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FLC Geology students dominate awards for undergraduate research

FLC Geology students work in the field with professor Gary Gianniny.

FLC Geology students work in the field with professor Gary Gianniny.

Research proposals by Fort Lewis College Geosciences students earned four of the five grants for undergraduate research awarded by the Rocky Mountain Section of the Geological Society of America in April. 

"I've worked so hard with these students, so it's nice to see them get truly meaningful rewards. I feel like a proud papa, although, in reality I don't have any children, so I'm just guessing," laughs Professor of Geology Ray Kenny. "The students spent many hours developing and polishing their research proposals, and the faculty will work closely with the students to help insure a successful and meaningful research endeavor."

The Rocky Mountain region of the GSA covers Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and part of Arizona, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

"Their proposals showed a lot of thought and hard work," noted Vice-chair of the RMS-GSA Erin Campbell-Stone, of the University of Wyoming, in her award notification to the FLC Geosciences Department.

"Frankly, the committee was surprised that four of five of the awards went to one school. But we had ranked them independently of that information, so they each stood on their own merit," she added. "Good work with the students!"


The four selected Geology students will be using their $500 grants to perform their research over the summer. Those students and projects are:

K.D. Cox, senior from Bayfield, Colorado. "The Effect of Temperature on Sediment Generation from the Chalk Cliffs near Buena Vista, Colorado":

"I will be investigating the Chalk Cliffs, located 8 miles southwest of Buena Vista. The Chalk Cliffs are a band of hydrothermally-altered, chemically-weathered igneous rocks and one of the most active debris flow areas in the state of Colorado. The purpose of this research is to better understand the seasonal timing and temperature of sediment and debris generation in the Chalk Cliffs. This research will contribute to an improved understanding of debris flow generation and preventive control."

Logan Hartle, senior from Grand Junction, Colorado. "Lower San Juan River Sediment Accumulation Study":

"I am going to investigate sediment aggradation in the Lower San Juan River, in Utah, to characterize and define the on-lapping layers of sediment that are building upstream from Lake Powell. It is important to understand how the change in base level in the lower reaches of the San Juan River (due to the impounded waters) is contributing to sediment aggradation in the canyon and the storage of sediment upstream."

Tim McCallum, senior from Durango, Colorado. "Slumps to Debris Flows Mobilization Potential of landslides in the Florida River Landslide Complex, La Plata County, Colorado":

"I will be examining the potential for landslide slumps in the Florida River Landslide Complex, downstream from Lemon Reservoir, to develop into potentially hazardous debris flow events. The purpose of this research is to discern which existing landslide slumps pose a direct threat to residential structures located down gradient from the unstable ground."

Adam Zurn, senior from  Ridgecrest, California. "Relative Age of Mass-Wasted Rock Slabs from Varnish Microlaminations: Castle Valley, Utah":

"I will be applying a 'rock varnish' microlamination study to obtain approximate 'exposure age dates' for geologically-recent rock fall events. VML dating is a relatively new technique that has been successfully used in many semi-arid climates to obtain minimum-limiting, surface exposure ages for various geomorphic features and depositional events. The purpose of my research is to obtain baseline information on the age of these prominent weathering events in Castle Valley, Utah, north of Moab."

Visit the Geosciences Department.

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