Welcome to the blog for the Oberlin College Geomorphology Research Group. We are a diverse team of students working with Amanda Henck Schmidt on geomorphology questions. This blog is an archive of our thoughts about our research, field work travel notes, and student research projects. Amanda's home page is here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lab day number 4!

Today was a long day for Team Geomorph.  We started out by doing some GIS/photoshop/abstract-writing, then Kira and I moved on to weighing out our samples and adding hydrochloric acid to them.

Geologists (Kira, above, and Haley, top) hard at work

We took advantage of a delicious free lunch in the lobby after we put the samples in a sonic bath (to keep them mixed while the acid leaches off the coatings of the grains), then went back to work on the computers.  At one point, we had to turn off the heat in the sonic bath since the bottles were starting to deform and smell weird, but after that we were back to work drying out the fine-grained samples!  We centrifuged them to get out some of the water, then scoop out the mushy muddy clay and put it in dishes to go in the oven to finish drying out.

Oh me oh my… “hard rock” people were all over the place today. We received our last batch of
rock buckets/samples yesterday (and just in time). Those of us that needed to finish powdering
rock samples were able to do so. Jessie and Sarah were able to weigh out the powders to prep
them for their acid baths. I also got the rest of my thin sections (Thank you Bill!!!!!) and get to
start doing my point counts tomorrow (1000 points on 11 slides… huzzah!).

Half of my thin sections (I’m really excited about the one with the giant enclave).
Now that all the rock cutting and powdering machine work is finished we get to spend our time
glued to petrographic microscopes and thumbing through different scientific papers that relate to
our projects (happy happy joy joy).
Twinned plagioclase crystals 👿 ...check out that cleavage👿
Everyone has the option to take the day off tomorrow but a few of us are planning on going to
the lab and taking advantage of having fewer people to try and work around in our small
basement lab. There is also a change that the SEM machine will be repaired tomorrow (fingers

~Haley and Katie

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Union Day 3

With the SEM broken, the petrologists found other ways to occupy their time. Some powdered their rocks to be analyzed for chemical compositions. Some took pictures of their thin sections or did a point count to find which minerals were in their samples. Some read papers about what they're working on. At the end of the day, the rest of our samples from Dominica were delivered, so we have six more buckets (over 200 pounds!) of rocks to prepare to be analyzed over the next few days.

Team Geomorph didn't have a super exciting day either! The past two days have been spent plugging away on the computer, either completing GIS information, photoshopping the clouds out of satalliete imagery or plotting the landslides on the island. We've been eagerly waiting for our samples to arrive from Dominica, so when we got word from Holli that they were in it was a nice change of pace. There are a handful of things we want to do with the actual samples, while on Union's campus we want to begin the leaching process. In order to start that we need our samples to be dry, so at the end of the day Kira, Haley, Cole and I found some washing glasses which could withstand the awesome heat of the oven. Two samples that were fairly dry to begin with took less than an hour to achieve the nice sandy texture we were looking for, so that was a nice surprise and an even better way to end the day with. Well, kind of end the day with, there were four samples that we didn't have enough room for in the oven, so Haley and I went back at 8 to move around dishes that were done with the still damp ones.
The culmination of two days of HARD work


First Day of Lab Work at Union

The Keck students begun their first day of lab research at Union College, waking up at 9am to get a tour of the campus and lab facilities that they will be working in for the next two weeks. Students were introduced to the GIS systems, the isotope lab, water table, rock saws, the scanning electron microscope (SEM), rock crusher, Ion Chromatography Systems, lasers, and other wicked instruments.

The water team quickly began to prep all of their samples while the other groups split up. Team geomorph spent the beginning of the day working on their GIS mapping, but were cut short by a rogue professor that took over their lab.

Team Hard Rock spent their day cutting out thin sections of their samples using a rock saw:
They also studied some pre-made thin sections, and learning how to make photomicrographs.

All teams came together later in the afternoon for a safety briefing, and then at the end of the day some students went on an adventure to Walmart to stock up on supplies. It rained and hailed on their journey there:

Video Error....  Sorry Folks there was a great hail video.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

15th Day

Lab work continues at Union from morning till night for the intrepid Keck crew.

Today the dwarves of the petrology team, in the depths of their underground workshop, cut slices of rocks and powdered rocks to determine whole rock chemistry.
The water team spent the morning preparing and running samples to determine the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon in their water samples.

Syringing 6 mL of water sample to a test tube.

Geomorphologists could be found glued to computer screens in the GIS lab. Marcus perused high and low on the composite satellite image of Dominica made by Haley in search of landslides. 

After a delicious lunch of mac and cheese and pulled-pork sandwiches, courtesy of Union College summer research presenters, some students had the afternoon off. Mazi took this opportunity to get a haircut, others wandered the town in successful search of cheap hot dogs. 

Finally, Dexter and Jackie wrote a blog of their exploits. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Days 13-14: Travel and relaxation

On Saturday about half our group left Dominica for Union College. The rest of the group had some time to play tourist and relax. A few hung out at Springfield, a few went to find a cliff jumping spot, and a few went to walk on a nature trail.

Taryn, Abadie, Mazi, and I ventured off in search of Chaudiere Pool, which reviews on Trip Advisor claim is one of the best spots to visit in Dominica, with a waterfall and a 30 ft deep pool to jump of rocks into. It was described as being a distance from the road ranging from "right next to it" to "45 min hike". We found the village of Bense and parked when we were told the road was under construction and we had to walk. The walk was about 45 min and other than a minor detour down a driveway, was easy to follow and well marked once we were off the main road. Once we got to the river it took a little looking around to find the pool, which was smaller than we expected. We all enjoyed jumping in and took a total of 13 jumps from the high spot (12-15 ft above the water?) between us during the ~90 min we were there. We also saw two birds that we are pretty confident were parrots. They flew just over our heads across the river between two trees.

Abadie jumping in

Taryn's turn

Mazi takes a go

Amanda leaping in

Before we left Chaudiere Pool we tried to help Holli out by getting some of the andesite that the pool was made out of, but without a rock hammer, we were only able to collect some chips from a fire pit and they turned out not to be very useful. 

Holli took Marcus and Chloe to the Syndicate Nature Trail where they walked a short way up the Diablotin Trail to see if there was rock there. They then went to look for parrots and learn about the flora of the area. They also saw two birds that they think are parrots and definitely heard some parrot calls. Below are some pictures they took.

Sunday the group in Schenectady had a relaxing day visiting the Green Market and hanging out. The rest of us got up super early and spent all day traveling to Union. Now that the sample collection part of our trip is done, we are getting geared up for 2 weeks of lab work.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day Twelve in Dominica

Beach Day or Flashback Friday, to some of our crazy companions, was an absolute blast! Last week we got sunburned from the long grueling hike up to the boiling lake, but today it was from relaxing in the sun.

Today was the last day in Dominica for half of us, before the first batch of us head to Schenectady, NY to analyze the samples we collected here.  See you all on the other side!!

Dominica Day 11/Shipping Out Samples

Kira and I forgot to post
but that's certainly no reason to mope
Day 11 wasn't very dope
you can tell we're tired, the end is close

Petro people hacked at rocks
chipping them to smaller blocks
Geomorph sieved and shifted
then wrapped their seds to be gifted

When all was finished and shipped away
we still had plenty of the day
to the deck we brought our boredom
and watched It Follows, oh what fun

the end.