Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rural Community Sustainability: Research, Applications, and Engagement in Calumet, Michigan

Rural Community Sustainability: Research, Applications, and Engagement in Calumet, Michigan

Dr. Richelle Winkler
Assistant Professor of Sociology & Demography
Environmental and Energy Policy Program
Department of Social Sciences
Michigan Technological University

Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar
Monday, February 25, 2013 3:00-4:00 PM
Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), room 201

Rural communities across the United States and around the world have long suffered from diseconomies of scale and dependence upon an exported extractive resource base to outside interests in more urban locations. Most of our rural communities are in decline demographically, economically, and socially. They face unique challenges and opportunities in the context of an increasingly “flat” and globalized world. My research aims to understand how rural communities transition from a legacy of resource dependence and population decline toward vibrant sustainable futures. What are these challenges and opportunities and how can they be overcome?

This presentation will explore the concept of rural community sustainability and describe ways in which the natural resource/economic base in rural communities is related to age-specific migration patterns. Then, I will focus on a new project underway in Calumet, MI that specifically investigates community efforts toward sustainability in this community with a legacy of natural resource dependence. Taking a community based research approach, I am engaging with community groups to investigate the potential for redevelopment focused on alternative energies, including solar and mine water geothermal.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New AmeriCorps VISTA/OSM Masters of Science in Industrial Archaeology at Michigan Technological University!

The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University is very pleased to announce our new AmeriCorps VISTA/OSM Masters of Science in Industrial Archaeology.  This new degree program allows students to dedicate time to the AmeriCorps VISTA program, where they can help make a difference in industrial communities living with the environmental and social legacies of mining heritage.  Michigan Tech seeks students with a passion for community-based and socially-engaged archaeological practice.  Details and links for the program website are below.

Best regards,
Tim Scarlett, Graduate Program Director
Industrial Heritage and Archaeology
Industrial Archaeology
The OSM/VISTA Master of Science degree programs are offered through Michigan Tech’s partnership with the program operated jointly by the United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) and the AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service To America (VISTA) program. This unique program blends AmeriCorps service with a master’s degree program and emphasizes practical field experience and research.

Help to Revitalize Underserved Communities
OSM/VISTA places volunteers in hundreds of organizations dedicated to renewing the cultures, economies, and environments of historic mining communities. These diverse organizations encounter common challenges stemming from the cultural and environmental legacies of communities that developed their industrial wealth through mining operations. Active OSM/VISTA coalitions include the Western Hardrock Mining Watershed Team and the Appalachian Coal County Team.

VISTA volunteers partner with local groups to help communities build the capacity to manage economic redevelopment, cultivate environmental stewardship, and explore models of community revitalization. Since the Department of Social Sciences has expertise in working with industrial heritage and developing environmental and energy policies, we can effectively prepare students to become volunteers and aid them in transforming their experience into professional careers.

Career Pathways and Professional Preparation
Following one year of VISTA service, students return to campus to fulfill the requirements of their master’s degree. Students can apply to enroll in either the Industrial Archaeology MS or the Environmental and Energy Policy MS programs. 

OSM/VISTA students study alongside our other Industrial Archaeology MS students, pursuing a professional degree with diverse career pathways:
• Work with historic sites and museums
• Heritage and cultural resources management
• Field archaeology
• Public history
• Historic preservation and planning
• Education
• Community and government service

Additionally, some graduates will elect to continue their studies in a PhD program.

Our graduates go on to become competent professionals and engaged doctoral students because the curriculum creates the opportunity to develop practical, hands-on tool kits within a solid theoretical grounding, in addition to the powerful OSM/VISTA experience. Thesis projects are often developed in conjunction with OSM/VISTA affiliates, and therefore incorporate real-world situations.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Iron, Oxygen and Salt

Iron and the metals derived from iron decay through several processes, but the main types of corrosion of interest to us are caused by reactions with Oxygen and Chloride.

Oxidation is the most important form of iron corrosion for our study. This corrosion results from the formal combination of oxygen with iron. Oxidation is an electrochemical process involving the formal removal of electrons from iron when it combines with oxygen. Iron has a negatively potential electromotive force (EMF), providing it a greater tendency to lose electrons and form positive ions. In contrast, copper is a more 'noble' metal with a higher EMF. The physical and chemical integrity of cupreous metals or artifacts will thus be preserved for a longer period of time compared to ferrous artifacts.

