Wooster Geology Alumni at GSA 2016

September 27th, 2016

gsa-wooster-2016-585DENVER, COLORADO — Many of the Wooster Geology alumni at GSA, along with current students and professors Pollock and Wilson, gathered this evening for conversations. It was great fun with many stories and lots of good advice for our students.

More later on the day of talks and posters.

Association for Women Geoscientists Breakfast at #GSA2016

September 26th, 2016

Denver, CO – The Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) held their annual breakfast at #GSA2016, where they recognized those people who make exceptional contributions to their mission. AWG seeks to encourage the participation of women in the geosciences, exchange information (technical, educational, professional), and enhance professional growth and advancement. After this morning’s inspirational stories, who wouldn’t want to become a member? One notable part of the program was the recognition of women geoscientists from the Mongolian Chapter of AWG.

Representatives from the Mongolian Chapter of AWG were recognized for their efforts to support women geoscientists. They began as an informal club in 2012 and were officially recognized as an international chapter of AWG in 2014.

Representatives from the Mongolian Chapter of AWG were recognized for their efforts to support women geoscientists. They began as an informal club in 2012 and were officially recognized as an international chapter of AWG in 2014.

 

This year’s Outstanding Educator Award winner was Barbara Dutrow, a renowned mineralogist.

Barbara Dutrow accepts the Outstanding Educator Award. One of her nominators was a former student who was profoundly affected by her undergraduate research experience with Barbara.

Barbara Dutrow accepts the Outstanding Educator Award. One of her nominators was a former student who was profoundly affected by her undergraduate research experience with Barbara.

 

 Me and my research students, Rachel Heineman ('17, Oberlin) and Amineh AlBashaireh ('18), at the AWG breakfast. My students had the opportunity to network with lots of influential mentors, including a CUR Councilor, GSA Fellow, potential graduate advisors, and the Outstanding Educator Award Winner.

Me and my research students, Rachel Heineman (’17, Oberlin) and Amineh AlBashaireh (’18), at the AWG breakfast. My students had the opportunity to network with lots of influential mentors, including a CUR Councilor, GSA Fellow, potential graduate advisors, and the Outstanding Educator Award Winner.

 

Wooster geologists begin their 2016 Geological Society of America meeting adventure

September 25th, 2016

bell-092516DENVER, COLORADO — Seventeen Wooster students have now arrived in Denver for the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. Eleven of them are giving presentations of some sort. We are very proud of each. Dr. Meagen Pollock and I may not be able to get to each poster, so we’re going to post what we can when we can. Today was big for Wooster’s Dendrochronology (Tree-Ring) Lab under the direction of Dr. Greg Wiles. All the work today was from various Alaska expeditions.

Early this morning I found Brandon Bell (’18, above) with his poster. Brandon is a double-major in history and geology. His project here on the Bering Expedition is quite fitting.

deck-585-092516Clara Deck (’17) here presents her dendroclimatic project.

deck-at-work-585-092516Clara at work doing the poster thing.

gunderson-092516Jeff Gunderson (’17) is also representing Wooster’s dendrochronology lab with his fine poster.

hilton-585-092516Annette Hilton (’17) is presenting for the dendrochronology lab.

mcgrath-585-092516As is Sarah McGrath (’17).

I’m very impressed with our students and their cheerful, confident and creative presentations. It is a daunting task giving a poster at a national meeting, and they are doing it exceptionally well.

More student presentations later! We’re having a good and productive time in Denver.

 

Wooster Geology Alumnae in the Bearded Lady Project

September 24th, 2016

bearded-lady-signWooster has produced many paleontologists over the last century. I’m not sure exactly why we’ve had such an abundance of people who chose to devote their lives to the study ancient life, but I am most grateful to the tradition. Women have been prominent among the Wooster paleontology cadre. There is currently a developing project celebrating the accomplishments of women working in paleontology and “challenging the face of science”. It is called The Bearded Lady Project. Two of our alumnae are featured in a photographic exhibit about the project at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver this week.

kelley-blpThis is Tricia Kelley, recently retired as a distinguished professor of geology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She is also a past president of the Paleontological Society. I would not have recognized her in this bearded state without a caption on the photo! (Sorry I can’t avoid reflections in the glass.)

clites-blpErica Clites was one of my students. She is presently a Museum Scientist at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley. I do recognize her!

