2013 Archives

Fossil supervolcano discovered in Italy by SMU-led team
is now key feature of new UNESCO Geopark

SMU's James Quick elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Award honors SMU volcano expert for scientifically distinguished efforts

Volcanologist James E. Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of Graduate Studies, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Quick is the fourth professor at Southern Methodist University recognized with the prestigious honor.
James QuickAn expert in volcano hazards, Quick is being honored for his distinguished contributions to geologic science and volcano risk assessment, particularly for the study of magmatic systems, and for service to governments in assessing geologic risk.
Quick is a professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.
SMU President R. Gerald Turner said SMU is honored and gratified that the scientists of AAAS have chosen to recognize the research achievements and public service of Dean Quick.
“SMU is an educational institution that prides itself on shaping world changers. It has been strengthened in that goal through Dean Quick’s dedicated vision and achievements as a researcher, an academic leader and a servant to the global community,” Turner said. “We congratulate Dean Quick on this well-deserved recognition from this distinguished organization.”
AAAS Fellows are elected by their peers for distinguished efforts to advance science
 Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed by AAAS members upon their peers. This year AAAS named 388 members as Fellows for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

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November 25, 2013

“It is a rare event that geology is a catalyst of public cooperation and celebration,” says geologist and volcano expert James E. Quick, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

geoparkThe new Sesia-Val Grande Geopark is an example of just that, says Quick, whose international team in 2009 discovered a fossil supervolcano that now sits at the heart of the new geopark. The discovery sparked worldwide scientific interest and a regional geotourism industry.

Recently designated a geopark by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Sesia-Val Grande Geopark encompasses more than 80 communities in the Italian Alps.

The communities joined forces more than two years ago to promote the park’s creation, which UNESCO made official in September. The geopark spans tens of thousands of acres and has at its center the massive, 282 million-year-old fossil supervolcano.

“Sesia Valley is unique,” said Quick. “The base of the Earth’s crust is turned up on edge, exposing the volcano’s plumbing — which normally extends deep into the Earth and out of sight. The uplift was created when Africa and Europe began colliding about 30 million years ago and the crust of Italy was turned on end. We call this fossil the ‘Rosetta Stone’ for supervolcanoes because the depth to which rocks are exposed will aid scientific understanding of one of nature’s most massive and violent events and help us to link the geologic and geophysical data.”

The fossil supervolcano was discovered by Quick’s scientific team, which included scientists from Italy’s University of Trieste. The supervolcano has an unprecedented 15 miles of volcano plumbing exposed from the surface to the source of the magma deep within the Earth. Previously, the discovery record for exposed plumbing was about three miles, said Quick.

Located in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, the geopark also includes Val Grande National Park, the largest wilderness area in Italy. Sesia Valley and Val Grande are important historical and cultural locales.

Only a handful of locations worldwide are chosen annually for UNESCO’s coveted geopark designation, which supports national geological heritage initiatives.

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