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Geology news and notes

April  04, 2014

News from the Augustana Department of Geology about field trips, internships, student publications and honors. Students and alumni who would like to share news are invited to email

During spring break, Dr. Michael Wolf and 17 geology majors spent 10 days studying the geology of Hawai'i! 

Geology majors head to Hawai'i for spring break
Geology majors in to Hawai'i for departmental spring break field trip.

While on the Big Island, they hiked inside Kīlauea Iki Crater and explored the underground lava tubes of Volcanoes National Park,  day-tripped to Papakōlea Beach (one of the four green sand beaches in the world) and experienced the drive from sea level to 13,599 foot elevation as they ascended Mauna Kea.

This fall, Dr. Michael Wolf and 13 geology majors headed to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China to study the geology of Japanese earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, Japanese art, international relations of China and the modern economy of China on Augustana's Fall Term in East Asia

In August, incoming first-year students spent more than two weeks studying geology in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. They also earned three credits in this lab science course GEOL105: Introductory Physical Geology in the Rocky Mountains specifically offered to all incoming Augustana first-year students only. This rigorous course begins and ends on campus, but in between students get to hike the mountains and camp with friends.They were taught by Dr. Jeffrey Strasser and Dr. Michael Wolf, and learned about earth materials, structures, composition, and a variety of dynamic processes

This summer, geology majors had paid internships and jobs at the following:

  • Paid dinosaur research at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry, Utah
  • Paid subarctic lake methane flux research in Sweden with the Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduate program
  • Paid megathrust earthquake research with the NSF Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology program
  • Paid land and water resources experimental research at University of Minnesota through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program
  • Paid internship in the paleontology lab of the Field Museum, Chicago, IL
  • Paid internship with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
  • Paid internship with an environmental firm, Davenport, Iowa
  • Geology field course in Sardinia, Italy
Nathan White '13 at the Geological Society of America North-Central Section meeting with his Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation.

 In May, geology major Nathan White '13, was awarded the Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation from the Geological Society of America North-Central Section for his senior inquiry research, Significance of Late Triassic Charcoal, and Late Triassic and Late Jurassic Wood Petrification Processes and Mineralogy, South-Central Utah.

In May, geology majors headed off to Kalamazoo, Mich., to the Geological Society of America meeting to present their senior research. Read all of their abstracts HERE.

In April, Dr. William Hammer received his state's highest honor, the Order of Lincoln, when the Lincoln Academy of Illinois conducted its 49th annual convocation. The Lincoln Academy honors Illinoisans for their achievements in science, medicine, business and conservation.

Dr. William Hammer, who holds the Fritiof Fryxell Chair in Geology at Augustana College, discovered Cryolophosaurus ellioti, the first carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in Antarctica. His 1991 discovery advanced scientific understanding of tectonic shift and evolutionary biology, particularly of large-scale carnivorous theropods. Several Antarctic features have been named for Augustana scientists' work; most recently, a mountain in Antarctica was named Mount Augustana in 2008. The research of the poles continuesat Augustana through the Center for Polar Studies.

Geology majors Spencer Hellert '12 and Jake Crandall '12 become published authors in one of the leading paleontology journals with their research on early Triassic Antarctic reptiles in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

japan 2013
Dr. Michael Wolf, far left, with students in Beppu, Japan, at a geothermal hot springs.

Last September, more than fifty geology alumni from around the courntry came back to their alma mater to honor a favorite professor at the Richard C. Anderson Memorial Symposium held on campus. Alumni and professors gave presentations on their specialties during the conference and the weekend culminated with a field excursion to two local quarries. The Winter 2013 Alumni Magazine stated, " The 61 symposium attendees represented seven decades of students from the 1950's to today in what had to be one of the college's largest non-Homecoming reunions for an academic department."  

Dr. Fritiof M. Fryell's book, "Ferdinand Hayden — A Young Scientist in the Great West 1853-55," now is available in the College Bookstore. This stirring narrative chronicles Hayden's scientific expeditions before he advocated the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The book was edited by the late Dr. Richard Anderson '52, Phil Salstrom '60 and Paul Salstrom.

Dr. Fryxell became the founder and chair of the department of geology in 1929, making Augustana the first Lutheran school in the country and one of the first small colleges in the Midwest to have such a department. He chaired the sciences division from 1946-1951, was the curator for many years of the geology museum, now named the Fryxell Geology Museum in his honor, and inspired many students, of whom more than 50 received doctoral degrees and more than 150 received master's degrees in geology.