Newsletter Fall 2018

2018 Union College Geology Department Newsletter

2018 Union College Geology Department Newsletter

In June, we graduated twelve seniors – Hannah Barnes, Alec Been, Joshua Dunn, Andres Gallego, Jor-dan Herbert, Sarah Hickernell, Tshering Lama-Sherpa, Abadie Ludlam, Brendan McClure, Aaron Reif, Isabelle Rhodes, and Maria Van Nostrand. Many of the students presented their senior research at NE GSA in Burlington, VT in March, and two also presented at AGU in New Orleans. Jordy, Sarah, Abadie, Tshering and Maria were all awarded departmental honors after their successful public presentation and faculty question session. Sarah’s research also received recognition from the College, as she was...

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2018 Chair’s Note

2018 Chair’s Note

The leaves are turning and we’ve turned on the heat, so that means it’s time for the annual newsletter, with the fall Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Meetings just around the corner in November (Indianapolis) and December (Washington D.C.), respectively. The department continues to be vibrant and active, with students engaged in research projects with fieldwork around the globe and utilizing world-class instrumentation here at Union to analyze their samples. Our Geology Club was particularly active this year, spearheading our fall picnic at Prof. Rodbell’s house, the...

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Holli Frey

Holli Frey

This has been a busy year, with more than a dozen presentations at AGU in New Orleans in December from our Dominica Keck project, a few manuscripts published, and the start of a new research project in the cen-tral Oregon Cascades. The most exciting development is that our work on the young zircons in Dominica was published in the October 2018 issue of Geology. Our Geology paper used zircon U-Th age data collect-ed by Sarah Brehm ’15 and Rebecca Babiak ’16 (both co-authors) and population distribution modelling done by my colleague Matt Manon to define periods of enhanced crystallization in...

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John Garver

John Garver

My year was dominated by a sabbatical, which allowed me to catch up on a number of ongoing research projects. Most of my time was spent writing, but I did manage to start in on some new work, which involves U/Pb dating of multiple domains in zircon. We started this at Arizona where we were double-dating zircons with different rim and core dates, and then we extended this work using laser depth profiling at Calgary. This fascinating technique involves using a laser beam that is less than the width of a human hair to drill down into a zircon. As the laser gets deeper, the changes in isotopic...

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Matt Manon

Matt Manon

It has been another exciting, productive year here at Union. As ever, I am energized by the passion and hard work of our Union geology students. It was a great pleasure to work with Andres Gallego this year on his senior thesis, making a long-awaited return to studying slightly metamorphosed sediments from Greece that just happen to be blueschists. After many late nights probing chlorites and chloritoids and phengites (oh my) on the SEM in the lab downstairs, Andres did us all proud by giving a killer talk at NEGSA in March. It has been a year for do-ing more local fieldwork, as this summer...

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David Gillikin

David Gillikin

I had a really fun year at Union. Last fall, I taught Biogeochemistry and with Professor Verheyden took 14 students to a remote island in Panama for the 10-day field component of the course. We studied carbon cycling in mangroves, coral reefs, karst streams, and swamp forests. We found that high CO2 in mangrove sediments does not lead to acidification of waters over the adjacent corals because sulfate reduction leads to high alkalinity buffering the system. Students did an awesome job and they presented the research at the NE GSA meeting last spring! I also taught Introduction to...

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Kurt Hollocher

Kurt Hollocher

For the first part of the year I was busy pre-paring the lab for our new ICP-MS instrument, getting it installed, and trying to learn how the crazy thing works. The hardware is pretty straight forward, but the software and ideas behind the software are complicated. The software help system turned out to be pretty thin, but we’re making progress. The new instrument operates in several different modes, which give us a huge range of options for analyzing things that we couldn’t with our old instrument, at least not at low concentrations in complicated things like rocks and natural...

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Mason Stahl

Mason Stahl

This past year has been an exciting and en-joyable one on the teaching and research fronts. In March, I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam where I am studying high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater. On this same trip, two of my colleagues and I began some preliminary work looking at the ages and sources of carbon exported by the Red River. This work entailed following the course of the river from the coast of Vietnam all the way up to the Chinese border, collecting water samples along the way. It was great to travel to parts of the country that I had never visited before and...

