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Geology-Related Talks - 2013-2014

Welcome to the Geology Department's seminar schedule page! Information about our Winter 2014 talks is below.

These informal seminars will be held in A218, unless otherwise noted. Days and times vary; check entries below. Lunch talks will include a casual buffet lunch.

Please check back for updates. If you want to be added to our email list for our speakers series, please email Sarah Wilson at

Winter 2014 Geology-Related Talks:
  • Wednesday, January 8: Professor Dave Harbor will present "Bedrock plucking in rivers: laboratory, field and planetary studies." A218 at 4:00pm.
  • Friday, January 10: Professor Jeff Rahl will present "Ductile deformation of quartz-rich rocks." A218 at 3:30 pm.
  • Wednesday, January 15: Professor Chris Connors will present "Current Research Directions." A218 at 4:00pm.
  • Monday, January 27: SEAL (W&L's Student Environmental Action League) is presenting "Pandora's Promise," Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons, 6:00-7:30pm. About "Pandora's Promise": "Impact Partners, in association with Vulcan Productions and CNN Films, present PANDORA'S PROMISE, the groundbreaking new film by Academy-Award®-nominated director Robert Stone. The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong? An audience favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, PANDORA'S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, risking their careers and reputations in the process. Stone exposes this controversy within the environmental movement head-on with stories of defection by heavy weights including Stewart Brand, Richard Rhodes, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Michael Shellenberger. Undaunted and fearlessly independent, PANDORA'S PROMISE is a landmark work that is forever changing the conversation about the myths and science behind this deeply emotional and polarizing issue." See Pandora's Promise for more details.
  • Monday, February 10: Martha Cary Eppes, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, will present "Cracking Up: Using Acoustic Emissions to Discern the Key Diurnal Conditions that Lead to the Physical Weathering of Rock." A218 at 12:20pm. Lunch will be provided.
  • Wednesday, February 26: Steve Wojtal of Oberlin, will present:"Changing styles of transpressional deformation along the southernmost segment of the San Andreas fault zone." A218 at 5:45pm.
  • CANCELLED: Thursday, February 27: Todd Anderson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, University of Idaho, will present "Denitrification in riparian zones and other saturated soils of a northeastern agricultural landscape." A218 at 5:30pm.
  • CANCELLED: Tuesday, March 4: Warren Barrash, Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface and Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, will present "Heterogeneity, Hydrogeophysics, and Hydraulic Conductivity in a Coarse-grained Fluvial Aquifer." A218 at 12:20. Lunch provided.
  • Wednesday, March 5: Jill Leonard-Pingel, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, University of Chicago, will present:"Molluscan community response to changes in the physical environment: Cases from the Caribbean Neogene and Recent Californian coastal ocean." A214 at 4:30pm.
  • Thursday, March 6: Dr. Michael Duncan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Aquatic Biology/Environmental Studies, will present "An Introduction to Large River Ecosystems." Parmly 307 at 4:35pm.
  • Tuesday, March 11: Susan Kilgore, PhD University of Iowa, will present: "What Happens Beneath the Ice: A Geophysical and Hydrological Investigation of a Retreating Alaska Glacier." A214 at 5:30pm. Dinner provided.
  • Tuesday, March 11: Shannon Elizabeth Bell (W&L class of 2000) will present Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed, her recent book about Appalachian women who are fighting to protect their families and communities from the damaging effects of mountaintop removal mining and other destructive coal industry practices. Huntley Hall Room 235 at 7:30pm.
  • Tuesday, March 18: Dave Houseknecht, USGS will present: "Late Jurassic through Cretaceous Tectonics and Basin Evolution, Chukchi Shelf and Northwestern Alaska." A218 at 12:20pm. Lunch provided.
  • Friday, March 28: Geology students of the Class of 2014 -- Hal Hundley, Liz Olson, Karen Roth, and Kendall Wnuk -- will defend their senior theses. 3:30pm, A214.
  • Friday, April 4: GIS Poster Session. 11:15am-2:30pm, Great Hall of the Science Center.

Fall 2013 Geology-Related Talks:

