Summer Research: Introducing the Buckmarlson Banshees

Summer Research: Introducing the Buckmarlson Banshees

Try to find Buckmarlson on a map and you won’t have much luck.  It’s the newly created place name for our field area in Virginia’s west-central Piedmont.  Buckmarlson is a portmanteau word we created based on the names of the three counties in which our geologic studies are taking place: Buckingham, Albemarle, and Nelson counties.




The Longhill drainage ditch, when knickpoints move

Last Fall I started a ‘series’ focused on rivers and their watersheds.  Six months have elapsed since that first post and another write up is overdue. Rivers and their drainage networks can conjure up images of adventure, mystery, and perhaps even romance.  Consider the mighty Rio Orinoco with its waters plying the jungles of Venezuela




Senior Research Saturday 2014

The year-long senior research project is an important piece in the William & Mary Geology major.  All W&M Geology majors complete an intensive independent project and in the process create new knowledge about the earth and the environment.  The project culminates in a thesis and a professional-style presentation.  For the past three years we’ve turned




Rolling Deep with the Penrose Conference on Orogenic Systems

This past week I co-convened a Geological Society of America Penrose Conference focused on Feedbacks and Linkages in Orogenic Systems.   An orogen is a geologic term for a mountain belt, and orogenesis describes the processes at work in mountain belts (derived from Greek- oros for “mountain” and genesis for “creation/origin”).  The world’s great mountain belts




50 Hours in the Field: the Earth Structure & Dynamics Field Trip 2014

The 2014 Earth Structure & Dynamics class field trip left Williamsburg at 1 p.m. last Friday bound for the Blue Ridge Mountains and points beyond.  We would not return to campus until 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, some 50 hours after our departure.  The field trip is a spring tradition that’s been enjoyed by students




Working in a Winter Wonderland: The Gravity of the Situation (Part 2)

Last summer I reported on our field research in the High Plateaus of Utah. Erika Wenrich’s senior thesis project involves a gravity survey aimed at estimating the amount of sediment beneath Fish Lake, a large alpine lake developed in a high-elevation graben. In June we measured gravity at a network of stations around Fish Lake,




Glimpses of the Past: the Catoctin Formation – Virginia is for Lavas

In 1969 Virginia embraced the travel slogan Virginia is for Lovers and at various times during the last 45 years William & Mary geology students have emblazoned departmental t-shirts with Virginia is for Lavas and turned the iconic heart into a volcano. In that spirit, Geology Fellow Alex Johnson and I wrote a piece on the ancient lavas that




Oman’s Mega-Sheath Folds

Oman is a sunny place and cloudy days are rather uncommon.  On Friday, January 10th we awoke to cloudy skies over Muscat.  Today was the day to tackle “the exposure” at Wadi Mayh about 25 km (19 mi.) south of Muscat.  Wadi Mayh is a through-going drainage that offers tremendous exposures of bedrock in its channel




Dispatches from Oman: Juxtaposition

A new semester awaits 11,000 kilometers away in Williamsburg.  Time to depart Oman, but before heading west towards home there was one last mountain to climb.  I’ve had my eye on this ridge at the north end of Jebel Akhdar for months, as the view from its crest should provide an exceptional overview of the




Dispatches from Oman: Fodder for the Tectonic Cannon

I’ve been in Oman for over ten days and seen plenty of deformed rocks—it is what I came for.  What follows are a series of images illustrating deformed Omani rocks: there are folds, faults, fractures, and veins.  This stuff is eye candy for a structural geologist. This first photo is a stitched panorama using our