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Grand Canyon Controversy! - Just how old is the Grand Canyon? While the conventional view is that the Colorado River carved the canyon about 6 million years ago, a new study provides evidence for the opposing view that the canyon is 10 times that old, 70 million years old -- old enough for the dinosaurs to have taken a look, even older than the Colorado River itself. Press release | New York Times article | Science article

Family STEAM night at Washington Middle School, PUSD Graduate student Yu Wang leads hands-on activities at Family STEAM Night, at Washington Middle School, PUSD - students explored the mechanism of earthquakes with an earthquake machine, and experimented with one of the factors causing tectonic plate motion, density.

4th graders at Walt Disney Elementary Graduate student Jennifer Buz visits two 4th grade classes at Walt Disney Elementary School, Burbank Unified School District - Jennifer led an activity on using seismograms to locate an earthquake and estimate its magnitude.

The Great Wave Graduate student Nina Lin leads a presentation for visiting 6th graders from Maimonides School - on tsunamis, their fundamental characteristics and how they differ from the usual waves.

Lingsen Meng Graduate student Lingsen Meng is awarded the Seismological Society of America's student prize - for his outstanding oral presentation "Can we do back-projection at low frequency?", presented at the Seismological Society of America's 2012 annual meeting.


Ajay Limaye Graduate student Ajay Limaye visits 4th graders at Larchmont Charter School in LA - Ajay introduced the students to geomorphology through questions such as: What makes mountains? Why is Death Valley so low? and How do salt crusts form on Death Valley's floor?

Ajay Limaye Geodesist John Galetzka speaking in Lazimpat, Nepal - John gave a presentation on "Nepal: Japan-size earthquakes, Haiti-like infrastructure," to the Cultural Studies Group of Nepal

Jeff Prancevic in flume lab TO scientists welcome Clark Magnet High School students to the TO - Postdoc Jeff Prancevic and grad student Luca Malatesta led a tour of the Flume Lab, while grad student Nina Lin led an activity using InSAR images to locate and characterize natural hazards.

Belle Philibosian Grad student Belle Philibosian visits four 6th grade classes at Washington Middle School - As part of the class's unit on Observing Earth, Belle led an activity on the discovery of Plate Tectonics using fossil evidence to reconstruct Pangaea.


Mike Gurnis Professor Michael Gurnis receives Augustus Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union - this award is given to a distinguished scientist in the field of geodynamics, comprising mantle and core convection, tectonophysics, post-glacial rebound and earth rotation. More...


Victor Tsai Victor Tsai has won the 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award - this award is given every year to an outstanding young seismologist who is within three years of receiving her/his Ph.D.

jamshid's rocks TO scientists Jamshid Hassanzadeh helps local school with rock collection - Jamshid helped a teacher at Marshall Fundamental High school identify and label the school's collection of rocks and minerals.


LA Foodbank Grad student Steve Skinner helps Visiting Professor Ken Pickar set up GIS (Graphic Information System) database for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank - with the goal to overlay various maps relating to poverty and from this deduce how effectively the needs of the poor are being addressed

sixth graders Field geologists at Caltech, sometimes risking life and limb travel to some of the most remote corners of the globe--all in the name of science - read about the recent adventures of TO scientists Brian Wernicke, Jason Saleeby, John Galetzka, and Jamshid Hassanzadeh. More...


International Innovation High school teacher and two students spend a month doing research at the Tectonics Observatory - as part of Caltech's Summer Research Connection (SRC) program. The group worked with Sebastien Leprince, Francois Ayoub, James Hollingsworth, and Luca Malatesta, testing a new tool to make 3-dimensional models of geologic field locations. They presented their results at a seminar on August 3, as well as at a TO Brown bag Seminar Sept. 4. More...

International Innovation Graduate student Jeffrey Thompson receives Outstanding Student Paper award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting - for his paper "Can ice streams transmit tidal stresses far upstream of the grounding line?"

International Innovation Forty Chinese middle and high school students visit the Tectonics Observatory and Seismo Lab - The students were here as part of an exchange program at Pasadena City College, run by Caltech alum Bruce Carter. They learned about Exploring Mars from Kirsten Siebach, California Earthquakes from Junle Jiang, and Using Mass Spectrometry to Date Fossils from Adam Subhas, as well as touring the Seismo Lab.

International Innovation Earthquakes and mountains - The TO's research in the seismic hotbed of the Himalaya is elucidating the key factors behind the size and frequency of earthquakes and their role in mountain formation. See article in International Innovation

Rosakis The Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM) has selected Ares Rosakis as the recipient of the P.S. Theocaris Award - The award is intended "to recognize a senior individual for distinguished, innovative and outstanding work in optical methods and experimental mechanics." More...


lego fault Thirty 6th graders from Holy Angels visited the Tectonics Observatory and Seismo Lab - Graduate student Adam Subhas gave a tour of his mass spectrometry lab, Graduate Kirsten Siebach gave a presentation on Exploring Mars, and Postdoc Melissa Rice gave a presentation on Mars Rovers.

