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Woodford-Eckis Geology Lectures to be Held Feb. 13-14

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Bruce Watson will deliver this year’s Woodford-Eckis Geology Lectures at Pomona College. The first talk, “The Environment of Earliest Earth: Decoding the Oldest Zircons,” will be given on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 8:15 p.m., and the second talk, “Growth-rate Effects on Crystal Composition: From Phenocrysts to Climate Proxies,” will be presented on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. Both lectures will be held in Rose Hills Theatre (Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth St., Claremont).

In his first lecture, Watson will provide a summary of the evidence gleaned over the past decade from four billion-year-old zircons from Western Australia, which support the view that continental crust was already fully developed, plate tectonic-style recycling was well underway, and liquid water was present on Earth's surface during the Hadean Eon—a period widely regarded as an energetic and defining period in our planet's history.  The findings from the “zircon thermometer” developed at Rensselaer may bear on the suitability of earliest Earth for complex organic molecules and life itself.

In his second lecture, he will examine how the equilibrium compositions of minerals provide the principal means of gaining insight into the environment of mineral formation, and indirectly, the conditions and dynamics of Earth systems, with applications cutting across many disciplinary boundaries in the geosciences, including high- and low-T geochemistry, petrology, tectonics, paleoceanography and paleoclimate studies.

Watson is past president of the Mineralogical Society of America and past editor of Chemical Geology and Elements Magazine. Among his numerous honors, he was awarded the 2011 Murchison Medal by the Geological Society of London and the 2006 W.H. Bucher Medal by the American Geophysical Union.

For more information, contact: lori.keala@pomona.edu or (909) 621-8675.

The Woodford-Eckis Lectureship, endowed by Rollin ’27 and Caroline Eckis, was initiated in 1980 in honor of Professor A.O. Woodford. Woodford founded the Pomona College Geology Department in 1922 and taught until his retirement in 1955. Each year an outstanding geologist is brought to campus to present two talks.