Kansas State University


Department of Geology

Month: May 2020

From the Department Head

Dear Alumni, Family and Friends:

First, let me start by thanking all of your for your continuing and unwavering support of our department.  It makes a big difference in the experience we can offer our students, especially in these challenging times.  As I’m sure you are aware, emergence of COVID-19, and the university decision to suspend all in-person classes half way through the semester, meant that Geology faculty had to pivot all courses into an online format at a moment’s notice.  The work involved in doing this has been enormous, and I want to thank all the faculty and graduate teaching assistants who went above and beyond to make it happen, doing their utmost to maintain the highest quality educational experience for all of our students.  Unfortunately, there were some things we just couldn’t do.  All field trips had to be cancelled, for example, including a major excursion to Hawaii that was planned for our Regional Geology course this year!  Lab-based activities were also curtailed, but we did our best to limit the spread of the virus while meeting the educational needs of our students.

We are currently in the planning stages with regard to how instruction will be delivered in the fall.  At the moment, the university aims to have students back on campus in the fall, and we are hard at work assessing classrooms and labs to see how we can provide adequate social distancing for students and faculty.  At the same time, we are acutely aware of the possibility of, once again, having to move instruction online, depending on the development of COVID-19. In this regard, we have been trying to put together a contingency plan, assessing how we can teach geology well online or in a hybrid environment. This ‘new normal’ will be challenging for all of us, but with your continued support, I know we will succeed.

Go ‘Cats!

Pamela Kempton
Professor and Head

Some greetings from Dr. Sam Chaudhuri

For me, it was pleasing to hear that some of you were wondering lately about the wonderland in which I am living since my retirement. In the narrowest sense, I can script my current state as a new liberation without any academic obligation lending to repeated falls of my life into conditions of hallucination that is often charged with wild imagination on finding rational solutions to a variety of my own intercepted visions. The following is a brief narrative of my parasol-life since I decamped from Thompson Hall to domicile into a hydrocarbon-healthcare-economy based habitat where I have found with blessings a micro-environment of previous Thompson-Hall residents (John, Daniel, Mike, and few occasional encounters during my attendance to AAPG meetings in Houston). Continue reading “Some greetings from Dr. Sam Chaudhuri”

Grants and Awards

Dr. Aida Farough receives Charlie Award

Dr. Aida Farough was selected to receive the May Charlie award for excellence in undergraduate advising.  The award is named for Charlie Nutt, executive director at the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), who spent a large part of his career advocating and promoting the advising profession. The award is available to any advisor at K-State who has made an impact on advising, done a stellar job of helping students, found a new method that makes all of our lives easier, and/or has been awesome at their job.  Dr. Farough is responsible for meeting with prospective students, such as high school seniors, as well as internal and external transfer students who are considering majoring in K-State geology.  As such, she is at the front line of our efforts to attract and retain students.  Well done, Aida!

Dr. Brice Lacroix receives a grant from American Chemical Society to study Arbuckle Mountains

Brice Lacroix, assistant professor of geology, has received a grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund to study the syn-tectonic diagenetic history of carbonates from the Arbuckle Mountains, Oklahoma.

The Arbuckle Mountains expose 450-million-year-old carbonate rocks from the Arbuckle group, a natural hydrocarbon reservoir that occurs deep in the subsurface in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma. In addition to hydrocarbon extraction, the reservoir is also used to dispose of the wastewater produced during the hydrocarbon extraction process.

The purpose of this research is to better understand the timing and conditions of past fluid-flow that occurred along faults through the Arbuckle group rocks, which would have potentially altered them. Such alteration can affect key rock characteristics such as porosity and permeability.

Lacroix will apply the latest thermochronometry techniques — such as ∆47/U-Pb — that he is currently developing in collaboration with colleagues in Switzerland and France. A better understanding of the fault behaviors and their relationship with fluid flow are important to better understand this natural disposal water reservoir and its link with induced seismicity.

Dr. Ghanbarian working group just started a joint univerity-industry project

Director of Porous Media Research Lab (PMRLAB), Dr. Behzad Ghanbarian, has recently signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to start joint university-industry projects and extend research and collaboration between Kansas State University and industry. Both parties work closely together to address challenges in unconventional reservoirs and their production.

The Geology Department is now equipped with 3D scanner and printer, both located in Porous Media Research Lab. The 3D scanner is capable of capturing the image of an object with 100 mm resolution. The 3D printer can be used to print out fossils, rock samples, or any other objects with 10 mm resolution. Contact Dr. Behzad Ghanbarian for further information and detail at ghanbarian@ksu.edu.

Dr. Brice Lacroix receives an USGS EDMAP award

Brice Lacroix recently received a USGS EDMAP to map a portion of the Coast Range, Central California. During the past years, Dr. Lacroix’s research group (graduate students Christine Ward and Jacob Hughes) has been investigating the tectonic and metamorphic processes related to the formation of the Los Burros Gold-deposit from the Nacimiento block, Central California. They established that this area is tectonically active and records higher landslide rate. In order to better understand this area, two K-State students (William Harvis and Ben Walter) will map a section during Fall 2020 and publish their final product in the USGS National Geologic Map Database.

Dr. Brueseke receives a Kansas State University Small Research grant (USRG)

Matt Brueseke recently received a K-State USRG (Investigating links between <5 million yr old basaltic volcanism in the Centennial Valley region, southwest Montana, and the Yellowstone hotspot; $4,428).  The grant will research in southwestern Montana aimed documenting the physical and geochemical attributes of basaltic lavas in the Centennial Mountains and Centennial Valley, adjacent to the Yellowstone hotspot track (e.g., Snake River plain).  It builds on undergraduate research conducted by recent B.S. graduate Sarah Green and current B.S. student Ben Walters.  Sarah, M.S. student Emily Fenner, and Brueseke spent ~1 week in summer 2019 doing reconnaissance fieldwork for this project.

Sarah Green (L) and Emily Fenner (R) sampling a <2 Ma basalt lava in Centennial Valley, MT. Centennial Mountains in background. The Centennial Mountains are bounded by a tectonically-active north-dipping normal fault; the valley-mountain relationship you see here is similar to Jackson Hole, WY and the Teton range.


Introducing New People

Dr. Gaur received a Ph.D. in Physics (chemical physics program) from University of Puerto Rico, USA in 2016 and before that his MS degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, India, in 2009. Dr. Gaur’s broader research interest is in chemical vapor deposition, synthesis of van-der Waals materials such as graphene and molybdenum disulfide and their electron phonon interaction via Raman spectroscopy. Prior to joining K-State, he was a research staff in Ames (DOE) lab and postdoctoral research associate in Materials Science and Engineering Department at Iowa State University for 2 years and in Iowa State University Mechanical Engineering Department for one year. Dr. Gaur joined the K state since in Aug 2019 as a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Manufacturing engineering where worked inkjet printing of graphene flexible devices for energy storage. He joined the Geology department in May 2020 and will be closely working on characterization of carbonaceous materials.