Eiler Professor John Eiler has been awarded the 2012 Arthur L. Day Medal by the Geological Society of America (GSA) - Arthur Louis Day established the award in 1948 for "outstanding distinction in contributing to geologic knowledge through the application of physics and chemistry to the solution of geologic problems."

lego fault Twenty high school students from LAUSD's South East High School visited the Tectonics Observatory - Postdocs Erin Burkett and Danielle Sumy gave tours of the Seismo Lab, and are shown here leading group exercises of P and S waves


Under the Hood of the Earthquake Machine - we have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior. More...

Caltech press release | ScienceNOW | LA Times | Our Amazing Planet
Mercury News

lego fault Graduate student Ajay Limaye visits 6th grade class at Hughes Middle School in Long Beach - The class first interviewed Ajay by phone, asking questions such as: Has Wegener's continental drift hypothesis stood the test of time? Will California break off into the ocean in the Big One? And what are the most important skills to develop to become a geologist? Ajay then visited the class, giving a presentation on earthquakes and how they tell us about Earth's structure, and showing how a geologist sees the landscape of California. He had the students load baked cookies with stress until brittle deformation occurred, an analogy for faulting and generation of seismic energy in the Earth's crust. One appreciative student said: "All my classmates said you were the best speaker we ever had. Thanks for making our class fun (and for the cookies too)!"

lego fault Geodesy Specialist John Galetzka gives presentation in Kathmandu, Nepal - at a national workshop on "Educating Youth for the Reduction of Disaster Risk." John spoke about earthquakes in Nepal, the science behind them and how to prepare for them.

lego fault Graduate student Luca Malatesta visits 6th grade class at PUSD's Washington Middle School - Luca gave a presentation on Plate Tectonics, and led hands-on activities with legos to construct models of the earthquake fault at Wallace Creek. The students learned about Earth Scientists, what they work on, and why (See animation)

Steve Skinner visiting 6th grade class Graduate student Steve Skinner visits 6th grade class at PUSD's Washington Middle School - Steve presented a slide show of his recent field trip to Antarctica. He passed around samples of fossils he and his team found there, and showed how they use paleomagnetism to figure out how far north or south different land masses used to be (millions of years ago).

sixth graders Thirty-six eighth graders from Le Lycée of Los Angeles visit the TO - Postdoc Vito Rubino showed them "How to make earthquakes in the lab." Graduate student Thomas Ader led a presentation "When continents collide: working in the highest mountains of the world." Postdoc Katie Snell discussed "How scientists learn how tall mountains were in the past," and graduate student Marion Thomas led a presentation, in French, on "Pourquoi étudier la géologie? or Why study geology?"

sixth graders Kanamori elected Foreign Associate of National Academy of Sciences - in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. More...

sixth graders Ares Rosakis has been selected to receive the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques - this French award honors recipients globally who have made significant contributions to French culture, science, and education.


sixth graders Graduate students Kristel Chanard and Steve Skinner, and visiting student Philippe Solans, visit a 6th grade class at PUSD's Blair Middle School - using legos, play-doh, and a sandbox, they led hands-on activities to teach deformation and mountain building.

Sumatra 1012 earthquake Preliminary Analyses of the 2012 Sumatra Earthquake - We have obtained both a picture of the rupture propagation using back-projection of high-frequency seismic waveforms, as well as a slip map by modelling longer-period waveforms. More...

sixth graders Graduate student Katie Stack and research scientist Jen Griffes give two presentations to middle school students in PUSD's Robotics program - Katie and Jen talked about their work on the geology of Mars, as members of the Curiosity rover team.

sixth graders Caltech's journey to the center of the Earth - Professors Mike Gurnis, Jennifer Jackson, and Don Helmberger combine their talents to visualize what lies deep beneath the earth’s surface. Helmberger's group uses seismic modeling to map the core-mantle boundary and superplumes; Gurnis's group uses computational geodynamics to interpret seismological observations made on local, regional, and global scales; and Jackson's group looks at how earth materials behave under the extreme temperatures and pressures of the earth’s interior by recreating those conditions in a pocket-sized diamond anvil cell. (Caltech's E&S, Spring 2012)

sixth graders 36 sixth graders from Assumption School in Pasadena tour the TO and Seismo Lab - Professor Victor Tsai led a discussion on "Puzzled by Glaciers: Understanding these rivers of ice," Postdoc Sylvain Barbot led activities on "Inside the Earthquake Machine: How do we simulate the San Andreas Fault?", Postdoc Vito Rubino presented "How to make earthquakes in the lab," and Postdoc Erin Burkett spoke about "What it's like doing Geoscience research, and example models of plate tectonic processes."


