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The rock and ice mechanics lab at Lamont-Doherty is led by PIs Heather Savage, Christine McCarthy and Ben Holtzman. We are in the process of growing our lab and building our experimental program. Along with a team of postdocs, undergrads, grads, and longtime staff engineer Ted, we are rehabilitating and revamping some of the old equipment and building new rigs for exciting new experiments on both rock and ice. You can follow along with our progress here.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Hoorah for Science!

Previously I wrote about my interview with SciTechNow on PBS. Well, after months of anticipation, the episode finally aired last week.  You can check it out HERE.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Sarah's moving on up...

Previously I reported about Sarah's desktop reaction driven cracking experiments. Well, based on some really nice results that she is currently writing up, she's decided to scale up the experiment and perform it in the triaxial apparatus. First step is preparing the samples for loading. The most important thing to worry about is that they are leak tight, since she will be controlling both confining pressure and pore fluid pressure. Since she is going to be monitoring several more things than has been done in the past (including acoustic emissions and a furnace), she's got a lot of wires on there and keeping things tight was no trivial feat. After a couple of mishaps earlier in the week, on Friday she sealed up a sample, tested it for leaks on the bench top...
…and loaded it into the triax.

Ted monitored everything from the next room. After a nerve-racking hour or so of ramping up the confining pressure, it became clear that the procedure was a success! She now has the protocol for loading up the air tight samples and will commence the reaction driven cracking experiments. Go Sarah! And this all happens just in the nick of time: in June Sarah will be leaving us for UC Davis where she will start a lectureship position. Congratulations, Sarah!

Monday, 20 April 2015

When will you realize, Vienna waits for…EGU

Oh Vienna, home to so many dessert options. No sooner did I get off the plane and drop my bags in the hotel, did I find myself in the hotel bar enjoying the first of many cakes for the week.
The reason I found myself in Vienna was of course for the annual European Geological Union meeting. We Americans can't usually spend the funds to attend this meeting with any regularity. So those few times when we are invited to attend for a special session, it is a real treat. In this case, there was a session on Microstructures and Deformation Mechanisms in Ice, which received a little bit of funding from Micro-DICE in order to bring together researchers from around the world to compare notes and talk about what we are doing.  
 Our session was assigned one of the brand new PICO formats, which stands for Presenting Interactive COntent. At the designated time we all met at one of three bright orange PICO stations for the brief oral portion of the presentation. Since I came from so far, they gave me a ten-minute time slot to open up and introduce the session. Then the rest of the researchers went through "two-minute madness" in which they gave the highlights of their work and showed how their particular interactive poster worked.
After the "madness", we all stood in front of big touch screens to navigate and host our interactive poster. Although the content for an interactive poster involves many, many interlinking powerpoint pages (mine had 30 pages; the "sample" they sent us had 60!!) and was incredibly time-consuming to prepare, I kind of liked it. It was challenging to come up with this new, non-linear way of presenting data. I think it is probably going to be the wave of the future, with posters able to be navigated in our absence, so it was fun to be an early user. And since the session was on Monday, that left me time to enjoy the rest of the meeting and even sneak out a bit to see some of Vienna. Of course, that included a bit (read: heaping mounds) of the local cuisine.
And did I mention the desserts? So many desserts.