University of Georgia Geology News: 2012

Graduate Research

Jason Austin

is currently investigating the utility of the stable isotopes of carbon trapped in pedogenic gibbsite as a proxy for PCO2. He uses finite difference modeling and field research in an attempt to determine whether past modeling assumptions are valid; and if not, to determine what processes are controlling the stable isotope ratios that are preserved in the geologic record.

Soil pit located at field site at the USDA ARS in Watkinsville, Georgia. Carbon isotopes will be collected from pedogenic gibbsite in this modern soil to model the PCO2 of the modern atmosphere.

Lori Babcock

is currently finishing a thesis on Greek and Turkish ancient quarry marbles. She has characterized marbles from two major quarry regions, Mount Pentelikon (Attica, Greece) and Proconnesos (Marmara Island, Turkey) based on their accessory mineral content via electron microprobe analysis. Combined statistically with traditional parameters such as maximum calcite grain size and stable isotopes, this method can be used for marble artifact provenance.

Samples of Greek and Turkish marble for Lori Babcock’s master’s research.

Joseph Boreman

is currently studying the timing and nature of Mesozoic deformation within the northern Cortez Mountains in north-central Nevada. He will be conducting his field work this summer to map the area and collect samples for geochronological and facies analysis.

Alex Brown

is currently investigating the Merida Andes in Venezuela to better understand the igneous, metamorphic, and deformational events of the Merida Andes, as well as the northern South American margin. He has conducted U-Pb and Ar/Ar geochronology along with petrographic analyses to better constrain the chronology of the Pre-Cretaceous Merida Andes.

Jim Wright, Humberto Dugarte, and Alex Brown collecting samples for zircon geochronology in the Merida Andes of Venezuela.

Nicole Duhamel

is currently working on a new approach to characterize soapstone for future provenance work of ancient Native American soapstone vessels (bowls). She uses a combination of the petrographic microscope, statistical analysis and several geochemical methods. Specifically, she is testing whether a combination of electron microprobe and stable isotopes analyses will be more efficient in taking into account the chemical and mineralogical complexity of soapstone than Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) alone.

A thin div of soapstone displaying abundant talc (blue-green mineral) with some amphibole and chlorite, from Nicole Duhamel’s master’s research.

Kirk Fraley’s

thesis work involves the expansion of an existing USGS model using geophysical logs to define saltwater/freshwater interface. He will incorporate the data into a variable density program to investigate recent trends of increasing salinity measured in fresh water springs in the Suwannee River Basin, Florida.

Kirk Fraley taking notes during his field work along the Suwannee River in Florida.

A chilly day for field work for Kirk Fraley along the Suwannee River in Florida.

Joelle Freeman

is completing her master’s thesis this spring on the effectiveness of using proxy data to predict elevated indoor radon in the state of Georgia. GIS and analysis skills from this project led to her current research assistantship with the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Program, as well as a GSA Geocorp internship this summer with the National Park Service in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Joelle Freeman using a state-of-the-art Trimble GPS receiver.

Christopher Ginn

is currently investigating the tectonic history and provenance of the Boyer Ranch Formation in west-central Nevada. Using updated field mapping, structural syntheses, and detrital and igneous zircon geochronology, he is testing which Mesozoic deformational and orogenesis model best explains this area of the western U.S. Cordilleran.

Chris Ginn, using the rock saw to cut samples of the Humboldt gabbro for thin div preparation in the rock prep laboratory.

Will Mason-Deese

is developing a model to predict storm water runoff and contributing areas in ungauged basins. A dense drainage network, extracted from high resolution topography, is used to calculate the geomorphologic instantaneous unit hydrograph. Model results will be compared to discharge data from Coweeta Hydrologic Research Laboratory in North Carolina.

Weir in watershed 14 at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, North Carolina, from William Mason-Deese’s master’s research.

Sharon McMullen

is currently studying the sequence stratigraphic controls on invertebrate and vertebrate fossils. She is using data that she collected last summer from the Jurassic Sundance Formation of the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming to correlate occurrences of fossils to sequence-stratigraphic surfaces. Sharon will finish her M.S. degree this spring and attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her Ph.D. in the fall.

Exposure of the Jurassic Sundance Formation near the base of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, from Sharon McMullen’s master’s research.

Katrina Ostrowicki

is currently studying how mineralogy and pore geometry influence resistivity in the Upper and Lower Floridan aquifer in Savannah, Georgia. She is using an image-analysis program to analyze the pore geometry, X-ray diffraction to quantify the mineralogy, and a mini-permeameter to measure permeability. Her study will be a part of the greater USGS Saline Aquifer Mapping Project, which is a regional effort to map the salinity boundaries in the Floridan Aquifer System in both Georgia and Florida.

Katrina Ostrowicki using the XRD in order to quantify the mineralogy of her samples.

Horry Parker

is currently involved in a collaborative project with UGA, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Brown University designed to investigate Paleozoic continental collision and Mesozoic rifting in the southern Appalachians. He is analyzing teleseismic earthquakes recorded on a temporary seismic array in Georgia consisting of 86 broadband seismometers. A primary goal of the project is to determine variations in crustal thickness and composition throughout the region.

Allison Platsky

is currently investigating the effects of sea-level change on marine biodiversity and dispersal. She will conduct field work in the Mohawk valley region of central New York and will use a modern ecological theory to analyze community structure. Specifically, she is testing the effect of sea-level change on the benthic marine communities of the Upper Ordovician Trenton Group.

In her master’s research, Ally Platsky will study the classic locality of Trenton Falls in New York, where West Canada Creek exposes interbedded fossiliferous limestones and shales of the Trenton Group.

Adam Sarafian

is currently studying apatite in basaltic meteorites. He uses the electron and ion probe to examine their volatile content. Adam and his advisors Mike Roden and Alberto Patiño-Douce were the first to quantitatively measure structural water in a basaltic meteorite.

Adam Sarafian examines an Antarctic meteorite at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

Judi Sclafani

is studying regional-scale controls on global biodiversity. She will measure species diversity and habitat area in four provinces across the Late Ordovician epicontinental sea and testing for a linear relationship between these two variables.

Ordovician brachiopods and bryozoans from Judi Sclafani’s master’s research.


is elucidating the paragenetic sequence of vein-hosted gold mineralization within the Money Knob deposit in Livengood, Alaska. She spent seven months at Money Knob collecting samples and immersing herself in the mineral exploration industry. She is now using stable isotope, petrographic, and electron microprobe techniques to begin to unravel the hydrothermal history of Money Knob.

Dana Susina on her way to begin field work in Livengood, Alaska. From Fairbanks just follow the pipeline north!