There is nothing so constant as change and we demonstrated this again in the Geology Department over the past year. We have been busy recruiting two new, additional faculty and trying to manage the inevitable space reallocations as efficiently as possible.
I would like to welcome
J. P. Walsh to the department. J. P. is
a geological oceanographer with a PhD from the
As I write this message,
we are about to start sifting through the applicants for another new position,
in surface water hydrology. We hope to
start that new professor in August.
These two new positions give us a full complement of professors who will
continue the department’s commitment of providing a solid, broad, undergraduate
education in geology whilst allowing emphasis of two areas that relate to our
The refurbishment of
Flanagan is on schedule and we should begin the move from the basement of the
The past year saw the founding the Geology Alumni Society, the first meeting of the Geology Alumni Council, and the establishment of the Century Fund. These are discussed more fully within the newsletter but suffice to say, their intent is to broaden the interaction between alumni and their department.
In closing, I am saddened to report the passing of Dr. Jean Lowry who served the department well during its early years. We will miss Jean but her memory will live on by virtue to her bequest to the department. Scott Snyder and Jim Watson describe this generous gift within this newsletter. I would just like to say, “Thank you, Dr. Lowry, for helping build the department and for remembering us in such a traditional geologic manner.”
Stephen J. Culver
Born in a
Generally, I am interested in how materials from land are dispersed and accumulate in the ocean. I use sediment characteristics, environmental measurements (including oceanographic, meteorological, and hydrologic data), and geophysical methods like seismic reflection to understand processes influencing the sedimentary record of continental margins. This research is important to examining the fate of pollutants and runoff, assessing carbon sinks for climate studies, quantifying natural resources like sand for beach nourishment, evaluating biological habitats, identifying and extracting petroleum, and protecting our nation’s coastlines.
More specifically, here are some projects in which I am actively involved:
Evolution of the
2) Distribution, development, and preservation of channels on continental shelves. This project examines the architecture and fill of channels on continental shelves. Although much of the focus is on data from the U.S. East Coast, the objective of the research is to ground truth models that will be globally applicable. The work is being conducted in collaboration with Neal Driscoll, James Syvitski, Scott Peckham, and Alan Howard and is funded by the Office of Naval Research.
Terrestrial sediment accumulation on coral
flux of sediment from land into the ocean has likely increased at many
locations in the last few decades due to coastal development. This coupled with other stresses may have
significant consequences for coral reefs.
This project is quantifying the accumulation of land-derived materials
at reefs near La Parguera,
In Fond Memory of Jean Lowry
Dr. Elizabeth Jean Lowry
passed away on
Those of you who were fortunate enough to know Jean understand that she was that rarest of people – a genuine eccentric. I use the term “eccentric” in the most positive sense. It was always fun to have Jean along on any geological excursion, both because she could bring so much knowledge and because she always brought her unique perspectives and good sense of humor.
I would wager that everyone associated with the department from 1967 through 1983 has at least one great Jean Lowry story. Most of us have a long list of them! While many are humorous, some are quite touching. I remember Jean talking of her days as a graduate student in an academic discipline where, at the time she was enrolled, there simply were no women. She dealt with examples of gender bias that most of us would not have imagined to exist in academe into the mid 20th century. In her formal graduate-level lecture courses at Yale, the room was separated into two distinct segments by a portable divider. Jean sat on one side and all of the male students (the remainder of the class) sat on the other side. Attaining a PhD is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Imagine working toward your doctorate under the conditions that she endured!
