It has been quite a while since you have heard from us, probably because we have been very busy in the last few years. The Bryn Mawr Geology Department has been in a steady state of change over the past few years. With the retirement of Weecha Crawford and the impending retirement of Bruce Saunders, the department will have a lot of new faces in the coming years. In addition there has been a significant increase in geology major numbers and the continuing increase in our overall course enrollments. Fourteen seniors will graduate this year. Here is a message from those students:
Dear Geo Alums,
The students here
hope this newsletter finds you happy, healthy, and appreciating your time
outside the walls of the
As we grow in size, we hope to stay in contact with the previous students (you!). We would love to hear about where your studies have taken you, what your current interests are, stories about completing theses, etc. We would also be very thrilled if anyone would be interested in hosting student interns for week-long internships over Fall, Winter, and/or Spring Breaks. If you have any questions about the program, or would like to host a student, please contact Major Representative Paige Walker (’09) at email@example.com . We would also welcome any advice (geology-related, or life in general).
In closing, we would just like to reiterate our appreciation for you all – the previous students. If it wasn’t for your continued interest in and commitment to the program, it wouldn’t be what it is today – a thriving, enthusiastic place for students to learn and collaborate with each other and with our professors. Sending all our best,
The Students of Bryn Mawr Geology
Some activities – Field trips
Many of you know of and have benefitted from this fund sponsored by alums to honor E.H. Watson, who was one of the second generation of faculty (all hired by Florence Bascom, our founder). As you may remember, this fund supports student field work and research, trips to meetings, field camp, etc., and has grown over the years with alum contributions, particularly with a significant donation by Elizabeth Wood (PhD. '39 now deceased). Five years ago, we decided to use a portion of the income to subsidize a significant Fall Field Trip that would otherwise not be affordable to students (or faculty!).
Arlo led the first trip to the Cantabrian of NW Spain in 2003 with a colleague, Gabriel Gutierrez-Alonso ("Gabi"), of the University of Salamanca. The focus of this trip was a tectonic transect across an ancient continental suture that existed between North America and Europe after the amalgamation of the Pangea supercontinent. The students were exposed to everything from a nearly complete Paleozoic sedimentary succession that was deformed during folding and thrusting in the Carboniferous (similar to what is found in PA), to high grade rocks and eclogites that marked the ancient contact between the two ancient landmasses. Arlo plans to lead a similar trip this coming fall for our new crop of eager geology majors.
Don Barber led the fall 2004 trip to the Canadian Rockies with help from his wife, Sharlene, who was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Students and faculty took in the grandeur and beautifully exposed geology of the Kananaskis valley and the mountains in and around Banff and Jasper Nat'l Parks. This trip provided exposures for nearly everyone: stacked thrust sequences, fossil Paleozoic reefs, petroleum geology, hydrothermal pools, glacial geology and retreating glaciers, and we even got to gaze up the mountainside to the Burgess Shale outcrop (hiking up is forbidden after September). There was darn little igneous or metamorphic petrology, but other than that we saw a heck of a lot of geology in a week! Pictures from the Canadian Rockies trip are online at: http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology/FallBreakCanada2004/FallBreakCanada2004.html
In 2005, a long-time friend of Bruce's from his “South Pacific days,” Larry Davis of St. Benedict/St John's College, Minnesota led a trip to San Salvador (Columbus' first landing site) to look at modern carbonate environments. This was the first exposure most students had to modern reef environments, and we had a remarkable look at modern stromatolites growing in hypersaline lagoons pumping out O2 during the daytime; a great Precambrian model for the early setting for life.
In fall 2006, Catherine Riihimaki led the Geology Department trip to the Central Coast of California. Over the week, we traveled from Point Reyes down to Big Sur, getting first-hand views of tectonic landforms, coastal processes, Neogene fossils, and igneous and metamorphic petrology as we followed the San Andreas Fault from north to south. We also took in the local surfing culture in Santa Cruz, the marine life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, and the great hiking and camping opportunities at several state and national parks throughout the trip.
Chris Oze, our newest faculty member, led a trip to examine the volcanically active island of Hawaii as well as to explore the geologic processes that have shaped the current landscape in 2007. More than half of this trip was spent exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, introducing many of the students for the first time to the field of volcanology. We also had the opportunity to visit unique sites and explore topics at the intersection of geological, biological and ecological studies on the western side of the Big Island. The highlight of the trip was a helicopter tour of the active vent at Puu Oo. By the end of the trip, it was difficult to bring many of the students back to Bryn Mawr.
At left – Arlo (at left), Chris (far right) and students on the Hawaii field trip.
