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Two USGS Scientists Selected as AGU Fellows in Ocean Sciences

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William  R. Normark
William R. Normark
Ronald S. Oremland
Ronald S. Oremland

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists William R. Normark and Ronald S. Oremland have been selected as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)'s Ocean Sciences section.

Bill Normark (Menlo Park, CA) was selected as a Fellow jointly in the Ocean Sciences and Tectonophysics sections, in recognition of his pioneering research on the formation and actions of turbidity currents, the creation and deposition of deep-sea turbidite and massive slide bodies, and the accumulation of hydrothermal mineral masses at midocean spreading centers. A member the Geologic Discipline's Western Coastal and Marine Geology team, Bill has long had an interest in high-energy geologic processes on the deep-ocean floor. Bill pioneered the application of high-resolution seismic-reflection technology to study the structure of deep-water submarine fans and the processes that form them. He recognized far-traveled turbidity deposits in Escanaba Trough, on a spreading ridge off northern California, that record the periodic failure of ice dams that formed Pleistocene Lake Missoula on the upper Columbia River; these failures unleashed sediment-laden floods that roared down the Columbia River drainage and traveled 1,000 km underwater to the deep Pacific Basin. Bill played a leadership role in studies of the Hawaiian Islands that confirmed the hypothesis of USGS scientist Jim Moore that in late Cenozoic time, gigantic landslides repeatedly thundered down the submerged flanks of the islands. Bill was also a frontier explorer in the discovery of hydrothermal-vent systems at midocean spreading ridges, and their associated massive mineral deposits and flanking biologic communities.

Ron Oremland (Menlo Park, CA) was selected as a Fellow jointly in the Ocean Sciences and Biogeosciences sections, in recognition of his fundamental contributions in geochemistry, atmospheric and environmental chemistry, and ecology, through his discoveries of novel pathways by which microbes metabolize environmentally significant metals and climate-relevant trace gases. A member of the Water Resources Discipline, Ron embarked on microbiologic studies in the 1970s, examining the selenium problem in California's Central Valley. A natural component of the valley's soils, selenium accumulates to toxic levels in agricultural wastewaters after intensive irrigation and has contaminated many bodies of water. Ron has also conducted ground-breaking studies on the microbiology of arsenic cycling. In the course of his work on selenium and arsenic, he has isolated selenate- and arsenate-respiring microorganisms from such extreme environments as Mono Lake and the Dead Sea. Ron's work bears directly on the management and preservation of water resources by providing basic information that can be used to develop strategies for bioremediation of water contaminated by toxic metals. Ron has also made important contributions to our understanding of the production and cycling of climate-relevant trace gases in aquatic ecosystems, including studies of methanogenic bacteria in marine sediment and the discovery of microbial pathways of degradation of methyl halides and other halocarbons, key agents of global warming and stratospheric ozone destruction.

Ron, Bill, and 39 other 2004 Fellows were selected on January 17, 2004, by the AGU Fellows Committee (the full list is available on the 2004 AGU Newly Elected Fellows Web page). AGU members who are selected as Fellows have attained an acknowledged eminence in a branch of the geophysical sciences. The number of Fellows selected annually is limited to no more than 0.1 percent of the AGU membership. Congratulations to these distinguished scientists!

Related Sound Waves Stories
Canada's Michael J. Keen Medal Awarded to Bill Normark
March 2003
Distinguished Service Award Presented to Bill Normark
October 2002
Bill Normark Interview: A Huge Glacial Flood that Traveled Far Beneath the Sea
Dec. 2000 / Jan. 2001

Related Web Sites
Microbial Biogeochemistry of Aquatic Environments
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Western Region Coastal and Marine Geology
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Santa Cruz & Menlo Park, CA
American Geophysical Union
official site

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Outreach Sally Ride Science Festival

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Awards Normark and Oremland Selected AGU Fellows

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