Perhaps as an outgrowth
of her own experiences, Jean often went out of her way to help students,
particularly those whom she perceived to face cultural obstacles of any
sort. Steve Harper recently shared with
us an e-mail from a colleague, Dr. Yoshio Hara of
However, the vast
majority of recollections and stories about Jean are ones that bring a
smile. One of my favorites has to do
with Speedwell cave in
Jean’s persona was such
that she amazed us all at times. After
her passing, we discovered that she had left a substantial sum to the
department. Her gift will earn interest
from which the department can fund student scholarships. However, in true Jean fashion, there was one
stipulation in her bequest that astounded the people in Institutional
Advancement (the group which handles the logistics of such gifts to the
university). But it came to as no
surprise to those of us in geology. Jean
formally stipulates as a condition of her gift that the very first expenditure
each year will be the purchase of a keg of beer for the annual
So raise your glass to Jean Lowry, recall memorable moments that she gave to all of us, and pause for a moment to appreciate the wonderful gift she gave to us during life – the privilege of knowing such a genuine and unique person.
ECU GEOLOGY ALUMNI SOCIETY
The inaugural meeting of
the ECU Geology Alumni Society (ECU GAS) was held
ECU GAS has two primary functions: to provide an opportunity for fellow alumni to gather annually for fellowship; and to support the ECU Geology Department by providing critically needed financial support. Those of us present at the October meeting decided to raise funds for a $250,000 endowment for the department, called the “Geology Alumni Century Fund”. This endowment will enable the department chairman to designate the use of the proceeds, as opposed to being a part of the department’s “General Fund”. Since ECU is approaching its centennial (hence, “Century Fund”), we thought it appropriate that each alumni gift at least $100 per year until we reach our goal. Of course, you may donate whatever amount you please. The ECU Foundation, Inc. will charge a nominal fee to administer the investment. This endowment will solve multiple financial problems for the department. We must raise at least $5000 the first year in order to meet the requirements of the East Carolina University Foundation. If less is raised then the account will be closed and the monies raised will revert to the department’s “General Fund”. Obviously, we do not want that to happen. Once we raise $25,000, the Department Chair can recommend that it be used to create the endowment. So, what is our goal for this year?? We need at least $5000, but should really shoot for $25,000 to get the endowment started. So, please rush to your checkbook and write your check!! To reach our goal, the participation of each alumnus is critical. BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL!!
Please send a check made out to the “Geology
Alumni Century Fund” to: Department of Geology,
GEOLOGY ADVANCEMENT COUNCIL
The first meeting of this august group took place in early May 2003. We had a great and full day with a career workshop, a graduation and awards luncheon, followed by the Council’s business meeting.
The career workshop played to a packed house of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. The five talks were excellent and
their titles illustrate the breadth of experience that was passed on to our students.
Ron Crowson, “What is the difference between a geologist and a vacuum cleaner salesman?”
Jerry Dominey, “Worldwide oil and gas exploration success: examples from the last 20 years.”
Scott Hartness, “Plate tectonics to blue plate economics: your plan for personal success.”
Pat Mallette, “Going for the gold-role of the geologist in the gold mining industry.”
The workshop was such a success that we plan to hold another in May 2004.
The Council’s business meeting approved the Geology Advancement Council Charter and then engaged in a free-wheeling discussion on how the Council could use their “influence and affluence” to further the cause of the Geology Department and its programs. Not surprisingly we came up with a “to-do” list whose major thrust was to attract new funds to support our students’ scientific activities.
To this end we investigated the way in which alumni can fund graduate students to do research of interest to their companies. If any of you are interested in getting some work done for a reasonable price and one of our students getting a Masters degree in the process, then please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can discuss how this can be arranged.
We also set up a new account called the Century Fund, whose title reflects the scale of annual donation we are looking for and also the upcoming Centennial of ECU in 2007. The accompanying article by Scott Hartness says a little more about this fund.
