Archive for July, 2010

Mishaps with Hammers

July 13th, 2010

Today was definitely another adventure in the field. Although we didn’t travel far from our home base in Ephraim (less than 1 mile from home), there was plenty of excitement. We tackled the Green River Formation at Gal Hill, which provided a 60 foot strat column of wonderful carbonates (and a 4 foot tuff bed).

Above is a scenic photo of Gal Hill.  The thick, massive bed about 8-10 feet off the road is a air fall tuff.  The stromatolite layer that we targeted is immediately below the tuff.  Poor stromatolites...they never had a chance!!

Above is a scenic photo of Gal Hill. The thick, massive bed about 8-10 feet off the road is a air fall tuff. The stromatolite layer that we targeted is immediately below the tuff. Poor stromatolites...they never had a chance!!

Of course, stratigraphy is all serious business, as Elizabeth and Jesse prove in the photo below:

Wooster's rock climbing team hard at work.

Wooster's rock climbing team hard at work.

We had to bring out “The Big Dog”, Jesse’s mega sledge hammer for some of our work today, as we needed to sample a continuous silicified stromatolite layer exposed along Gal Hill.

Elizabeth shows her enthusiasm for the silicified stromatolite layer, which is at hand level in this photo.

Elizabeth shows her enthusiasm for the silicified stromatolite layer, which is at hand level in this photo.

Throughout the morning, Jesse used the mega sledge hammer, chisels, and regular rock hammers to extricate a number of beautiful laterally linked and small domal stromatolites that we were measuring. In the end, though, I’m not too sure who came out on top: Jesse or the stromatolites.

Our motto of the day:  No pain, no gain!!

Our motto of the day: No pain, no gain!!

Ohio, Some Fun, A Little Bit of Geology, and Back

July 13th, 2010

Guest Blogger: Jesse Davenport

We always hear about how all geologists have the opportunity to go to fantastic places in far away lands. Or at least that was what I thought, while I envied my professors from afar. However, this summer I have had the opportunity to travel across the United States, on a road trip no less. From conquering Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, and Pikes Peak in Colorado to backpacking 83 miles in 10 days in the New Mexico backcountry (not to mention being attacked by a black bear) to spending a few days in the Sawtooth National Forest, to climbing Mt St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, and back to central Utah. And yet my trip isn’t even halfway complete. After assisting Dr. Judge and Elizabeth in her I.S. fieldwork, I will then head to southwestern Montana to begin my fieldwork in the Tobacco Root Mountains, where I will be working with Archean metamorphic and igneous rocks, some of the oldest you can find in North America. Being able to drive everywhere also has had a number of exciting perks. I have visited Colorado School of Mines and University of Utah, two schools I have looked at and am very interested in for graduate school for a Mining Engineering degree. I will also have the opportunity to visit the Bingham Canyon Cooper mine near Provo, Utah with the OSU folks. Hopefully I will be able to send out another update once I begin my work in Montana!

Jesse on top of the Colorado National Monument at 6,106 feet near Fruita, Colorado.

Jesse on top of the Colorado National Monument at 6,106 feet near Fruita, Colorado.

From Ohio to the west coast. A view of the Pacific Ocean near Ocean Shores, Washington.

From Ohio to the west coast. A view of the Pacific Ocean near Ocean Shores, Washington.

Wooster geologist in New Zealand!

July 13th, 2010

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND–And it’s not me! Wooster geology student Andrew Collins is in a study abroad program on the South Island of New Zealand.  He has promised to share with us his geological experiences now and then. Andrew recently traveled to a town called Springfield near Christchurch and visited some amazing Paleogene limestone exposures on Castle Hill. This is an extreme example of karstic weathering.

Paleogene limestone on Castle Hill, South Island, New Zealand. Photograph by Andrew Collins.

Beautiful, eh? Andrew will share more New Zealand geology with us through this blog and his own.

This summer we’ve had Wooster geologists in Alaska, the southern USA, Ohio, Israel, Iceland and Utah … and we’re only halfway through our field season. Gotta love it!

Kveðja frá Íslandi! (Greetings from Iceland!)

July 13th, 2010

Guest Blogger: Becky Alcorn

Meagen og ég kynntist í Boston í gær og hafði tiltölulega viðburðasnauður flug til Íslands. Við komum á hostelið okkar í kringum miðnætti og komst hversu frábær hún var sannarlega. Ekki aðeins var flugvellinum skutla strætó þeirra brotinn niður, en svo var internetið, lykill á herbergi, og hitari í herbergið okkar. Til allrar hamingju þeir gáfu okkur í næsta herbergi sem var ekki heitt. Því miður en ekki var fortjaldið í herbergið okkar og það er aldrei raunverulega gets myrkur. Óþarfur að segja, að leita okkur að öðrum húsnæði í dag. Eftir að við að finna nýjan stað til að vera, tók við ferð upp til Reykjavíkur til að kanna borgina, sem var falleg … og fengum dýrindis Taílenska matur!

(As you can see, in the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve become fluent in Icelandic. See below for the English version.)