  • Friday, September 27: Professor Jeff Rahl will present "Uplift and exhumation history of the Eastern Cordillera in northwestern Argentina." A218 at 12:2opm. Lunch provided.
  • Thursday, October 3: W&L geology alum Madison Woodward '81 will present "Geology of SE Asia with emphasis on Hydrocarbon Exploration." A218 at 4:oopm.
  • Wednesday, October 9: James Tyrrell '14 and Chel Samuels '15 will present on produced water management practices. A218 at 12:2opm. Lunch provided.
  • Wednesday, October 9: Rod Adams will present "Nuclear Power: a Powerful Tool in the Battle Against Climate Change." A214 at 5:45pm. Sponsored by S.E.A.L.
  • Wednesday, October 16: Chelsi Hewitt '15 and Professor Paul Low will present some results from our summer (and ongoing) research on geochemical cycling between the lithosphere, anthroposphere, and hydrosphere (rocks, people, and, water) at a talk entitled "Water Quality in the Maury River and its Tributaries: Understanding the Dynamic Role of Earth's Crust". A218 at 12:2opm. Lunch provided.
  • Monday October 21: Brad Prather and Julie Jackson '07 of Shell Upstream Americas will present a talk. Topic to be announced much closer to the date. A218 at 12:2o. Lunch provided.
  • Friday, November 8: Nick Fox '09, Petroleum Consulting Geologist with Advanced Resources International, Inc., will present "Applications of ArcGIS in Unconventional Oil and Gas." A218 at 4:oopm.
  • Tuesday, November 12: Professor Euan Mitchell will present "Differentiation of mantle-derived magmas in the central Oregon Cascades." A218 at 12:2opm.
  • CHANGED: Thursday, November 21: Professor Lisa Greer will present "Documenting endangered coral in an age of global reef decline." A218 at 4:oopm.
  • CANCELLED: Wednesday, November 20: Professor Dave Harbor. A218 at 5:30pm.
Winter 2013 Geology-Related Talks:
  • Wednesday, January 16: Dave Harbor will present his research: "Erosion Dynamics in the Andes of NW Argentina." Lunch talk. Fill up your plate in A218 and eat and listen in A228.
  • CANCELLED: Thursday, January 31: Steve Wojtal of Oberlin will present "Late, sinistral fault zones as a key to understanding dextral transpression in the borderlands of the San Andreas fault, Durmid Hill, CA." 4:30pm.
  • Friday, February 8: Bill Anderson, a hydrologist from Appalachian State, will present "Non-ideal influences on mixing-zone development in barriers and barrier islands: Examples from North Carolina and England." Lunch talk.
  • Tuesday, February 26: Al McGrew, University of Dayton, will present "The Rise and Fall of the Nevadaplano." 4:30pm in A228.
  • Monday, March 4: John Garver, Union College, will present "Terrane translation in the north Pacific prior to establishment of the Aleutian-Kamchatka arc." 12:20pm. Fill up your plate in A218 and eat and listen in A228.
  • Monday, March 4: Chasing Ice will be playing in Stackhouse, 7:00pm.
  • Tuesday, March 5: Chasing Ice will be playing in Stackhouse, 7:00pm.
  • Thursday, March 7: Richard Alley, Penn State, will present "How Icy Earthquakes Help Make the Prettiest Places on the Planet." 12:20 talk in A114. Lunch will be available outside A114.
  • Friday, March 8: Richard Alley, Penn State, will give the keynote address of SSA 5: Science, Society and the Arts Research Conference, Evans Dining Hall. Dr. Richard Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. Click here to find out more about SSA 5.
  • Wednesday, March 13: Katelyn A. Huffman Olcott '08, W&L Geology Department alum and PhD candidate at Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geosciences, Center for Geomechanics, Geofluids, & Geohazards, will present "Stress in the Nankai Trough accretionary prism: lessons from deep ocean drilling on D/V Chikyu." 12:20pm.
  • Wednesday, March 13: Special Guest Lecture for ECON 255 Environmental and Natural Resources Economics: Katelyn A. Huffman Olcott '08, W&L Geology Department alum and PhD candidate at Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geosciences, Center for Geomechanics, Geofluids, & Geohazards. Katelyn will present "Everything you ever wanted to know about the Marcellus Shale and more." 8:00pm, Science Center 214.
  • Thursday, March 14: Chris Connors, William E. Pritchard III '80 Professor of Geology, will give the Inaugural Pritchard Lecture: "The Importance of Fault-related Folding in Deformation of the Earth's Crust." In his lecture, Chris will show examples from around the world to demonstrate how fundamental the relationship is between faulting and folding in the upper crust. He will show that consideration of these processes allows for a better understanding of the subsurface geometry and kinematics of map-scale structures. He will also show results from a program that he has written to model these structures. 8:00pm in A214.
  • Monday, March 18: Special Guest Lecture for ECON 255 Environmental and Natural Resources Economics: Laura Henson '08 (ENVS) will present "A New Language: Learning the Science, Economics, and Politics of Oean and Coastal Resources Management." After graduating from W&L, Laura moved to coastal Mozambique to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the education sector. Just after Peace Corps service, she worked full-time in the SCUBA diving industry in Mozambique and Honduras. Laura returned to the United States in 2011 to pursue a graduate degree in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her time at the Institute has included work in Spain, Mozambique, and El Salvador, and she will graduate this May with an M.A. and a certificate in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. 8:00pm, Science Center 214.
  • Tuesday, March 19: SWITCH:The Movie. Every energy resource - fossil, nuclear and renewable - is undergoing profound changes. And overall, we're gradually shifting from coal and oil to the energies of tomorrow. This sweeping transition is the subject of Switch. But rather than advocate for how it should happen, Switch travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen. Switch is also about a changing energy conversation. Today, it's polarized and unproductive. Switch focuses on practical realities and encourages a balanced understanding. Finally, Switch is about changing the way we use energy, to realize the many economic and environmental benefits of efficiency. Stackhouse Theater, 7:00pm. Free and open to the public.
  • Thursday, March 21: David Hundley of Chief Oil & Gas will present "From the Desktop to the Rig Floor--An Oil & Gas Roadmap." 4:30pm in A214. Please note this is a different room than usual.
  • Friday, March 29: Geology students of the Class of 2013 will defend their theses. 3:30pm, A214.

