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”
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”
Chemistry Hall 130
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 her transducers in the Dolores River floodplain
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.
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.)
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:
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 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.