Newsletters

Rupert Aranda’s Summer Experience

Rupert Aranda’s Summer Experience

    This past summer I spent over a month in Mexico studying Spanish and learning about the archaeology and history of Mexico and Central America. I took part in an intensive Spanish immersion program where I was able to meet many locals and learn about Mexico’s rich history. I spent time visiting some ruins of Mexico including Teotihuacán, Uxmal, and Mayapan. Earlier in the year, I also visited Guatemala, where I stayed with a host family at the base of Volcán San Pedro on Lake Atitlan. There, I worked on a lake conservation project that involved traveling to the many...

Read More

Ben Lucas’ Summer Research

Ben Lucas’ Summer Research

This summer, I went to Massachusetts for three field days with Prof. Kurt Hollocher to sample the Prescott Complex, a crosscutting pluton comprised of bimodal metamorphosed igneous rocks. The complex apparently cuts several Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian units in the Hodge Brook recumbent syncline, all of which underwent medium-pressure metamorphism during the Devonian Acadian orogeny. The purpose of this study is to try to determine magmatic provenance of the Prescott Complex, and resolve a potential age-dating conflict: the felsic part of the pluton, dated at 442 Ma, apparently...

Read More

Michael Kaye’s Summer Research

Michael Kaye’s Summer Research

This summer I was awarded the opportunity to conduct important biogeochemical field work for my senior thesis on the Lake Junin watershed located between the Eastern and Western Cordilleras in the Peruvian Andes.  The watershed occupies approximately 900 km2 of land and sits at about 4100 meters above sea level (Flusche et al., 2005).  I worked alongside my advisor, Professor David Gillikin and Professor Don Rodbell of the Union College geology department and fellow classmate and friend James Molloy.  This location was chosen because of Professor Rodbell’s experience leading teams of...

Read More

Julie Sophis Summer Research

Julie Sophis Summer Research

My senior thesis will focus on the provenance and thermal history of clastic rocks in the mélange unit of the Yakutat Group in Alaska through detrital zircon of clastic sediments. I spent the beginning portion of the summer in Yakutat Bay of southerneastern Alaska with three students headed by professors John Garver of Union, Cameron Davidson of Carleton College, and Eva Enkelmann of University of Cincinnati.  The fieldwork experience  was incredible and led to my desire to attend graduate school to continue studying geology.  Our field camp in the Alaskan bush lasted ten days and every day...

Read More

Nolan Lescalleet’s Summer Keck Fellowship

Nolan Lescalleet’s Summer Keck Fellowship

I spent the majority of my summer conducting field work for my thesis in Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew is an inlet opening up into the Pacific Ocean along the western coast of Vancouver Island. It is a small fishing town that used to be a 1st nation reservation, which has since been greatly reduced in size. I’m researching the kinematics and movement of the San Juan fault – a greatly under-researched major fault on Vancouver Island, striking sub-east-west. Research included lots of mapping, driving, and hiking to find different outcrops and take samples and slickenline...

Read More

Alex Dolcimascolo

Alex Dolcimascolo

This summer I traveled to Yakutat, AK to research Cordilleran tectonic processes on the western margin of the United States. The Yakutat microplate currently has two basement rock units: 1) Eocene basalts; and 2) Cretaceous flysch and mélange. It is currently hypothesized that this terrane may be due to a collision and juxtaposition of the two basement units.  The Yakutat Bay and Russell Fjord area geology is very complex and consists of three distinctive fault-bounded blocks. The field team, which consisted of Professor John Garver from Union College, Professor Cameron Davidson from...

Read More

Carli Aragosa

Carli Aragosa

I am a senior Geology major with a French minor. I started off my summer by traveling to Dominica for two weeks in with Professors Frey and Manon, Dan Meandro, Katherine Swager and our research team of 9 underclassmen geology majors.  We were able to collect almost 90 meteoric and hydrothermal water samples and explore hydrothermal areas on the island such as Sulfur Springs, Cold Soufriere, Wotton Wavon, Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake. Once the field work was complete, I spent a week analyzing the water samples in the Geochemistry Lab at Union College. Once my samples were processed,...

