Archive for September, 2009

Wooster Geologists Start a New School Year

September 30th, 2009

WOOSTER, OHIO–We started this blog with an image of the 2008-2009 Geology Club members, and it is already time to introduce the 2009-2010 Wooster Geology Club —

geoclub2009-10

A happy, enthusiastic and eager crew they are! We are looking forward to a new year of exploration and discovery, and we hope to post many new adventures, academic and otherwise, on these pages.

Coring Round Lake – A Record of Post Glacial Change

September 26th, 2009

Dr. Tom Lowell and tow University of Cincinnati graduate students Estaben and Bill were kind enough to make the trip to Long Lake to help the Climate Change class extract two long (14 meter) sediment cores from the middle of the lake.

Dr. Tom Lowell and two University of Cincinnati graduate students, Esteban and Bill, were kind enough to make the trip to Long Lake to help the Wooster Climate Change class extract two long (14 meter) sediment cores from the middle of the lake.

The first step was to build the raft. Dr. Lowell (aka "the core boss") is in the trailer. Bill and Rob assemble the parts and pieces.

The first step was to build the raft. Dr. Lowell (aka "the core boss") is in the trailer. Bill and Rob assemble the parts and pieces.

Terry Workman (Archaeology major and course TA) drives the geophysical craft. Under the tarp os Esteban who is colecting bathymetric and seismic data. Based on these data a core site was chosen.

Terry Workman (our course TA) drives the geophysical craft. Under the tarp is Esteban who is collecting bathymetric and seismic data. Based on these data a core site was chosen.

The core boss gives us a short course on the operation of the coring platform. Dr. Lowell has custom-built this rig and he points out the automated coring system. A hydraulic system drives the Livingstone corer into and out of the mud.

The core boss gives us a short course on the operation of the coring platform. Dr. Lowell has custom-built this rig and he points out the automated coring system. A hydraulic system drives the Livingstone corer into and out of the mud.

Well into the Holocene - Esteban wraps up another meter of lacustrine sediment.

Well into the Holocene - Esteban wraps up another meter of lacustrine sediment.

Tom and Terry work the platform sending the piston corer down for another meter.

Tom and Terry work the platform sending the piston corer down for another meter.

The crew rows to shore. The class will now obtain organic material for radiocarbon dating and then the work begins analyzing a suite of parameters in the cores. Class members Lindsey and Amanda located a stick at the base of the core that has been sent for a radiocarbon age and should give us an estimate of the timing of deglaciation in the region. Will Hansen (red short) wil be using the upper part of the core together with our other collections from Round. O'Dell and Browns Lake for his Independent Study.

The crew rows to shore. The class will now obtain organic material for radiocarbon dating and then the work begins analyzing a suite of parameters in the cores. Class members Lindsey and Amanda located a stick at the base of the core, this has been sent for a radiocarbon age and should give us an estimate of the timing of deglaciation in the region. Will Hansen (red shirt) will be using the upper part of the core together with our other collections from Round, O'Dell and Browns Lake for his Independent Study.

Climate Change Class at Secrest Arboretum

September 24th, 2009

Adrian (Philosophy) and Kelly (Geology) core a European Larch for an ecological response study using tree-rings

Adrian (Philosophy) and Kelly (Geology) core a European Larch for an ecological response study using tree-rings. The class will compare how various trees are responding to climate variability over the last 100 years or so. The site is the Secrest Arboretum of Ohio State University's OARDC. We thank Ken Cochran, Director of the facility for permission to do this study.

Chesea and Adonic core a Norway Spruce

Chesea (Archaeology) and Adonis (Political Science) core a Norway Spruce

Houston and Roz sneak up on a Pondersosa Pine and obtain a core

Houston (Religious Studies) and Roz (Archaeology) sneak up on a Pondersosa Pine and obtain a core

Travis and Adrian at the OARDC Meteorolgical Station. After the class develops tree-ring chronologies they will compare the ring-width series to the long (>100 year) record of monthly temperature and precipitation records from this site.

Travis and Adrian at the OARDC Meteorological Station. After the class develops tree-ring chronologies they will compare the ring-width series to the long (>100 year) record of monthly temperature and precipitation records from this site.

Mineralogy-Structure Field Trip to Pennsylvania

September 15th, 2009

Last weekend, Dr. Judge’s and Dr. Pollock’s Structure and Mineralogy classes took a field trip to central Pennsylvania. It rained on Saturday, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. We saw the most amazing pencil structures in the Reedsville Shale.

The intersection of cleavage and bedding create "pencils."

The intersection of cleavage and bedding in the Reedsville Shale creates "pencils."

In the Bald Eagle Formation just a short drive down the road, we found textbook examples of slickenfibres. Slickenfibres are elongated minerals that grow along a fault plane parallel to the direction of motion.

Colin Mennett, Dr. Shelley Judge, Megan Innis, Becky Alcorn, and Andrew Retzler excited about slicken-fibers along a fault surface in the Bald Eagle Formation.

Colin Mennett, Dr. Shelley Judge, Megan Innis, Becky Alcorn, and Andrew Retzler are excited about slickenfibres along a fault surface in the Bald Eagle Formation.

Close-up view of the slicken-fibres.

Close-up view of the slicken-fibres.

Next, we went to the Bear Valley Strip Mine. The beautifully exposed folds and giant iron concretions are simply breathtaking!

Bear Valley Strip Mine. Notice the person in the yellow jacket (center of the picture) for scale.

Bear Valley Strip Mine. Notice the person in the black jacket (center of the picture) for scale.

