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Student Research 2002

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Lisa Hansen
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Karen Havholm

Earth Science Teaching Materials and Techniques for the Visually Impaired

Geology is a division of science that relies heavily on the use of sight for gathering data and making interpretations about earth history. Utilizing maps, identifying rocks and minerals, recognizing rock relationships in the field, and sequencing events using cross sections are primarily visual activities. For a student with a visual impainrient this can cause a great deal of frustration. As a student with a Visual impairment, I experienced this firsthand in an introductory level geology course. Though willing to adapt the curriculum, the professor lacked the resources and knowledge required to do so. To help others in the same predicament, we decided to search for existing resources on teaching geology to students with Visual impairinents. We found approximately ten articles and abstracts on how to adapt laboratory and lecture materials to meet the needs of Students with visual impairments. In addition we uncovered several ways of making geologic maps and diagrains tactile as opposed to visual through the use of glue, fabric paint, wikki stix, and thermoform techniques. Our research also led us to an understanding regarding the levels of visual impairments and how students' needs will differ based on their visual abilities and experiences. A searchable database consisting of articles, catalogs, websites, and abstracts on this subject is in progress.

Luke Beranek
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Bradford Burton and Phillip Ihinger

Geology and Geochemistry of the North Doherty Mountain Intrusive Complex, SW Montana

This study analyzes the geology and geochemistry of the Boulder Batholith area in southwest Montana and its correlation with regional satellitic plutons such as the North Doherty Mountain Intrusive Complex. A suite of rocks collected in summer 2001 questions fundamental geologic processes such as placement of magmatism in continential areas and generation of derivative magmas from possible parental material. Analysis of both mafic and calc-alkaline rocks from the North Doherty Mountain Intrusive Complex was completed by both geochemical and petrological examination. Geochemical data, including major and trace element concentrations, were collected using X-Ray Fluorescence analysis here at UWEC. In addition, detailed thin section petrography provided further information on the crystal chemistry of the mineral phases within the rocks. This data has been used to hypothesize trends and timing of magmatism found in the Montana Fold-and-Thrust Belt along with developmental models of the Boulder Batholith, its evolution, emplacement, and uplift.

Nicole Bergstrom
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Karen Havholm

Mid-Holocene Dune and Sand-Sheet environment, Lauder Sandhills, Glacial Lake Hind Basin, Southwestern Manitoba, Canada

A buried mid-Holocene eolian sand deposit, formed between 6760 and 5350 RCYBP, is observed in three cut-bank exposures along the Souris River in the Lauder Sand Hills, glacial Lake Hind Basin, southwestern Manitoba. This deposit overlies a lacustrine/wetland deposit and is overlain by sand-sheet/fluvial deposits. A late Holocene parabolic dune unit caps the sequence. The eolian unit comprises two subangular to subrounded, fine- to medium-grained sand facies. 1) Packages up to 1m thick of low-angle cross-stratified to horizontally laminated strata consist of thin, laterally continuous to lenticular beds with interbedded lenses/layers of predominantly medium-grained sand. This facies represents an irregular sand sheet surface with vegetation disrupting flow, producing irregular and discontinuous strata and packages of steeper strata formed on small shadow dunes. 2) A set of NE to ESE (42-107°) dipping high-angle (up to 32°) cross-strata up to 1.5m thick contains packages up to 3cm thick of millimeter scale laminations alternating with predominantly medium-grained strata up to 3cm thick. Locally, laminated packages are lacking. This facies represents slipface deposition with grainfall/grainflow strata alternating with packages of wind ripple strata. Parabolic or crescentic dunes >1.5m high migrated northeast, or eastward in a bimodal wind regime. This contrasts with late Holocene dune migration to the southeast. Together, these deposits suggest a landscape where dunes interspersed with and migrated over vegetated interdune sand sheets.

Joshua Carlisle
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Bradford Burton and Phillip Ihinger

Geochemistry of Eocene–Oligocene Volcanic Rocks in the Carlin-Piñon Range, Elko County, Nevada

Our study examines the nature of the volcanic rocks of the Robinson Mountain Complex in northeastern Nevada. The major and trace element geochemistry of these rocks are compared to that of the intrusive rocks of the Ruby Mountains located ~ 25 km to the east. This study provides compelling evidence that the two respective mountain ranges are composed of igneous rocks that were part of the same plumbing system, and thus they quantify the slip along the Ruby Mountain shear zone. Our results, for the first time, serve to constrain the extent of crustal extension within the Basin and Range Province throughout Eocene-Oligocene time. Our study builds upon the results of the field studies of Sarah Gordee (UWEC 02) and Carter Dettloff (01) (see map presented by Melissa Weisheipl at Poster Day 2002). This study area is of interest to industry because of its location within, and relevance to the development of large disseminated gold deposits of the Carlin trend, northern Nevada.