Read More

James Molloy’s Summer Research

James Molloy’s Summer Research

  This summer I kept my boots dirty over five weeks of fieldwork between three projects. Right after the school year ended, I traveled to the Junín Provence of Peru with Professors Donald Rodbell and David Gillikin, and fellow student Michael Kaye. In Peru, we conducted fieldwork for my thesis project, The Heavy Metal Soil Contamination of the Lake Junín Basin from Mine Tailings Dust, and Mike’s project,Biogeochemistry of High Andes Streams. Fieldwork included: setting dust traps and rainwater collectors, collecting soil samples, coordinating with volunteer citizen samplers, and...

Read More

Alison Horst’s Summer Keck Fellowship

Alison Horst’s Summer Keck Fellowship

This summer I participated in a Keck Geology Research Project focused on the tectonic evolution of the Salinian Block in central California. The fieldwork component was spent camping in Big Sur, where we collected rock samples and became familiar with the Santa Lucia Mountain ranges. The second portion of the project was spent in St. Paul, Minnesota at Macalester College doing lab work preparing the samples to be analyzed. My project focuses on the schist of the Sierra de Salinas and in particular dating and radiation damage in zircons from the schist. To get the zircon grains to where they...

Read More

Chair’s Note

Chair’s Note

Greetings from the Geology Department! As you’ll read in the following pages, it has been an eventful and productive year for the Department and for our students. In fact, this past year was anything but routine. Nevertheless, if there’s any merit to the adage all’s well that ends well, we’ve had a very good year indeed! On June 14, we graduated 15 majors, just short of the previous year’s all time record of 17. Of the graduating seniors, about one third enrolled directly into graduate programs, which include some of the top national programs in chosen subfields. As of this writing, we have...

Read More

Holli Frey

Holli Frey

This past year was busy on the research front with multiple trips to Dominica and two geochronology labs. In May, 2015 I attended a workshop and eruption simulation exercise in Dominica sponsored by VUELCO (Volcanic unrest in Europe and Latin America: Phenomenology, eruption precursors, hazard forecast, and risk mitigation), a consortium of European and Latin American scientists seeking a better understanding of the processes behind volcanic unrest and the ability to forecast outcomes. In 2011, VUELCO named Morne aux Diables (MAD), the northernmost volcanic center in Dominica, one of its six...

Read More

John Garver

John Garver

It has been another exciting and productive year of teaching, research, and community service. I have continued to work on issues in the Mohawk Watershed and we hosted the 7th annual Mohawk Watershed Symposium at College Park Hall in March. My research efforts have branched in two directions. One is aimed at understanding Alaskan tectonics and the other is aimed at understanding environmental radioactivity and geologic processes that affect uranium. Our Alaska work continues and we concluded the 2014-15 NSF/Keck field project with six students in eastern Prince William Sound in southern...

Read More

David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I am very pleased to have started my first year as an Associate Professor this September. Last year I passed my tenure review – a major milestone in any academic’s career. Working in such a great department with supportive faculty and amazing facilities certainly made this an easier process! Last year I taught my Stable Isotope course in the Fall. Students can now use the new NSF funded Stable Isotope Lab to conduct mini-independent research projects. Projects ranged from pollution in the Hans Groot Kill to studies on food and drink. Students showed that carbon in beef from local...

Read More

Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

For me, this was another year without too much excitement, except excitement our Olin building provided for us (more below). I spent a good part of the year writing, and got one manuscript on Norway out to coauthors. That paper is on Ordovician arc plutonic rocks in coastal Norway. They are a bit metamorphosed, but at first glance are typical of arc plutons, ranging in composition from ultramafic rocks to granites. One of the surprises during research was that these rocks are about 50% adakites, a sort of igneous rock only classified in the 1990’s. Adakites, named after Adak Island in the...

