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’ inhabitants very well. When the hurricane made landfall a few weeks ago, it was a Category 5 storm that swept across the island, leaving behind roofless buildings, snapping trees, washing out bridges, and inducing landslides. No communities were left untouched and many are still cut off, struggling to get fresh water, food, and electricity. It will take many, many years for Dominica to recover from the brutal storm and I have encouraged former students to donate to CDEMA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Association, which is coordinating relief efforts in the region. We have been posting updates to the Union GeoClub Facebook page and the GeoClub is initiating a fundraiser to help the Archbold Tropical Research Center (our lodging site on island) in its recovery efforts.
Two months prior to the hurricane, I led a Frontier Keck Project in Dominica, comprised of 16 students, including Abadie Ludlam ’18 and Sarah Hickernell ’18. During our two weeks in the field, we devised many petrology, hydrothermal, and geomorphology senior thesis projects (see Keck Dominica in newsletter) and spent an intense two weeks at Union prepping samples and doing analyses on the SEM, ICP-MS, IC, and IRMS. We will be presenting 13 abstracts at the AGU meeting this fall in New Orleans and look forward to sharing our results. In the spring, Katherine Swager ’17, Carli Aragosa ‘17, and Daniel Meandro ’17, finished up their Dominica senior thesis projects on apatite texture and chemistry in ignimbrites, temporal and spatial variability in hydrothermal waters in the Valley of Desolation, and isotopic characterization of meteoric and hydrothermal streams, respectively. Katherine and Carli presented their results at NE GSA.
Over the last year, I have been synthesizing data from the various Dominica projects and currently have one manuscript in review and several others in preparation. I was invited to give talks on our work at GSA and the 2017 IAVCEI (International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry or the Earth’s Interior) meeting. The IAVCEI meetings are held every four years and are attended by ~3000 volcanologists from around the world. This year’s meeting was held in Portland, Oregon and featured a field trip to Mount St. Helens. It was a great meeting to catch up with colleagues and develop new collaborations and I look forward to IAVCEI 2021 in New Zealand.
In addition to the Dominica research, I’ve been involved with obtaining new instrumentation in the department and the Union College Water Initiative (UCWI). I was PI on our successful NSF MRI proposal to obtain a new ICP-MS to replace our aging, 17 year old current ICP-MS. Spearheaded by recent graduate, Alex Dolcimascolo ’17, the UCWI is an outreach program to test local drinking water for heavy metal contamination. With guidance from Kurt Hollocher, we analyzed several hundred samples from campus, faculty, and the community and will continue to offer our services.
At home, the girls are growing up fast, with Natalie in first grade and Zoe now a fully vocal member of the family, ready to start school next fall. The girls joined us in Portland for IAVCEI, flying on their first plane and have big plans to come in the field with mom and dad in the future. Matt and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Glacier National Park.

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