Student Research Projects
Sponsored By L.S. Fichter
     These are research projects I currently have available for those wishing to do a senior research project. Of course, any good idea you have for a research project we can discuss; I am always looking for neat ideas.
    For all the information you need to get ready for, do, and complete a research requirement go to the Student Research Page.
Parasequences in the Juniata Formation at Germany Valley The Juniata appears to be a tidal flat system, exhibiting excellent FUS parasequences (images, scroll down). Of course that needs to be demonstrated. Two semesters plus summer section measuring.
Depositional Systems at the Juniata-Toscarora transition The Tuscarora is most probably a shoreface/foreshore system, but we need to sort out exactly what. The outcrop has lots of good structures, and the transition from the Juniata is well exposed. (images, scroll down) Two semesters plus summer section measuring.
Greenland Gap Deposystems west of Winchester West of Winchester, Va. are some excellent exposures of the upper Devonian section. Superficial examination seems to indicate the depositional systems are different from those down in the Rockingham/Pendleton Co area. This is an easily accessible study, and might turn up some interesting results. Two semesters and plus summer section measuring.
Paleontology Projects
There are about a dozen and a half projects available at this time.
As a part of the web site on the Geological Evolution of Virginia I want to include for each stage in the geologic history a section on the life of the time, what the world would have looked like to a visitor, and how the life affected the geology.
      Preliminary sketches exist for each tectonic division but they need to be much better fleshed out. There are multiple projects here, one for each tectonic stage. For example, the Divergent Continental Margin, the Taconic Orogeny, the orogenic calm between an orogenies, etc.
     The research would involve a thorough literature search to find references to every fossil found in the Mid-Atlantic for the time. We want to construct a catalog of all known fossils, with references to help anyone look up and learn more about the organism, and information on where to go find the fossils.
     More important we want to sketch a picture, either in writing or visually, reconstructing the world at the time. This might include illustrations, paleoecologic reconstructions, etc. Essentially saying, "If you could go back to this time period this is the world you would be entering, what it would look like, what organisms you would see, what the climate would have been like, etc."
These projects require two semesters, one to do the literature search and gather all the information, the second to write the historic scenario. Also included would be visits to fossil localities to help build a reference collection for the department.
      The ultimate goal here is to put all this information into a web site,and if you are interested in learning how to do that, part of the project would be being mentored in HTML and creating the web site that would be linked with the Geologic Evolution of Virginia and Mid-Atlantic web site.
Mid-Atlantic Structural Cross Sections (3 separate projects) A long time ago someone drew a structural cross section across the Virginia showing the spatial relationships among all the rocks. But this was a pre-plate tectonic cross section. We now have much better evidence, including that from seismic records, and from drilling off the coastal plain.
     This project is to gather all the literature available on the structural geology of Virginia and draw a precise and accurate cross section, to scale, from the surface, all the way down to the Moho. Accompanying this cross section will be a key to all the rock units and their ages, as well as their tectonic associations.
     I do not know how involved this project will be, but there may be more than one project, with, say, one cross section in the North Carolia area, one across the middle of Virginia (our back yard), and one across Maryland, northern Virginia, and into West Virginia
This is a two semester project. The first is information gathering; i.e. a literature search to find all the seismic, structural, etc. information that exists. During this time you would also gather descriptive information on all the rock units and their tectonic associations (i.e. how they formed).
      The second semester would be to draft up the cross section, in detail. This would be done in Designer. The procedure will be to piece together all the published cross sections that exist (to scale), and fill in any gaps with informtion from published geologic maps. At the end we would end up with a printed poster size cross section with key.
Library Projects Library projects are vitually unlimited, and you may have ideas of your own project. However, I have a few projects specifically to bolster the Geology Evolution of Virginia web page. I am particularly interested in projects on the piedmont, and the nature of terranes, volcanic arcs, microcontinents, etc.
   There are also projects to examine the interaction between geology and its control and influence on pre-colonial and colonial history.
Smaller projects can be accomplished in a semester. Most however probably require two semesters; one to find the literature, the second to do the research and write the paper.
Mapping Parasequences with Gamma Rays in the Briery Gap Section
joint project with Will Frangos
Will is our new geophysicist, and will be teaching a course in geophysics as of Fall, 2000. I have often wondered if it is possible to obtain a gamma-ray trace from an outcrop, and Will assures me it can be done. This would be a neat project for someone wanting some practical field experience in doing geophysics in the field. The Briery Gap section is being recut as the road is widened and we are expecting that some nice outcrop will be available. Two Semesters, or perhaps a summer of field work, and then a semester to compile results and write paper.
Go To Student Research Page with FAQ, research proposals, etc.

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