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Union College Geology Department Newsletter

Union College Geology Department Newsletter

In June, we graduated seventeen seniors – Carli Aragosa, Rupert Aranda, Carolyn Connors, Alex Dolcimascolo, Jake Faas, Liam Glennon, Alice Hayden, Alison Horst, Mike Kaye, Nolan Lescalleet, Ben Lucas, Dan Meandro, Iseinie Mendez, James Molloy, Claire Puleio, Julie Sophis, and Katherine Swager. Several students are enrolled in Masters geology programs this fall and others have found employment as environmental consultants. One student is an intern for the USGS in Troy and another is an intern for a regional bank. A few did not have definitive plans upon graduation, but we look forward to...

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2017 Chair’s Note

2017 Chair’s Note

Greetings from the Geology Department! My first year as department chair saw lots of exciting advances in our collective research endeavors and continued excellence in training our students in/out of the classroom for jobs and graduate school. This fall, we’d like to welcome two new faces to the department. Mason Stahl is an environmental engineer who has joined the faculty in the ESPE program, but he will also be supported by the Geology Department and teach courses in hydrology and environmental analysis. Mason comes to Union from environmental consulting after obtaining his PhD at MIT,...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

I’m teaching Environmental Geology (GEO-112) again this fall and I could almost teach the course from the daily headlines, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, multiple earthquakes in western Mexico, volcanic eruptions and evacuations in Papa New Guinea and Bali, and the repeal of EPA policies. The hurricanes have hit especially close to home, with many friends from graduate school affected by the flooding in Texas and the utter destruction of Dominica by Hurricane Maria. I’ve been doing research in Dominica with students since 2012 and we have come to know the island and its’...

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John Garver

John Garver

Research activity this year was primarily focused on understanding the tectonic evolution of Cretaceous and Paleocene strata in Alaska and California. Building on our field season in the Yakutat area, we were interested in dating rock units, and evaluating provenance of sandstones in the Upper Cretaceous Yakutat Group, which includes a mélange and turbidites. The Yakutat microplate is currently colliding with Alaska, but it has a suspect origin, and we think it correlates to rocks in southern California. This was a continuation of collaborative work with Cam Davidson at Carleton College, and...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I taught Earth and Life through Time in the Fall and had a productive sabbatical this past winter and spring terms. I spent much of my sabbatical wrapping up various projects and writing manuscripts. I also continued my research in coastal North Carolina, where I am setting up a long-term monitoring experiment using clamshells to understand how the coastal creeks and bays are changing. I also spent some time in the Peruvian Andes with Professor Don Rodbell and three students. We cored five lakes in the basins around Lake Junin (all above 14,000 feet) and Jordy Herbert ’18 is working on...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

This past year I had one student, Ben Lucas, who did a project and thesis with me in 2016 and into 2017. We collected samples from the Prescott igneous complex, which mostly resides in the Quabbin Reservoir Reservation in Central Massachusetts. He presented his work at the Northeastern GSA meeting in Pittsburgh. The results of his work started out boring, because the rock geochemistry looked so similar to all the other units around it. After some fretting, looking at age dates and some fossil control in some local stratified units, and reworking some previous structural ideas, the result is...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

Hello Union Alumni! It has been another busy, fulfilling year teaching and working in the geology department. An especial highlight of teaching this past year was leading the lab section for geochronology, which allowed the students to take a rock sample from the Tunk Lake pluton in Maine through the process of obtaining a radiometric age, taking part in every step along the way. This meant a lot of mineral separation (including liquid nitrogen), some careful zircon picking and lots of SEM characterization. It was once again a treat to work with students on many different thesis research...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

This past year was an eventful one for me, both personally and professionally. The Lake Junin (Peru) drill core project was the main focus of my research and the Core Lab has been a very busy place as we are charged with analyzing thousands of samples for organic and inorganic carbon, grain size, and biogenic silica. Union College is the first undergraduate institution to be the lead institution in a large lake drilling project sponsored by the International Continental Drilling Program. We have managed to handle all the finances and process the samples thanks to lots of help from the...

