Fall 2013

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

This year has been an exciting and very stimulating year for me at Union College. Last winter the isotope ratio mass spectrometer funded by Gillikin and Rodbell’s NSF grant was delivered and installed. As a lab manager I oversaw the installation and went through a steep learning curve on how to use the instrumentation. The mass spec analyzes gasses such as CO2, CO, H2, N2 for their isotopic composition. In order to transform solid samples into a gas, we have several peripherals. The elemental analyzer (EA) combusts organic samples and separates the resulting gases using gas chromatography....

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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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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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