Your studies in geology will integrate the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics in the study of Earth processes and history.

Undergraduate Research in Geology

Doing research at the undergraduate level is incredibly beneficial. Students gain field and lab experience while working closely with a faculty mentor. These opportunities help prepare students for graduate school and careers in geology. Take a look below to see some examples of recent geology student research projects!

Recent Research Students


Shannon Fasola ’14

Title: Studying Aftershocks from the Mw=7.6 September 5, 2012 Nicoya Earthquake, Costa Rica

Faculty Adviser: Nelson Ham

Description of Project: Shannon participated in a Keck Geology Consortium project. She spent four weeks on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. During this time, she installed a small array of seismometers and GPS stations (see photo above) for the purpose of locating aftershocks ten months after the Mw 7.6 Nicoya Earthquake. Once a week, her team of students traveled to the stations to service them and to collect data. Her project utilized the program SEISAN to locate the smaller aftershocks of the five largest aftershocks of the 2012 Nicoya Earthquake. Shannon compared these earthquakes to the main earthquake to determine the location of stress release on the Nicoya Seismic Gap and to see if these earthquakes can predict future potential rupture.

Outcome of Project: Shannon presented her work at the Keck Annual Research Symposium at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.


Zach Osborne ’14

Title: Magnetic and Geochemical Characterization of In Situ Obsidian, New Mexico

Faculty Adviser: Tim Flood

Description of Project: Zach spent four weeks doing field work in New Mexico as part of a Keck Geology Consortium research project studying the chemical and magnetic properties of obsidian. His field work involved collecting and geo-referencing obsidian samples (see photo above, Zach is on the far left) at three sites around New Mexico, including Mule Creek, Mount Taylor, and Valles Caldera. After his summer field work, Zach did laboratory research on his samples at the Institute for Rock Magnetism at the University of Minnesota, using a Vibrating Sample Magnetometer and an AC Susceptibility Bridge. He used his results to determine how to distinguish obsidians according to a number of magnetic properties.

Outcome of Project: Zach presented his work at the Keck Annual Research Symposium at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.


Allison Shackelton ’14

Title: Pteranodon Preservation in the Late Cretaceous Niobrara Chalk of Western Kansas

Faculty Adviser: Rebecca McKean

Description of Project: For her project, Allison traveled to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, where she examined over 80 specimens of Pteranodon (see photo above). She closely examined their preservation (degrees of completeness, abrasion, fracturing, etc.) and used this information to draw conclusions about the depositional environment they were preserved in. Her work was funded by a Kresge Summer Research Grant.

Outcome of Project: Allison presented a poster on her work at last fall's national Geological Society of America conference in Denver (see photo below).