Student Projects

Colby Geology majors who now are pursuing projects in Professor Gastaldo’s research group include:

Ruofei Jia: Class of 2020 (Columbia University 5-year program)

Ruofei comes from Beijing, China, and joined the Geology Department during the 2016/2017 academic year. She and Tim Stonesifer (right), a videographer and licensed drone pilot, accompanied our research group in January 2018 to South Africa’s Free State where Ruofei undertook a drone-based project to model exposures of the Katberg Sandstone, which currently is interpreted to represent braided river systems following a reported mass-extinction event in the Karoo Basin. Ruofei’s project involved taking more than 1500 drone images at several “classic” localities, from various perspectives, and, using AgiSoft’s PhotoScan software, develop 3-dimensional models of the outcrops and localities where the Katberg Formation is exposed. In addition to developing models of sandstone bodies to determine if these represent ancient braided river systems, we hope to create a virtual reality space of two localities which will allow workers around the globe access to these very remote and inaccessible sites. Ruofei has been accepted to Columbia University’s environmental engineering program, but will take her research results to the national GSA meetings in Indianapolis in November 2018, following a summer research internship in the Geology Department.

Scott Harrison: Class of 2019

Scott also came to Colby as a cross country skier and runner from Minnesota, eh. Scott is a double major in Geology and Government, but prefers the great outdoors to a conference room. Scott’s project, originally designed to be undertaken in Xinjiang Province, China, but refocused in South Africa, is on a succession of  ancient calcium-carbonate rich soils in the Free State Province. Here, the reported classic Permian–Triassic boundary is located near the town of Bethulie. Scott’s project overlaps with that of Kaci Kus ’18. Kaci’s project on the same soil type was in the Daptocephalus Assemblage Zone, of late Permian age, whereas Scott’s project is in the overlying Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone that is reported to represent environments following the end-Permian extinction in the early Triassic. Scott will present his research results at the national GSA meetings in Indianapolis in early November 2018.