to help recruit students for Oceanography. 


Texas Sea Grant co-sponsored the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association National Coastal Conference, with the theme "Responding to the Waves of Change," Oct. 22-25 on South Padre Island. As part of the conference, Heather Wade (TXSG) presented a "weTable and CHARM 101" workshop that explored new tools for participatory GIS and tabletop planning. Wade presented a similar workshop in partnership with the University of Texas-Pan American, also on South Padre Island, Oct. 23.


Dr. Frederick M. Chester (GEPL) is a 2013-2014 Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer. He will be speaking about the findings of the IODP Expedition 343/343T to the Japan Trench, for which he served as Co-Chief Scientist.  For the first of five trips to 10 institutions, he presented the talk Sampling the Source of the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami at San Francisco State University (Oct. 8), Stanford University (Oct. 9) and UC Berkeley (Oct. 10).  

Dr. Frederick M. Chester (GEPL) gave a plenary talk, Insights into subduction thrust structure and mechanics from drilling the rupture zone of the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake, at the Annual Meeting of the Southern California Earthquake Center held in Palm Springs, Calif., Sept. 8-11. The Meeting was attended by more than 500 scientists and engineers, including Drs. Judith S. Chester and Ben Duan (GEPL). 

Dr. Tony Knap (GERG) presented "Climate Change and Shipping: What do Shipowners need to Know," at the Singapore Shipowners Association 2013 shipping conference, Sept. 26 in Singapore.

Dr. Mona Behl (TXSG), presented a talk, "Scientific Peer Review," at Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, Fla., Oct. 17.

Dr. Mona Behl (TXSG) presented "Science at Work for Texans: The Texas Sea Grant College Program," at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Oct. 24.

Dr. Matt Schmidt (OCNG) presented a webinar for Gaia Geothermal. Geothermal engineers and people in the industry from around the country and in Canada were invited to attend.  

Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG) was an invited speaker at a NSF Workshop on Landscape Response to Climate Change, Oct. 24-28, hosted by the University of Arizone at Biosphere 2. He was also an invited speaker at the Binghampton Geomorphology Conference on Coastal Impacts in Newark, N.J., Oct. 11-20.  




Dr. Judith Chester (GEPL) received a grant from the National Science Foundation (EarthScope) to manage the physical samples taken from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). This three-year project, "SAFOD Management Office for Physical Samples," is funded for $443,691. As part of this project, Dr. Chester will oversee the curation, distribution, and long-term storage of physical samples recovered from the SAFOD to provide uninterrupted access to the samples by the scientific community, and manage the office to facilitate long-term use of SAFOD samples for independent PI-driven Earth science research. As part of the new management office activities, the PI will work with an independent web programmer to update, manage, and maintain the Core Viewer, the primary tool for recording, reviewing, and executing physical sample distribution, and with the GCR SAFOD staff to foster education and outreach activities, and with the scientific community to promote the integration of SAFOD results with those of the broader scientific community studying earthquake fault mechanics.







Students in Geography 309-900 (Energy) went on a field trip to Sweetwater, Texas, to collect data for one of their required writing assignments Oct.10-12. Nolan County has approximately 2,000 MW of wind power capacity (Texas leads the U.S. with 12,000 MW of installed capacity). Their host was Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic  Development.  


Students visited Texas State Technical College to discuss training of wind technicians with Keith Plantier, then met with Russ Petty, a landowner and business owner who has contracts with wind firms, and Logan West of Cape & Son, a logistics firm that will partner with BNSF in a large investment to create a transload facility in Sweetwater that may support oil and gas production in the Cline Shale.  


Students also visited Infigen Energy's Sweetwater wind farms. The trip was led by Dr. Christian Brannstrom, instructor of Geography 309, assisted by Drs. Michael Ewers and Erik Prout. This was the third field trip that Brannstrom has led to Nolan County for Geog 309.


Students in Geography 309-900 learned about wind energy in Sweetwater.


Miles S. Sasser, Jr., a master's degree student in geology, received a $2,000 scholarship from the Sipes Houston Chapter. The Sipes Foundation administers the scientific, educational charitable programs of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. Ten geosciences students were chosen nationwide. 


Oceanography graduate student, Jennifer Hertzberg, published a paper with her professor, Dr. Matthew Schmidt: Jennifer E. Hertzberg and Matthew W. Schmidt (2013). Refining Globigerinoides ruber Mg/Ca paleothermometry in the Atlantic Ocean. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 383, 123-133.  





Dr. Kate Miller, dean, has been elected as an executive committee at-large member of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors for the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE). The NCSE is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the scientific basis of environmental decision-making. It seeks to be bridge that spans the divide between science, its applications, and policy.

Dr. Eric Riggs (Dean's Office/GEPL) has been selected to serve a three-year term on the Editorial Advisory Board with oversight in the area of education for EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.

