February 2016 Issue Table of Contents
About This Issue
Cultural heritage often brings to mind valuable artifacts, artwork, ancient manuscripts, and historic monuments and buildings. But, cultural heritage involves more than just the material objects: it also consists of the more tangible elements such as the values, oral history, traditional craftsmanship, and the knowledge and skills that are transmitted across generations. Cultural heritage provides a window through which we can learn about our past and which ultimately prepares us for the future. As George Santayana wrote more than a century ago, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (The Life of Reason, 1905)
There is all too often a race to study and/or preserve this heritage as these treasures can be so easily lost to urbanization, wanton destruction during conflicts, natural disasters, or even climate change. A recent article by Eli Kintisch in Hakia Magazine (26 January 2016; https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-long/history-melting) provides a timely illustration of what we face. With the onset of global warming, Arctic coastlines are rapidly being eroded due to loss of ice. In one such area, the cultural heritage of the Iñupiat, a semi-nomadic people who have lived in Alaska for at least 4,000 years, is being lost to this erosion. The race is on as our climate continues to warm whilst saving these historical remains would require “months of encampment, dedicated freezers, and soil engineers.”
As the articles in this issue of Elements attest, geoscientists are well positioned to aid in the study, interpretation, and preservation of cultural heritage. So, join the race! -- Jodi Rosso
Introducing Friedhelm von Blanckenburg: Principal Editor 2016–2018
After some arm-twisting and promises of free cham- pagne at future principal editors’ annual meetings, we are happy to report that Friedhelm von Blanckenburg has joined the Elements team as a principal editor. Friedhelm is currently professor and head of the Geochemistry of the Earth Surface Section at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences at Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (Germany), and he is also professor of geochemistry at Freie Universität Berlin (Germany). Friedhelm also coordinates two large international research networks: the European training network “Isonose” (Isotopic tools as novel sen- sors of Earth surface resources) and the German-Chilean program “Earthshape” (Earth surface shaping by biota).
Friedhelm is well known for his work in the use of cosmogenic nuclides, particularly 10 Be, to quantify Earth surface processes, such as the rates of erosion and uplift, glaciation, and sediment recycling. His steady stream of seminal publications in this area have had a signifi cant impact on our thinking about the rates of these surface processes. His recent develop- ment work of the 10 Be(meteoric)/ 9 Be tracer in ocean sediments has led to entirely unexpected insights on the tectonic and climatic stability of the Earth’s surface during the Quaternary. In addition to his work on cosmogenic isotopes, Friedhelm is also well known for his work on stable iron isotopes in a variety of applications, including iron isotope fractionation at planetary scales, in higher plants, in human blood, during hydrothermal ore deposition and alteration, during diagenesis and metamorphism of banded iron formations, between dissolved and suspended particles in sea water, and in microbial carbonates.
Another important area to which Friedhelm has made major contribu- tions is the development of new stable isotope methods and experi- mental protocols, including an assessment of the accuracy of stable iron-isotope ratio measurements on samples with organic and inorganic matrices, and the use of UV-femtosecond laser ablation in multiple collector ICP-MS measurements. And, early in his career, he devel- oped the “slab breakoff” model for syn-collisional magmatism. His research accomplishments have been recognized by his election to the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and his receipt of the Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal from the European Geosciences Union. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of Chemical Geology and the American Journal of Science.
Friedhelm is no stranger to Elements . He was the German Mineralogical Society (DMG) representative to the Elements Executive Committee (2007–2015) and was a guest editor for our October 2014 issue on “Cosmogenic Nuclides” issue (October 2014, v10n5). His past experi- ence with Elements will be put to good use as a principal editor. He is already hard at work on our June 2016 issue (“Cosmic Dust”). The editorial team of Elements is delighted that Friedhelm has accepted our invitation to become a principal editor and we look forward to working with him.