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. Here we’re at our main collecting site in the Waynesville at the lakeshore (39.482788°N, 84.052376°W).

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 Geologists begin the 2016-2017 academic year

September 1st, 2016

Geology Club 2016 585The Wooster  Geologists have started the school year with our traditional Geology Club group photo on a fine late summer morning. We’re looking forward to an exciting time with healthy course enrollments and enthusiastic Senior Independent Study students. Dr. Meagen Pollock is on leave this year, bless her heart, so Dr. Greg Wiles, Dr. Shelley Judge and I have extra opportunities. Dr. Wiles is again our valiant Chair. This is also one of the biennial years we run our spring Mojave Desert field trip.

Geology Seniors 2016 585And here are those seniors, most of them anyway, with their summer data collections completed and their advising schedules set. You’ll be hearing more from them in this space.

Our previous group images can be found at these links: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.

Thanks to our Administrative Coordinator Patrice Reeder, our 2016 annual report is available online as a pdf. You can check out our curriculum, yearly schedule, faculty profiles and the like on our Wooster Geology Department pages.

Wooster Geology’s 2016 Annual Report

August 23rd, 2016

reportsThanks to the hard work, skills and dedication of Administrative Coordinator Patrice Reeder, our 2016 annual report is now available.

Wooster Geologist at Argonne National Laboratory

July 16th, 2016

ANL_PMS_P_HEditor’s note: The following post is from guest blogger Clara Deck (’17) about her research experience this summer with an internship at one of the world’s most prominent laboratories. She is working on an important climate change project involving the carbon budget of permafrost. Last summer Clara completed a dendrochronology climate project in Wooster with Dr. Greg Wiles.

This summer I am working as a research intern at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois as part of the ten week Student Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program. The laboratory occupies 1500 acres located just north of Chicago and is a Department of Energy (DOE) facility. I have the privilege of joining Dr. Julie Jastrow and her terrestrial ecology research team on a project focused on organic carbon stocks in permafrost across Alaska. Soils serve as the largest terrestrial carbon reservoir, containing more than two times the amount of carbon found in the atmosphere.
Image 2About 25% of land mass in the northern hemisphere is dominated by permafrost soils. The long term goal of this project is to improve estimates of the total quantity of C contained in permafrost, as findings to-date are immensely variable. This is important because soil carbon will be affected by environmental change, especially in high latitude regions.

(Canadian Soil Information Service)

(Canadian Soil Information Service)

Field sampling targets features known as ice wedge polygons, which form similarly to mud cracks, but then fill with ice. The soil within these polygons is characterized by substantial cryoturbation, or mixing, due to freeze-thaw processes.

(Julie Jastrow, Argonne National Laboratory)

(Julie Jastrow, Argonne National Laboratory)

A trench like this is dug across a polygon, in order to sample from each distinguishable layer across an entire transect. This summer, I am performing fractionation procedures on these samples, which means separating the soil into different size components. The fractions will then be analyzed for carbon content.  I will then use GIMP Image Manipulation Software to convey C density data in a cross sectional image of the polygon.

(J.D. Jastrow (Argonne National Laboratory) and C.L. Ping (University of Alaska Fairbanks), unpublished data)

(J.D. Jastrow (Argonne National Laboratory) and C.L. Ping (University of Alaska Fairbanks), unpublished data)

(IJ.D. Jastrow (Argonne National Laboratory) and C.L. Ping (University of Alaska Fairbanks), unpublished data)

(IJ.D. Jastrow (Argonne National Laboratory) and C.L. Ping (University of Alaska Fairbanks), unpublished data)

These diagrams illustrate the progression from a field sketch to a digital image showing C density in a polygon cross section. Ice wedge polygons adhere to large scale patterns across the landscape, so data from each polygon has upscaling potential for larger models. Further studies will include analysis of the carbon decomposability and the depth to which permafrost will thaw with predicted temperature rise.

I am excited to be at Argonne conducting research so closely related to modern climate change, and will be continuing these studies throughout the year for my Senior Independent Study. Thanks for reading!

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy class in Wooster Memorial Park. Watch this space!

April 23rd, 2016

1 Glacial 042316This morning Wooster’s Sedimentology & Stratigraphy class visited Wooster Memorial (“Spangler”) Park for some field experience. A few of the students are shown above exploring a magnificent glacial deposit. I never did get a photo with all 21 students in it.