Drs. Terry Wade (GERG), and Rob Hetland, Piers Chapman, and Ping Chang (OCNG) were in China, Oct. 26-Nov. 1 to lead an oil spill workshop and interview potential recruits from Ocean University.

Drs. Terry Wade (GERG), and Rob Hetland, Piers Chapman, and Ping Chang (OCNG) were in China, Oct. 26-Nov. 1 to lead an oil spill workshop and interview potential recruits from Ocean University. 

Rhonda Patterson (TXSG) brought aquatic animals to participate in the St. Francis Festival and Blessing of the Animals Oct. 5 at St. Francis Episcopal Church. She also provided hands-on experiences with the animals and distributed Texas Sea Grant materials to attendees.

Rhonda Patterson (TXSG) made a presentation to the Texas A&M Zoological Society about Aglantis and Texas Sea Grant, and provided a hands-on aquatic animal talk for a local Girl Scout Troop. She also presented the WaterSmart Demonstration Garden Design to the Texas A&M Design Review sub-council. The garden will be installed around the perimeter of the TAES Annex, where the Texas Sea Grant offices are located. 

Texas Sea Grant began its Texas Coastal Citizen Planner Program, a non-credit training program for locally elected or appointed officials who work for state, regional, county or local governments or agencies, leading to a "Citizen Planner" certificate of completion. Graduates of the program will become part of a collaborative and ongoing network of local officials for planning and development issues in Texas. Class topics include planning and community-building, the legal foundations of land-use planning, local officials' roles and responsibilities, placemaking and economic development, green infrastructure and economic impacts, coastal hazards and planning for resilient communities, plan implementation and development review, and public participation. 

Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG) was invited by the National University of Costa Rica and the National Commission of Emergencies to investigate the rip-current hazard on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts using a similar approach to the Texas Sea Grant-funded study on rip currents currently being completed by Drs. Christian Brannstrom and Houser. The project took place Sept. 30-Oct. 6.




Dr. Burak Guneralp (GEOG) contributed to the first global assessment of urbanization, biodiversity, and ecosystem services as an editor and author. The assessment, commissioned by the UN Convention of Biological Diversity and Stockholm Resilience Centre, was launched at the United Nations Oct. 7, 2013, World Habitat Day.

The assessment is published as a book and is available as open-access.  

Güneralp B, KC Seto and M Ramachandran 2013. Evidence of urban land teleconnections and impacts on hinterlands. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5: 445-451.

Güneralp B, İ Güneralp, C Castillo, and A Filippi. 2013. Land change in the Mission-Aransas coastal region, Texas: implications for coastal vulnerability and protected areas. Sustainability 5 (10): 4247-4267.

Drs. Tony Knap and Norman Guinasso (GERG) have a news article on the history and mission of the Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) in the October 2013 issue of the POGO newsletter (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans). 

Geology and Geophysics
Recent Publications by Dr. Frederick M. Chester (GEPL) associated with JFAST, the IODP Expedition 343/343T to the Japan Trench include the following:   


Yang, T., T. Mishima, K. Ujiie, F. M. Chester, J. J. Mori, N. Eguch, S. Toczko, and Expedition 343 Scientists (2013), Strain decoupling across the décollement in the region of large slip during the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake from anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility, Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Rowe, C. D., J. C. Moore, F. Remitti, and
F. M. Chester and other IODP Expedition 343/343T Scientists (2013), The thickness of subduction plate boundary faults from the sea floor into the seismogenic zone, Geology, 41, 991-994, doi: 10.1130/G34556.1


Chester, F.M., J. Mori, N. Eguchi, S. Toczko, and the Expedition 343/343T Scientists (2013), Proceedings of IODP expedition 343/343T, Tokyo (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc.), doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.343343T.2013


Lin, W., M. Conin, J. C. Moore, F. M. Chester, Y. Nakamura, et al. (2013), Stress state in the largest displacement area of the 2011 Tohoku- Oki Earthquake, Science, 339, 687-690, doi:10.1126/science.1229379 

Texas Sea Grant

Texas Sea Grant published a pictorial identification guide to the marine animals in Aglantis, the 300-gallon saltwater aquarium Texas Sea Grant has installed in the Memorial Student Center. Nine sea creatures are featured on the card, which includes short descriptions about each species.



Monday, Nov. 4
"Exopolymers in the Ocean and Atmosphere," Dr. Dan Thornton, Texas A&M University, 4 p.m.-12 a.m., O&M 112.

Monday, Nov. 11
"Physical Controls ont he Inter Annual Variability of Hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay," Malcolm Scully, WHOI, 4 p.m.-12 a.m., O&M 112.

Thursday, Nov. 14
"Modeling Groundwater Contamination," Yanmei Li, University of Guanajuato, 4-5 p.m., Moore Communications Building (KAMU).

Friday, Nov. 15
"Remote Sensing and Field Observations of Hazard-and Disaster-Related Earth Surface Processes in Gla," Dr. Jeffrey Kargel, University of Arizona, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.


Send items of interest for the November issue to Karen Riedel.
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