Newsletters

Eileen Alejos’s Summer Keck Fellowship

Eileen Alejos’s Summer Keck Fellowship

This summer I went to southeastern Alaska to study the flysch of the Prince William – Chugach terrene with a group of 6 students led by professors John Garver and Cameron Davidson. Keck Geology Consortium and the National Science Foundation funded this fieldwork and research. Conducting fieldwork in Alaska for my senior thesis was an incredible experience that has changed my life and confirmed my passion for geology. Alaska is an remarkable place. Not only was I amazed by the abundance and variety of wildlife but the unparalleled scenery also intrigued me. Our main study areas included...

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James Barrett’s Summer Experience

James Barrett’s Summer Experience

This summer I worked for in the environmental sector of Kleinfelder. Kleinfelder works with Exxon Mobil and Cumberland Farms in efforts to help clean up their oil/gas spills. This job required me to work in the field and in the office. When I was working in the field I would sample soil and groundwater to test for any concentrations of pollutants or other specific chemicals. When I was working in the office I would organize and produce data to get a better understanding of how bad the contamination was at a specific site. Overall it was an amazing experience and the skill set and people that...

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Emily Crampe’s Summer Research

Emily Crampe’s Summer Research

This summer I was able to explore two different aspects of geology: Dominician petrology and paleoclimate reconstruction through oxygen isotopes in trees. The summer started with a ten-day trip to Dominica with professors Holli Frey and Matt Manon and students Sarah Brehm (’15) and Tara Metzger (’15). In preparation for my thesis, we collected rock samples from the Northernmost section of the island near the lava dome Morne aux Diables. When we came back to Union, I cut thin sections and powdered the rocks for later analysis in the fall. For the second half of the summer, I started working...

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Robert Queirolo’s Summer Research

Robert Queirolo’s Summer Research

To accurately predict future climate change, a greater knowledge of paleoclimate and influences controlling climate variations must be obtained. There exists an increasing demand for precisely dated high-resolution records of past environments. Speleothems, secondary calcite formations, are considered to be one the most powerful multi-proxy paleoclimate archives that exists. Speleothems are mineral deposits consistent of calcite and aragonite, which are produced by the calcification of minerals dissolved in karstified host rock settings. Speleothem deposit formation is controlled not only by...

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Chris Kelly’s Summer Research

Chris Kelly’s Summer Research

My research conducted this past summer as part of a four-week Davenport Undergraduate Research Grant involved the preparation and geochemical analysis of a speleothem collected in 1828 from the Gage Caverns in Schoharie, New York. Laser ablation Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) was to collect trace element signatures within the calcite that forms the sample. Trace element data can be used to directly reconstruct paleoclimates through Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca, and Na/Ca ratios. This data will be compared to isotope values in the same speleothem, as well as an additional sample...

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Tara Metzger’s Summer Research

Tara Metzger’s Summer  Research

This summer I worked both in the field and at Union College collecting samples and data for my senior thesis under the Mellon Foundation Grant. Professor Frey, Professor Manon, Emily Crampe, Sarah Brehm, and I spent 10 days traveling to the volcanic island of Dominica, which is located in the Lesser Antilles island arc. The focus of my research involved the collection of water samples from 71 various streams and hydrothermal pools in Dominica to categorize water types, determine the influence of magmatic water, and to determine magma outgassing on the island. The water samples were analyzed...

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George Shaw

George Shaw

I continue to enjoy “retirement”, spending a good part of each weekday in my office in the basement of Olin. Last year about this time I received a call from a former student asking if I still had the high pressure equipment I had moved to Union from Minnesota when I arrived in 1988. Naturally I still had it. He wanted to know if he could use it to make some measurements on various salt solutions at high pressure and temperature in order to get very precise thermodynamic data for geochemical modeling important to understanding the deep interiors of the satellites of the outer planets (which...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

For three weeks in June and July, a group of eight students and faculty joined me for a tropical, high-altitude field season in the Peruvian Andes. The Project is funded by the Keck Foundation, an NSF research grant, and by the Geology Department’s field fund. Union College senior Nick Weidhaas along with students Alia Payne (Macalaster College), Julie Daniels (Northern Illinois University), and faculty Nathan Stansell (Northern Illinois), Joe Licciardi (University of New Hampshire), Dave Gillikin (Union) and I camped for two weeks in the Queshque Valley and one week in the Quilcayhuanca...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

