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RICE EARTH SCIENCE DEPARTMENT NEWS UPDATE:
Rice geologists study half-billion-year-old ‘time capsules’ on Texas ranch under guidance of our own SG Program Director Dr. Andre Droxler:
When you look at the cliffs overlooking the Llano River in Central Texas, it’s hard to imagine that they were underwater a half-billion years ago and formed part of the North American coastline during the Upper Cambrian era.
But that’s what brought Rice marine geologist André Droxler and his team of researchers to a rare land-based expedition. “I never thought on land you could discover something,” he said. “To discover something in the middle of Texas, it’s pretty exciting.”
According to Droxler, the Eagle Ridge Ranch located in Mason County near Fredericksburg has some of the best outcrops in the world containing fossilized prehistoric bacteria and microbes. He believes these microbial reefs contained the first forms of life on Earth.
Droxler’s team was granted access to the land after working with Woodlands resident Donald Shepard and his wife, Rose, who own the ranch. The professor of Earth science also secured funding from four major oil companies that had interest in the research on microbial reefs.
See a slide show here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ricepublicaffairs/sets/72157656191357309/
Since 2012 the Rice professor and graduate students have made many trips to Mason County, drilled more than 150 core samples and virtually mapped the area using a drone. Droxler said the three summers here “have been some of the happiest summers I have had in my life,” and he returns with the same excitement as the first time he paddled down the Llano River in search of half-billion-year-old “time capsules.”
Rice Earth Science professor refuses publication of report with systematic deletions
Texas state environmental agency accused of censorship relating to climate change findings
Dr. John Anderson, Rice University's W. Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography, charges that The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has systematically omitted all references to climate change and sea-level rise from an article he wrote about changes in Galveston Bay.
The deletions by the Texas agency are ideological and political, said Dr. Anderson. "I don't think there is any question but that their motive is to tone this thing down as it relates to global change," Anderson said. "...It's not about the science. It's all politics."
"Anderson said the TCEQ won't allow the article—written for a report by the TCEQ's Galveston Bay Estuary Program—to be published without the deletions. That, and Anderson's refusal to accept the changes, are holding up publication of The State of the Bay, a periodic report published by the program."
The rest of the Houston Chronicle article is here: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Professor-says-state-agency-censored-article-2211691.php
Additional media coverage on this issue:
UPI.com - Scientists Revolt over Texas Censorship: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/10/14/Scientists-revolt-over-Texas-censorship/UPI-60611318617220/
The Guardian (UK) - Rick Perry officials spark revolt after doctoring environment report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/14/rick-perry-texas-censorship-environment-report?newsfeed=true
New Scientist - Texas officials censored climate change report: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/10/texas-officials-censored-clima.html
Houston Press' "Best of 2011" Scientific Breakthrough Award
Dr. Alan Levander and Team recognized for Colorado Plateau research
The annual Houston Press "Best of" awards are out, and Rice's Dr. Alan Levander has been recognized in the Scientific Breakthrough category.
From the Press: "The asthenosphere and lithosphere don't usually concern us, but thankfully a brainiac team over at Rice University led by Alan Levander has them on their radar. There's a huge section of land known as the Colorado Plateau; it has a "rising while it's sinking" quality that's had scientists scratching their heads for a while. Seems the bottom layers (that's the asthenosphere) are pushing up, while the top layers (the lithosphere) are sinking down..."
More details on the "Best of 2011" award: http://www.houstonpress.com/bestof/2011/award/best-scientific-and-10-breakthrough-2674712/