We have other accomplished women paleontologists from Wooster — and other geologists. Tricia and Erica represent them well. We are very proud!

Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Ordovician cryptostome bryozoans from southern Ohio

September 23rd, 2016

waynesville-cryptostomesA short entry this week because the annual meetings of the Geological Society of America and Paleontological Society begin this weekend in Denver. (Wooster is sending 17 students this year. Seventeen! A record for us.)

The above image is a detail from a slab of limestone collected from the Waynesville Formation (Upper Ordovician, Katian) on a class field trip earlier this month to Caesar Creek, Warren County, Ohio.  The stick-like fossils are mostly cryptostome bryozoans generally aligned by the last of some ancient water current. Cryptostomes are small and fussy  bryozoans, and thus hard to work with. There hasn’t been a significant overview of Ohio Ordovician cryptostomes for quite awhile, so I suspect there is much new to learn about them.

The following posts will be from Denver!

Wooster Geologists prepare for the 2016 annual Geological Society of America meeting

September 22nd, 2016

216-copyThe Geology Department at The College of Wooster is sending a record number of students to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver next week. Seventeen students, eleven of whom are presenting in some way, will be going to this large gathering of geologists (some 7000 are expected to attend). As part of our preparations, the Geology Club holds a “Mock GSA” in which students show their posters for the first time and practice their poster patter. In the foreground above is Geology Club president (and epic student leader of this trip) Sarah McGrath (’17) discussing her poster with emeritus faculty Dr. Sam Root.

205-copyWe needed two rooms to display all the posters. It was fun!

More later from Denver.

Black & Gold Weekend – The Tree Ring Lab

September 17th, 2016

Thanks to Beau Mastrine and Campus Grounds we continue to celebrate the designation of “Tree Campus USA“. Today is Black and Gold Weekend and the Wooster Tree Ring Lab students explained their research, conversed about trees, and learned from College arborists and the City of Wooster.

group

The Tree Ring Lab table located along the Memorial Walk. Clara explains the utility of tree-ring research and global change, while her staff looks on.

jeff

Jeff shares a dendro – joke with the new Dean of Students.

field

Colby from the Grounds Crew explained that this unique stratigraphy under the turf on the football field can absorb as much as 12 inches of rain per hour. That is  some serious infiltration.

beau

Beau makes ice cream – handmade with the help of a tractor.

andrew

Andrew takes a break from the Tree Ring table.

Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: New Early Silurian crinoids from Estonia

September 16th, 2016

1 Hilliste crinoidsIt has been a good year for new fossil taxa on this blog. I’m pleased to present a fauna of Early Silurian crinoids from the Hilliste Formation (Rhuddanian) exposed on Hiiumaa Island, western Estonia. They are described in a paper that has just appeared in the Journal of Paleontology (early view) written by that master of Silurian crinoids, Bill Ausich of Ohio State University, and me, his apprentice.

Here’s the simplified caption for the above composite image: Rhuddanian crinoids from western Estonia: (1) Bedding surface comprised primarily of crinoid columnals and pluricolumnals; (2) Radial circlet of an unrecognizable calceocrinid; (3) Basal circlet of an unrecognizable calceocrinid; (4) Holdfast A: Virgate radices anchored in coarse skeletal debris; (5) Holdfast D: Simple discoidal holdfast cemented to a bryozoan; (6, 7, 8) Hiiumaacrinus vinni n. gen. and n. sp.: 6, D-ray lateral view of calyx, 7, E-ray lateral view of calyx, 8, basal view of calyx; (9) Holdfast B: Dendritic holdfast in coarse skeletal debris; (10) Eomyelodactylus sp. columnal; (11) Holdfast C: Simple discoidal holdfast cemented to a tabulate coral; (12) Two examples of Holdfast E: Stoloniferous holdfasts cemented to a tabulate coral; (13) Protaxocrinus estoniensis n. sp. lateral view of partial crown, top of radial plate indicated by line.