Jacob Chmielowiec
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Phillip Ihinger

Computer Simulations of Crystal Growth

Computer simulations of crystal growth from hydrothermal solution have been conducted using data available from measurements of impurity concentrations in natural crystals. The measurements on natural crystals show that different crystal faces grow at different rates (and hence incorporate different concentrations of impurities). Order-of magnitude differences in the concentration of these impurities have been observed across sharp boundaries indicating that minimal diffusion has occurred since crystallization. In this project we used these measurements to simulate the morphological changes of the crystal through time. Our simulations allow us to see, for the first time, how crystals behave during growth and, furthermore, how growth rates on the crystal faces are dependent upon each other. The results are displayed visually using graphing software. Three-dimensional software will allow the data to be displayed as a three-dimensional crystal model that can demonstrate visually how the crystal looked and grew through time.

Sarah Gordee
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: J. Brian Mahoney

Petrology of Granitic Suites in Eastern Bella Coola Area

The eastern Bella Coola map area in southwest, coastal British Columbia, is currently the focus of a new, federal Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI) project that intends to increase understanding of the geological evolution and assess mineral potential. Bedrock geologic mapping was conducted during the summer of 2001, and this study is an attempt to characterize the magmatism of the Bella Coola area. The geology of the Bella Coola map area (NTS 93D/7, 8, 9, 10) is dominated by extensive Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous volcanic and sedimentary sequences intruded by voluminous, dominantly intermediate, plutonic rocks. Plutonism is tentatively interpreted to be Jurassic to Eocene in age. Suites in this study are divided mainly on the basis of composition, texture, weathering, alteration, fabric, and cross-cutting field relationships. Jurassic magmatism includes intermediate, fine-grained dioritic intrusive complexes associated with the Hazelton volcanics, and coarse-grained granite of the Dean River pluton. The Cretaceous includes several distinct suites; quartz dioritic intrusions related to the Monarch volcanics, and other tonalitic to granodioritic plutons. Eocene plutonism is homogeneous, coarse grained, two-mica granite. These divisions will be tested and modified by ongoing detailed petrographic, geochemical, and geochronological studies.

April Johnson
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: J. Brian Mahoney

Characteristics of Submarine Mass-Flow Deposits Adjacent to Nifty Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide Occurences, Eastern Bella Coola

Within the Canadian Cordillera, the Hazelton Volcanic Group, consists of one of the most widely distributed Mesozoic arc-magmatic successions. Rocks of the Hazelton Group consist of dominantly mafic island-arc volcano sedimentary assemblages that broadly range from Early to Middle Jurassic. However, in the Mt. Collins Nifty area a large felsic succession of rhyolitic pyroclastic and resedimented pyroclastic strata form an areally restricted lense enclosed by the more mafic volcanic components of the Hazelton Group. The geographic setting of the Mt. Collins/Nifty region is important because of its similarity to the Eskay Creek type that has hosted massive sulphides, epithermal gold, and associated copper gold porphyry deposits. These deposits were found within a (mafic) mudstone succession intercalated within a (felsic) bimodal volcanic succession. The investigation of this region describes the stratigraphic and petrographic character of the rhyolitic sedimentary succession and incorporates detailed data of the adjacent coeval mafic rocks of the Hazelton Group to provide a comprehensive framework of the geologic setting and mineral potential of the Hazelton Group in the Mt. Collins/Nifty region.

Paul Knippel
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Karen Havholm

Investigation of the local Mt. Simon Formation

The Upper Cambrian Mt. Simon sandstone is a quartz arenite, deposited as part of a transgressive epicontinental sea. It unconformably overlies the Precambrian basement, and is reportedly 70-80m thick in the study area. It has a gradational contact with the overlying, finer-grained Eau Claire formation. The purpose of this study is to examine local, undocumented outcrops of the Mt. Simon Formation, and compare them to a regional study of the unit by Driese in 1981. Stratigraphically, the outcrops studied should correspond to Driese's (1981) upper facies, which is described as a fine to coarse grain quartz arenite with abundant Skolithos traces, and structureless beds with cross- and troughcross-strata in the upper 2-5m. Abundant Skolithos grade into abundant, disarticulated brachiopods up section, and the depositional environment is interpreted as tidal flats. The outcrops examined match this description, and additional observations include sub- to rounded grains, and interbedded 2-4mm silt and shale beds that vary in abundance, and appear as coherent beds and discontinuous drapes, with bioturbation as horizontal, branching burrows. Preserved structures indicate multi-directional transport, and vertical Skolithos burrows indicate a high-energy, near-shore environment. Results of the study may be used to update the resources available for understanding the geology of the Eau Claire area, providing information for continued research, and engineering or hydrogeology interests in the Eau Claire area.

