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14 August 2015


There’s been a hilarious meme on Twitter the past couple of weeks that follows in the footsteps of #OverlyHonestMethods: #FieldworkFail. If you’ve ever gone out in the field (i.e., not in a lab or office) to do your research, you know that there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. Particularly if you travel to remote locations, work with animals, or rely on finicky equipment to get the job done. (Or, in my case, when you work with volcanoes.) A number of media outlets picked up some of their favorite tweets, and I’m happy to say that two volcanologists made it on many of the lists: myself and Alison Graettinger, who’s a postdoc at the University at Buffalo.


23 July 2015

Domes galore: Obsidian Dome, Long Valley

For the final dome in our volcanology day back in my May Long Valley field trip, the W&M students and I took a short hike up to Obsidian Dome. The Obsidian, Glass Creek and Deadman Creek domes all erupted around 1350 CE, which makes them some of the youngest features in the Long Valley area. The three domes are aligned north-south and probably all erupted from the same dike, which …


28 June 2015

Domes galore: Mono Craters, Long Valley

Being the guest lecturer on a geology trip is great, especially if you get to talk about your favorite geologic features. But what does one do when volcanology day is over and it’s time for the students to do a moraine mapping project? Naturally, sit on a convenient rock and observe some lovely lava domes.


9 June 2015

Domes galore: Panum Dome, Long Valley

Oh, man. Summer is a terrible time for keeping up with blog posts, but I’ve had a good reason to be absent – I was off in Denver on business and slightly wilder parts of California with my alma mater’s summer field course. I mean, what geologist could pass up the chance to tag along on a trip to Long Valley and Yosemite? During the Long Valley and Mono Lake portion of the trip, I actually did do a little work, serving as the trip’s volcanology expert and talking about lava domes as much as anyone would let me. Because Long Valley may be a beautiful caldera and the site of one of the world’s largest eruptions, but it also has domes. Boy, does it ever have domes.


5 June 2013

Benchmarking Time: Kilauea Caldera and Kilauea Iki, Hawaii

Buffalo is actually a lovely place to be in the summer even though it’s feeling very summerlike right now. But I wouldn’t pass up another chance to revisit the Big Island, because it’s a fantastic place to be at any time of the year. One of my favorite parts of the island, aside from the malasada shops, is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Bet you couldn’t see that one coming!) I’ve been lucky enough to go there three times – once with William & Mary’s regional geology course, once with UH Hilo’s volcanology field course, and once with my parents for vacation. I loved showing my parents the park, since I’d been there with the William & Mary crowd the year before, and because I was finally getting a chance to show them what a volcano is really like.


12 October 2012

Field trip etiquette

I just spent three days on another great field trip to Bancroft, Ontario, and while I will post photos of the fabulous structural features we were observing, I thought I’d also put down some thoughts about how to comport yourself as a participant on a geology field trip. Some of this is fairly specific to students, but a lot of it goes for ‘grown up’ geologists as well (and hopefully we already know it!) Most of it is things I’ve observed people either doing well on a trip, or forgetting to do – it’s always a mix. (I screw these up myself from time to time, so it’s not like I’m a paragon of field trip virtues. I have to remind myself to do all this as well!)


21 September 2012

Field memories (Accretionary Wedge #50)

Evelyn of Georneys is hosting this month’s Accretionary Wedge, and has asked us for fun field memories. Looking back on all the field trips I’ve taken, I have quite a few, but I think the one that still sticks in my memory is my first visit to a volcano, ever. I’m pretty sure I didn’t find it hugely funny at the time (you’ll find out why), but in retrospect I always find myself laughing at…well, myself.


9 September 2012

Hydropower at Niagara Falls: The Schoellkopf Power Station

Niagara Falls has a long history of power generation, from the earliest canals of the mid-19th century to today’s massive hydroelectric stations. Nowadays, most of the process is hidden from visitors to the Falls; the tunnels and canals on either side of the border are either hidden or eclipsed by other development, and the stations themselves are far enough down the river that some visitors never see them. You can take tours of bits of the stations, but the tours are very contained and only ever visit small bits of the buildings. There is, however one place where you can see part of the historical aspect of hydroelectric power at the Falls – and what happens when natural processes interfere with man-made constructions.


16 July 2012

Hooper Garnet Mine

Recently, I finally trekked across NY state to the Adirondacks and visited the Gore Mountain area, home of several garnet mines. Now, these aren’t like the garnets I was showing in my Bancroft photos. These are HUGE. Garnets as big as your fist. The two best places to find them are at the Gore Mountain Garnet Mine (which charges an entrance fee and by the pound for what you take out), and the Hooper Mine, which is no longer in operation BUT is also free. Being grad students, my friends and I went for the free option. (The garnets at Gore mountain are, admittedly, bigger, but there is a limit to how much rock even I am willing to drive back across the state.)