Here is the abstract: “Rhuddanian crinoid faunas are poorly known globally, making this new fauna from the Hilliste Formation of western Estonian especially significant. The Hilliste fauna is the oldest Silurian fauna known from the Baltica paleocontinent, thus this is the first example of the crinoid recovery fauna after the Late Ordovician mass extinction. Hiiumaacrinus vinni n. gen. n. sp., Protaxocrinus estoniensis n. sp., Eomyelodactylus sp., calceocrinids, and five holdfast types are reported here. Although the fauna has relatively few taxa, it is among the most diverse Rhuddanian faunas known. Similar to other Rhuddanian crinoid faunas elsewhere, the Hilliste crinoid fauna contains crinoids belonging the Dimerocrinitidae, Taxocrinidae, Calceocrinidae, and Myelodactylidae; most elements of the new fauna are quite small, perhaps indicative of the Lilliput Effect.”
3 Hilliste diagramNo crinoid paper is complete without camera lucida drawings (scale bar for all figures is one mm): (1) Hiiumaacrinus vinni n. gen. and n. sp.; (2) Radial circlet of an unrecognizable calceocrinid; (3) Basal circlet of an unrecognizable calceocrinid; (4) Protaxocrinus estoniensis n. sp.
4 Olev062511There are two new species and one new genus here. Hiiumaacrinus vinni is named first after the lovely Estonian island where the species is found, and then after our good friend and colleague Olev Vinn (above) at the University of Tartu. Olev first introduced me to the Ordovician and Silurian of Estonia, and then was an excellent field companion for Bill and me on our Estonian field trips.
2 Hiiumaa mapA reminder where Hiiumaa Island is, and for that matter, the nation of Estonia.

5 HillisteQuarry071312Here is Hilliste Quarry on Hiiumaa Island. Still one of my favorite places to work. Very, very quiet.

6 HillisteAusich071112Here is Bill Ausich in the quarry during our 2012 expedition. The pose is known among paleontologists as “the Walcott“.

7 Holdfasts071112Here is one of the specimens collected by Bill in July of 2012. You may recognize this field scene as figure 12 in the top image of this post. These are two examples of crinoid holdfasts on a tabulate coral.

Please welcome Hiiumaacrinus vinni and Protaxocrinus estoniensis to the paleontological world!

References:

Ausich, W.I. and Wilson, M.A. 2016. Llandovery (Early Silurian) crinoids from Hiiumaa Island, Estonia. Journal of Paleontology (early view).

Ausich, W.I., Wilson, M.A. and Vinn, O. 2012. Crinoids from the Silurian of Western Estonia (Phylum Echinodermata). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57: 613‒631.

Ausich, W.I., Wilson, M.A. and Vinn, O. 2015. Wenlock and Pridoli (Silurian) crinoids from Saaremaa, western Estonia (Phylum Echinodermata). Journal of Paleontology 89: 72‒81.

2016 Wooster Paleontologists Field Trip

September 11th, 2016

paleo-class-2016-smallIt was a beautiful day for fieldwork. Every fall I take Wooster’s Invertebrate Paleontology class into the field to collect specimens for study and analysis during the rest of the semester. It’s fun because these students have only completed two weeks of the course and almost everything is new. One steady change over the years has been in the number of paleo students. Gone are the days when we could all pile into a 15-passenger van and spend three days in Kentucky. Now we have to take a bus, and tight student schedules limit us to one day. These constraints mean that going to Caesar Creek Lake in Warren County, Ohio, is the best choice. We’ve been here now several times. here we examine Ordovician fossils in limestones and shales of the Waynesville, Liberty and Whitewater Formations (all of which equal the Bull Fork Formation).

collecting-091116The weather was ideal, but the night before saw heavy rains. Bit of a mud fest today.

brach-slab-091116The fossils, of course, are world-class in the Cincinnati area. Here’s a wonderful slab of strophomenid brachiopods with Josh Charlton’s hand for scale. At least the rains washed the rocks clean!

lab-sink-091116Next stop for the students: washing their specimens in the lab sink at Wooster. Anyone who has worked in the Cincinnatian knows that the clay can be particularly tenacious. Students learn paleo from the very basics!

