Geo Club news: FLC alum PJ Shumway recruiting for Newmont

By , September 9, 2011 1:30 pm

Geology Club is sponsoring an open forum with Fort Lewis Geology Alum P.J. Shumway — Monday Sept 12 from 4pm to 5pm in Berndt 340. Snacks will be provided; bring your Resume and your questions.

PJ has been working for Newmont for the last few years and is looking to help fill positions. This is your opportunity to ask questions, be noticed and possibly place yourself with one of the world’s leading gold producers.

Please visit Newmont’s website (http://www.newmont.com/) to learn more about opportunities and projects.

What our students did with their summer: internship at Mesa Verde National Park

By , August 3, 2011 8:08 pm

[Freshman geology major Emma Rodgers spent part of her summer at an internship at Mesa Verde National Park, working as an Interpretive Assistant. In this post, she tells about her experience.]

______________________________________
Cross-bedding at Mesa VerdeMesa Verde…
The green table of the desert
The home of an ancient history
The treasure of the Southwest
H ivam yeese’s

For those of you unfamiliar with Mesa Verde National Park, here is a brief run down:

  • Established in 1906
  • Has over 5000 archeological sites, from pit houses to cliff dwellings
  • Full of happy and friendly employees who love to talk, joke around, and hang out
  • Balcony House is a super fun place

Well, that’s it! Just joking, I’m sure there’s more (well there is) but that’s all you need to know for now.

In the summer of 2011, I did an interpretation internship at Mesa Verde. I wasn’t translating from Mandarin Chinese to Spanish or anything, but acting as a second uniform on guided tours. My job was to be a Tail Ranger, and my job was just as fun as the title! I got to hear everyone’s story, where they were from, how long they were here, how much fun they were having, how fascinating they found Mesa Verde. It is such a unique experience to hear what people are thinking.

Daily though, I would literally tail guided tours in Balcony House, make sure visitors were safe, fast, and respectful of sites, make sure sites stayed the same, and answer questions…over and over and over. My favorite questions were the ones where you just know the visitor is not thinking straight, and they have this slight air of self satisfaction of ‘Wow, I just came up with that question all on my own!’ But I am being mean. Most of the time they just were not thinking. These questions, though, were:

  • How many years does it take a deer to turn into an elk?
  • Why did they build the dwellings so far from the highway?
  • What happened to all the dead and burned trees?
  • What percent of the sites are undiscovered?

I especially loved how the rangers would answer these questions, especially when they were bored!

Now as a geology major, I always felt the need to give visitors some perspective, if not an appreciation, of how geology affects what we see everyday. In Mesa Verde, I ended up saying, “If it weren’t for geology (geologic processes), there would be no cliff dwellings and you probably would not be here.” Which is totally true! But I would always end up with these looks, grinning and overwhelmed but polite, like they didn’t want to listen or think about earth processes…Well, ok, it’s summer vacation, you don’t have to think.

But every now and then, there would be a visitor who was genuinely interested. Or sometimes a visitor who was an environmental hydrogeologist from Texas…Ah! That’s when I would get big eyed and end up listening to what they had to say. But when people were interested, I was able to discuss when and why the rocks were deposited, what certain unique features were, and how rocks came in handy to the Ancestral Puebloans.

One thing I think is really special about geology is that it is one of the studies that most people wish they could have learned more about in school. In today’s world too, geology is becoming more and more popular, not only with mining, but also in government surveys and maybe even in institutions. Geology happens all around us everyday, and just because we cannot see it, does not mean it isn’t important.

If there was any geology on a ranger’s tour, it was how an alcove was formed. Because of this, I will never forget how an alcove is formed and, hearing it phrased 60 different ways, I should hope I could explain it.

But through all the redundant questions, the usual story, the proud, and even the defensive visitors, I had a fantastic summer. I haven’t worked as long as other interpretive rangers and many of them say they still don’t understand the Ancestral Puebloans.

What I enjoyed the most, though, was getting people to think about where they were and who lived here long ago. We have found a 1030ft section of yucca rope, clay pots 2ft tall, and cliff dwellings with more than 150 rooms. You don’t make this kind of stuff if you are trying to survive. You don’t build structures that take months to create if you’re fighting for resources.

