Wooster Geologists begin the 2014-2015 school year

August 30th, 2014

GeoClub2014_585What a fine group of geologists we had at the first meeting of the College of Wooster Geology Club this week. We have an ambitious year ahead of us with outside speakers, student presentations, course field trips, and our biennial Mojave Desert Spring Expedition. Our number of geology majors has grown significantly as well, which is delightful for the faculty and staff. This great photo was taken by our departmental chair, Greg Wiles. Too bad he couldn’t have been in his own expertly composed image.

Links to our course offerings this semester can be found on our Geology Department Courses page.

B.C. Bound Part II: Here’s to Not Getting Eaten by Bears

June 25th, 2014

Guest Bloggers: Julia Franceschi and Mary Reinthal

A little over a week ago at Spoon market in downtown Wooster, we met our research collaborators from Dickinson College. Although it was the first time we met rising junior Liz Plascencia and Dr. Ben Edwards, after a little talking and a lot of food, it seemed like we had known them for years.

It turns out Liz is just like us: she loves the outdoors, she doesn’t want to get eaten by a bear in the field (*potentially*) and, of course, she loves rocks. It was a good sign for the weeks to come, because together, we prepared mentally and physically for the impending two-week trip to British Columbia, Canada (maybe not mentally, but we definitely went to the gym together).

PREP WORK/ WHY WE ARE GOING:

Pillow Ridge in British Columbia has exceptional pillow lava exposure. These pillows were created by subglacial volcanic features, and were subsequently sheared by a retreating glacier, thus making for an excellent work site to study these lavas. It is our hope to observe, characterize, and model the pillow-dominated area for reconstruction of the stratigraphy, and study a variety of pillow samples for geochemical analysis.

So in the weeks preceding the trip to Pillow Ridge, Wooster students Adam Silverstein, Mary Reinthal, Julia Franceschi (and of course Liz) did a lot of preparation from previously collected samples from the area. We made pressed pellets, fused glass beads, picked glass chips for volatile analysis. It wasn’t all physical work. Sometimes we read papers on pillow lavas for three hours in Broken Rocks over coffee with Dr. Pollock. Sometimes we did equipment checks and learned how to use a Brunton compass. It was a very “independent minds working together”-type atmosphere, but everyday was a lot of fun. See below for an exciting array of pictures portraying the lab work. 

This is the much talked about Liz Plascencia (with 9/10 of Adam Silverstein). They are in the process of weighing samples.

This is the much talked about Liz Plascencia (with 9/10 of Adam Silverstein). They are in the process of weighing samples.

This is a happy teaching moment at the XRD. Pictured is the one and only Dr. Pollock, and one of the tree-ring-lab students, rising sophomore Sarah McGrath.

This is a happy teaching moment at the XRD. Pictured is the one and only Dr. Pollock, and one of the tree-ring-lab students, rising sophomore Sarah McGrath.

This is rising Junior Mary Reinthal doing major and trace element graphs on Excel. Doesn’t she look happy? Because she loves geology, that’s why.

This is rising Junior Mary Reinthal doing major and trace element graphs on Excel. Doesn’t she look happy? Because she loves geology, that’s why.

Julia Franceschi of the class of 2016 is packing equipment with incredible skill. This girl knows camping.

Julia Franceschi of the class of 2016 is packing equipment with incredible skill. This girl knows camping.

T-MINUS 24 HOURS:

Having accomplished a lot in the past couple of weeks together, we are now preparing in the last hours to fly out to Vancouver. Together we make an interesting team. We range in field experience from beginner to advanced. We have put in a lot of work, and are now ready for “roughing it” in the field. We have our tents packed and our ugly sweaters prepared. Ready or not, British Columbia, the Wooster and Dickinson crew are coming. And we are prepared to make memories and come back more knowledgeable than when we left (or at least with better thigh muscles/definition). Here’s to a new adventure!

Almost ready for British Columbia

June 24th, 2014

Guest Blogger: Liz Plascencia
 

It’s safe to say that time truly does fly. Seemingly having know Mary and Julia for years, I am reminded that my arrival to The College of Wooster was a little over a week ago.

 
As a rising junior, Earth Sciences major from Dickinson College I will be accompanying, Ben Edwards, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dickinson College, Meagen Pollock, Assistant Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster, and undergraduate students Mary Reinthal (Wooster ’16), Julia Franceschi (Wooster ’16), and Will Kotchtitsky (Dickinson ’16) to Northern British Columbia. Through our investigation of pillow lava last year at two quarries in southwest Iceland we are now going to spend a couple of weeks collecting similar data and samples from northern British Columbia, Canada. Though pillow lava is one of the most abundant volcanic units in the world, there is still much to be done in terms of quantitatively and qualitatively categorizing them. Thus that will be one of our main tasks this summer. 

