Newsletter Fall 2015

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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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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