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Mason Stahl

Mason Stahl

I’ve just arrived at Union this fall as the James M. Kenney Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering. I’m so excited to be part of the Geology department and the Environmental Science, Policy, and Engineering program (ESPE). The past several months have been full of excitement and change, between moving to Schenectady to start my first faculty position and welcoming our beautiful baby daughter Norah to the world! Before coming here to Union I worked for two years in an environmental science and engineering firm in Cambridge, MA and prior to that I was in grad school at MIT where I...

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Anouk Verheyden

Anouk Verheyden

In my last newsletter text I wrote about my participation in the Mellon Presidential Project for Global Learning and the study tour to China. Over this past year I refreshed my ENS 100 course in order to apply what I learned during the China experience. Students read the book by Judith Shapiro: China’s Environmental Challenges. The book describes the horrible environmental damage that has and still is occurring in China as a result of their very rapid economic development. While the first chapters shock the readers with stories such as “16,000 dead pigs found in Chinese river threatening...

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Jacquie Smith

Jacquie Smith

I’m happy to have joined the Geology Department as a Research Professor in 2017 after many years of close association with the department. I did my undergraduate geology degree at the University of Maine (where I grew up), my MS at the University of Washington in Seattle, and my PhD at Syracuse University. I was a faculty member at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, until the geoscience and environmental science programs were eliminated in 2016. My research interests span Quaternary geology, geomorphology, paleoclimatology, and environmental geology and hydrogeology. I worked on...

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George Shaw

George Shaw

My co-author Roger J. Kuhns and I have just completed a book. The title of the book, which I hope will be out by the end of the year is,: The Energy Maze – a Sustainable Exit Strategy. It suggests several focused legislative proposals to achieve a sustainable energy system within fifty years. I will be attending the 2017 GSA meeting in Seattle, presenting a poster on “An Open-source Code for Numerical Simulation of Drainage Basin Development” with Howard Mooers of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and several computer science students (over the past 15 years or so) from Union,...

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Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Hi everyone, hope you’ve all been having a great 2017! I can’t believe I have already finished my first year with the Geology Department at Union! This past year has been really great so far, as I continue to work with faculty and students in the Core Lab and Stable Isotope Lab. This fall, we have continued to make progress on the Lake Junin Project in the Core Lab and hosted this year’s science team meeting at Union in September. In the Isotope Lab, I am working with Professor Gillikin on continued analysis of the Gage 1 speleothem from Schoharie County, NY.  I have also been working with a...

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Notes from the field: Keck Frontier Dominica

Notes from the field: Keck Frontier Dominica

From June 9th to July 7th, Professor Holli Frey (Union College) successfully lead the premier Keck Frontier project “Hazards in the Caribbean: The history of magma chambers, eruptions, landslides, streams, and fumeroles in Dominica,” along with co-leaders, Amanda Schmidt (Oberlin), Erouscilla “Pat” Joseph (University of the West Indies), Laura Waters (Sonoma State University) and sixteen undergraduates from 15 schools across the United States, including Abadie Ludlam ’18 and Sarah Hickernell ‘18. During a two-week period, based at the Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center on...

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2017 Peer reviewed publications

Peer-reviewed papers: Publications ( * = student): Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, JI (editors), 2017. Proceedings of the 2016 Mohawk Watershed       Symposium, Union College, Schenectady, NY, March 18, 2016, 75 pg. Cockburn, JMH, and Garver, JI, 2016, Building a coalition of concerned stakeholders to guide watershed decisions, GSA Today, 26 (3). Cockburn, JMH, Vetta, M, and Garver, J.I., 2016. Temporal and spatial variability in slope instability within a large, complex landslide, in northeastern USA, Physical Geography, 37(2), pp.153-168 Davidson, C. and Garver, JI, 2017, Age and origin of...

