Student Projects

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

Jiawan (June) Li: Class of 2016

June Li at Old Lootsberg Pass, South AfricaJune, coming to Colby from Beijing, China, is a double Geology & Biology major who participated in JanPlan 2015’s field work.  June’s project is not with the fossilized wood seen here but, rather, focused on the geochemical attributes of variously colored siltstone deposits exposed at Old Lootsberg Pass, Eastern Cape Province.  She will be testing the hypothesis that the variously colored rocks, once former soil horizons, represent original different depositional environments below and above the currently defined, vertebrate biostratigraphic extinction event.

Kathy Lipshultz: Class of 2016

Kathy Lipshultz in the Valley of Desolation, Camdeboo National Park, Graaf Reinet.Kathy also is a junior who is double majoring in Geology and French.  After the JanPlan field season, she headed off to Geneva, Switzerland, for her Spring Semester study abroad program.  Upon her return later in the year, Kathy will be detailing a late Permian, river channel complex located below the vertebrate-defined Permian–Triassic boundary at Old Lootsberg Pass.  She will perform petrographic and geochemical analyses on possible volcanic-derived deposits that are found to be interbedded within a complex sedimentary channel fill.  Kathy comes to Colby from near Concord, New Hampshire.

Tak Sasajima: Class of 2016

Takuto SasajimaTakuto (Tak) Sasajima is now a California resident, born in Tokyo, having moved to the ‘States at age eleven.  He comes to Colby’s Geology program from Palo Alto, and is undertaking a double minor in Chinese and Physics.  Tak’s project involves the department’s first DJI Phantom Quadcopter, used in the field to document, , the stratigraphic architecture of Permian and Triassic river channels. From still  and video images, Tak will reconstruct the lateral relationships of bedload deposits in these channels and determine what type(s) of river channels existed in this part of the Karoo Basin both prior to and following the purported terrestrial Permian–Triassic extinction event in the southern hemisphere.

Alyson Churchill & Oriana Battifarano: Class of 2017

Alyson_Oriana_PTB_BethelFarmAlyson, a Vermont native now living in the Deep South, and Oriana, a New Yorker, 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.  This “dynamic duo” has remeasured this stratigraphic section to act as a template for other investigations into the nature of this purported event. They have collected a suite of variously colored mudrocks directly below, at, and above the reported Permian–Triassic boundary, and will be undertaking both petrographic and geochemical analyses of these rocks.  Alyson and Oriana, pictured here sitting atop the PT boundary on the Bethel Farm, Free State, hope to be able to shed some light on the physical and chemical nature of the rocks and environments at the time of “The Great Dying.”