Benjamin Paulson
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Phillip Ihinger

Crystal Fractionation in Mafic Alkaline Magmas: Insights into the Chemical Evolution of the Mantle

Mafic alkaline magmas are the products of melting the deep mantle. Although to date they are poorly characterized, they represent our most direct way of determining the chemical composition of the Earth's interior and how it has changed through time. In order to extract the composition of the source of this (or any) magma, it is essential that we track the processes that have changed the magma's composition while ascending through the crust. Crystal fractionation is one such fundamental process that changes the composition of magmas; as crystals are removed from the magma, they change the concentration of the residual chemical components. The Shonkin Sag in central Montana is a large intrusive complex that consists of a continuous series of crystals that were progressively removed from a single vat of mafic alkaline magma. We have taken samples from seven localities within the complex that represent different stages of crystallization of this magma. These samples have been sectioned and analyzed petrographically for mineral content and mineral texture. In addition, we have begun to characterize the trace element mineral chemistry of the principle phases to document the crystallization sequence using the electron microprobe here at UWEC. Our results are compared to the mineral chemistry of the well-characterized New England lamprophyre suite so that the chemical variations resulting from fractional crystallization within those magmas can be distinguished from changes resulting from other magmatic processes (such as crustal assimilation and magma mixing) that have affected their composition.

Molly Sandgren
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Robert Barth and Phillip Ihinger

Geochemical Analysis and Sourcing of Wisconsin Obsidian Artifacts

New research conducted by Dr. Robert Barth, Dr. Phil Ihinger, and Molly Sandgren, in association with the Northwest Research Obsidian Studies Laboratory, presents reason for the greater understanding of obsidian use and trade in Wisconsin. Two recent finds in the counties of Dunn and Chippewa were analyzed by use of non-destructive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and obsidian hydration dating, sourced to Obsidian Cliff and approximated to Late Woodland time.

Jeremy Treague
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Kent Syverson

GIS Analysis of Northern Wisconsin Glacial Till Units

Several distinct glacial till units are present in northern Wisconsin. In northwest and north-central Wisconsin, grey, calcareous till of the Pierce and Marathon Formations is present that was deposited more than 400,000 years ago. These calcareous tills are overlain by pre-Late Wisconsinan, reddish-brown, sandy till of the River Falls and Lincoln Formations. The reddish-brown, sandy till of the Copper Falls Formation was deposited 18,500-15,000 years ago and can be found at the surface throughout northern Wisconsin (Syverson, 1998). We currently have data for 2,500 glacial till samples. A database allows us to analyze till properties such as the mean grain size, magnetic susceptibility, and carbonate percentage. However, it does not permit determination of regional trends. I am using GIS software to present this data in a visual format and look for regional trends. This expands upon the work of Mace and others (2000). The primary objective of this research project is to determine if there are any unrecognized till units present in northern Wisconsin. To do this, we have converted the till data's section/township/range values into latitude/longitude and WTM coordinates. We have displayed and analyzed the data using ArcView GIS 3.2 and ArcGIS 8.1.

Melissa Weisheipl
Faculty Advisor/Collaborator: Bradford Burton

Tertiary Volcanics of the Robinson Mountain 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Carlin-Pinon Range, Elko, Nevada

We present the geologic map of the Robinson Mountain 7.5 Minute Quadrangle. The map was compiled using Arc View GIS software from ESRI and is based on the field excursions conducted by Dr. Bradford R. Burton, professor of Geology UWEC, and Carter Dettloff, 2001 UWEC graduate, during the summer of 2001. The volcanic rocks of the Carlin-Pinon Range were originally grouped into a thick and varied package called the Indian Well Formation. This map was produced to show the internal architecture of the Tertiary volcanic field and the complex relationships between varied units of Tertiary volcanic rocks. My purpose for this project was to prepare a map, consisting of data compiled in the summer of 2001, in an Arc View GIS file. The map was prepared by inputting data into Arc View GIS using a high-end quality digitizing board. The map will be published with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, as well as with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) upon review.