Read More

Matt Manon

Matt Manon

Greetings alumni and friends, Another year has sped by and once again here in Schenectady the leaves are getting ready to drop. Life as always is busy but rewarding, and our family is starting to grow up. Natalie will turn five at the end of December and Zoe will be three in March. Holli and I really ramped up our research efforts in Dominica this year, with three excellent research students, Sarah Brehm, Emily Crampe and Tara Metzger. We pursued two new exciting areas of research, focusing on zircon dating/characterization, apatite fingerprinting and also trace elements and isotopes of...

Read More

Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

This past summer was the culmination of nearly 20 years of project development work, with the simple goal to core to bedrock the sediment in the bottom of one of the oldest lakes in South America. Lake Junin is located at about 4100 m above sea level in an intermontane basin between the eastern and western cordillera of Peru. My first work on Lake Junín was in 1996, when Jeremy Newman ’97 and I joined two colleagues to core the lake by hand. We did not have suitable equipment to core the middle of the lake, so we paddled out to the edge of a floating reed island near the lake’s western shore...

Read More

Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin

I am very pleased to start this year as a Lecturer! My time will continue to be split between teaching and managing the stable isotope laboratory. Last year I taught two sections of ENS 100 – Introduction to Environmental Studies. This class focuses on today’s big environmental problems, their causes, and possible solutions, as well as the policies involved. We typically visit the Albany landfill and the water and waste water treatment plants in Niskayuna and discuss engineering solutions to environmental problems. We also visit the Pine Bush preserve and discuss how the geologic history...

Read More

George Shaw

George Shaw

George is enjoying his retirement. He completed the 365 mile Erie canal bike trail this past September but before he headed off to Buffalo he finished his recent book Earth’s Early Atmosphere and Oceans, and The Origin of Life. Here’s what Amazon says about the book “a comprehensive treatment of the chemical nature of the Earth’s early surface environment and how that led to the origin of life. This includes a detailed discussion of the likely process by which life emerged using as much quantitative information as possible. The emergence of life and the prior surface conditions of the Earth...

Read More

Colby Howland’s Summer Keck Fellowship

Colby Howland’s Summer Keck Fellowship

This summer I went to northeastern Nevada for the Keck Exhumation and Tectonic significance of the Wood Hill-East Humbolt Range Metamorphic Core Complex project. We collected samples in the Wood hill, East Humbolt range and Pequop Mountains in order to better understand the kinematic and thermal evolution of the middle and lower crustal levels rocks exposed during exhumation. My project focuses on the placing thermal gradient constraints on metamorphic rocks from the Pequop Mountains using RSCM thermometry and calcite-dolomite thermometry.

Read More

Karyn DeFranco’s Summer Research

Karyn DeFranco’s Summer Research

My name is Karyn DeFranco and I am a senior Geology major. Over the summer I spent approximately two weeks in Dominica with Professor Frey and two other Union students, collecting 83 meteoric and hydrothermal water samples. Upon returning to the US, I spent four weeks analyzing the water samples in the Geochemistry Lab at Union College. Once my samples were analyzed, I began an internship at the USGS in Troy, NY working with the Watershed Program. The Watershed Program aims to collect information on fish abundance, species, habitat and water samples in streams and rivers in the Adirondacks....

Read More

Caitlin McManimon’s Summer Keck Fellowship

Caitlin McManimon’s Summer Keck Fellowship

This summer I was at the University of Connecticut for the Keck New England Holocene project, where we looked at sediments and land forms to understand the regional history of floods, climate change, and human impact. We took sediment cores from wetlands in eastern and western Connecticut in areas that were previously subjected to multiple types of intense land use change during the 17th – early 20th century. My project focuses on carbon and nitrogen isotopes in organic matter within the sediment cores, and what the isotopic signatures indicate about the history of the New England...