26 June 2012

Blown away by Bancroft: Part IV

On the last morning of our Bancroft field trip this past April, we continued our journey through the metamorphic faces diagram with a stop at an outcrop north of Bancroft on ON-28, in the amphibolite facies.


21 May 2012

Eclipse + caldera = an excellent evening for a volcanologist

I had the excellent opportunity to view today’s annular eclipse from the top of Pajarito Mountain, just outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico. I had the excellent opportunity to view today’s annular eclipse from the top of Pajarito Mountain, just outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico. What an amazing time!


4 May 2012

Bancroft (a preview)

I was hoping to publish a really great set of posts on my recent trip to Bancroft, Ontario (metamorphic petrology galore), but the blogs have been having a few issues with image uploading. So until I can both upload the photos I want and have the time to comment on them properly, this will just be a teaser post with a few photo highlights.

The point of the excursion was to examine a progression of metamorphic facies formed under medium (Barrovian) pressure/temperature conditions. So our trip took us from Greenschist to Amphibolite to Granulite facies, all the way up to the point where the rocks gave up metamorphosing and just started to melt instead (migmatites!) There were also a few detours to mines because hey, mines are fun, especially when they have sodalite. And leucite crystals as big as your face.


18 March 2012

Fossil interlude: Eighteen Mile Creek, New York

The weather has been freakishly nice for March in Buffalo, so yesterday I decided to chuck any ideas of getting work done and went fossiling with a friend instead. The area where I live sits right on top of the Devonian Onondaga limestone, so I’m already surrounded by a very fossiliferous unit (it’s full of things like coral and brachiopods and crinoids). But for a special locale, it’s worth it to head down to Eighteen Mile Creek, which flows into Lake Erie about 12 miles southwest of Buffalo.


10 November 2011

Geology for everyone! William & Mary Geology’s 50th Anniversary weekend

Two of the three William & Mary geobloggers have already posted their summaries of what went on in Williamsburg (and environs) at this weekend’s W&M Department of Geology 50th Anniversary Celebration, so it’s time for me to get cracking! (Take a look at Callan Bentley and Chuck Bailey’s posts when you get a chance, too.)


5 August 2011

Purple everywhere! Samples from the Harding Pegmatite

All right, I’m finally getting to this post (cross-country driving trips aren’t good for keeping up with posting, apparently). My last post about the Harding Pegmatite Mine near Dixon, New Mexico had some lovely photos of the mine, but not so many of the rocks and minerals close-up. The samples I have are a little far from home (seeing as I’ve dragged them to the East coast from New Mexico), but they’re still as impressive as they were at the mine!


27 July 2011

Harding Pegmatite Mine, New Mexico

Last weekend I went on a rock-hunting trip with a group of engineers who live in my apartment complex, and on the advice of a local rafting guide (from another trip) we visited the Harding Pegmatite Mine near Dixon. The mine is no longer active (except for visits), and was donated to the University of New Mexico for educational and collecting use – and it’s pretty famous for the variety of minerals that can be found there.


5 March 2011

Pink and blue: Accretionary Wedge #32

Ann’s Musings on Geology is hosting this month’s Accretionary wedge, and she’s looking for a little color for Carnivale:

The theme will be “Throw me your ‘favorite geologic picture’ mister”Lets have the floats (submissions) ready on March 4th so it can roll on March 8. Carnival time is all about having a good time and having some fun so lets get some colorful, fun pictures submitted. Laissez les bons temp rouler!! (Let the good times roll!)


20 February 2011

A tour of deskcrops

The weather in Buffalo this weekend has gone from warm and rainy to windy and snowy to tolerably cold and sunny, with potential for more ickiness tomorrow, but for someone who likes to be warm and comfy on the weekends this doesn’t make for fantastic hiking conditions. So I decided to photograph some extremely local outcrops (otherwise known as “the ones inside the apartment, where there is heat”). None of these are actually on my desk, but I think they count as “deskcrops” (outcrops that are no longer in-situ and have often experienced extreme geographical displacement).


8 January 2011

First field trip of the year: York River, Virginia

As part of a quick trip to visit my Alma Mater earlier this week, I took an afternoon to go exploring on the shores of the York River. The river forms the northern border for the peninsula on which Williamsburg and its environs are located, and the York River (along with the James River to the south) is an excellent place to take a look at some Coastal Plain geology.


27 November 2010

Out with the old, in with the new?

This is a phrase that comes up every winter, when people start thinking about resolutions for the New Year. (Or geolutions, as the case may be.) But it popped into my head the other day as I was touring the Buffalo Museum of Science.