Hello alumni! Once again it has been a great year. I’ve had the fortune to be occupied by many different teaching and research projects. Our second annual structure trip to the Taconic slate belt was a big success. In addition to the ever stunning axial cleavage in the West Castleton syncline, we successfully found the great unconformity along the Appalachian Trail in the woods near Pittsfield, MA. Although the Potsdam sandstone sitting on Grenville aged gneisses is a familiar sight in New York, it was a treat to see it deformed into a stretched pebble conglomerate sitting on vertically...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

This year was one mostly of teaching and writing for me, without too much excitement. I went to the NEGSA meeting in Lancaster, PA, with my student Kirk Seaman. Kirk presented a poster on his work on gneissic rocks in west-central Norway, that correlate in age and lithology, but not location, with the Taconic arc in western New England. That’s the arc, mind you, not the Taconic mountains which are made of the Taconian accretionary wedge. The arc is about 90 km farther east. The poster was large, colorful, contained a lot of data, and drew a lot of interested people. The conclusions are still...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I had my first ever sabbatical this past year, but it was anything but restful. I taught my Biogeochemistry course in the Fall term and took the class of 18 students to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas for field research. Students paired up into groups of two and investigated nine different biogeochemistry projects on the island. This is always a lot of fun and students walk away with valuable field experience. With my teaching load being light this past year, I focused more on the isotope ratio mass spec (IRMS) and my research. We have now run thousands of samples through the lab...

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John Garver

John Garver

This has been another productive year of teaching, research, and community service. I have continued to work on issues in the Mohawk Watershed and we hosted the Sixth Annual Mohawk Watershed Symposium at College Park Hall in March. Plans are coming together for a basin-wide watershed management plan, and work continues to build resilient flood-smart communities. My primary research effort continues with Cam Davidson at Carleton College toward deciphering tectonics of the southern Alaskan margin. Lab studies are also directed to better understanding the systematics of zircon as a...

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Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

Last year was another great year at Union. I taught Introduction to Oceanography and Earth and Life Through Time. I took over these courses from David Gillikin, who was on sabbatical. I truly enjoyed teaching both of these courses, but slightly favor Earth and Life Through Time because the many fieldtrips allow us to visit some of the geological gems New York has to offer. I also really enjoyed participating in another trip to the Island of San Salvador, Bahamas, with the biogeochemistry class. The trip is a wonderful opportunity for students to get experience with the difficulty of doing...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

This past year in my post-tenure sabbatical, I’ve been working on several research projects in Dominica. Dominica has the most volcanic hazard potential of any island in the Caribbean, with nine potentially active volcanic centers that are Pleistocene or younger in age and voluminous explosive deposits. The young volcanism, shallow seismicity, and fumerolic activity in Dominica suggest an active magma reservoir and potential for future eruptions. In order to better understand the magma plumbing system beneath Dominica and where magma is more prone to erupt, we have been examining the...

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2014 Chair’s Note by Don Rodbell

2014 Chair’s Note by Don Rodbell

Greetings from the Geology Department! It has been another eventful year since our last newsletter. In the pages that follow, you’ll read the details of a year of active scholarship on the part of faculty and students, field excursions both near and far, and active and generous alumni. This past June, we celebrated the graduation of 17 senior geology majors, a record for the department. As of this writing, we count 37 Geology majors, who include 6 declared first-year students. Both of these numbers are records for the Department and both will surely increase as they do over the course of...

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Sarah Brehm’s Summer Research Summary 2014

Sarah Brehm’s Summer Research Summary 2014

This summer I continued research on the Pleistocene ignimbrite deposits in Layou and Roseau as well as various other volcanic deposits throughout the island of Dominica. During the 2012-13 school year we traveled to Dominica and collected pumice samples from the Layou and Roseau river valleys. Previous work had hypothesized that the deposits may have come from the same volcanic center in Micotrin. My summer research and senior thesis are focused on using geochemical analysis of trace elements, whole rock chemistry, and phenocryst composition as well as U/Th dating of zircon to determine the...

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Kaitlyn Suarez’s Summer Research

Kaitlyn Suarez’s Summer Research

This summer, I spent three weeks in Alaska on the Keck Geology Consortium internship. The group consisted of six students from around the country led by Professor John Garver and Professor Cam Davidson. It was the experience of a lifetime! We were stationed out of Seward and Cordova, Alaska in the Prince William Sound where we used zodiac boats to conduct fieldwork in isolated locations. A typical day included loading the boats, driving to the targeted location, collecting samples, and writing observations about the rocks. We were always kept company by the bald eagles, whales, bears,...

