Last week the William & Mary Geology department played host to a group of international geoscientists that descended upon Williamsburg from Japan and Oman. They were at William & Mary to attend the 3rd Critchfield Conference which focused on the Indian Ocean Basin: Navigating the 21st Century Marine Silk Road. Prior to their conference duties, we had the good fortune to rope them into delivering seminars in the Geology department and meeting with geology students.
Professor Toshio Mizuta, the former director of the International Center for Research and Education on Mineral and Energy Resources (ICREMER) at Akita University, Japan discussed his research on Kuroko-type massive sulfide deposits. Professor Takashi Uchida, Professor of Earth Science and Technology at Akita University, presented an overview talk on non-conventional energy resources such as gas hydrates. Collectively, their talks highlighted some new frontiers of mineral and energy exploration. As a mineral resource-limited island nation, Japan has focused much effort on seafloor mapping in a quest for discovering new resources.
Professor Abdullah Al-Ghafri of the University of Niwza, Oman delivered a seminar to a packed house that focused on his research on Aflaj, an ancient water management system used in arid regions through the world. Later this year I will be starting a geologic research project in Oman and Dr. Al-Ghafri will play a key role in helping me build connections with other Omani scientists. There were also representatives from the Oman embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in attendance.
Geology is a science in which both time and place are important, and as such the Geology Department is well positioned to forge ahead into the realm of international education and research. In the not-so-distant future, we aim to run a geology and environmental field study program in Oman. A joint field trip with Japanese faculty and students to Alaska to explore base-metal deposits is also a possibility. Exciting times ahead.