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Geoscience Department News: November 2012

Up-to-date news from the Geoscience Department! If you have any news you would like us to share, just e-mail it to and we will get it up. Check back often (or subscribe to our RSS feed!) for updates.

Lewis Publishes on Nankai Subduction Zone

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Jon Lewis, Department of Geoscience, coauthored a paper entitled “Evidence for Mechanical Decoupling of the Upper Plate at the Nankai Subduction Zone: Constraints from Core-Scale Faults at NantroSEIZE Sites C0001 and C0002” in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems.

This paper is part of ongoing work investigating the tectonic history of this region.


Detailed analyses of cores from two drill sites landward of the Nankai trough provide constraints on the evolution of stress across the SW Japan subduction zone. Core-scale faults at Sites C0001 and C0002 suggest changing stress geometries that shed light on mechanical coupling across this plate boundary. Normal faults dominate the record of brittle strain in both the sedimentary cover and the upper accretionary prism, and these cut older shear zones and vein structures. Based on cross-cutting relations normal faults postdate thrust faults with the latter interpreted to be inactive. The normal faults, in contrast, are consistent with contemporary stress proxies such as borehole breakout and anelastic strain recovery data. Stress inversion for faults that are restored to original orientations using paleomagnetic data reveal that thrusting has accommodated trench sub-perpendicular shortening associated with interplate coupling. This phase of deformation is overprinted by normal faulting attributed to mechanical decoupling of the upper plate from the lower plate in response to the underplating of anomalously weak sediments between an out-of-sequence thrust and the décollement. These observations suggest that core-scale faults record a stress history that is, to date, not apparent from in-situ stress proxies such as borehole breakout data or anelastic strain recovery data. We conclude that the brittle faults provide a unique record of changing stress conditions that can be recognized only through coring.

Fossil, Rock, and Mineral Sale by Geoscience Club

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The Geological Society of IUP is holding its annual Fossil, Rock, and Mineral Sale this week, November 26–30, 2012, in the Weyandt Planetarium lobby.

  • Dates: Monday, November 26–Friday, November 30
  • Time: 900 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Joy Kiefer at

Department of Geoscience

Distinguished Lecturer to Present on Subduction Zones

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Integrated Ocean Drilling Program distinguished lecturer Nathan Bangs, from the University of Texas at Austin, will visit IUP on November 15–16, 2012. Bangs’ specialty is in understanding the three-dimensional structure of subduction zones. These regions are important as they are the location of “great” earthquakes which are known to generate tsunamis.

While on campus, Bangs will meet with students and faculty of the Geoscience Department and give two presentations. The first presentation will be geared for the general public, and the second will be more specialized and be part of the Geoscience Department Seminar Series.

Public Presentation

  • “What Gives With Subduction Zone Megathrust Earthquakes?”
  • Thursday November 15
  • Sprowls Auditorium, IUP
  • 7:00–8:00 p.m.
  • All are welcome

Geoscience Seminar Presentation:

  • “Deformation, Dewatering, and the Development of the Subduction Zone Megathrust”
  • Friday November 16
  • Walsh Hall, Rm. 104
  • 12:15–1:15 p.m.
  • All are welcome


Commonwealth Connections Academy’s Mobile Science Lab Visits Geoscience Department

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A state-of-the-art mobile science lab visited IUP in early November 2012 and served as the meeting place for teachers and students from Commonwealth Connections, a Pennsylvania cyber school. Using activities developed by the Deep Earth Academy (DEA), the educational program affiliated with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, students modeled scientific discovery and explored ocean sediment cores with Geoscience professors Steve Hovan and Jon Lewis and DEA’s Jennifer Collins.

This program was a great opportunity to learn about geology, biology, and climate change using sediment cores and data collected by deep sea drilling. The collaboration grew from the network of teachers and educators that attended shipboard experiences aboard the U.S. drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution when both Hovan and Lewis served as instructors for their School of Rock program.

“The Deep Earth Academy does an amazing job with giving students the experience of real scientific discovery,” said Hovan, “and we’re hoping to make this an annual visit.”

Commonwealth Connections Academy offers a cyber school program to students across Pennsylvania with this mobile classroom, a full-sized, 38-foot vehicle equipped with a satellite Internet capability, wireless Internet access, computers, digital media, interactive smartboards, microscopes, and all the equipment needed to conduct science labs and many other classroom activities.

  • Geoscience Department
  • Walsh Hall, Room 111
    302 East Walk
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2379
  • Fax: 724-357-6208
  • Office Hours
  • Every Day: 8:00 a.m.–noon
  • Mon: 1:00–4:30 p.m.
  • Tues: 1:00–3:15 p.m.
  • Thurs: 2:00–4:00 p.m.
  • Fri: 1:00–4:30 p.m.