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Action at the Arc: A departmental trip to the Lesser Antilles

Action at the Arc: A departmental trip to the Lesser Antilles

During Union’s winter term break, fifteen geology majors traveled the to the Caribbean for a 10 day field trip to Barbados and Dominica, accompanied by Profs. Holli Frey, John Garver, and Matt Manon. The trip afforded the students an opportunity to study different aspects of a subduction zone, from the forearc sediments in the accretionary wedge in Barbados to the explosive volcanic deposits blanketing Dominica. Barbados is dominated by a Pleistocene coral reef limestone cap, but Tertiary sedimentary rocks of marine origin are exposed in the northeastern part of the island. Known as the...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

My research activities this year involved our continuing project to document Holocene climatic change as recorded in glacial deposits and lake sediments in the Andes of Peru. This project is a collaborative effort, funded by the NSF, with colleagues from the University of New Hampshire. This year we returned to the Huaguruncho Massif in east-central Peru. Two Union students, Grace Delgado ’14 and Dane O’Neil ’14, joined me and Joe Licciardi and his team from UNH for 3 weeks of field work. The Huaguruncho Massif is important to our work because it is a presently glaciated region in the upper...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

Our second daughter, Zoe was born in early March, and she has kept us quite busy, mostly by being incredibly cute. Another obvious highlight of this year was the winter trip to Barbados and Dominica. It is always a treat to get students into the field, looking at a subduction zone up close. It’s a gift to take them to see the two types of rocks I’m most interested in, deformed accretionary sediments and arc volcanics! We had a great group of very motivated and interesting students, which makes any trip more exciting. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time assisting students on many different...

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Gregg Brenn’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship Summary

Gregg Brenn’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship Summary

I participated in a Keck Geology Consortium project to the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, where I was characterizing the aftershock seismicity above the rupture zone of the September 5, 2012 Mw= 7.6 Nicoya Earthquake.  The Keck group consisted of a geophysics team and a geomorphology team, and I was part of the the 4-student geophysics team, along with Costa Rican seismologist Dr. Marino Protti, in which we deployed a local, 5-station seismic array and GPS network.  Our goal was to monitor for earthquakes, and with the data collected, we will locate the epicenters and depths to understand...

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Meghan Riehl’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship

Meghan Riehl’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship

Thermal evolution and provenance of the Sitka Graywacke from Baranof Island, Alaska revealed through detrital zircon fission track dating For about four weeks in June and July of this year, I had the opportunity to participate in the KECK project led by Prof. John Garver (Union College) and Prof. Cam Davidson (Carleton College) in Alaska. Myself and five other geology students from around the United States are currently working on our thesis work based on the samples collected in Alaska. My samples are of the Sitka Graywacke and were collected along approximately north-south and east-west...

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Jordan Thomson’s Summer Research

Jordan Thomson’s  Summer Research

Over the summer I began work on my senior thesis, which is looking at the isotopic signatures of carbon and oxygen in hurricane and non-hurricane years in Loblolly Pine form North Carolina. Therefore, I set up and tested an α-cellulose extraction method on some Loblolly pine. This process is essential to my thesis as it isolates the cellulose from each sample, which closely correlates with climate. I was able to run my trial cellulose samples through the mass spectrometer, and learn how to trouble shoot some issues that can arise. The last week of my summer research I went to North Carolina...

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Kyle McQuiggan’s Summer Research

Kyle McQuiggan’s Summer Research

This past summer I was granted an eight-week research grant through Union College to examine the elemental and isotopic ratio changes in a Belgian Speleothem.  My work on my speleothem has evolved into my senior thesis and is part of a much larger project to generate a paleoclimte proxy using chemistry changes in speleothems. Through the grant, I was able to travel to Belgium and work closely with Sophie Verheyden, head Cave Geologist at the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, Belgium.  While in Brussels I collected drip water and recent calcite from the cave that my speleothem...