We have really been blessed by the alums in being able to offer these trips and the other support that the Watson fund permits. There is little doubt that many of our majors are drawn to the Department through these experiences, and they serve as a great way to develop camaraderie as well as to foster on-hands field experience.
News from the Faculty
Bruce Saunders has, for
several years, returned to his ammonoid roots, and has been publishing on the
~170 My record of morphologic variation in Paleozoic ammonoids. This has involved the use of about 22
characters for all ~600 genera of ammonoids ranging from the Devonian into the
Triassic, using Principal Components Analysis. The seeds for this were first
planted by Andy Swan, whom some of you may remember as a postdoc working here
back in the '80's (Andy is now on the faculty at
On a personal
note, Bruce and Nancy have become owners of an historic 1790 former farm
house/tavern/underground RR stop in Pennsdale, north central PA, near
Don Barber was tenured in 2006 and was on sabbatical last academic year (’06-07). Among other activities while on sabbatical, Don co-led (with Prof. Peter Magee in Archaeology Dept) a month-long winter geoarchaeological field school with ten students in the United Arab Emirates (picture #1).
Don and the students conducted coastal research on the Holocene sea-level history of the Persian Gulf, and also sampled serpentine quarries in the mountains of the Oman ophiolite to characterize potential softstone sources for archaeological artifacts. From a coastal engineering stand-point, construction in Dubai is a wonder in itself, but Don also took time out to become familiar with sedimentology in the coastal sabkhas (picture #2).
Back at Bryn Mawr, Don and Peter co-taught their 200-level Geoarchaeology course for a second time this past fall (’07), with about 36 students enrolled. Don also is directing the Environmental Studies concentration, which recently hired an environmental historian, Ellen Stroud, who is bringing more social science (and students!) into the program.
Arlo Weil was tenured in 2007. His research over the past few years has focused mainly on the kinematics and mechanics of fold-thrust development. In collaboration with colleagues from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Weber State University in Utah, he has prepared six manuscripts on the evolution of the Wyoming Salient of the Sevier foreland orogenic system (picture #3 next page). This area of research has a long and fruitful history in the Bryn Mawr Geology Department, as Lucian Platt spent many of his formative research years trudging up and down some of the same slopes Arlo has tackled over the past several summers. Arlo also continues to work on the tectonic evolution of Variscan Europe with colleagues from the University of Salamanca (picture #4 next page). This work mainly focuses on the final stages of collision between the main Pangean players – Laurussia, and Gondwana. Students continue to participate in all activities of this research – both in the laboratory running paleomagnetic and rock magnetic samples, and also in the field helping collect structural data and core samples. Plans are underway to start a new research program this summer that will focus on investigating the mechanisms responsible for carbonate remagentization. This project should take Arlo and several students to some pretty exotic places around the globe for sample collecting and analysis.
Picture 3 - Arlo’s students Picture 4 - Arlo
Chris Oze, the most recent
geology faculty hire, is finishing up his second year at Bryn Mawr. Trained in diverse geoscientific specialties
(mineralogy, petrology, geochemical thermodynamics and kinetics, biogeochemistry
and soil chemistry), Chris is currently working on a number of projects
including the relationship of biogeochemistry and critical zone processes, the
biodurability of asbestos minerals, and the production of elemental hydrogen
and methane derived from the serpentinization of ultramafic material. He and
Kevin Pogue (Whitman College) were funded by the Keck Geology Consortium this
past year to lead six undergraduates (including Anna Mazzariello from BMC) to
investigate the geologic controls of viticulture in the Walla Walla Valley of
Washington state. This coming summer BMC
students Paige Walker and Nithya Vasudevan will be traveling out to
Chris Oze, Stephanie Olen, and Arlo
Weil at the 2007 BMC graduation.
Stephanie has been accepted into the
Catherine Riihimaki is finishing her fourth and final year at Bryn Mawr. For her first three years, she served as a Keck Foundation postdoctoral fellow, teaching a handful of classes, including Problem Solving in the Environmental Sciences, Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies, Glaciology and Glacial Geology, and Earth Systems and the Environment. In 2007-2008, Catherine has been the lab coordinator for the department, teaching the labs for the introductory classes. Her research at Bryn Mawr has focused on landscape evolution in the Rocky Mountains. Catherine took several Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Macalester students into the field for glaciology work in Glacier National Park and thermal chronometry research in northeastern Wyoming. She will begin a tenure-track job at Drew University in Fall 2008.
In the picture at right, Catherine works on a meteorological station on Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park
Bill and Weecha Crawford are greatly enjoying retirement. We moved from Bryn Mawr to Haverford, into a senior citizen community, when we no longer needed to be close enough to walk to the College. Despite the move, we still come in most days. The move has meant we no longer have to do chores such as vacuuming and grass mowing and can happily spend time travelling, giving talks around and about, providing help to our colleagues if/when needed, and generally having fun. Our trips mostly involve either or both small ship cruising and bird watching. We also fit in a lot of geology sightseeing and cannot let our traveling companions escape having all the glories of the rocks explained – see picture of folded rocks along the coast of Greenland!