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Jacquie Smith

Jacquie Smith

My current research focus is the extent of microplastic pollution in tributaries of the Mohawk River. In June-July, my undergrad-uate research students, Emily Caruso ’21 and Nick Wright ‘21, and I sampled 22 tributaries and the upper Mohawk River (in Rome). The first photo shows Nick and me with the sample collected in the Plotter Kill in Rotterdam. All of the streams were sampled during relatively low-flow conditions; the Hans Groot Kill on the Union College campus was also sampled at high flow. The second photo shows Nick and Emily holding the sampling net in the Hans Groot Kill during a...

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Don Rodbell

Don Rodbell

This past year saw my field research return to southern Ecuador—to Cajas National Park to better understand the role of the El Nino Southern Oscillation on sedimentation in the region’s lakes. Cajas National Park has one of the highest densities of lakes in the world, it spans both the eastern and western sides of the Continental Divide, and it is less than 150 km east of the Bay of Guayaquil, which experiences pronounced changes in sea surface temperature during El Niños. During the summer of 1995, then students Adam Goodman ’96 and Jeff Nebolini ’96, joined me to study the glacial geology...

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Anouk Verheyden

Anouk Verheyden

Another great year has passed at Union. Last year I taught ENS 100 with two lab sections. I love teaching about the environment. But most of all, I love bringing students in the field to let them have firsthand experiences with the engineering techniques of landfills and water- and waste water treatment plants, as well as applying EPA methods to assess the conditions of streams, or observing how to protect endangered species in the Pine Bush. I also taught Paleontology (GEO 208) with one lab section and managed to incorporate a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, which was...

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George Shaw

Prof. Shaw gave a series of six lectures at the Glen Eddy Senior Center in Colonie based on the content of his new book, Great Moments in the History of Life, currently in production at Springer. The book was inspired by the course of the same name he gave for several years before re-tiring. He also gave two lectures at the Union College Academy for Lifelong Learning (UCALL) at College Park Hall. The first was on the Origin of Life (also given to a group of amateur astronomers at the Octagon Barn in Knox, NY) and the second was based on topics covered in his recent book (with co-author Roger...

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GEO CLUB

GEO CLUB

This year has proven to become a success for the GeoClub. The newly elected leaders of the club, President Mollie Pope and Vice President Hayley Bennett, hold weekly meetings for both faculty and students where we discuss upcoming events in the department and exciting topics in geology. GeoClub has continued to host some of our traditional events, like Dinner and Disasters, our celebratory spring picnic, and Fall Picnic at Professor Don Rodbell’s house. This year we’ve also started participating in outreach events at local elementary schools and the MiSci museum, where we teach some of the...

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2018 Publications

Peer-reviewed Publications Davidson, C. and Garver, JI, (2017). Age and origin of the Resurrection Ophiolite and associated turbidites of the Chugach-Prince William terrane, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, Journal of Geology, v. 125. Frey, H.M. and Manon, M.R.F. (2018) The use of mixing models to constrain zircon crystallization histories: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 50, No. 6 Frey, H.M., Manon, M.R.F., Brehm, S.K., and Babiak, R.N. (2018) Episodic crystallization in young explosive eruptions in Dominica, Lesser Antilles, revealed by U-Th dating of zircons: Geology,...

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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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Heidi O’Hora’s Summer Research

Heidi O’Hora’s Summer Research

Heidi went to Coastal North Carolina for her field work for her senior thesis. During the academic year Heidi will be investigating the biogeochemistry of the region through water samples collected from a transect spanning from the local salt marshes to the...

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Jack Wassik’s Summer Research

Jack Wassik’s Summer Research

Jack is a senior from Torrington, CT. is working with Professor Mason Stahl in collecting water samples from rivers within the Mohawk and Hudson watersheds. Through this project they will study the system’s dissolved carbon content with regards to its origin, concentration , and interaction with the river system, such as microbial consumption. Their study will provide insights into river systems that will improve our understanding of how rivers impact the global carbon cycle and what happens when humans influence these rivers.