Read More

Elise Farrington’s Summer Experience

Elise Farrington’s Summer Experience

This summer, I worked at the Cumberland Gulf Group as their Environmental & Regulatory Affairs Intern. In the Environmental Department of the company, I learned about the measures they took to prevent gasoline releases into nature, and the methods they used to remediate petroleum spills when they did occur. Through this experience I met geologists working in the environmental consulting industry at companies like Kleinfelder, Groundwater & Environmental Services, and AECOM. In the field, I had the opportunity to participate in bedrock drilling and coring, groundwater sampling, and...

Read More

Sarah Kittross’ Summer Research

Sarah Kittross’ Summer Research

This summer I was fortunate enough to experience and explore two very different aspects of geology. My summer began with a two week research trip to Dominica with Professor Holli Frey, Karyn Defranco (’16) and Rebecca Babiak (’16) to collect samples for my thesis. We collected rock samples from the northernmost part of the island, near the lava dome Morne aux Diables, which is the location of the oldest deposits on the island. My thesis will consist of analyzing the geochronology U-Pb dates of the mineral Zircon from rocks of ~4 locations in order to interpret their possible...

Read More

Olivia Thurston’s Summer Research

Olivia Thurston’s Summer Research

Research: Radioactivity of the Lucerne Pluton, Maine: evidence for post‐intrusive uranium redistribution This summer I traveled to Steuben, ME to study uranium distribution in the radioactive Lucerne granite in Maine, which has elevated radon and uranium, and thus poses a health threat to local residents. The objective of my summer research was to make measurements and gather rock samples from the Lucerne Granite in Maine to process and compare to previous work (Worthington, 2015) in regards to the source of high Radon gas levels in the homes and business located on the Lucerne pluton and...

Read More

Rebecca Babiak’s Summer Research

Rebecca Babiak’s Summer Research

This summer I traveled to Dominica to continue researching the young (>100 ka) ignimbrite deposits found throughout this volcanically active island. Our research team (Prof. Holli Frey, Sarah Kittross, Karyn DeFranco, and I) spent ten days out in the field collecting over 430 pounds of rock and water samples from over eighty of the island’s streams and hydrothermal areas. My research will be focusing on geochemical analysis of trace elements of the ignimbrite deposits and U/Th disequilibrium dating of zircon crystals in order to reconstruct the eruptive history of Dominica. This data may...

Read More

Brandt Scott’s Summer Experience

Brandt Scott’s Summer Experience

This summer, I was fortunate enough to obtain an internship conducting geology research for RESESS, UNACO in Boulder, Colorado. I worked very closely with Professors Becky Flowers and James Metcalf at CU Boulder, contributing towards their efforts at better understanding the dynamics of U-Th/He dating apatites. My project specifically focused on the effect that varying apatite chemistries had on helium retention using U-Th/He dating. As a result of my project, I obtained a myriad of geologic research skills including: grain selection and mounting, laser ablation-ICPMS and electron...

Read More

Ceramics / Geology Project by Emily Crampe

Ceramics / Geology Project by Emily Crampe

As a geologist with interests in the visual arts, I wanted to see how these two disciplines could intersect. Throughout my time at Union I enrolled in three ceramics practicums and learned some basic glaze chemistry. In the courses we made our own glazes but the ingredients were powders purchased directly from a supplier. The components of glazes are derived from natural sources (rocks, minerals, and sediments); therefore, I decided to investigate how mineralogy influences glazes and create an independent project to produce my own glazes. All glazes have four basic components: silica,...

Read More

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...

Read More

Nick Weidhaas’ Summer Keck Fellowship

Nick Weidhaas’ Summer Keck Fellowship

This summer I had the great opportunity to spend three weeks in the Peruvian Andes as part of a Keck Geology Consortium fellowship. While there, we collected water and surface sediment samples and took direct measurements of water chemistry from glacially-fed lakes in two valleys of the Cordillera Blanca. Our field research team consisted of myself, Prof. Rodbell and Gillikin, Prof. Stansell from Northern Illinois University, Prof. Licciardi from UNH, and three students. The goal of my research is to understand the biogeochemistry and sediment transport through the paternoster lakes of...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More
Skip to toolbar