Fall 2012 Geology-Related Talks:

  • Tuesday, October 9: Rose Pettiette '13 will present her work this summer in Alaska as part of the Keck Consortium. There will be lots of great pictures. 5pm. Pizza.
  • Tuesday, October 16: Andrea Reynolds, Shell Oil will present "The Marcellus Shale - Depositional History, Exploration, and Managing Non-Technical Risk." Lunch talk.
  • Wednesday, October 24: Whitney Doss '06, PhD Candidate at the University of Colorado  and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), will speak on "New insights into glacial deep ocean circulation and carbon storage: A multi-proxy approach using benthic foraminiferal elemental ratios." Lunch talk.
  • Saturday, October 27: GEOLOGY ALUMNI REUNION SYMPOSIUM! There will be talks, panels, and posters all day for alums and current geology students. A schedule will up finalized soon. Lunch will be served. Please register if you plan to attend by contacting Sarah Wilson at
  • Thursday, November 1: Dale Bird of Bird Geophysical, 4pm.
  • Thursday, November 1: Aron Ralston, whose story is told in the movie "127 Hours" and in his memoir: "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" will give an inspirational talk on his experience in the Keller Theater in Lenfest Hall. Doors open at 7. The talk is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by Contact Committee and the Washington and Lee Outing Club.
  • Friday, November 2: Parent's Weekend Talk and BBQ Lunch: W&L Visiting Assistant Professor Paul Low will present "Assembling AZ: Using geochemistry to tell a tectonics story." BBQ lunch. This will be in Room G22. Professor Low's talk is based on the following paper: "Precambrian amphibolites and ultramafic rocks of the Upper Granite Gorge of the Grand Canyon: petrogenesis and tectonic implications." Abstract:Amphibolites and ultramafic rocks in the Upper Granite Gorge of the Grand Canyon from river miles (downstream from Lee's Ferry) 83, 91, 96, 98, and 108 retain bulk rock compositions and petrographic evidence that requires a variety of petrogenetic narratives. Amphibolites of mile 83 and 98 and ultramafic rocks of mile 91 exhibit trace element compositions characteristic of a low-degree partial melt from a garnet-bearing primitive mantle that were enriched by an influx of arc-related light ion lithophile elements (LILEs). Pillowed amphibolites from Shinumo Canyon (mile 108) exhibit similar levels of arc-derived LILEs enrichment but originated from a depleted mantle source suggesting that there is a difference in composition between the mantle source material for the rocks of mile 108 to the northwest and the rocks to the southeast. Pillowed amphibolites from Boucher Canyon at mile 96 and Crystal Canyon at mile 98 retain trace element characteristics of a depleted mantle source and low degrees of LILE enrichment and are thought to have formed in a spreading center environment. The presence of spreading center-derived rocks within both the Mile 96- and the Crystal shear zones (mile 98) in addition to distinctly different mantle source compositions to the northeast in Shinumo Canyon suggests the presence of a two-mile wide belt that could effectively constrain the Mojave-Yavapai tectonic province boundary in the vicinity of the Upper Granite Gorge.
  • Wednesday, November 14: Chris Connors will report on Geo-tourism in Iceland and Greenland. He will discuss internships and research opportunities for summer. 5:30pm. Pizza.
Winter 2012 Geology-Related Talks were: 
  • Thursday, February 2: Geology Seminar Speaker. Bryant Fulk '08 will present "How Unconventional are Unconventional Plays?" at 5:30-6:30pm.
  • Monday, February 6: Geology Seminar Speaker. Denise Levitan, graduate student at Virginia Tech, will give a talk entitled "Baseline Environmental Characterization of Ore Deposits" at 5:30pm.
  • Wednesday, February 15: Special Guest Speaker. Scott Tinker, the Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, will speak about the future of energy and show segments form his soon-to-be released documentary "Switch," at 5:30 in Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons. Dr. Tinker explores the world of energy with a balanced, non-political perspective.
  • Monday, February 27: Geology Seminar Speaker. Jim Reynolds of Brevard College will speak about Climate Change and the Return of the Ice, 12:20.
  • Tuesday, March 6: Bonus lunch-time talk! Chris Connors will present "Late Neogene Compressive Deformation in the Salinas Grandes Basin, Northwest Argentina," 12:20.
  • Thursday, March 8: Karen Lanning, Sr. Geophysicist, PreSeis Exploration Consultants, Inc., of Lexington, VA, at 12:20. Her talk is "Case study of Deep Water Turbidite Sands: Using state-of-the-arts tools to reduce risk in natural gas reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley, California."
  • Monday, March 12: WS2: Women Scientists an Women in Science Speaker Series: Dr. Katherine Crowley, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Washington and Lee University and AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the US Department of Energy, will present "From MoonShot to SunShot: Making Solar Energy Cost Competitive by 2020." Public Lecture: 7:30pm at Stackhouse Theater. Dr. Crowley will also speak at a Women's and Gender Studies Lunch: "Perspective on gender at the intersection of science and policy" at 12:10 at the Gender Studies Center, Hill House. Please RSVP to Shirley Richardson at if you would like to attend the luncheon. Dr. Crowley's events are generously supported by The Johnson Lecture Series, The University Sustainability Committee, and the Women's and Gender Studies Program.
  • Tuesday, March 13: Professor Paul Low will present "Everything you ever wanted to know about iddingsite," 12:20.
  • Monday, March 19: Geology Seminar Speaker. Karl Wegmann of North Carolina State University will present "Earthquakes, Beaches, and Ancient Stone Tools: Using Geology to Unravel the History of Seafaring from the Island of Crete, Greece," 4:00.
  • Friday, March 30: Geology Honors students of the Class of 2012 will defend their theses, 3:30 in A114: 
    Matt Benson: Assessment of Live Coral Cover and Carbonate Production Across Time, Depth, and Space in the Caribbean; Liz George: Reconstructing Environmental Changes in the Lower Connecticut River Using Diatoms;Lizzy Mann: Bioturbation of forested shale soils by tree throw in the Appalachian Mountains; Maya Reimi: An Experimental Investigation into Incorporation of Trace Metals in Carbonate Materia; Natalie Stier: Influence of the Kingak Formation Ultimate Shelf Margin on Frontal Structures of the Brooks Range in National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska