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Grants

$1,290,000 awarded 2015-2018 – Deep Drilling of Lake Junin, Peru: Continuous Tropical Records of Glaciation, Climate Change and Magnetic Field Variations Spanning the Late Quaternary.  Principal Investigator: D.T. Rodbell. Organization: National Science Foundation $149,000 awarded 2014–2018- Award Supplement: Collaborative Research: RUI: Deep Drilling of Lake Junin, Peru: Continuous Tropical Records of Glaciation, Climate Change and Magnetic Field Variations Spanning the Late Quaternary. Principal Investigator Donald Rodbell with co-Investigator David Gillikin and Senior...

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Union College Water Initiative by Alex Dolcimascolo

Union College Water Initiative by Alex Dolcimascolo

During the annual GSA meeting this year, I am presenting on our Geology Club’s project, The Union College Water Initiative (UCWI). This is a project that consists of testing for heavy metal contamination within drinking water. Our motivation for this project stemmed from our own curiosity of wondering what exactly is in our drinking water. Additionally, we saw this project as an excellent opportunity to give a service to our local community. Not only is this project beneficial from a health hazards perspective, but it also advocates for the importance of safe drinking water with an...

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Hannah Barnes ‘18

Hannah Barnes ‘18

This past summer I spent four weeks doing research on campus at Union with professor David Gillikin. My research centered around collecting samples from a Schoharie Valley speleothem for U/Th dating as well as both carbon and oxygen isotopes. I was able to collect about 326 carbonate samples from the growth line of the cave deposit and run them through the isotope lab, getting us a large and reliable data set. This data will be compiled and correlated to the ages we receive back from U/Th to develop a paleoclimate record from the area which we can also compare with other known proxies to...

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Alec Been ‘18

Alec Been ‘18

This summer I worked for a small tech firm in Boston, a phone company called CampusSIMs, which targeted international students. Since returning to Union I have been working on the “Dipstick Project,” tracking glacier retreat during the end of the last glacial maximum using samples collected from peaks in the Catskills. Further evidence of glaciation from lake deposits will also be used to recreate and understand the rate and timing of glacier retreat. This will then be connected to an economics thesis, topic undecided. 

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Abadie Ludlam ‘18

Abadie Ludlam ‘18

This summer, I participated in a Keck project, along with Sarah Hickernell, Professor Holli Frey, and other students from around the country. We spent two weeks on the beautiful island of Dominica, collecting rock and water samples. We stayed at the Springfield Guest House, outside of the capital city of Roseau, where we had an ocean view and home cooked meals each night. When we returned, we spent two more weeks at Union analyzing samples and preparing to submit our abstracts for the AGU fall meeting. For me, this meant long nights on the SEM and long days typing in data and making graphs....

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Sarah Hickernell ‘18

Sarah Hickernell ‘18

This summer I spent two weeks in Dominica, a small volcanic island in the Lesser Antilles, working on a Keck project with my advisor, Professor Holli Frey. My project involves the petrologic characterization of enclaves in Morne Micotrin, a lava dome near the island’s capital city of Roseau. I gathered my samples from a small quarry on the lava dome’s flank. Following two weeks of field work, we returned back to Union for two weeks to prepare our samples and begin gathering data. This involved cutting and photographing thin sections, performing SEM analyses, and making rock powders for trace...

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Jordan Herbert’s Summer Research

Jordan Herbert’s Summer Research

This past summer I travelled down to South America with my thesis advisor Dave Gillikin, Professor Don Rodbell, as well as students Tshering Lama Sherpa and James Molloy to conduct research in the Junín Provence of the Peruvian Andes. As a result of large scale mining operations and questionable waste disposal methods this region is of particular interest regarding the pollution’s effect on the environment and the health of the local populations. Our research consisted of traveling to five different lakes where we used a rubber boat to collect water samples at multiple depths in...

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Isabelle Rhodes ‘18

Isabelle Rhodes ‘18

I was fortunate to spend my summer outside, hiking and backpacking. For most of the summer I worked as a guide in the Adirondack Mountains. I spent 8 weeks leading children and young adults on backcountry treks focused on canoeing, backpacking, and rock climbing. On each trek I taught lessons on environment conservation, Leave No Trace ethics, risk management and navigation. When the kids were interested, I also shared information on local history, plant identification, and of course, geology. From spending time in the mountains and paddling the pristine lakes, to sharing my love of the...

