April 16, 1999
Colloquium Speaker: Peter Schultz
Professor Peter H. Schultz received a B.A. degree in Astronomy from Carleton College in 1966 and his Ph.D., also in Astronomy, from University of Texas at Austin in 1972. He was a Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas before joining Brown University in 1984 where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. Professor Schultz's research interests focus on impact catering processes revealed by hypervelocity laboratory impact experiments, the planetary surface record, and terrestrial ground truth. He has published over seventy research articles, authored a monograph Moon Morphology (U. Texas Press) and has co-edited Multi-Ring Basins (Pergamon Press), Primer in Lunar Geology (NASA) and Geological Implications of Impacts of Large Asteroids and Comets on Earth (Geological Society of America). Professor Schultz is a science coordinator for NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range and Director of NASA facilities, Northeast Planetary Data Center and Rhode Island Space Grant Program. He served as a Panel Member on Planetary Geology and Geophysics Review Panel during 1993-96 and is currently a member of Planetary Science Data Steering Group and Associate Editor of the journal, Geology.
One of the important legacies of planetary exploration is the realization that impact catering is an important geological process. This is underscored by a devastating collision that was responsible for the elimination of 75% of the species on the Earth 65 million years ago. Collisions happen, but why was this particular collision so devastating? Hypervelocity impact experiments in the laboratory allow controlling the variables and actually witnessing the collisional process. The planetary impact record, however, provides a reality check on such observations at much larger scales. Combined with theory, this strategy reveals that impact angle can make the difference between life and death. The colloquium will explore the planetary record, examine laboratory experiments, assess the diagnostic geologic signatures, and consider the forensics of death (and survival) at the end of the Cretaceous.