2 Logan Rathburn RunThe students are each writing a blog entry about the geology of this park as a writing assignment. You can see the instructions and additional images on our course page. The best entry will soon be posted in this blog under the student’s name. Above is a nice stream-side outcrop of the Logan Formation (Lower Carboniferous).

3 Trillium trail 042316It was a chilly but mercifully dry day for us. Classic early spring foliage for northeastern Ohio. [Dr. Lyn Loveless, our expert botanist, comes through in the comments: “Classic Spring Foliage – mostly (it seems from this scale) Dutchman’s Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria.  One stray Trillium.  Ah, Spring in Ohio!”]

4 Trillium grandiflorum 042316 585The most noteworthy flower this week is Trillium grandiflorum, a beautiful three-petaled white flower with six stamens.

5 Purple flower 042316This purple flower is unknown to me so far. I hope a kind expert adds its name in the comments![Lyn Loveless again is the kind commenter: “Phlox divaricata – Wild blue phlox.”]

 

Dr. Patrick O’Connor gives the 35th annual Richard G. Osgood, Jr., Memorial lecture at Wooster

April 14th, 2016

1 Patrick GeoClub 041416WOOSTER, OHIO–It was our pleasure to host Dr. Patrick O’Connor of Ohio University, who presented the 35th Annual Richard G. Osgood, Jr., Memorial Lecture. The Osgood Lectureship was endowed in 1981 by the three sons of Dr. Osgood in memory of their father, who was an internationally known paleontologist at Wooster from 1967 to 1981. We have had outstanding speakers through this lectureship, and Dr. O’Connor was one of the best. He gave his public lecture last evening (“Cretaceous Terrestrial Vertebrates from Gondwana: Insights from Eastern Africa and Madagascar”) and then a more detailed presentation to our Geology Club this morning (shown in the image above). We all learned a great deal, and Dr. O’Connor was especially good at asking our students questions.

2 Dinosaur cast 041416In Geology Club today Dr. O’Connor brought casts of fossils (like the above Maastrichtian theropod from Madagascar) and actual fossils (like the Maastrichtian bird bones from Madagascar shown below).

3 Bird bones 041416We very much appreciated Dr. O’Connor’s diverse scientific skills and accomplishments, along with his enthusiasm and good humor. This is exactly what the Osgood Lectureship is about.

 

Wooster Geologist Annette Hilton (’17) meets Lunar Geologist Harrison Schmitt

March 29th, 2016

Schmitt_Hilton_GrossAnnette Hilton (’17) gave a talk this month at the 47th Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, along with her summer internship advisor Julianne Gross of the American Museum of Natural History and Rutgers University. You can read the story of their exciting discoveries here. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any undergraduate, let alone a junior. As a bonus, they met the only geologist to go to the Moon: Harrison (Jack) Schmitt. He even stayed for Annette’s presentation. Very cool.

Nicolás Young (’05) receives a 2015 Blavatnik Award for his work measuring ice sheet response to past climate change.

October 29th, 2015

nicolas-young-greenland-rocks-637x428

Congratulations Nicolás (now a researcher in the Cosmogenic Nuclide Group at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory ) – Read more about Nicolás’ work and his award here.

Dr. Mark Wilson has been chosen to receive the Council on Undergraduate Research-Geoscience Division’s prestigious Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

October 21st, 2015

award-wilson

Dr. Wilson works with junior Geology major Sarah McGrath in the Paleontology lab.

Congratulations Dr. Wilson – well deserved (read the College release here).

 

Greetings from a Wooster Geologist in Scotland

October 18th, 2015

Annette Hilton in Scotland Oct 2015Annette Hilton (’17) is having a great time in Scotland, where she is spending a semester abroad. She had a chance to go on a geography field trip recently to the Isle of Kerrera, in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland (near Oban). She sends her greetings with this photo in front of a famous unconformity with a 200 million year hiatus. The rocks below are Precambrian (Dalradian) slates and the rocks above are Devonian alluvial conglomerates that are part of the Old Red Sandstone complex. We’re glad to see it isn’t raining. Annette is in a fantastic place to study geology.

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