John Galetzka Geodesy specialist John Galetzka gives talk on earthquake preparedness at the US embassy in Nepal - John's talk, "Nepal: Japan-size earthquakes, Haiti-like infrastructure," included a discussion on the September 18, 2011 earthquake in the eastern part of Nepal. It was well attended by Nepali government officials as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). See presentation...

Ajay Limaye Graduate student Ajay Limaye visits 6th grade class at PUSD's Washington Middle School - He showed how geologists use clues like bedforms and structure to unlock stories, and had the students travel to Mars and actively pan around a virtual-reality mosaic of a rock outcrop to make observations and develop geological hypotheses.

Thomas Ader Thirty-six 6th graders from St. Bede's School in LaCanada tour the TO and Seismo Lab - Graduate student Thomas Ader gave a presentation on "Looking for the next earthquake in the Himalaya," Research Scientist Jamshid Hassanzadeh used calcite and HCl to demonstrate why Earth is not like Venus in "Are we children of the stars?", Postdoc Sylvain Barbot had the students experiment with an earthquake machine as part of his presentation on "Looking Inside the Earthquake Machine: How do we simulate the San Andreas Fault?", and Postdoc Erin Burkett led an activity with silly putty as a model for the asthenosphere in "What it's like doing Geoscience research, and example models of plate tectonic processes."

John Eiler Professor Paul Asimow awarded the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching - The Feynman Teaching Prize recognizes Caltech faculty members who demonstrate "unusual ability, creativity and innovation" in their courses. According to the award citation, Asimow was selected for his "exceptional energy, originality, and ability to explain complicated concepts effectively." More...


John Eiler Professor John Eiler gives Watson Lecture to the general public on "Journeying to the Earth's Past in the Isotope Time Machine," Wednesday, February 29 at 8:00 PM in Beckman Auditorium (free!) - this talk explores how the study of isotopes in rocks and fossils lets us peer into the past and quantitatively reconstruct geological and biological evolution, including measuring the body temperatures of dinosaurs. [Watch video on iTunes U - scroll to #24]

Jason Saleeby The Geological Society of America names Jason Saleeby the recipient of their Mineralogy, Geochemistry, Petrology, and Volcanology Division's Distinguished Geologic Career Award for this year - the award is given to an individual "who throughout his/her career, has made distinguished contributions in one or more of the following fields of research: mineralogy, geochemistry, petrology, and volcanology, with emphasis on multidisciplinary, field-based contributions." This award emphasizes a geologic and multidisciplinary approach. More...

Joe Kirschvink Joe Kirschvink is selected by the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to receive its 2011 William Gilbert Award - the award is given for excellence in at least one of the following categories: scientific rigor, originality, and the impact of research; leadership and service to the GP research community; development of new cross-disciplinary research areas and methods.

Ed Stolper Ed Stolper receives Geochemical Society's V. M. Goldschmidt Award for 2012 - the highest award of the international geochemical community. This award is made for major achievements in geochemistry or cosmochemistry, consisting of either a single outstanding contribution, or a series of publications that have had great influence on the field. More...

He also received the degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - in recognition of his ground-breaking contributions to igneous petrology, and the study of Earth's interior and other planets.

4th grader using lens to examine rocks sample The TO hosts 75 fourth graders from Hamilton Elementary School - Graduate student Nina Lin led an activity where the students built their own rock collection. Graduate student Ajay Limaye gave a presentation on Rocks on the Move and showed how the scientific method is used in his work on landscape evolution. Postdoc Danielle Sumy gave a presentation on her work Out at Sea, and graduate student Junle Jiang led an activity on an earthquake machine. More...

Science Fair at White House Three scientists serve as judges at local science fair - Graduate student Thomas Ader, seismologist Jennifer Buz, and postdoc Brandon Schmandt spent a morning discussing science projects with students at Holy Redeemer Middle School in Montrose

Rubio Canyon Graduate student Janet Harvey participates in hike for school teachers up Rubio Canyon - Janet pointed out geological features the teachers could use when they lead their students on field trips through the canyon

continuous gps John Galetzka, Geodesy Scientist, trains group to install and use continuous GPS station for their work in CO2 sequestration - the Kansas University group, under the direction of TO alumni Professor Mike Taylor, plans to use the GPS station to monitor ground deformation caused by the CO2 sequestration.

January 2012

Two scientists visit 6th grade class - Postdoc Katie Snell and graduate student Luca Malatesta visited a 6th grade class at Holy Redeemer Middle School in Montrose. They led activities on plate tectonics and mountain building.

Laura Alisic, graduate student in geophysics, has been awarded the Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) Prize 2011 - for her outstanding work on simulating global mantle convection at tectonic plate boundary-resolving scales.

Four scientists participate in GameDesk project to create Geoscience video games - Postdoc Erin Burkett, graduate students Belle Philibosian and Erika Swanson, and computer modeler Mark Turner contributed to a meeting at GameDesk as content experts (learn more)

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