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Under the guidance of Doctor Pollock, Mary, Julia, and I spent a couple of prep weeks preparing pressed pellets and glass beads from past Pillow Ridge, Canada samples.

 

Mary preparing a pressed pellet (Wooster ’16)

Mary preparing a pressed pellet (Wooster ’16)

We're all packed up. Our flight departs from Cleveland Airport around noon tomorrow and so the adventure begins.

We’re all packed up. Our flight departs from Cleveland Airport around noon tomorrow and so the adventure begins.

Beginning our journey from Vancouver all the way up to Pillow Ridge, Mt. Edziza. 
 
4 planes, 2 SUV’s, and 2 helicopters —  this surely is going to be a geological journey to remember.

Wooster Geologists at the North American Paleontological Convention in Florida

February 16th, 2014

Lizzie & Steph 021514GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA–Steph Bosch (’14), Lizzie Reinthal (’14) and I flew out of icy Ohio this weekend to attend the 10th North American Paleontological Convention in warm, sunny northern Florida. The students jointly presented the beautiful poster above on their Independent Study projects in the Matmor Formation (Middle Jurassic, Callovian) of southern Israel. It was very well received, especially with the addition of fantastic scanning electron microscope images of bryozoans produced by our colleague Paul Taylor at the Natural History Museum in London.

Crowd scene 021514Here’s a crowd scene from the first poster session at NAPC. If you look closely in the center, you’ll see two Wooster alumnae who are prominent paleontologists. Can’t swing a cat at a paleo meeting without hitting Wooster Geologists.

Hilton 021514This is a nondescript image of our hotel and convention center in Gainesville. I show it only to marvel in the blue, blue sky and perfect temperatures. We are on the University of Florida campus near the Florida Museum of Natural History. The paleontology staff at that museum is sponsoring this meeting — and they are doing an extraordinary job made more complex by the absence of about a third of the participants still snow-bound in the north. We escaped through a window of clear weather in Ohio.

Last official meeting of Wooster Team Israel

January 10th, 2014

Team Israel 2013 011014WOOSTER, OHIO — Above you see Wooster Team Israel 2013 veterans Lizzie Reinthal, Steph Bosch and Oscar Mmari (whom I seem to have caught with his mouth full). Since I’m starting a research leave this semester, we took a last chance to have an evening meeting with pizza, lemon dessert, popcorn and a movie in the warm Wilson living room. It is wintry Ohio outside, but we all have memories of the beautiful Negev:

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And what was the movie? You really don’t need to ask, do you?

Lawrence poster

Wooster Geologists Alumni Reception at the 2013 Geological Society Annual Meeting in Denver

October 28th, 2013

1385503_699991804083_1509863553_nDENVER, COLORADO–It is a tradition at the annual GSA meeting to have a Wooster Geologists alumni gathering. Here is this evening’s happy crew of current students, faculty and alumni — or at least a snapshot of a continuum of people coming and going. We missed Dr. Greg Wiles, who could not be with us this year. Thirty people were present at some point.

Geology Independent Study at Wooster highlighted at GSA meeting in Denver

October 28th, 2013

Meagen102813DENVER, COLORADO–This afternoon Dr. Meagen Pollock presented a poster at the Geological Society of America entitled: “The history, current best practices, and future trajectory of the Independent Study (I.S.) program at The College of Wooster“. In this work, co-authored with the other Wooster geology faculty members, Dr. Pollock outlined the structure of I.S. in geology, emphasizing the philosophy behind what we do. It was well attended, from what I saw, and started many interesting conversations about undergraduate research. An advantage of presenting this poster here is that there were several Wooster I.S. students nearby showing their research results.

Wooster Geologists begin a new year

August 30th, 2013

Fall 2013 Wooster Geologists 585WOOSTER, OHIO–The happy people above represent most of the Wooster Geology Club in late August, 2013. We’re missing one faculty member: Greg Wiles, who is currently in the Far East of Russia on a research leave. Thank you to Danielle Reeder for taking this fine photograph.

Links to our course offerings this semester can be found on our Geology Department Courses page.

This is also a good opportunity to link interested readers to our latest annual report, which is available as a pdf download along with reports from previous years.

A Beautiful Day at Fern Valley

April 30th, 2013

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A large crowd of community members congregated on Saturday to show their appreciation for the donation of Fern Valley to The College of Wooster as its new field station. Betty and David (retired French Professor) Wilkin donated the tract of land located in northern Holmes County that includes a gorge and a stream (Wilkin Run (unofficial name)).

teamDavid and Betty Wilkin with Lyn Loveless (right, Biology) during the dedication of the Fern Valley field station.

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President Grant Cornwell shows his appreciation for the gift to the College.

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A transdisciplinary group examines the biota and geologic setting of the stream bed. Several classes across the curriculum have visited and collected data from Fern Valley. 