Scott and Ron Crowson were the leading lights in initiating a Geology
Alumni Society (GAS). This should not be
confused with the Geology Advancement Council (GAC). The former is strictly a for-fun organization
and that was certainly the case with the Society’s first event, a weekend field
trip and social in the
The Advancement Council
has gotten off to a good start. My
C Q Brown Fund
Sara Matyiko Ricci
Glaxo Smith Kline Matching Gift for Sara Ricci
Chris and Lisa Corbett
Alan Pinnix and Lynn Sutton
Exxon Matching Gift for Daniel Pearson
robert Ross Allen
Royalties, Dowdy Student Store
Charles Woodul III
Harold Lynwood Dail
Douglas and Minda Whiteside
Neumont Mining Matching Gift for Pat Mallette
Aramark Workshop Lunch and Break 312.74
Amy Caulder-ChurchDenver GSA 606.05
S. Culver Departmental Luncheon 134.82
S. Culver Fall Graduation Reception 26.56
D. Merritt Fall Graduation Reception 10.01
S. Culver Departmental Christmas Party370.00
AGI Academic Associates for 2003150.00
R. Corbett Lunch with Visiting Speaker 11.77
James Frank Benthic Habitats Symposium 376.52
D. Mallinson Reception for candidate 90.95
D. Merritt Spring Graduation Reception 17.42
S. Culver Spring Graduation Reception 150.50
R. Corbett Reception for candidate 163.25
R. Corbett Lunch with visiting speaker 14.98
Weiqi Lin Additional travel reimbursement50.97
Printing & Graphics Copying Newsletter 136.50
Jason Jomp was selected to
receive the C.Q. Brown Award for 2003.
Jason entered the Geology program with most of his other courses
completed and pursued three or four geology courses each semester. He graduated in Summer
2003 with a 3.933 GPA. Jason subsequently
began work on a M.S. in Geology while working as a technician with the
U.S.G.S. research program.
Jason Jomp was selected to receive the C.Q. Brown Award for 2003. Jason entered the Geology program with most of his other courses completed and pursued three or four geology courses each semester. He graduated in Summer 2003 with a 3.933 GPA. Jason subsequently began work on a M.S. in Geology while working as a technician with the U.S.G.S. research program.
I continue to direct the geology field course and
taught the Gunnison-Area, CO, projects last summer and will do so again this
coming summer. I have made progress in research projects in
In late March, I presented a poster session at the combined NE-SE GSA in Tysons Corner with the title DIVERSE MINERAL CLUMPS IN LATE PALEOZOIC MINETTE DIKES, CHARLOTTE AREA, NC; A LEGACY OF EXPLOSIVE, STEPWISE ASCENT FROM THE UPPER MANTLE.
It has been four years
since I taught my last undergraduate class, but I don’t feel like I have ever
left teaching. I still have a passel of graduate students that I work closely
with on their thesis research as part of the ECU/USGS/NCGS North Carolina
Coastal Geology Cooperative Program. This major research program deals with the
origin and evolutionary development of the
Last fall we (Ann and I)
decided that it had been too long since we lived in west and it was time to
renew our geologic relationship with the western US. So we headed to
Ten days after Hurricane Isabel came ashore, we finally got permission to access the Outer Banks. Our USGS annual report for 2003 has a summary of the geologic consequences of the storm upon the NC coastal system. To keep up with the ECU-USGS-NCGS research program, as well as the hurricane impacts, visit both the ECU geology and the USGS websites—our second and third year progress reports are now on the ECU website (www.ecu.edu/geology/coastal.html; http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/ roject-pages/northcarolina/). We always look forward to hearing from each of you, or better yet, come out in the field with us—get your feet muddy and your gills wet before they permanently dry out!
Cheers, Stan Riggs
It’s been another busy year for me, both in the office and on the home front. There’s yet another little Mallinson (that makes 3) in the world. The addition of our new little boy (David Alexander) last July was our big event of the year. His two big sisters are crazy about him, and can’t keep their hands off of him. The same goes for Mom and Dad. In the meantime, I’m working hard to keep the money coming in and the data cranking out.
