Geology Museum holds 46th annual open house
Last Saturday, the 46th anniversary of the Rutgers Geology Museum’s annual open house brought together various academicians and geology enthusiasts alike.
The open house in Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus featured three Rutgers scholars and a professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The event also included a mineral sale, a rock and mineral identification activity and a “make and take” rock station for children.
“The purpose [of the open house] is to bring science and modern discoveries in geology to the public in a format that’s easily accessible for people who might not have a lot of background in science,” said Lauren Nietzke Adamo, associate director of the Rutgers Geology Museum.
Walter Kokola, Rutgers alumnus, said he attended the open house for his 25th time.
“I have a background in tectonics and meteors, so anything that touches upon those subjects I come along to see what’s being presented to see if I can learn something new,” he said.
Kokola, now a resident of Tucson, Ariz., said during one of the years he attended the open house, the University hosted Robert Ballard, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, who discovered the remains of the RMS Titanic in 1985.
“Rutgers was one of the first places he delivered his initial findings [of finding the RMS Titanic],” he said.
Over the last 40 years, the Rutgers Geology Museum has invited more than 250 lecturers, including particularly memorable ones such as Ballard, said Bill Selden, former director of the museum.
One of the lectures presented findings from Robert Kopp, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University, who tied much of his research back to the state of New Jersey and its future in the wake of Superstorm Sandy from October 2012.
Kopp, the associate director at the Rutgers Energy Institute, said air pollution and environmental degradation is not a recent phenomenon.
The Great Smog of 1952 in London is proof, he said, and the oppressive gray smog that hovers over Beijing today is only a more recent example.
“The world has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit from 1850 to 1900, and New Jersey has warmed two degrees Fahrenheit since 1900,” he said,
If the world as a whole continues on its path of high emissions trajectory, he said, scientists expect the temperature of the planet to rise by five to nine degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.
Kopp, who has a background in geobiology, said he studied the air bubbles in ice cores, or a sample of core taken from an ice sheet, and the results indicated the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose 40 percent in the last two centuries.
In accordance with rising global temperatures, he said the world has also seen rising sea levels.
The sea level between New Jersey and New York rose about eight inches — an amount that exposed 80,000 extra people in New York to the wrath of Sandy, he said.
Globally, the mean sea level also rose by 8 inches from 1880 to 2009, he said, but such a number is not indicative of the status of the environment everywhere.
“We don’t all live at the global mean — we all live somewhere,” he said.
Even more than a year after Sandy battered the coasts of the Northeast, reconstruction is ongoing, he said, and various options need to be seriously considered for potential future weather disasters.
“It doesn’t make sense to rebuild as quickly as possible and worry about it later,” he said.
The three options that he suggested — some of which are currently being implemented — are rebuilding, raising the foundation of a structure, and retreating and razing, he said.
Regardless of the method in which homeowners and business owners decide to remake their livelihood, he said considering mortgages and profits are only one side of the issue. Comprehending increasingly more complex weather patterns and working with them is another.
“Our science system allows us to understand the challenges before us,” he said.