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Jefferson Lab Program Includes Arctic Lecture by ODU's Victoria Hill

The Jefferson Lab 2012 Science Series begins with a lecture by a James Madison University professor about Virginia's geologically active past and another by an Old Dominion University professor about usual ice melting in the Arctic.

Elizabeth Johnson, assistant professor with the Geology and Environmental Sciences Department at JMU, will present "Volcanoes in Virginia!" on Jan. 24.

Victoria Hill, an oceanography research scientist at ODU, will present "Living and Working in the Freezer" on Feb. 7.

The August 2011 earthquake that originated in Virginia and shook the East Coast has made many wonder what other surprises Virginia's geology may hold, according to Johnson. "Could there be a volcanic eruption in Virginia? Probably not today," she says, "but during the Eocene, about 35-48 million years ago, a number of mysterious eruptions occurred in western Virginia."

Johnson's talk will investigate the possible origins of these eruptions, and what they can tell us about the crust and mantle underneath Virginia.

Hill, who is with ODU's bio-optics group, will discuss work she and colleagues have undertaken to try to explain why ice near the North Pole is melting faster than scientific models had predicted.

She will discuss the lack of data on the early spring in the Arctic - due to the extreme cold that makes it difficult to survive, let alone conduct science. From March through late April 2011, Hill and other scientists from around the world braved deadly cold temperatures in the high Canadian Arctic in the name of science.

At the Catlin Arctic Survey group's floating "ice base" off Ellef Ringnes Island, the Hill investigated how organic material in fresh water near the surface of the ocean may be trapping heat from the sun, causing the upper ocean layers to warm. This is a very new area of research and this mechanism represents a key uncertainty in accurate modeling of ice thickness and upper ocean heat content, according to Hill.

The scientist will discuss preliminary data from the expedition and also talk about living and working at the ice base.

Both lectures are free and open to students and adults with an interest in science. The lectures will each begin at 7 p.m., in the CEBAF Center auditorium located at 12000 Jefferson Ave, Newport News, and will last about an hour. Seating in the auditorium and overflow area is available on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to about 300 people. People arriving once capacity has been reached will be turned away.

All those under age 16 must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. Everyone over 16 is asked to carry a valid photo ID. Security guards may perform ID, parcel and vehicle checks.

For directions and additional information about Jefferson Lab public lectures, visit: http://education.jlab.org/scienceseries/index.php or contact Christine Wheeler, email wheelerc@jlab.org or call 757-269-7560.

A live video stream is available for those not able to attend the event.

The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, also known as Jefferson Lab, is a nuclear physics research facility. It is one of 10 national research laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science; and is managed and operated for the DOE by Jefferson Science Associates, LLC.

This article was posted on: January 23, 2012

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