The Outcrop for 2010

Cliff Thurber

Dear Alumni and Friends,

We are pleased to send to you the 2010 edition of The Outcrop. My sincere thanks once more to graphic artist Mary Diman and Professor John Valley, and all the contributors, for providing an informative, photo-filled overview of what GeoBadgers have been up to lately.

2010 was a year of many highlights. From honors and awards to fabulous field trips to new laboratory instrumentation, there has hardly been a moment to allow one to step back and consider the breadth of remarkable activities and achievements 2010 has brought for GeoBadgers.

The new curriculum for our undergraduate majors, which officially takes effect in fall 2011, and a sharp increase in Geological Engineering majors together seem to have sparked a dramatic increase in the number of majors in our department. A recent count put the number of majors at 84 compared to 59 a year ago. I expect this upward trend to continue.

The cover story by Professor Kurt Feigl (pages 12-13) provides personal insight into the scientific response to a volcanic crisis, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (try saying that three times fast). Volcano studies have been expanding in Weeks Hall, leading to several current efforts to pursue joint projects involving geodesy, seismology, geochronology, and geochemistry.

A few words about the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan seem appropriate here. What is transpiring serves as a stark reminder of the power of nature and the need for careful consideration of potential geologic hazards in land use planning and especially for the siting and design of critical facilities. Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this multi-disaster. My hope is that scientists, engineers, politicians, and society in general will learn valuable lessons from what has taken place.

This is my last Outcrop cover letter as I prepare to turn the reins over to Professor Brad Singer. As you all know, 2011 has started out in a rather complicated way for UW and for the state (understatement of the year). With any luck, people with heart and foresight will find a path forward that will keep Wisconsin and UW-Madison strong. I know you will all do your best to help make Brad’s term as chair a productive and successful one.

Please keep us informed of your personal news and activities so we can continue to update our alumni and friends on the exciting things GeoBadgers are doing around the world. Thanks!

Finally, I report with great sadness the passing of Emeritus Professor Clarence Clay on April 3, 2011. His excitement about science will never be forgotten.

Best wishes to all,
Cliff Thurber
Professor and Department Chair