Colby Geology majors who now are pursuing projects in Professor Gastaldo’s research group include:
Alyson Churchill: Class of 2018
Alyson, a Vermont native now living in the Deep South, spent two weeks during June 2015 at what is considered the “keystone” locality at which the South African vertebrate-defined Permian–Triassic boundary section is exposed. She and colleague, Oriana Battifarano ’17, presented results of their project at the national GSA meetings in Baltimore in October 2015. Since then, Alyson has decided to pursue a new South African project.
One reported lithologic feature of the end-Permian extinction on land is a change in the color of mudrocks preceding and subsequent to the event. Alyson is investigating a 15 m thick sequence of mudrock from a classic site in the Karoo, the Tweefontein section, that incorporates the vertebrate-defined biozone boundary. She is examining these rocks using optical microscopy, elemental analysis for Total Organic Carbon, X-Ray Fluorescence to determine the geochemistry of major elements, and Scanning Electron Microscopy in an attempt to determine whether the color change observed in this section is a result of soil-forming or a set of other processes. She presented these results at the GSA meetings in Denver, Colorado, late in 2016.