Fall 2011 Geology-Related Talks were:

  • Tuesday, September 13: Geology Seminar Speaker. Geology Faculty will speak about the Mineral, VA, earthquake.
  • Monday, September 19: Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, sponsored by WS2: Women Scientists and Women in Science. WGS Luncheon (12:10) and talk (5:30 in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons).
  • Wednesday, September 20: Geology Seminar Speaker. Professors Harbor and Rahl and students Doug Sberna and Ryan Hartman will present a slide show and talk about Summer Research in Argentina.
  • Tuesday, September 27: Geology Seminar Speaker. Professor Connors' talk will be: Constraints on Sigsbee Salt Canopy Advancement: Implications for Neogene Deformation in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
  • Thursday, October 6: Geology Seminar Speaker. W&L Geology Department alum Richard Kilby '03, Senior Geologist for Resolute Energy, in Denver, Colorado, will present From Prospect to Production - Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration in North America.
  • Tuesday, October 18: Lecture by Former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz: "Arctic Climate Change and Security: A New Cold War with Russia?" 7:00 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. 
  • Wednesday, October 19: Terry Tempest Williams, author and conservationist, has written books and poetry and essay collections. Her work weaves together intense, detailed observations of the natural world and human experience. Her Reading with Commentary is at 7:00 p.m. in Lee Chapel with a book signing at 8:15 p.m. in Mason Taylor New Room in Payne Hall. Events are free and open to the public. Williams' visit to W&L is sponsored by the Glasgow Endowment, the Program in Environmental Studies' Earle Bates Lecturer and the Class of 1963 Scholar-in-Residence Fund.
  • Friday, October 28: Geology Seminar Speaker. Bradford Prather Chief Geoscientist and Manager, Regional Exploration Consultancy Shell Upstream Americas, will speak on Stratigraphic Response to Evolving Geomorphology in a Submarine Apron Perched on the Upper Niger Delta Slope.  He will be available after his talk to meet with interested students.
  • Thursday, November 10: Geology Seminar Speaker. Dr. Nicole Gasparini will present "Climate or Tectonics? Controls on erosion patterns in the Bolivian Andes."
  • Monday, November 14: Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Provost at University of California San Diego, sponsored by WS2: Women Scientists and Women in Science. WGS Luncheon (12:10) and talk (5:30 in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons). Dr. Oreskes about speak about her new book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.
  • Tuesday, November 29: Geology Seminar Speaker. Professor Knapp and students will present on Summer Research in Hawai'i, and Professor Greer and student Matt Benson will speak about Summer Research in Belize.
  • End of term. See you next semester!