Meagen and I met in Boston yesterday afternoon and had a relatively uneventful flight to Iceland. We arrived at our hostel around midnight and discovered how fantastic it truly was. Not only was their airport shuttle bus broken down, but so was the internet, key to our room, and the heater in our room. Luckily they gave us the next room that wasn’t sweltering hot. Unfortunately though there was no curtain in our room and it never really gets dark. Needless to say, we searched for other accommodations today. After we found a new place to stay, we took a trip up to Reykjavik to explore the city, which was beautiful…and we got delicious Thai food!

Our tiny room in the hostel.

The harbor in Reykjavik.

Enjoying the sun in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik - the best city for its basalt columnar joints in the street and no dogs.

Houses by Tjornin Lake in Reykjavik.

A New Way to do Stratigraphy / Paleontology

July 12th, 2010

Elizabeth is completely fixated with stromatolites, and the obsession became even stronger today when we found ~200 feet of stromatolites within the massive Quarry Bed at Temple Hill. As Elizabeth and I oohed and awed over each stromatolite on the bedding plane at the top of the Quarry Bed, Jesse began leaping and bounding over quarry rubble, looking for additional “outcrops”.

We decided to forgo “conventional” stratigraphy and paleontology for a short while, and most anything in the quarry became our outcrop.

Elizabeth is working on one of our fabulous outcrops. As you can see, the stratigraphy is shown perfectly.

This blog would not be complete without some pictures of our “finds”. The top photo below is an example of one of our stromatolites in cross-section, while the bottom photo is a collection of …???…

Green River Stratigraphy at Temple Hill

July 12th, 2010

On Sunday, we traveled a short way down the road to Manti to work on Temple Hill, home of the Manti Temple. Our goal was to learn about the stratigraphy of the Green River Formation at this locality, and we accomplished that through measuring a strat column through the upper “member” of the Green River and the overlying Crazy Hollow Formation. We had a great day in the field, producing a 120 foot strat column and just beating the storm clouds as they rolled in later in the afternoon.

Take a look at the photo below, which is a view of a small portion of the massive “Quarry Bed”. Used as a building stone in the Sanpete Valley, this bed is 8-9 feet in places and is filled with (often silicified) ooids, pellets, and ostracodes — a dream for a carbonate lover!!”

Here you can see that we have nearly completed our strat column. We are through the Green River Formation and nearly done measuring the overlying Crazy Hollow. Elizabeth is hard at work with her Jacob's Staff, while Jesse is...posing for his photo shoot for outdoor clothing and equipment on top of the Crazy Hollow.

Professor Greg Wiles is Wooster’s newest Shoolroy Chair of Natural Resources

July 12th, 2010

Professor Greg Wiles in the now iconic photograph published in The Guardian on May 14, 2009.

WOOSTER, OHIO–We are very pleased to announce that Greg Wiles has been promoted to Full Professor and named the Shoolroy Chair of Natural Resources at The College of Wooster.  Greg has been at Wooster since 1998 and is our geomorphologist-dendrochronologist-paleoclimatologist (and hydrogeologist, for that matter).  He earned his BA in geology from Beloit College, his masters from Binghamton University (The State University of New York), and his PhD from the University at Buffalo (The State University of New York).  Greg has many publications in first-rate journals, a large number of them with Wooster students.  He is an Adjunct Associate Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University), and an Adjunct Research Associate at the Byrd Polar Research Center (The Ohio State University).  Greg founded and manages the Wooster Tree Ring Lab which not only has put Wooster on the map for climate studies, but has been a place where many of our students have their first professional research experiences as interns and assistants.  Greg is a treasured teacher in Wooster’s Department of Geology, where he is also the chair.  Reader of this blog know that Greg does much summer research with his students in Alaska and locally.  He is also our media star!

Congratulations to Greg on this promotion and appointment!  We are very fortunate to have a scientist and teacher of his caliber and dedication in our community.

Field Camp in Utah – A Woo Reunion

July 11th, 2010

Hello from Ephraim, Utah!! I just finished teaching my three week portion of Ohio State’s field camp with David Elliot (OSU, igneous petrology). To my surprise this year, field camp became a mini Wooster reunion, because Elyssa Krivicich (’09) was enrolled in field camp as a student. Elyssa moved on from Woo to OSU’s School of Earth Sciences, where she is focusing on paleontology under Bill Ausich, a colleague of Mark Wilson from their Estonia days (and a good friend of mine from my time at OSU).

Field camp this year has been just as great as usual. What possibly could be bad about spending each day in the Utah sun mapping? Yes, the days can be long and sometimes tiring (especially when you are grading), but the time mapping makes up for everything. Most of the mapping thus far was in Paleogene strata of the Sanpete Valley, but we did venture off for a camping trip to Marysvale, one of Utah’s volcanic provinces.

