tr Keck Geology Consortium, Author at Keck Geology Consortium
IODP Focus Project Update

IODP Focus Project Update

Suzanne O’Connell (Wesleyan) and Joseph Ortiz (Kent State) led four students to the International Ocean Discovery Program core repository at Texas A&M University. They measured elemental data (XRF), magnetic susceptibility, and gamma-ray attenuation on Pliocene-age IODP cores from ODP Site 697, located in the Jane Basin off the tip of Antarctica. Post-processing is using principal component and wavelet analysis to look for changes in the depositional environment and identify an orbital signal.  Preliminary results show a strong obliquity signal. Samples were also taken for diatom identification and coarse fraction mineralogy (ice-rafted detritus).

See the abstract submitted to fall GSA meeting for more science details.

Dominica Frontier Project Update

Dominica Frontier Project Update

From June 9th to July 7th, Professor Holli Frey (Union College) successfully lead the premier Keck Frontier project “Hazards in the Caribbean: The history of magma chambers, eruptions, landslides, streams, and fumeroles in Dominica,” along with co-leaders, Amanda Schmidt (Oberlin), Erouscilla “Pat” Joseph (University of the West Indies), Laura Waters (Sonoma State University) and sixteen undergraduates from 15 schools across the United States. During a two-week period, based at the Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center on Dominica, students collected samples ranging from pumice clasts and ash from thick ignimbrite sequences, to enclaves and mingled magmas observed in extruded resurgent domes, to hydrothermally altered rocks and volcanic gasses, to river sediments and stream and hydrothermal waters, as well as measuring and creating entirely new stratigraphic columns for regions of the island. In total, we exported 57 water samples from Dominica (21 meteoric and 36 hydrothermal) in 285 vials and more than a dozen aliquots of volcanic gasses in Giggenbach flasks. We collected 70 rock samples (~345 lbs) and 20 sediment samples (~300 lbs).

Motivating scientific questions for projects based in volcanology and petrology included addressing the differences between the pre-eruptive conditions for the voluminous ignimbrite eruptions and their extruded counterparts, the resurgent domes. We are also establishing common petrologic characteristics and intensive variables (e.g. P, T, H2O) of the mafic lavas erupting on Dominica, as they are under documented and hypothesized to be parental to all erupted magmas. Volcanic gasses and hydrothermal waters were sampled to determine their geochemistry and isotopic composition in collaboration with the UWI Seismic Research Center for continued characterization of a potential monitor for volcanic unrest. In a synergistic project, hydrothermally altered samples were collected to determine the interplay between volcanic gasses, magmatic waters and intermediate igneous rocks that compose most of the bedrock. Water samples were collected from meteoric streams to continue a three-year long project monitoring project, determining what controls chemical/isotopic variation, and analyzing the potential lasting effects of severe tropical storms (i.e. Tropical Storm Erika, August 2015), which frequently trigger mass wasting events. River sediments were collected in order to evaluate the extent to which human land use impacts erosion rates on the island.

After field work, students traveled to Union College for a two-week period to conduct a variety of analyses including grain size analyses, wet chemistry, Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (IC-PMS), x-ray diffraction (XRD) and quantitative scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with the essential support of Dr. Matt Manon (Union College). In total, 13 abstracts were submitted to the upcoming fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Initial petrologic findings based on two-oxide thermometry and plagioclase hygrometry indicate that both the effusive and eruptive products on Dominica are extraordinarily cold and hydrous (up to 9 wt% H2O!), which suggests a relatively deep source area for the magmas and has implications for the future volcanic hazard potential of the island. The volcanic gasses and hydrothermal waters show the effects of magmatic degassing and evaporation, with some variation from year to year, suggesting a very dynamic system. The meteoric waters appear to show the effects of changes in annual rainfall, but little influence of the tropical storm. GIS work identified 934 landslides on the island (~13% of area) and we are working to establishing basin average erosion rates and incision rates.

Project leaders express their gratitude for the funding received through the Keck Consortium, for the support and time investment of the fund administrators at both Macalester and Union Colleges, and for the operational support gifted by Dr. Matt Manon that was so fundamental to the success of this project.

Alaska Gateway Project Update

Alaska Gateway Project Update

Five Gateway Program students joined Greg Wiles (Wooster) in Juneau for a dendrochronological study of Yellow Cedar in Juneau, Alaska.  Their work supports the hypothesis that the trees are experiencing widespread mortality as a result of warmer springs, which promotes earlier melting of the insulating snowpack over the shallow root systems, making the trees susceptible to frost damage. Our study also provides well-replicated ring-width and BI records for further research on how trees respond to rapid climate change.  The “dendro” team also visited the Alaska State Museum and interacted with geoscientists from the University of Alaska.


Abstract submitted to Fall GSA Meeting:

Charlton, J., A. J. Cruz, M. M. Lummus, K. Loadholt, C. Messerich, G. Wiles, B. Burma, J. Krapek (2017). Yellow cedar growth response decadal climatic shifts at Cedar Lake, Juneau, Alaska. GSA Abstracts with Programs 49(6), dos: 10.1130/abs/2017AM-298740.

Utah Gateway Project Update

Utah Gateway Project Update

Meagen Pollock (Wooster) and five Gateway Program students used geochemical mapping to revise the boundaries of some of the lava flows in the Ice Springs Volcanic Field of the Black Rock Desert.  Our teamdetermined new ages for the lava flows that are approximately 10,000 years older than published estimates. This study also used geochemical mapping to revise the boundaries of some of the lava flows, further enhancing our understanding of the eruption behavior of compound polygenetic volcanoes.  Our research team also visited the Natural Museum History of Utah and interacted with geoscientists from the Utah Geological Survey Core Research Center.

Abstract Submitted to Fall GSA Meeting:

Patzkowsky, S., E. Randall, M. L. Rosen, A. Thompson, P. N. Moua, K. Schantz, M. Pollock, S. A. Judge, M. Williams, C. Matesich (2017). New cosmogenic and VML dates and revised emplacement history of the Ice Springs Volcanic Field in the Black Rock Desert, Utah. GSA Abstracts with Programs 49(6), doi: 10.1130/abs/2017AM-306786.

2017-2018 Keck Geology Consortium Undergraduate Research Projects

The 2017-2018 Keck Geology Consortium projects involve a mix of field and laboratory research experiences that make meaningful scientific contributions in the areas of structural geology, paleontology and paleoecology, and paleoclimatology as well as igneous and metamorphic petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, and hydrogeology. Keck Geology Consortium research has resulted in more than 300 presentations at regional and national meetings, the vast majority with student co-authors, and more than 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals including a GSA Special paper (377).

Gateway Research Projects:

The Gateway project is specifically designed for first and second year students, especially those from underrepresented minority groups, interested in the Geosciences. This program focuses on authentic research experiences and exploration of the discipline and its intersections with socially relevant issues.

2017-2018 Gateway Project:

Exploring Geochronology: Dating Young Lava Flows and Old Trees in Decline

Focused and Frontier Research Projects:

Focused and Frontier research projects are designed for rising Junior and Senior declared science majors who are looking for a year-long authentic research experience in the Geosciences.  These projects include a collaborative summer field or laboratory experience followed by an entire academic year of deeper questioning, data collection, analysis, and dissemination.

2017-2018 Focused Project:

Unraveling Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics Viewed though a Marine Depth Transect near the South Orkney Microcontinent, Weddell Sea

2017-2018 Frontier Project:

Hazards in the Caribbean: The history of magma chambers, eruptions, landslides, streams, and fumeroles in Dominica