The Department of Geosciences presents

Geology Open Night

Spring 2007

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"Environmental Threats to Long Island’s
Central Pine Barrens"

Gilbert N. Hanson

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
January 26, 2007

"New Tools/Toys to Study the Earth’s Deep Interior"

Robert C. Liebermann

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

February 23, 2007

Heavy Metal Contaminants in the Environment
How Bioaccessibility Affects Human Health

Richard Reeder

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
March 23, 2007

Global Climate Change
Across the Pennsylvanian-Permian Boundary
300 million years ago

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
April 27, 2007

Earth and Space Sciences Building 
Lecture Hall (Room 001)
SUNY Stony Brook Campus

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?

Geology Open night lectures are usually on topics in the geosciences related to the current research of the faculty, staff and students at SUNY Stony Brook. These presentations are intended for:

  • those interested in new developments in the sciences

  • earth science high school students and teachers

  • undergraduate and graduate students in geosciences

  • professional geologists

In-service Credit is available for teachers attending the Geology Open Night lectures.


You may also be interested in Astronomy Open Night lectures the first Friday of the month, The Worlds of Physics lectures the second Friday of the month and The Living World the third Friday of the month In-service credit is also available for teachers for attending these lectures.

A single point entry to all of the science open night lectures is available at this link

All of these lectures are in ESS 001 Lecture Hall

There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Geology Open Night Presentations.

Admission is Free!!

Web pages describing earlier Geology Open Night presentations

Spring 1998Fall 1998, Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Fall 2000, Spring 2001

Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2003Spring 2004, Fall 2004, Spring 2005, Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006

Environmental Threats to Long Island’s
Central Pine Barrens

Prof. Gilbert N. Hanson

Global warming, sea level rise, acid rain, and ground level ozone are environmental threats to the sustainability of Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens.

As a result of global warming the climate of Long Island may be more like that of eastern Georgia by the end of this century. This will of course have a huge effect on ecological communities that are adapted to cooler climates.

With the expected sea level rise the water table will also rise. Since the shallow streams and ponds in the Pine Barrens are dominantly groundwater fed, changes in the level of the water table may have dramatic effects on the ecology of these bodies.

Acid rain is allowing aluminum in the soil to mobilize and replace other base cations on the soil. Highly mobile aluminum in acidic soils is toxic to plant growth, and hence can have a deleterious effect on overall ecosystem health.

Ground level ozone is known to cause foliar damage and reduced rate of growth in plants. There were more than thirty days in 2005 when there was acute exposure for plants in Suffolk County. Ground level ozone is mainly a result of sunlight interacting with motor vehicle exhaust.

In this presentation Professor Hanson will discuss these environmental threats and suggest monitoring programs that are necessary to evaluate them. Also, little is known about microclimates in the Pine Barrens, as no detailed study of the climates has been conducted. Monitoring will enable us to understand the differences between the microclimates of each distinct ecosystem in the Pine Barrens region and which factors are critical to sustainability.

New York State's Central Pine Barrens

Long Island's Pine Barrens Society

The Nature Conservancy -- Long Island Central Pine Barrens

US Fish and Wildlife Long Island Pine Barrens - Peconic River Complex

The Wildfire Preparedness Project of the National Fire Plan for the Long Island Pine Barrens

Historical Changes in the Pine Barrens of Central Suffolk County, New York

New Tools/Toys to Study the Earth’s Deep Interior

Prof. Robert C. Liebermann

Many of the phenomena on the surface of the Earth, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, are produced by processes deep within the Earth’s interior. In the past, mineral physicists, who study the properties of rocks and minerals at high pressures and temperatures, used equipment in their own laboratories to perform these studies. However, with the advent of specialized synchrotron and neutron facilities of the U. S. Department of Energy many of these experiments are now being conducted at national laboratories, such as the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Within the past two years, mineral physicists using these national facilities have discovered a new phase of pyroxene which only exists at depths below 2700 kilometers; this discovery helps to explain the unusual properties of the mantle just above the molten core.