Because field camp is over, I can now turn my attention to field work with my I.S. students. Elizabeth Deering arrived in Utah on Saturday and is working with me here in Utah on the Green River Formation stromatolite lithofacies. I’m looking forward to days of fossil collecting in carbonates with Elizabeth. My other I.S. student, Jesse Davenport, is also here with us in Ephraim, assisting with field work. However, he will leave near the end of July to work in the Tobacco Root Mountain region of Montana on a Keck project. So, he’ll have to switch gears from Paleogene lacustrine strata to Archean metamorphics. Please stay tuned for more on our adventures in Utah, as we just completed our first day in the field!!

Elyssa Krivicich ('09) is hard at work during field camp, studying the packstone intervals in the Green River Formation on White Hill (Ephraim, Utah).

Coring Odell Lake

July 9th, 2010

Odell Lake in the early morning hours.

The dedicated team of Wooster Geologists, Sarah Appleton, Stephanie Jarvis, and Dr. Greg Wiles met up with the sleep deprived team of Geologists from The University of Cincinnati, Bill Honsaker, Gianna Evans, and Dr. Tom Lowell. The goal of day one was to field test equipment destined for a trip to Greenland, acquire lake cores for the Climate Change class at The College of Wooster and map the lake using geophysics, a branch of earth science dealing with the physical processes and phenomena occurring especially in the earth and in its vicinity.

Odell Lake is located in Holmes County, Ohio and is a natural lake that was formed by a glacier. Portions of the glacier broke off and melted forming a kettle lake. In the case of Odell Lake three pieces of a glacier broke off during the termination of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago, and melted. As a result Odell Lake has three basins. The first basin is the largest but also the shallowest, the second basin is smaller and deeper and the westernmost basin is the smallest and deepest attaining almost 30 feet in depth.

Our first day began early in the morning in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. Once we arrived at the lake we began to unload our supplies. Most of our equipment came “some assembly required”.

A whole new meaning to some assembly required.

After several hours of assembling the necessary tools and equipment we were ready to divvy up jobs. Sarah and Gianna were assigned to the geophysics boat. Gianna was the geophysics specialist and Sarah was the boat driver (Gianna was a brave soul because this was Sarah’s first time driving this type of boat). Stephanie, Dr. Wiles, Bill, and Dr. Lowell boarded the coring vessel for her maiden voyage.

Sarah is learning to drive the boat and Gianna is ready, just in case, with the paddle.

Sarah and Gianna began crossing the lake mapping the depth and using sonar to determine the stratigraphy under the bottom of the lake. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and it caused a problem when the pair attempted to map the shallower water. The boat-mounted shade tent, as it turned out, made a terrific sail and the boat was blown aground. After some delicate maneuvering and dismantling the “sail” the team was back on track.

The geophysics team (Sarah and Gianna) deciding their next move.

The coring vessel was paddled out into the deeper water. It was a slow going process. Once the coring team was near to the location Sarah and Gianna were flagged down to identify the deepest part of the second basin. After assisting the coring raft the geophysics team returned to mapping. 

Onboard the coring raft the team worked diligently to test the equipment. At the end of the day they had a good set of cores and the geophysics team towed in the raft to save a lot of paddling.

Posing for a picture during a break.

After a hard day’s work the group went out for ice cream in the lovely town of Shreve. Over ice cream the team made plans for the next day.

Day Two:

Another early start to beat the heat with less assembly required than the previous day. The first task was to untangle the mass of ropes and anchors that held the raft in place during coring. It was decided that burlap sacks of rocks for anchors would be needed for Greenland. The raft was towed out to the third and deepest basin for coring. Once the raft was in place and firmly anchored the team went to work using two different types of coring methods.

The coring team (Dr. Wiles, Dr. Lowell, Stephanie, and Bill) hard at work.

Meanwhile, in the geophysics boat, Sarah and Gianna switched places. Gianna was captaining the ship while Sarah was learning to use the sonar and computer programs. Gianna was excellent about teaching Sarah to use the equipment and answering her endless questions.

Stephanie awaiting the core hand off so she can wrap it up for transport back to the Sediment Core Analysis Lab.

Both groups worked until they heard thunder. Sarah and Gianna moved back to the third basin to tow in the raft. Fortunately the first thunderstorm missed the lake. The group arrived safely on shore and began to disassemble the equipment and reload the trucks and trailer. When the group was nearly done a torrential downpour ensued causing the group to scamper for cover in the cars and trailer, where they received the sever thunderstorm warning for the area. The down pour only lasted for a few minutes before the team was back to work with a renewed vigor to beat the next storm which they were sure was right behind the first one. Once the equipment was packed away and tied down the team headed for some much deserved ice cream.

Scene from the lab

July 8th, 2010

WOOSTER, OHIO–I spent a good part of the day in the paleontology lab of Lisa Park, one of our accomplished Wooster Geology alumni who teaches at the University of Akron.  We took scanning electron microscope images of microconchid specimens I collected last November in Texas with Tom Yancey (Texas A&M).  For every day of fieldwork we probably spend another ten days in the lab studying the specimens.  Thought you might like to see one of these beautiful fossils very close-up:

Microconchid from the Bead Mountain Formation (Lower Permian) of central Texas. Note the budding and the remarkable internal diaphragms visible in the broken portion (upper right).

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