Mesa Verde was not a desolate, barren, land. It was full of life, for a time, full of flourishing people. They may have left, but even today, hundreds of Pueblo people visit Mesa Verde, the home of their ancestors. When you go into the cliff dwellings, treat them as you would treat a place that you hold special, because the Pueblo people do.

Cliffs at Mesa Verde National Park

Upcoming talks in the FLC Geoscience Department

By , February 26, 2011 8:11 am

The public is invited to the follow geology lectures at Fort Lewis College:

Monday, February 28

Dr. Emily Brodsky, University of California, Santa Cruz
“Seismic Waves that Trigger Earthquakes”
4:40 pm
Chemistry Hall 130
Sponsored by the NSF Geo-PRISMS program

Tuesday, March 15
Dr. Bob Krantz, ConocoPhilips
“Applied Structural Geology: Characterizing Fault Seal Behavior at Kuparuk Field, Alaska”
4:40 pm
Chemistry Hall 130

Fort Lewis Geology at the Geological Society of America annual meeting

By , October 29, 2010 10:37 pm

The Geological Society of America annual meeting starts in Denver this weekend, and Fort Lewis students and faculty are already on their way there. David Gonzales, Gary Gianniny, Cynthia Dott (Biology), and I will all be there, as will several junior and senior geology majors. If you want to find us, here’s a schedule of our presentations (bold = FLC faculty; italics = FLC students and recent alums):

Sunday, October 31

8:45 am, Room 201: ASYNCHRONOUS, ON-LINE RESOURCES TO REMEDIATE MATHEMATICAL SKILLS: FIVE INSTITUTIONS’ SUCCESSES WITH THE MATH YOU NEED, WHEN YOU NEED IT: WENNER, Jennifer M.,BAER, Eric M.D., BURN, Helen, BENSON, R.G., HANNULA, Kimberly A., and KRAMER, Kate.

2:15 pm, Room 103/105: HYDROGEOLOGIC, ISOTOPIC, AND GEOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS OF GROUNDWATER-SURFACE WATER INTERACTIONS ALONG THE FRUITLAND OUTCROP: THE BACKDROP FOR COALBED METHANE DEVELOPMENT: KROEPSCH, Adrianne, WILLIAMS, Mark, NYDICK, Koren, GIANNINY, Gary L., and VANSICKLE, Jordan.

3:15 pm, Room 708: THE TALES OF LATE CRETACEOUS TO TERTIARY GRAVELS IN SOUTHWESTERN COLORADO: GONZALES, David A. and GIANNINY, Gary L.

4:40 pm, Room 110/112: A GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION on THE ORIGIN OF SANIDINE-BEARING VOLCANIC TEMPER IN POTTERY SHERDS FROM THE FOUR CORNERS AREA: ARAKAWA, Fumiyasu, and GONZALES, David A.

Poster: INSIGHT INTO TRENDS OF FLUORINE AND CHLORINE IN MAFIC VOLCANIC ROCKS OF THE NAVAJO VOLCANIC FIELD: POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR MAGMA-VOLATILE SOURCES: GONZALES, David A., CAMMACK, Jacob N., DALBEY, Jacob M., and ZBROZEK, Michael C.

Poster: NEW INSIGHT INTO THE GEOCHEMICAL SIGNATURES OF ULTRAMAFIC TO MAFIC ROCKS OF THE NAVAJO VOLCANIC ROCK: IMPLICATIONS FOR MAGMA SOURCES: GONZALES, David A., ZBROZEK, Michael C., DALBEY, Jacob M., CAMMACK, Jacob N., and KOENIG, Alan E.

Monday, November 1

Poster: IMPACTS OF EARLIER SNOWMELT ON PATTERNS OF STREAMFLOW IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO RIVERS: DOTT, Cynthia E.

Wednesday, November 3

10:15 am, Room 705/707L SYNCHRONOUS MAXIMUM FLOODING ACROSS THE PARADOX BASIN, PENNSYLVANIAN HERMOSA GROUP, SOUTHEASTERN UTAH AND SOUTHWESTERN COLORADO: GIANNINY, Gary L., MISKELL-GERHARDT, Kimberlee J., and RITTER, Scott.