Prof. Liebermann, an internationally renowned mineral physicist, is President of the COnsortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences [COMPRES]. This consortium consists of mineral physicists from 50 US and 27 international institutions. COMPRES is funded by the National Science Foundation to provide access and training for geologists to work at national facilities and has its administrative headquarters in the Mineral Physics Institute of Stony Brook University.

Link to COMPRES web site



Heavy Metal Contaminants in the Environment
How Bioaccessibility Affects Human Health


Prof. Richard J. Reeder

Friday March 23, 2007

Arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury are just a few of the toxic metals that are being found in increasing amounts in soil, water, and air. The extent of health risks on exposure to such metals depends on their chemical form and the many complex processes that influence their geochemical behavior. Bioaccessibility is the proportion of a toxic substance in an environmental setting which is available to interact with an organism. Bioaccessibility is one of the fundamental concepts for evaluating the potential for human exposure and varies widely among different metals and different environmental settings. Using examples from around the world, we will examine some of the geological and geochemical factors that influence bioaccessibility of toxic metals, how scientists study them, and the consequences to human health.

 Professor Reeder's research focuses on geochemistry and mineralogy, with an emphasis on the mechanisms and processes operating at the mineral-water interface. A major goal of this work is to understand the role that mineral surfaces play in growth, dissolution, and the uptake of dissolved metals. Because of their reactive nature and their common occurrence in sediments, soils, and rocks, carbonate minerals are the focus for much of this work. Closely related research addresses crystal chemistry and structural phase transitions in minerals.

Link to CEMS web site
Link to Prof. Reeder's lab group web site


Global Climate Change
Across the Pennsylvanian-Permian Boundary
300 million years ago

Prof. Troy Rasbury

Friday April 27, 2007

The most recent glacial interval prior to the Pleistocene occurred with the assembly of all continents into the supercontinent Pangea. It is thought that closure of a low latitude seaway between North America and Europe resulted in the diversion of moisture from the tropics to the South Pole, thus initiating a long-lived glacial interval that began in the late Mississippian (ca. 320 Ma) and ended in the early Permian (ca. 290 Ma). This also initiated extremely arid conditions at tropical latitudes recognized by abundant sand dunes and loess. Thus weathering was extremely subdued. This reduction in weathering in the Pangean tropics would have led to increased atmospheric CO2 levels and global warming due to the increase in this greenhouse gas. The warming brought to an end this long-lived glacial interval.

Glacial deposits are difficult to date because they rarely have diagnostic fossils and datable horizons. However, the marine sedimentary rocks deposited in shallow seas during this interval should archive information regarding the glaciation due to the large changes in sea level as it responds to the advance and retreat of glaciers. U-Pb dating of carbonates combined with chemical stratigraphy of marine sections in the southwest USA allow us to place some constraints on the timing of this glacial interval and to suggest possible ways to link the various climate records of this extremely interesting interval of Earth’s history.

The main focus of Prof. Rasbury’s research is using U-Pb dating of sedimentary materials to improve the time resolution in the sedimentary rock record. This requires looking carefully at sedimentary rocks to understand the history of their development. She targets minerals that form at the time of sedimentation, or so close to the time of sedimentation that within the uncertainty of dating techniques they form at the time of sedimentation.


In-service credit available for teachers

If your school requires that you have a sequence of educational opportunities in order to receive in-service credit, please advise them that during the Spring Semester we will be offering one-hour of in-service credit for each of the:

Four Geology Open Nights

Three Astronomy Open Nights
Website for more information is:

Four The Worlds of Physics - 
Web site for more information is:

Three The Living World
Website for more information is:


Geology Open Night, Astronomy Open Night, The Worlds of Physics and the Living World meet in ESS 001 at 7:30 p.m.

We will offer up to 7.5 hours of in-service credit each for the Conference on the Geology of Long Island and Metropolitan New York on April 14, 2007 and  the Long Island Geologists field trip in Spring

Information for these two events will be available on the Long Island Geologists web site at:

A more printable description of in-service credit offerings can be found at this link.

There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Presentations.

Admission is FREE!

Presentations are in Room 001 ESS Building SUNY Stony Brook

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?