Electron flow is essential for oxidation. The process of oxidation occurs within a "galvanic cell," also known as an electrochemical half cell. Galvanic cells are created when two different metals or different areas of the same metal allow electrons to flow between them, from the positive anodic area to the negative cathodic area. Electrons flow from the anode to the cathode, breaking down the iron corrosion compounds at the anode. Oxygen bonds with the positive iron ions at the anode. This may occur numerous times to produce various types of oxidation and millions of individual galvanic cells are present on a single corroding artifact. Some people refer to the outcome of all these tiny cells as pitting corrosion.

Another major cause of metals corrosion are salts. In common use, salt refers to a collection of chemicals that include Sodium and Chloride atoms.  Conservators are concerned with how these ions electrochemically interact with metals, particularly chlorides.  When chloride atoms are ionised they become very reactive, and aggressively seek to interact with other molecules and ions. Concentrations of chlorides are a common salt water, for example, in maritime environments. Chlorides often saturate archaeological artifacts submersed in marine environments. Chlorides react with oxygen in a similar corrosive reaction to that described above.

The presence of chlorides exacerbates problems for conservators.  Chlorides readily go into solution, particularly in water.  When dissolved into a fluid solution, chloride ions facilitate all the corrosion processes, including what engineers would call galvanic and crevice corrosion.  In a general sense, the chemical reactions are all built around the same electrochemical reactions, but these reactions are encouraged or retarded by different structures, environments, and materials (or "material-environment systems" in engineering speak).

The artifacts recovered by Michigan Tech research teams have usually come from terrestrial environments drained by rain and freshwater runoff, thus chlorides are generally not a significant concern. At the West Point Foundry, for example, even though the estuarine environment of that section of the Hudson River could be brackish due to that river's famous tidal flow, most of the artifacts recovered during excavation came from parts of the site above the immediate area of foundry marsh and cove.  Our research teams were lucky, as are the landowners The Scenic Hudson Land Trust.  The absence of chlorides meant that ferrous iron artifacts recovered from this historic industrial site were inherently more stable than those impregnated with chlorides in solution. This gives field and lab archaeologists and conservators more time to deal with potential corrosion and decay.

Michael Deegan was the first collaborator on the West Point Foundry project to undertake a study of corrosion at the site.  He and I co-authored an article summarising our findings after dedicating time in my Archaeological Sciences course, examining corrosion and conservation at the West Point Foundry site with one of our collaborators.

I will summarise the molecular forms created through the corrosion processes in another post.  What I hope readers understand from the posts so far is that the decay of metals, particularly iron, is a "natural" electrochemical reaction that occurs unless something prevents it from happening.  Factors that enhance or retard the flow of electrons drive both the extent and rate of decay--the presence of liquid water and the presence of chloride irons (salts) are both critically important in the process.

Moreover, these factors do not need to be visible to the naked eye! Microscopic pores, fissures, and stress cracks all absorb molecules from the environment (even when that environment is arid).  Corrosion is almost always occurring, even when the object appears to be dry and clean in your storage facility.  Corrosion occurs slowly even while the object sits on the shelf in front of you in a museum!

For those undertaking more research on this topic, we have found these sources useful:
Donny L. Hamilton (1997) provided discussions of metals corrosion which I have found very useful. Other detailed treatments can be found in N. A. North (1987), Bradley Rodgers (1992, 2004), and Janet Cronyn (1990).

Cronyn, Janet M.
1990 The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. Routledge, London.

Hamilton, Donny L.
1997     Basic Methods of Conserving Underwater Archaeological Material Culture. Legacy Resource Management Program, United States Department of Defence, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from on September 12, 2007.

North, N. A.
1987 Conservation of Metals. In Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects, edited by C. Pearson, pp. 207-252. Butterworths, London.

Rodgers, Bradley A.
1992 The East Carolina University Conservator's Cookbook: A Methodological Approach to the Conservation of Water Soaked Artifacts. Program in Maritime History and Underwater Research, Department of History, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.

Rodgers, Bradley A.
2004 The Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation: A Guide to non-Toxic, Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilisation. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York.

and our article:
Deegan, Michael and Timothy James Scarlett.
2008 The Conservation of Ferrous Metals from the West Point Foundry Site. Bulletin of the New York State Archaeological Association 124: 56-68.