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Mollie Pope’s Summer Research

Mollie Pope’s Summer Research

Mollie Pope is a senior from Barbourville, Kentucky, and this summer she completed fieldwork in Alaska as part of the Keck Geology Consortium. Over the next year Mollie will be working along side Professor John Garver to study the provenance of the Orca Group conglomerates as part of her senior thesis.

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Hayley Bennett’s Summer Research

Hayley Bennett’s Summer Research

Hayley is doing research with Professor Gillikin in North Carolina. She will be looking at nitrogen isotopes in bivalves as indicators of nitrogen loading in coastal systems

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Will Fisher’s Summer Research

Will Fisher’s Summer Research

Will did his field work in Alaska as part of the Keck Geology Consortium. Will, will be examining the relationship between two terranes. 1) The Orca and Valdez Groups are different units that display different degrees of metamorphism that has been created by juxtaposition through strike slip faulting. 2) The Orca Group is the depositional continuum of the Valdez Group and the Contact fault simply a late structure that juxtaposes different metamorphic grades of...

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Annika Wells Summer Research

Annika Wells Summer Research

I am currently working on my senior thesis with Don Rodbell and we are using the samples from various lakes that we gathered in Ecuador this summer in order to understand and better predict the future of El Niño events. The data will be interpreted using coulometry, magnetic susceptibility and eventually looking at tephras on the...

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John Vu’s Summer Research

John Vu’s Summer Research

John worked with Professor Heather Wat-son and John Linarelli ’19 in the Physics department on a project titled “Lead Diffusion in Iron Sulfides: Implications for the Early Global Melting and Differentiation of Iron Meteorites”. Many iron meteorites actually have radiogenic lead in their sulfide phases to allow for absolute age dating using the Pb-Pb system. They ran experiments of lead diffusion across pyrrhotites (FeS) at high temperatures to model the early core formation involving iron meteorite parent bodies. Lead diffusion will be measured using Rutherford Backscattering...

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Rebecca Lippitt’s Summer Research

Rebecca Lippitt’s Summer Research

Rebecca Lippitt is a senior from Albany, New York! This summer Rebecca has been working as a watershed intern for the Albany Water Department, sampling the waters that provide the city of Albany with drinking water. Another part of this internship has been setting up a goatscaping project at Loudonville, where goat are consuming 10 invasive species along a reservoir. After the completion of her internship, Rebecca traveled to Oregon with Professor Holli Frey where she completed field work for her senior thesis on the South Sister Volcano. This work will continue over the next year as part of...

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Madi Corcoran’s Summer Research

Madi Corcoran’s Summer Research

Madi Corcoran is a senior from Orange, Massachusetts, and is a Geology and English Interdisciplinary Major. Madi is currently doing field work with Professor Holli Frey in Oregon! While in Oregon Madi collected samples from the South Sister Volcano that she will be studying for the next year as part of her senior thesis.

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Matt Cole’s Summer Research

Matt Cole’s Summer Research

This summer Matt worked with Professor Matt Manon on calibrating the departments new LA-ICPMS with known zircon ages from rocks in the Adirondacks. Matt spentthree days in the Adirondack Park collecting rocks samples and he is now processing them to isolate zircon grains for dating. Matt will be continuing this project over the next year as part of his senior...

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Max McGeown’s Summer Research

Max McGeown’s Summer Research

Max McGeown is a senior from Lexington Massachusetts, and this summer he’s been working with Professor Verheyden-Gillikin at Union. His project is called Temporal and Spatial variation in ion and trace mineral concentration in urban and natural streams in and around Schenectady. Max has been traveling to local Schenectady streams taking measurements with a YSI probe of pH, temperature, oxygen content, and salinity. The purpose of my research is to see the extent in which urban streams exhibit urban stream syndrome by comparing urban and rural streams. Max’s work will continue over the next...

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Video of GEO 305 – Biogeochemistry 2017 trip to Panama

Video of GEO 305 – Biogeochemistry 2017 trip to Panama

In December of 2017 Professors Gillikin and Verheyden-Gillikin took the Biogeochemistry class to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Watch the video to view what is involved in the field science of Biogeochemistry.

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