A BRIEF GEOLOGIC SETTING

Geology has begun to install dataloggers and other equipment to monitor streamflow, sediment flux and mass movements at Fern Valley. Photos and the data collected will be archived at the Wooster Digital Resource Commons.

The Geology includes Paleozoic sedimentary rocks overlain by as much as 150 feet of unconsolidated glacial sediments. The water well logs in the area show a buried valley that includes a preglacial lacustrine deposit of several tens of feet of lacustrine clays. The clays were laid down prior to the most recent (~20 ka) advance of the Laurentide Icesheet and the tills and ice contact deposits exposed along the valley walls incorporate these lake clays.  Wilkin Run is now cutting through this sedimentary pile and in many places is now in the lake clays. The lake clays serve as a hydrologic barrier and slip plane for mass movements along the valley.

A Clinton Well drilled in 1950 to a total depth (TD) of 3000 feet  is also on the property and is now part of a natural gas storage field. The current land use in the basin is largely agricultural.

Wilkin Run (below) flows north into Odell Lake. Wooster geologists have cored the lake and together with the ongoing monitoring of sediment flux through Fern Valley; sediment that ultimately ends up in Odell Lake, they can better interpret the sediment cores.

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Dr. Meagen Pollock and Russ along with their dogs enjoying the dedication and geology of Fern Valley.

Wooster Geology poster session at the 2013 Senior Research Symposium at The College of Wooster

April 26th, 2013

Joe_Wilch_2013WOOSTER, OHIO–It was a bit of a crowded room in Andrews Library for our geology seniors (and all their friends, family and faculty), but it was a very happy place. Joe Wilch (above) escaped the crowd, though, because he is a double math and geology major and thus presented his poster in Taylor Hall. His title: “Insights into the tectonic evolution of the northern Snake Range metamorphic core complex from 40Ar/39Ar thermochronologic modeling results, northern Snake Range, Nevada.” Much math ensued in that project. I told Joe to look grim — anyone can smile for the camera. This was the best he could do. Joe recently gave a poster at the Keck Geology Symposium. He seems to be still wearing the same shirt.

Will_Cary_2013Will Cary, a member of Team Utah, presented his poster on “Ballistics analysis of volcanic ejecta: Miter Crater, Ice Springs Volcanic Field, Black Rock Desert, Utah.” He had lots of bright Wooster sunshine behind him. This was fitting because he’s a Wooster boy.

Jenn_Horton_2013Jenn Horton discussed her project: “Dating the First Millennium AD glacial history of Adams Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, southeast Alaska.” She had many adventures in the Alaskan wilderness this summer leading to this warm and dry session back in Old Woo.

Anna_Mudd_2013Anna Mudd is here passionately presenting her poster: “Clay mineral analysis and paleoclimate interpretation of a middle Miocene paleosol in the Powder River Volcanic Field, northeast Oregon.” Like Joe Wilch, she also discussed her work at the 2013 Keck Geology Symposium meeting in California. You can see here an image of Anna as a Junior I.S. student last year as she began her research journey.

Jonah_Novek_2013Jonah Novek did his fieldwork in the Baltic with the well-remembered Richa Ekka (a member of this class who graduated early). Jonah’s title: “Analysis of a Rhuddanian (Llandovery, Lower Silurian) sclerobiont community in the Hilliste Formation on Hiiumaa Island, Estonia: a hard-substrate-dwelling relict fauna.” I’m pleased that he didn’t wear his tuxedo today.

Matt_Peppers_2013Matt Peppers is another Team Utah member. His title: “Analysis of Ice Springs Volcanic field structures, Black Rock Desert, Utah.” Matt is looking dapper in an increasingly warming room.

Kit_Price_2013Kit Price did her fieldwork in southern Indiana, and then loads of paleontological lab work back in Wooster. Her project is titled: “A description of cryptoskeletozoan communities and growth analyses of cryptic Cuffeyella arachnoidea and Cornulites from the Upper Ordovician (Richmondian) of Ohio and Indiana.” She appears to be explaining her poster to Johnny Cash.

Whitney_Sims_2013Whitney Sims is yet another Team Utah member. She had the extra experience of attending a conference on volcanism with her advisors. Whiteny’s title: “Geochemical and geospatial analysis: mapping Miter’s lava flows in Ice Springs Volcanic Field, Black Rock Desert, Utah.”

Melissa_Torma_2013Melissa Torma went on an excellent spring trip to the Negev in southern Israel over a year ago for her I.S. fieldwork. She clearly enjoyed it! Her title: “The paleoecology of a brachiopod-bearing marly subunit of the Matmor Formation, Israel: A Middle Jurassic marine environment near the equator.”

Lauren_Vargo_2013bFinally, Lauren Vargo got one more presentation today after her morning talk. Her title: “Tree-ring evidence of north Pacific volcanically-forced cooling and forcing of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).” Gotta love those wiggly lines!

We are very proud of our Wooster Geology seniors. Well done, young geologists!

 

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