Dolores River Groundwater Monitoring: A Senior Thesis

By , September 30, 2010 9:32 am

By senior geology major Melissa Boley

Roughly 80,000 dams have been constructed in the United States in the past two centuries. These impoundments seriously affect downstream environments in many ways, some of which are still not fully understood. It is understood that dam construction significantly impacts riparian ecosystems that are related to groundwater levels, but less is directly known about how impoundment directly impacts recharge and drawdown rates of floodplain aquifers. The Dolores River is a mountain stream originating from the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, and has been impounded by McPhee Dam. For my senior thesis, I am studying how the construction of McPhee Reservoir has impacted the Dolores River and its adjacent floodplain aquifers. With the help of the Fort Lewis College Geology and Biology Department, my advisor Dr.Gary Gianniny, and my friends and family, nine groundwater monitoring wells have been installed in three different pointbars along the Dolores River. There are two sites below McPhee Reservoir and one site above. Each site has three wells (combination of galvanized steel and PVC pipe) with pressure transducers, which were installed on elevation transects perpendicular to the river. Each site also contains a barometric pressure transducer, which will be important in accounting for atmospheric pressure in my results. I am currently working with the Dolores River Dialogue, an organization working to improve downstream ecological conditions though the operational management of the McPhee Reservoir, as well as Dr.Cynthia Dott and Dr. Julie Korb from the Fort Lewis College Biology Department, in order to further the scope of this study to dam operational management and riparian vegetation.

Melissa with transducer
Melissa with her transducers in the Dolores River floodplain

Half way through field camp

By , June 27, 2010 10:22 am

The field camp students are back in Durango. Three weeks done, three weeks to go. So far they’ve been near Silverton with David Gonzales, in Utah with Ray Kenny, and in the mountains above Vallecito Creek with me (Kim Hannula). Here are some pictures from last week:

Our field area was on Middle Mountain, between the Vallecito and Pine River valleys. We backpacked for about four miles and camped in the headwaters of Second Creek, at about 11,800 feet, near tree line. The field area extended north for about a mile and a half from our camping site, and was a mixture of forest, rock, and high altitude lakes.

Northern part of field area

The snow is mostly gone, and the skies were perfectly clear. The nearly full moon made it bright enough that we could have mapped all night. (But we didn’t.)

Moon over Middle Mountain

It was warm, too. Temperatures in Durango were apparently in the 90s. Ours were in the 70s, which would have been beautiful, except that the little lakes and warm temperatures combined for the most vicious crop of mosquitoes I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve worked in Alaska).

Here’s a sample from my field notebook:

Mosquitoes

I swear the clouds of mosquitoes were going to carry some of the students away. Fortunately, they didn’t, and the students are safe to continue to northern New Mexico, where they will be working with Lauren for three weeks.

Welcome to the FLC Geosciences blog

By , June 4, 2010 11:37 am

Welcome to our new blog! The Fort Lewis College Department of Geosciences is going to be using this space to pass on news about the department and geological happenings in Durango.

Today is the last day of the first summer session. On Monday, Field Camp begins, with work in the San Juan Mountains (with David Gonzales next week and Kim Hannula on June 21-25), Utah (with Ray Kenny, June 14-18), and northern New Mexico (with Lauren Heerschap, June 28-July 16). We’ll use this space to share pictures and stories.

We’re also busy getting ready for the Rocky Mountain AAPG meeting, to be held on campus June 13-16. The meeting field trips include an examination of the Pennsylvanian Hermosa Group (led by Gary Gianniny), an overview of the tectonics of the western San Juan Mountains (led by David Gonzales), a transect through the oil and gas reservoirs of the San Juan basin (led by Don Owen and FLC alum Chip Head), a look at gas seeps of the Fruitland Formation, and an excursion to dune-facies sandstones in Utah (led by FLC alum Katy Duncan-Benitez). Several of our recently graduated seniors will be giving presentations on their senior thesis work in the technical sessions.

We’re also looking forward to the annual Four Corners Gem and Mineral Show, July 9-11. It’s always a lot of fun, whether you’re a collector, a rock-ogler, or a kid who likes to play with rocks.

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