Newsletter Fall 2014

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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...

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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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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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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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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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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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