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View of the night sky at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT. Photo: Brandon Keim

In this Issue:

Support your Department

With gifts from alumni and friends, we can access crucial resources to enhance our department and support students, research projects and new programs.

Message from the Chair

Beata Csatho writes:

Greetings from the Department of Geology! I am pleased to share the 2023 Winter edition of our EPOCH newsletter.

The past year was packed with challenges, achievements, and joy as we could resume our department's full range of in-class and field activities. After offering a virtual field geology training course in 2020, followed by a local New York state field course in 2021, our faculty and students could return to the West in the summer of 2022. Hopefully, the scenery's beauty helped them deal with the triple-digit temperature as they mapped the magnificent outcrops in southern Colorado and Utah. 

Beata Csatho with a running creek behind her.

View of the scenery in Rainbow Ranch, Utah. Photo: Brandon Keim

Field Camp

Back Out West in 2022

Geological Field Training
By Professor Tracy Gregg

We returned to our traditional Western Field Camp this summer for the first time since 2019. You may know that we rent a storage unit in Denver to keep most of our large gear (remember the 360-gallon water tank that goes in the back of the Food Truck?), and we weren’t sure what we would find after 3-years—but mostly what we found was a thick layer of fine brown dust that had settled over everything.

A group shot of the Field Camp group.

2022 Field Camp Students.

Research News

Hydrogeochemistry Lab Research Update

In recent news, Hannah Annunziata completed her MS thesis on PFAS sorption and is productively and happily employed at a consulting firm in Buffalo.

Just before the pandemic, Dr. A-K started a new research theme to evaluate climate change effects on alpine lake geochemistry in the Canadian Rockies. This takes her to both well and lesser-known lakes in Banff and Yoho National Parks. Maggie LeClaire completed her MS examining nutrients across a gradient of elevation in 2020. Gabby Feber, a new PhD student, has received a Presidential Fellowship to pursue this topic. Undergraduate Lucy Williams has joined the group as well. They are developing a comparison of modern geochemistry to published results from about 50 years ago. This work is in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Calgary and Franklin & Marshall College.

Richelle Allen-King and her dog Pearl sitting on a large rock in front of Lake Louise with a view of mountains in the distance.

Richelle Allen-King and her dog Pearl visit spectacular Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

Sarah Wensink, Gabby Feber and Richelle Allen-King standing by a lake with a gorgeous view of trees and a mountain in the background.

Undergraduate Sarah Wensink (U. Calgary) (left), PhD student Gabby Feber (center), and Richelle Allen-King (right) are happy to complete sample collection at O’Brien Lake, Banff National Park.

Gabby Feber and Scott King sitting in a boat on the edge of Lake McArthur in Yoho National Park.

PhD student Gabby Feber (right) and field assistant Scott King (left) preparing to sample Lake McArthur in Yoho National Park

More Research News

Faculty News

Meet our New Faculty Member

The department is excited to introduce Nick DiFrancesco, clinical assistant professor.

Nick Defrancisco.

An earthquake in WNY?

Published February 8, 2023

UBNow caught up with Tracy Gregg, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Geology, to get her insights on earthquakes in general and on February's event that had its epicenter in West Seneca — a little more than 16 miles from the UB North Campus.

A little background to supplement Dr. Gregg’s fine article about the February earthquake

By: Bob Jacobi, Professor Emeritus

The M 3.8 earthquake on February 6, 2023, near West Seneca, NY, was of course startling for anyone who was awake at the time of the event. 

Fault systems in Western NY with earthquake locations From Jacobi (2002) and Jacobi et al. (2007).

A view of the graben that emerged near the Holuhraun lava field in Iceland.

Photo: Stephan Kolzenburg

Published February 10, 2022

At the boundaries between tectonic plates, narrow rifts can form as Earth’s crust slowly pulls apart.

UB coral researchers Mary Alice Coffroth and Howard Lasker.

Photo: Douglas Levere

Published September 16, 2022

This summer, coral researchers from around the world gathered to share their latest findings at a conference devoted to reef science, conservation and management.

A view of the northern lights of the aurora borealis swirling above the ice sheet, lime green in a dark, lonely sky.

Photo: Jessica Mejia

Published October 5, 2022

After months of preparations, UB glaciologists Jessica Mejia and Courtney Shafer landed on Helheim Glacier in southeast Greenland in early September.

Geology in the News

Learn more about how our expert faculty and fearless students conduct research that impacts the world around us by visiting Geology in the News.

Student News

Jason Hanania

Mr. Jason Hanania (BS, 2023, expected) won First Place in the undergraduate poster competition for the Hydrology Division of the Geological Society of America (October 9 – 12, Denver, Colorado). Jason presented at this national conference that he conducted with Dr. Chris Lowry. Jason and Chris investigate infiltration and the storage of water in rain gardens on the west side of Buffalo. These rain gardens are one method that Buffalo uses to reduce combined sewer overflows. Jason was able to identify relationships between wetting and drying cycles based on the soil-moisture data he collected. He quantified the conditions where plants within the rain garden were able to maximize root water uptake, thus reducing flows into the stormwater system. Using a variably saturated flow model, he identified optimal soil types to maximize water storage. Congratulations, Jason! 

Allison Cluett

Allison Cluett was selected as the recipient of UB’s 2022-23 Outstanding PhD Dissertation Award for her dissertation Investigating Late Quaternary Temperature and Precipitation Dynamics on Greenland Using Organic Geochemical and Stable Isotope Proxies. This award recognizes a PhD dissertation that makes an original, truly outstanding, and impactful contribution to the respective field of study. For 2022-23, PhD dissertations from four years in physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering were eligible for submission. Congratulations, Allison!

Your dissertation will also be put forward as UB’s sole allowable nomination for the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) 2022-23 Doctoral Dissertation Award.

-Graham Hammill
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School

Alumni News

Greg Valentine | Associate Chair

I hope this edition of Epoch finds you healthy and rested after a nice summer. Here in Buffalo, someone flipped the switch on Fall, and we transitioned from shorts and sandals to flannel overnight. Or at least I did. Of course, as a geologist, my shirts are all plaid (blue, green, or earth tones), no matter the weather.

We hope to resume the Geology Alumni Day event that we had done a couple of times before the pandemic shutdowns. This was held on a Friday in early February in conjunction with our famous-on-local-TV Groundhog Day BBQ (frigid!) and Winter Party weekend. We're hoping to do that again in February 2023, but plans are still in flux. If it looks like a "go," we'll send you announcements by email. Since I've reduced my university appointment to 60% (more research time!), and will be away much of the upcoming Spring semesters, another faculty member will transition into managing Alumni Day.

Greg Valentine.

A separate article in this issue describes the Volcanic Rocks field course that I held in New Mexico and Arizona in May. This is just one example where alumni support allows us to provide key learning experiences for our students. Another example is one of our alumni who donates every year to directly provide funds for one or two graduate students' field research (something that is becoming increasingly precious and difficult to support). Alumni funds also provide support for our students to participate in conferences and start building their experience base and professional networks. And alumni have provided key connections for our students who are seeking professional positions after graduating. There are many other ways Geology Alumni provide critical support to the department's students.

Your ongoing support and engagement with our students are more valuable than you can probably imagine. Thanks, Geology Alumni!

Give to the Department of Geology

Thank you for your support of the Department of Geology. With the support of alumni and friends, we can provide vital resources to enhance our department and provide support for students, research projects and programs. We are grateful for your generosity.

You can support your department and help to provide for our students by making a gift online.