I had two good
first-authored publications come out last year; one on the carbonate banks
surrounding the Dry Tortugas in Florida (Marine Geology 199, 45-63), and one on
paleoclimate changes in south Australia during the
early Oligocene (Global and Planetary Change 39, 257-269). I have another manuscript in review on the
seismic framework of the eastern
Stephen B. Harper
On the teaching front,
my typical teaching semester still includes 2 sections of Dynamic Earth (Geology
1500) and 1 section of Environmental Geology (Geology 1700). As has been the case since I first arrived in
the Geology Department in 1992, part of my teaching duties still include
training and mentoring our Graduate Teaching Assistants to teach Geology 1501
labs. Our departmental curriculum still
has me teaching Geomorphology (Geology 5000-5001) every other spring semester,
which includes the spring semester of 2005.
Also, I will be in the teaching rotation for the
My primary research
interest now is evaluating the role of mass wasting and surface and sub-surface
dissolution in the evolution of tower karst in
coastal areas of Krabi and
As for my travels for
the summer of 2004, I plan to fly to
I also plan to travel to
year I continued to analyze the thousands of concentrations for chemical
constituents in groundwater that my students and I have accumulated over the
past 10 years. I’ve even learned how to make my own Piper Diagrams with the
program from Rockware. Some of the results of the
groundwater/coastal ocean interaction project from down around
I didn’t make any major changes to my teaching this past year, but the department has changed the Mineralogy/Petrology sequence for next year. Up until now I have been teaching Mineralogy in the Fall and Richard has been teaching Petrology in the Spring.
The reasons for the new course are three-fold. First, Richard and I believe that the material can be presented more effectively in the new format. With the old format students were given both basic and advanced mineralogy in the fall semester followed by basic and advanced petrology in the spring course. Experience has suggested that presenting basic mineralogy and petrology in the fall course followed by advanced mineralogy and petrology in the spring would be a better way to approach the subjects. Secondly, we will soon be implementing a new BA degree in Geology and the single Mineralogy and Petrology I course will replace the former two-course Mineralogy and Petrology sequence. This will give our BA students the needed exposure to minerals and rocks in a single course. At the same time it will not require us to add a course to our faculty’s load, because our BS students will all have to take Mineralogy and Petrology I and Mineralogy and Petrology II. Our third reason for the change is that quite a few students in other departments (i.e., Geography, Education, Anthropology, etc.) take Mineralogy and/or Petrology. These courses, as presently taught, devote almost half the semester to topics that do not best serve the needs of these other students. They will be much better served by the first of the new courses in which they will get good basic coverage of both minerals and rocks at once and will be spared the advanced complexities of these topics that are required for geologists pursuing a B.S. degree.
Finally, I finished my
work for the “Hydrosphere” chapter for the new
My research continues
with Riggs, Corbett and Mallinson on the geologic evolution of coastal
Teaching continues to be fun. Last year I had 12 students in my undergraduate, writing intensive, paleontology class. The marking of papers was tough but the end product was worth it. One of these students is already in our graduate program and I hope another two or three will also join us. At the graduate level I have had the pleasurable job of reading multiple drafts of multiple theses. This resulted in my first student, Pete Parham, (coadvised with Stan Riggs), successfully defending his Masters thesis in December. Three more, Dave Vance, Chris Smith and Irene Abbene will be defending before the academic year is done. Without a doubt, such events are the highlights of any professor’s year. My thanks to Parham, Smith, Vance and Abbene for being such good people to work with.
What a great year this has been both personally and professionally! Our kids are growing quicker than we would like, but very exciting to watch. Noah, now 1, looks up to his older brother and follows him around everywhere, even into trouble.
All the activity around the department this year has kept everyone busy. As you probably know, the department is expanding which means new opportunities. In fact, J.P., Dave Mallinson, and I have already put together a large equipment proposal to update some of our current instrumentation and expand on much of what we have already, including seismic and geochemical instruments. This would provide the opportunity for students to work with some more state-of-the-art equipment and help further develop our research program.
