New Geosciences Department head, Rick Aster, presents Antarctic research to students

Antarctica at its finest
Professor Rick Aster presented a lecture “Under the Ice”on Antarctica, the first in a series the School of Global Environmental Sustainability is putting on this spring. (Photo credit: HamishM)

As the new head of the Geosciences Department of CSU, professor Rick Aster is already using his field experience in Antarctica for the benefit of CSU’s academic community. By studying seisomologic imaging and earth studies, Aster brings a wealth of knowledge on Antarctica and its implications on a global scale.

On Tuesday Feb. 25, Aster presented “Under the Ice: The Geophysical Unveiling of the Antarctic Continent” at Fort Collins Public Library — the first in a series of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability Spring 2014 Lectures.


Aster began by showing how using certain data can help scientists understand how Antarctica changed throughout Earth’s history. Certain seismic imaging used by research facilities on the bottom of the world have observed the highly dynamic trends of ice divides, streams and shelves over millions of years, which sheds light on how Earth’s climate, sea levels and temperatures have changed.

In addition, the research in Antarctica revealed Antarctica is losing ice every year.

“Geothermal heating affects the base of the ice sheets. Sea levels are up twenty centimeters in the past one-hundred years,” Aster said. “Thirty-five percent of Earth’s population lives within one-hundred meters of sea level. If sea levels rise, it will be interesting to see how civilizations and society adapt.”

Two attending geology majors, junior Erik Phillips and senior Scott Walker, thought that the lecture offered great information on the geosciences and up-to-date research, melded into a well-connected presentation.

“It was nice to see how it all correlated,” Walker said. “I’ve seen a lot of what he was talking about in various classes and it was interesting how the presentation connected them all.”

The presentation also showed how fields like geology are important for understanding the Earth and how all its parts fit together.

“I enjoyed seeing how to use geophysics to see not only what’s under the earth, but also to see how climate has and is changing,” Phillips said.

Students may find the information more than just interesting. Those who come to these events can learn important information that has an impact on the world.

“It’s important just to show up and learn the cutting edge of technology and research,” Walker said. “It affects politics, it’s dealing with issues many people don’t know about.”

The next lecture in the series will be April 15 at 7 p.m. in the Fort Collins Library.


Collegian Reporter Zack Burley can be reached at