James Quick

Faculty in the News: April 13, 2010

Geoffrey Orsak, Dean, Lyle School of Engineering, discussed his involvement with a new project designed to reach promising minority students in local high schools with Cheryl Hall of The Dallas Morning News for a column that appeared April 7, 2010.

Jim Quick, Dean, Research and Graduate Studies and professor in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College, discussed the potential threat of volcanic activity to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for an article that appeared in Defense News April 5, 2010.

Calendar Highlights: Feb. 16, 2010

Showing their work: SMU graduate students will present their research in engineering and the natural and social sciences – and get valuable experience working with the formats they will use as professionals – during the University’s 2010 Research Day Feb. 16 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Poster presentations take place 2-4:30 p.m., and oral presentations from 12:30-4 p.m. An award of $250 will be given to the best presentation from each department with more than three presenters in attendance. Sponsored by Dean James Quick, Office of Research and Graduate Studies. For more information, contact Phyllis Payne, 214-768-4336.

Ash Wednesday service: The 2010 Lenten season begins with SMU’s ecumenical Ash Wednesday service beginning at 12:05 p.m. Feb. 17 in Perkins Chapel. University Chaplain Stephen Rankin will deliver the day’s message, “Testing Our Treasure.” The service is open to the entire SMU community. For more information, visit the Chaplain’s Office website.

Test your metal: SMU’s Meadows Wind Ensemble kicks off its spring performance schedule with “Heavy Metal,” an evening of works written for metal instruments. The program includes music by Gunther Schuller, Augusta Read Thomas, John Cage, Johann Hummel and SMU Professor Martin Sweidel – with a possible encore featuring the music of Metallica. The show begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Clements Center 2010 Symposium poster artClements Center Public Symposium: The family histories of the American West will be the focus of the 2009-10 Annual Public Symposium presented by SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies. “On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American West” is cosponsored by the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico, the Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center and the Clements Center. It will take place 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. Register online or contact the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

Research Spotlight: The ‘Rosetta Stone’ of supervolcanoes

Bishop Tuff at Long ValleyScientists have found the “Rosetta Stone” of supervolcanoes, those giant pockmarks in the Earth’s surface produced by rare and massive explosive eruptions that rank among nature’s most violent events. The eruptions produce devastation on a regional scale – and possibly trigger climatic and environmental effects at a global scale.

A fossil supervolcano has been discovered in the Italian Alps’ Sesia Valley by a team led by Jim Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, and a geology professor in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College. A rare uplift of the Earth’s crust in the Sesia Valley reveals for the first time the actual “plumbing” of a supervolcano from the surface to the source of the magma deep within the Earth, according to a new research article reporting the discovery.

The uplift was created when Africa and Europe began colliding about 30 million years ago and the crust of Italy was turned on end, Quick says. It reveals to an unprecedented depth of 25 kilometers the tracks and trails of magma as it moved through the Earth’s crust.

Supervolcanoes, historically called calderas, send up hundreds to thousands of cubic kilometers of volcanic ash in explosive events that occur every few hundred thousand years. They have spread lava and ash over vast distances, and scientists believe they may have set off catastrophic global cooling events at different periods in the Earth’s past.

Sesia Valley’s caldera, which is more than 13 kilometers in diameter, erupted during the Permian geologic time period, say the discovery scientists. Its discovery will advance scientific understanding of active supervolcanoes like Yellowstone, which is the second-largest supervolcano in the world and last erupted 630,000 years ago.

“What’s new is to see the magmatic plumbing system all the way through the Earth’s crust,” says Quick, who previously served as program coordinator for the Volcano Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. “Now we want to start to use this discovery. We want to understand the fundamental processes that influence eruptions. Where are magmas stored prior to these giant eruptions? From what depth do the eruptions emanate?”

To date, scientists have been able to study a caldera’s exposed “plumbing” from the surface of the Earth to a depth of only 5 kilometers. Because of that, scientific understanding has been limited to geophysical data and analysis of erupted volcanic rocks.

Quick likens the relevance of Sesia Valley to seeing bones and muscle inside the human body for the first time after previously envisioning human anatomy on the basis of a sonogram only.

“We think of the Sesia Valley find as the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for supervolcanoes because the depth to which rocks are exposed will help us to link the geologic and geophysical data,” Quick says. “This is a very rare spot.”

(Above, the Bishop Tuff volcanic deposits, consisting of ash and pumice ejected during the eruption that created the Long Valley Caldera in California. The event erupted 140 cubic miles of magma 760,000 years ago. Photo: U.S. Geological Survey)

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Meet the new administrators

A number of new faces begin serving in key University positions this fall. SMU Forum provides a reference guide:

Paul LuddenPaul Ludden, former dean of the College of Natural Resources at the University of California-Berkeley and a scholar in environmental biochemistry, has become SMU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Read more about Ludden.

Lori WhiteLori S. White, who has held student affairs positions at Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, became SMU’s vice president for student affairs July 1. Read more about White, and meet her at a welcome reception 4-5 p.m. Aug. 27 in the Umphrey Lee Center Ballroom.

James E. QuickJames E. Quick, a noted volcano expert with the U.S. Geological Survey and a frequently published geology scholar, has been named Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies. He will join the University during fall 2007. Read more.

David ChardDavid Chard, associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Oregon and a frequently published scholar in reading and learning disabilities, has been named dean of SMU’s School of Education and Human Development, effective this fall. Read more.

Christine CaseyChristine Casey, a University of California administrator known for her skill in improving business processes, has been named Vice President for Business and Finance. Currently Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services for the University of California system, Casey will begin her SMU duties Sept. 1. Read more about Casey, and meet her at a welcome reception 4-5 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Umphrey Lee Center Ballroom.

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