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Grace Delgado’s Summer Research Summary

Grace Delgado’s Summer Research Summary

My summer started in the Andes of Peru, where I completed my second round of glacial geology research. Unlike last summer, when our sites were spread out forcing us to travel by foot around the Sarcsorayac complex, and the outskirts of the Sacred Valley (where the famous Inca Trail leads to the Macchu Picchu ruins), this year we got to focus our work on one site, at the Huagaruncho Massif in central Peru, which we informally called the star mountain due to its shape. Our team of six people consisted of two advisors, two Union students, and two graduate students from the University of New...

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Kate Kaminski’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship

Kate Kaminski’s Summer 2013 Keck Fellowship

Detrital Zircon Fission Track Analysis of the Baranof Schist of Whale Bay, Alaska The Baranof Schist in southeastern Alaska is the metamorphosed region of the Sitka Graywacke of the Chugach-Prince William terrane. Samples of the Baranof Schist were collected from a transect of exposed rocks in Whale Bay on Baranof Island, Alaska. Previous detrital zircon fission track analyses have dated other samples from Baranof Island, with average ages of sedimentary rocks ranging from 72-105 m.y. (Haeussler et al., 2004). Adjacent to the exposed units of the Chugach-Prince William terrane is the...

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Barrett Flynn’s Summer Research

Barrett Flynn’s Summer Research

Over the summer I traveled to Colton, NY in order to obtain a core from Fox Fen, which was retrieved with a square rod piston corer. The core retrieved was approximately 20m, and was analyzed for magnetic susceptibility, bulk density, and moisture content. Currently, I am using the charcoal data from Fox Fen to analyze how climate influences charcoal deposition. 

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Dane O’Neil’s Summer Research Summary

Dane O’Neil’s Summer Research Summary

This past summer, I entered an 8-week fellowship program through Union, and during this time was fortunate enough to embark on a 3-week field season to the Huaguruncho Massif in the Peruvian Andes. The field team consisted of me and two others from Union, Professor Don Rodbell and fellow senior classmate Grace Delgado, along with three from the University of New Hampshire, two graduate students and Professor Joe Licciardi. The aim of our collective project is to analyze Quaternary climate change through cosmogenic radionuclide dating as well as through lake core extraction. Currently I am...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

In the past year I taught Physical Geology, Geochemistry, and Petrology.  Two petrology weekend field trips went fine, but the third, to Mt. Monadnock in NH, was canceled because of severe weather (including snow, in late May!).  I gave two NEGSA talks in March, and attended one field trip at the meeting.  The meeting took place at the Mt. Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods.  It was a spectacular place, and it was amazing to me that the outcrops were actually visible and not buried under snow. We’ve had a good series of Dinner and Disaster Movie gatherings this past year.  In the spring the...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

This has been an excellent year for me at Union. The new NSF-funded isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) was installed in February and has been running well ever since. The new lab space is beautiful and practical. Since installation, we have run hundreds of carbonate samples from bivalve shells and cave deposits for C and O isotope determination, as well as tree-ring cellulose for C and O isotopes. Lake cores and fossil bones are next. The instruments are being heavily used for five senior theses this year! The lab is just starting to accept samples from other users and should be a very...

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John Garver

John Garver

This has been a productive year of teaching, research, and community service.  I have continued to work on issues in the Mohawk Watershed in the aftermath of Irene and Lee and then Sandy.  While Sandy did comparatively little damage in Upstate NY, the onslaught of these extreme events has focused political attention to damage and restoration in the watershed.  I continue to direct much of my research effort toward Alaskan tectonics and the systematics of zircon as a geochronometer.  We had a safe and productive NSF/Keck field project on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska.  This last summer...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

This fall, I begin my seventh year at Union on sabbatical following my tenure and promotion to associate professor last winter.  The last year has been filled with lots of exciting happenings on both the research front, with the start of a new research program in the Caribbean, as well as the personal front, with the birth of our second daughter in March. Last year, I taught the intro Environmental Geology course, along with Volcanology, and the senior capstone seminar, so I interacted with students at all levels of their undergraduate career. In the introductory courses, it’s always...

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Chair’s Note

Chair’s Note

Greetings from the Geology Department! We hope this newsletter finds you all well. As I write this on a warm fall afternoon with autumn colors ablaze, I review my calendar of all the notable events that transpired in the Geology Department over the past year. I’ll note a few in the lines below, and in the pages that follow, you’ll read about the significant scholarly accomplishments of our students and faculty, field research trips to far away places, and news of our alumni who set examples for all of us through their accomplishments and generosity. This past June, we celebrated the...

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