 

Wooster’s Fossils of the Week: Tiny athyridide brachiopods from the Lower Carboniferous of the West Midlands of England

September 9th, 2016

1 Hustedia radialis 585These little brachiopods were also in the recent gift package from Clive Champion, our English brachiopod expert and friend. They tested my photographic skills, being too large for our photomicroscope and at the limit of resolution for my camera with its extension tubes. They are the athyridide Hustedia radialis (Phillips, 1836) from the Chadian-Arundian Limestone (Viséan, Lower Carboniferous) exposed near Wetton, Staffordshire, England. Brachiopods of this size are often referred to as “micromorph“, with some debate as to whether they are dwarfed adults or juveniles. With this fauna the consensus is the former.

Athyridide brachiopods are “spire-bearing”, meaning they have complexly-spiraled lophophore supports (brachidia) inside their shells. The lophophore is a tentacular device that creates a water current and traps organic bits from it for nutrition. These tiny critters thus had surprisingly elaborate feeding systems. The first paleontologist to grind through these minuscule shells to sort out the twists and turns of their microscopic brachidia is a hero of science.
2 John Phillips (1800-1874)Hustedia radialis was named in 1836 by one of the most important English geologists of the 19th Century, John Phillips (1800-1874). He originally called it Terebratula radialis, a common genus name applied at the time to biconvex brachiopods with pedicle openings (the hole for the attaching stalk visible at the pointy end of the shell).
3 Geology of YorkshireHe named it in the second volume of his Geology of Yorkshire series.
4 Brachs PhillipsSee if you can find the two figures of Terebratula radialis in Plate XII of the book. (Hint: small, triangular and ribbed!)

John Phillips was born in Wiltshire in 1800. His mother was a sister of the famous William “Strata” Smith, another founding father of modern geology. Phillips father and mother died when he was only seven years old, so William Smith took over raising him, despite his genteel poverty. Phillips traveled with Smith throughout England in the course of making Smith’s famous 1815 map. Phillips had a spotty formal education, but was clearly a quick study. By 1824 he was organizing museum fossil collections in Yorkshire, and in 1826 he became keeper of the Yorkshire natural history museum. Phillips then advanced very quickly, helping organize the new British Association for the Advancement of Science, becoming a professor of geology at King’s College London, and then at the age of 34 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. All the while he kept up a prodigious rate of publication. The honors and positions continued for Phillips, with him eventually becoming a Reader of Geology at Oxford University. A remarkable career with such an unpromising start.
5 Phillips 1841 160Phillips published the first geological time scale in 1841, inventing the term “Mesozoic” in the process. The above clip is from Phillips (1841, p. 160).
6 Phillips 1860 time scaleHere is his 1860 version of the geological time scale (Phillips, 1860, p. 51).

After an April 1874 dinner at All Souls College in Oxford, John Phillips fell down a flight of stone steps, dying the next day. No doubt but for this fall he would have continued producing geological work into the next decade.

References:

Brunton, C.H.C. 1984. Silicified brachiopods from the Viséan of County Fermanagh, Ireland (III). Rhynchonellids, spiriferids and terebratulids. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Geology 38: 27–130.

Brunton, C.H.C. and Champion, C. 1974. A Lower Carboniferous brachiopod fauna from the Manifold Valley, Staffordshire. Palaeontology 17: 811–840.

Mottequin, B., Sevastopulo, G. and Simon, E. 2015. Micromorph brachiopods from the late Asbian (Mississippian, Viséan) from northwest Ireland (Gleniff, County Sligo). Bulletin of Geosciences 90: 307-330.

Phillips, J. 1836. Illustrations of the geology of Yorkshire, Part 2. The mountain limestone district. 253 pp. John Murray, London.

Phillips, J. 1841. Figures and Descriptions of the Palaeozoic Fossils of Cornwall, Devon and West Somerset. 231 pp. Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London.

Phillips, J. 1860. Life on the earth: its origin and succession. 224 pp. Macmillan and Company, London.

7 Gould bookplateFun feature of that last reference: Google Books scanned a personal copy of Stephen Jay Gould, a famous American paleontologist and evolutionary theorist.

8 Darwin quoteOn one of the front pages is this penciled note: ‘Unreadable, dull’ – Charles Darwin to [unknown] 15/1/61. [UPDATE: See comment from Katherine Marenco below.]

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