My research group has
had a fairly active year. We are still
doing work on the Mississippi Delta, evaluating the potential submarine groundwater
discharge to the coastal system using natural radioactive tracers. We were also recently funded to look at the
short-term deposition/remobilization of sediments associated with the
Last fall, Hurricane
Isabel gave us the opportunity to look at sediment dynamics associated with
major storms. We have a time-series of
short cores we have collected before and after this storm event that is
providing insights into the complicated processes of estuarine sediment
We have recently started
a study to evaluate groundwater/surface water interactions along the upper
I hope I have given you some idea of the fun we have been having this year and what to expect in the up-coming year. I always try to keep my web site up to date, including pictures of recent field events. I am a bit behind, but I hope you will take a few minutes to take a look. Have a great year!
I continued South
Carolina Piedmont research in the summer and winter of 2003. I collected enough
gravity data southeast of
I had fun teaching
Structural Geology in the fall of 2003, and Tectonics Seminar (Return to the
Great Kavir) in the spring of 2004. The
Last summer I got to see some fascinating fractures in Pleistocene glacial deposits of the northern Olympic peninsula. I’m going back this summer, to see if I can figure them out.
I’ve never looked at neotectonic structures before. Neat stuff.
Another year has come
and gone and it is newsletter time again.
I never know what to include in this write-up that might be of interest to you. It seems that a lot of effort is expended
day-to-day just like you doint the mundane chores
that never seem to get done before a new list presents itself. Outside of the usual there were a few high
points that make it all seem worthwhile.
Late last spring I was elected/selected a Fellow of the Geological
Society of America. It is curious how
perceptions of worth and accomplishment are different with an external audience
as compared to one's colleagues. In
August I presented a paper on the Geology of the Mississippian Carbonates in
the Greendale Syncline of Spouthwestern
Last Fall Dave Mallinson
and I again took a group of students to the
meetings in Seattle and
Everyone seems to be busier than ever but the visible progress is less evident. I guess that is the nature of things. So, until next year...keep your nose to the grindstone but watch out for those little sand grains.
Another busy year is
almost over. Amazing! The year was filled with my usual (and fun!)
research activities, a few good classes, and more service activities than even
I typically try to tackle. Even with the
hyper-hectic schedule, it has been a productive year for both me and my present
and former graduate students. Renee Farabaugh started her Ph.D. studies
Amy Caulder-Church (M.S. 2003) started teaching high school Earth science full-time this year. From all accounts she is working very hard and enjoying herself too. We need as may good science teachers as we can get in NC. I’m glad Amy decided to be one of them.
Lisa King continues to pick and try to identify what may be the smallest forams anyone around here has ever worked with. Thanks to Scott Snyder and Steve Culver for helping her with this work. Once she gets enough specimens picked, we’ll do some isotope work and see what they tell us about Holocene temperature variations in the east Pacific. She plans to be finished this summer and graduate in the Fall.
David Foster (B.S. 2004) finished a senior thesis project this year. He received an Honors assistantship for his work and presented a poster at the Honors Research Symposium in March. David looked in detail at the organic and inorganic carbon content and the grain-size characteristics of two sections of “paleolake Tauca” strata from cores in the Rio Desaguadero valley. His work provided additional support for some of our hypotheses about the lacustrine history of the basin. David plan to begin working on a structural M.S. project (with Dr. Lawrence) in the Fall.
My newest graduate
student, Candace Grand Pre, and I are busy planning for our May-July field
My planned trip to
The second trip to
In addition to research endeavors, I taught sedimentology, Quaternary Environments, and Geologic Manuscripts again this year. And, I served as Vice Chair of the Faculty, spending most of my days running from meeting, to class, to meeting, to meeting, to meeting, to class, to meeting . . . I’m exhausted from all of the meetings, but I think it was worth it. And, I hope I made a positive contribution.
J. Kevin Whitley
David Foster with his Honors Project poster at the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium. David will graduate this spring with honors.