University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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UW-Eau Claire Students and Faculty
To Present at Geological Society Meeting

 MAILED:  Oct. 25, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be well represented at the 116th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, to be held Nov. 7-10 in Denver, Colo.

Geology students Breck Johnson, Jeremy Treague and Kevin Gostomski have been accepted to present at this year's GSA meeting. Lisa A. Johnson (formerly Lisa Hansen), a 2003 UW-Eau Claire graduate now teaching middle school in Chippewa Falls, also will be presenting results from research she conducted while a student at UW-Eau Claire.

"Four UW-Eau Claire students being accepted to present first-authored studies at a national meeting really is something special," said associate professor of geology Dr. Philip Ihinger, noting that five UW-Eau Claire faculty members also will be attending the meeting.

Breck Johnson, a senior from Mankato, Minn., will present "Reexamining the Geochemistry and Geochronology of the Late Cretaceous Boulder Batholith in Montana," detailing research done in collaboration with Ihinger and associate professor of geology Dr. Brian Mahoney. Over the last two summers, working from Butte to Helena in western Montana, Johnson collected roughly 50 rock samples from many different types of granites called plutons. All the plutons are believed to be part of the same geologic event because isotopic dating gives the same ages (78-72 million years ago) for the different plutons. By using new analytical methods and better indicators (such as isotopes) for relating these plutons, the researchers were able to make new inferences as to the origin and relationships between them.

"This project allowed Breck to get a true taste of doing real scientific research," said Ihinger. "Based on this experience, he has decided to apply to graduate school and pursue geology as a career."

Treague, a senior from Danbury, has a double major in geology and computer science. He will be presenting research from the project "A Geoarchaeological Investigation for an 1805 Lewis and Clark Site in Coastal Oregon," which he worked on with 11 other UW-Eau Claire students as part of a geography capstone project with Dr. Harry Jol, associate professor of geography and anthropology at UW-Eau Claire, aided by Dr. Curt Peterson, professor of geology at Portland State University.

Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805 along the Oregon coastline, mapping several locations, including a native village along the former Clatsop River. Several wooden structures south of the river's outlet to the Pacific Ocean were noted in the explorers' journals, but previous investigations failed to locate the historic site.

Treague's research coincides with the Lewis and Clark bicentennial and seeks to resolve the physical location of the Clatsop native village and the associated Clatsop River channel outlet. He, Jol and Peterson hope to secure funding to return and conduct further research in this area.

Gostomski, a senior from Marinette, will present "Origin and Evolution of Lake Ainsworth, Northeastern New South Wales, Australia: Coastal Fluctuations in the Southern Hemisphere," reporting on research he conducted with Steve Abbott of Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia. Lake Ainsworth is a freshwater coastal dune lake in northeastern New South Wales. Because of its proximity to the ocean, some studies have suggested it may have been intermittently open to the sea in the past. The study was designed to interpret map and core information to deduce the origin and evolution of the lake.

Gostomski said he thinks UW-Eau Claire is one of the best schools, possibly the best, in the UW-System for student/faculty research. Gostomski also noted how much he admires the earth sciences faculty for encouraging students to work independently. He particularly praised Ihinger, who, he said, "has always been, and continues to be, my source of geological inspiration."

Lisa Johnson will present at GSA, for a second time, her research into methods for accommodating students with visual impairments when they study geoscience. Johnson, who notes that geology relies heavily on the use of sight for gathering data, making observations and interpreting the earth's history, will present several methods that she and faculty collaborator Dr. Karen Havholm researched or developed for making lectures, field experiences, homework and laboratory activities more accessible to people with visual impairments. The two developed this project after Johnson struggled through a semester-long geoscience course because of her own visual impairment. She last presented on this topic in 2002 while she was studying elementary education at UW-Eau Claire. Her efforts were recognized in 2003 when USA Today named her to their annual All-USA College Academic First Team.

"If my work would help just one person than it is worth all of my time and effort," said Johnson. "Everyone deserves a chance to succeed at education, and I want to do my part to help that happen."

Assistant professor of geology Colin Shaw also will make a presentation at the meeting. His presentation, "Brittle and Plastic Deformation in the Homestake Shear Zone, Colorado: Implications for Deformation Processes in the Middle Crust and the Evolution of the Colorado Mineral Belt," will be given at a session focusing on a pre-EarthScope synthesis of the Rocky Mountains. EarthScope is a 12-year project to completely characterize the lithosphere of the United States. Shaw will discuss insights into how the middle part of the earth's crust behaves through studies of ancient rocks and how the sudden slip of Earthquakes relates to the slow tectonic flow of the Earth's crust.

For more information on the GSA presentations, contact Shaw at (715) 836-4982 or visit the UW-Eau Claire geology department and the GSA Web sites.

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Updated: November 8, 2004