Finally, we stopped to sample some (very orange) acid mine drainage at a nearby pump slope.

Palmer Shonk and Becky Alcorn standing beside a river full of "yellow boy," an iron hydroxide phase that is precipitating from acid mine drainage.

Palmer Shonk and Becky Alcorn standing beside a river full of "yellow boy," an iron hydroxide phase that is precipitating from acid mine drainage.

Become a fan of the College of Wooster Geology Department page on Facebook and see more photos from this trip!

Wooster Geologist = NPR Star

September 10th, 2009

Tree rings, Lake Erie, and climate change are the topics of a recent NPR interview with Wooster’s own Greg Wiles. Greg and his research group have been making headlines for their study that suggests natural climate variability plays a role in controlling changes in Lake Erie’s level. Stay tuned for more developments from Wooster’s Tree Ring Lab!

From the Guardian, May 14, 2009 issue.

From the Guardian, May 14, 2009 issue.

End of Wooster Israeli Fieldwork — For Now

September 9th, 2009

MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–After today’s work near Makhtesh Ramon, our fieldwork is over for this season.  This evening I pack up our collections in my luggage, have a last dinner with Yoav and his family in their desert home, and then get some sleep before a very early departure tomorrow morning.  I am looking forward to returning soon with Wooster Independent Study students to continue our work in the Mesozoic rocks of southern Israel.

A Bronze Age tumulus (rock-covered grave) at the top of a hill north of Makhtesh Ramon.

A Bronze Age tumulus (rock-covered grave) at the top of a hill north of Makhtesh Ramon.

A Bit of Vertebrate Paleontology

September 9th, 2009

MAKHTESH RAMON, ISRAEL–On my last day of fieldwork Yoav took me to some wonderfully complex exposures of Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks just north of Makhtesh Ramon. They tell a story of the origins of the Makhtesh anticlinal structure, especially the date it appeared and whether it was ever exposed as an island before its center was eroded away. Part of the debate comes down to the depth at which certain Santonian (Cretaceous) sediments were deposited. These sediments contain oysters and exquisite shark’s teeth. We collected a nice set (see below) which I will attempt to identify to see if we can use what we may know about these sharks to determine the depth of deposition.

Cretaceous shark teeth collected from just north of Makhtesh Ramon (N30.56235°, E34.64876°).

Cretaceous shark teeth collected from just north of Makhtesh Ramon (N30.56235°, E34.64876°).

Wading in the Jurassic Sea

September 9th, 2009

Another indication of how shallow the seas were in the Middle Jurassic of southern Israel.  This bedding plane in the Matmor Formation of Makhtesh Gadol has a gastropod (snail) fossil in the center of the image surrounded by angular shells of fossil mytilids (clams commonly called mussels today).  In life the mytilids had attached to the gastropod and each other by fine yet strong byssal thread produced by a special gland.  This kind of relationship is very common in tidal pools and other shallow areas where wave action is strong.

Another indication of how shallow the seas were in the Middle Jurassic of southern Israel. This bedding plane in the Matmor Formation of Makhtesh Gadol has a gastropod (snail) fossil in the center of the image surrounded by angular shells of fossil mytilids (clams commonly called mussels today). In life the mytilids had attached to the gastropod and each other by fine yet strong byssal thread produced by a special gland. This kind of relationship is very common in tidal pools and other shallow areas where wave action is strong.

I Have Plenty of Faults

September 9th, 2009

MAKHTESH GADOL, ISRAEL–One of the goals of this trip to the Negev was to map and analyze a series of faults Wooster geology students and Yoav Avni have found during our five years of fieldwork in Makhtesh Gadol.  Our projects have all been stratigraphic and paleontological, and we need to understand the structural framework of these rocks before we can interpret their histories.  In turn the faults could only be assessed after the stratigraphy has been sorted out, which we have essentially done now.  Yoav and I were able then to examine these faults this week and place them on the map with some ideas about their dimensions and times of movement.  (“Yoav and I” means in this case that I watched Yoav do the real work!)

Vertical fault (at the hammer head) in the Matmor Formation, Makhtesh Gadol, Israel.

Vertical fault (at the hammer head) in the Matmor Formation, Makhtesh Gadol, Israel.

Most of the faults are vertical and more or less east-west trending.  After mapping them, the fun part was working out how much displacement took place and when.  For example, using a Lower Cretaceous laterite as a key horizon, we could tell on one segment of a fault that 6.5 meters of displacement was prior to laterite formation and 4.5 meters came after the laterite.  This could only be done after the stratigraphy of the Jurassic units under the laterite was described, which is Wooster’s contribution to this structural analysis.

Jurassic Cryptic Marine Ecosystems

September 8th, 2009

Note the curly worm tubes and borings made by another type of worm.  There are also tiny little sponges in this view, and even tinier brachiopods.  This is a "cryptic community", meaning it lived in a protected space, in this case on the underside of a coral colony just above the sea floor.  The study of cryptic marine communities and their evolution has been a speciality of the Wooster paleontology lab.  (Matmor Formation, Jurassic, Makhtesh Gadol.)

Note the curly worm tubes and borings made by another type of worm. There are also tiny little sponges in this view, and even tinier brachiopods. This is a "cryptic community", meaning it lived in a protected space, in this case on the underside of a coral colony just above the sea floor. The study of cryptic marine communities and their evolution has been a speciality of the Wooster paleontology lab. (Matmor Formation, Jurassic, Makhtesh Gadol.)

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