Reflecting on the changes in the department Arlo Weil hopes that the continuing faculty, along with new hires, will maintain the high standards of this great department and that with the help of our esteemed alumni and our emeritus faculty that we will continue to make strides to bring our department even further into the future. Clearly, the future glows bright for Geology Department’s success.
News from fellow alums
Jill Dill Pasteris, AB ’74
-- Jill continues to apply her mineralogical insights and tools to all variety
of interesting materials. She is working
on bone and other biomineralization as well as developing collaborations with
her colleagues at
Rhea Graham, AB ’74 -- This
winter, which was summer down under, our entire family visited
Floyd Demmon, MA ’77 -- I've been at what now is called ArcelorMittal for 29 years, most of it spent doing stuff totally unrelated to "hard rock" geology, which, paradoxically, prepared me extremely well for what I've done. Take non-metallic inclusions in steel sheet as an example. The same phase diagrams and mineral assemblages that were needed to complete the MA have kept coming back over the course of my career. (Who knew one actually would use those ternary diagrams after classes were done?) Just today I spent the afternoon zapping "slivers" (rolled out inclusions--really bad features on a car door) with a portable OES.
I finally was able
to figure out how to develop maps of slab defect data using GIS methods.
Without my time at BMC, it never would have occurred to me that the maps would
even be possible. Now the maps and the method I developed are going to be part
of a paper at an international continuous caster conference in
Last year I came
back to campus for perhaps an hour for the first time since I left in '77.
Ironically enough, my hotel for the night was a Hampton Inn smack in the middle
of the Downingtown Quadrangle. Now, I had walked every mile of road in that
quadrangle and spent many an hour looking at chunks of rock in the fields and
at the scarce outcrops. I had walked the entire perimeter of
I'll have been
married 25 years in October & have one kid. She graduated summa from
Indiana-Bloomington in East Asian Languages & Cultures. She spent her Jr
Benjamin Frisch, AB '82 – Has been teaching at
Friends Seminary in NYC and is now applying to
Enid Karr, ‘83 -- As of Nov
'07, I am "Reference Librarian/Bibliographer for Biology and Geology"
Bob Cook ‘91 – Is now a tenured associate professor at Keystone College and, at least for ’07-’08, is interim Dean of Academic Affairs. He reports this puts a crimp in his casual life style. He has also worked on a summer program for 7th -12th grade teachers and his consulting business is also doing well. Despite all this he has found time to keep up with running, and has completed at least on 100 mile race, this took just over 24 hours! He has a daughter who is in 6th grade and thriving.
Gwen Miner, AB ’92 -- I'm still working at Harvard in the Technology Development Office doing financial work, 9 years and counting. It works well for me. My daughter is in first grade and my son is 3 so I get to stay home with him 2 days a week. We bought a house 4 years ago and have done all the major things (new roof, new basement) and some smaller things. Life is busy but good.
Ida Wylie Adkins, AB ’93 -- I am very busy keeping up with my two sons (ages 8 and 2) right now. The younger one seems to have inherited the rock-collecting genes.
Peter Nassar, PhD ’00 -- Is living in Narberth, teaching Anatomy & Histology at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UPenn (official title "Associate Director of Labs"), and spending spare time playing the game of Go!
Sara Tourscher, AB ’02 -- I graduated from University of Michigan in April 2007 with a M.S. in Geology. Now I am in a teaching program at UMass- Amherst. When I finish up this June, I will be certified to teach Earth and Space Science and have a Masters Degree in Education. I met up with Juliet Crider when she passed through western Mass on her way to a yearlong sabbatical in France.
Jane Steele, AB ’03 -- I've been busy for the past few years
doing archaeological surveys and working part time for the oil industry. Now I am a first year graduate student at
Amanda Rogers, AB ’04 -- I
Melissa Lindholm, AB ’06
-- I am still working on my Master's thesis
at New Mexico Tech; I switched projects last April from a geochemistry thesis
on Mount Erebus to an economic geology thesis on a copper-gold porphyry deposit
If you would like to share your news with us and colleagues, send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember we love to hear from you.
The department home page can be found at http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology.html .
If you want to see the pictures in this newsletter in color: http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology/newsletter.html .
We have started in a small way to add news of alumnae to the Department page at http://www.brynmawr.edu/geology/Alumnae.htm . If you have news you would like to share with other Geo alumnae, send the information (or a web link) to Weecha and it will be included.