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Andres Gallego

Andres Gallego

This summer I spent four weeks looking at Metamorphosed Phyllites from Peloponnesus, Greece. These rocks formed from the subduction of the African plate into the Eurasian plate. The rocks (already obtained) were analyzed as they contain blueschist facies assemblages – specifically the minerals, glaucophane, lawsonite, and carpholite, which form particularly in subduction zones. There have been several studies conducted in this area and will be used as references during the process. The rocks were made into thin sections and were analyzed under the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and...

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Brendan McClure ‘18

Brendan McClure ‘18

This summer I worked with Anouk Verheyden-Gillikin and collected water samples to investigate solute concentrations in urban and rural streams of the Mohawk watershed. My project focuses on determining the alkalinity and solute concentration of these streams, which in turn can indicate the presence of Urban Stream Syndrome. If that is the case, I would need to figure out how human interference is possibly impacting the environment of the streams. I will be comparing my findings with student who has also performed this study in the past to determine if conditions have worsened or improved...

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Tshering Lama Sherpa’s Summer Research

Tshering Lama Sherpa’s Summer Research

This past summer I had the opportunity to do research with Professor Don Rodbell for six weeks. The focus of my research was looking at the magnetic susceptibility (MS) of glacial sediments in the last glacial cycle as recorded in Lake Junin sediments. Lake Junin is one of the largest lakes entirely in Peru and has an excellent record of Andean paleoclimate for the last 250,000 years. I compared the MS with other parameters such as mean grain size,TOC content, Mn/Ti ratios to see if there was any variation that could help detect the provenance of the glacial sediments. A part of the research...

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Maria Van Nostrand’s Summer Research

Maria Van Nostrand’s Summer Research

I spent most of my summer working with Professor Hollocher on campus here at Union. We focused on studying the petrology of amphibolites and felsic gneisses from the Blåhø Nappe, part of the Middle Allochthon in the Scandinavian Caledonides in Norway. The Scandinavian Caledonides is an orogenic belt formed when Baltica collided with Laurentia during the late Silurian to early Devonian. The Blåhø Nappe is derived from an Early Paleozoic volcanic arc off the Baltican margin. The amphibolites from the Blåhø Nappe were once eclogites (high pressure and low temperature garnet-pyroxene rocks), but...

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Josh Dunn’s Summer Research

Josh Dunn’s Summer Research

This summer I researched the biogeochemistry of Lake Steinmetz in Schenectady, New York, because the Senior Constituent Representative & Schenectady Office Manager for Congressman Paul Tonko informed me that contamination in the lake is percolating into adjacent low-income areas. In the field, I took basic readings, like temperature, pH and salinity, and collected water, sediment, and algae samples. The samples will be tested this fall term for ions using the ion chromatograph, heavy metals using the IC-PMS, and alkalinity using the Metrohm 888 titrator. The analysis of the samples and...

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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...

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Katherine Swager’s Summer Research

Katherine Swager’s Summer Research

This summer I spent 2 weeks in Dominica, Lesser Antilles, working in the field with Professor Holli Frey. We collected hundreds of pounds of rocks, as well as water samples from meteoric and hydrothermal streams throughout the island. Back on campus, I processed my samples for their chemistry, and analyzed apatite grains on the Scanning Electron Microscope. Further research will see to understand the complex cathodoluminescence zoning in apatite crystals, and to determine their halogen content to infer eruptive and magmatic processes. For the second half of my summer I participated in a...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Dan Meandro

Dan Meandro

Over the 2016 summer I had the opportunity to travel to the small volcanic island of Dominica, located in the lesser Antilles island arc, with professors Holli Frey and Matt Manon, and fellow thesis students Carli Aragosa, and Katherine Swager. While on the island our research consisted of taking around 100 water samples from multiple locations (hydrothermal and meteoric), in order to determine the chemical and isotopic differences between samples from across the island. This project will build upon data collected from previous years in order to view island wide trends that can indicate if...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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