Geology Alumni Newsletter 2000

Read about fellow Geology graduates in the Alumni News Notes.

Tom and Bruce Retire


The big news, of course, is that both Tom and Bruce have retired, complete with two smashing retirement parties in summer 1998; one in Reno and one in Conifer, near Denver; but, more on that later. The good news it that geology is still going strong with the hire of two new faculty replacement (although we all know that no one could actually replace Bruce and Tom). Dr. Rob Fillmore ('86) joined the staff in the fall of 1998 and Dr. John Stamm joined the staff in the fall of 1999.



New Faculty at Western

Dr. Rob Fillmore ('86)


Rob has filled Bruce's position. As you may recall, Rob filled in several times as a sabbatical replacement and has been hanging around for years waiting for this opportunity. He kept on writing me letters and phoning me, asking when I was going to retire and it finally paid off! We did a formal search for the position in 97-98 and Rob won out in a pool of truly outstanding candidates. He is now teaching most of the courses I used to (Historical, Strat/Seds, etc.) and has added Structural Geology since that has been one of his strong emphases in his graduate studies.

Rob, originally from Oklahoma, came to Crested Butte in the late 70's to be a ski bum, decided to take a geology class and the rest - well, many of you are quite familiar with the pattern of interest, enthusiasm and degradation that formed your Western geology experience. Rob turned on so much that he was our Outstanding Geology Senior, winning the RMAG Hammer in 1986. He then went to Northern Arizona University (NAU) and earned a Master's degree in 1989, working on Upper Cretaceous conglomerates in southwest Utah under the direction of Larry Middleton. Deciding to continue his career as a professional student, he then went to the University of Kansas and worked on Miocene extension and the sedimentological response of part of the Mojave Desert under J. Douglas Walker. While at Kansas, he also worked as an aid to Don Baars (of Canyonlands fame) for the Kansas Geological Survey. He also worked several summers for Exxon Research in Houston doing 3-D seismic interpretation of submarine fans in the Gulf of Mexico and stratigraphic research in Utah on the Ferron Sandstone with the famous Tom Ryer.

He completed his PhD program in 1994 and started his apprenticeship as part-time instructor at NAU and sabbatical replacement here at WSC, before landing the big prize at Western.

Rob and his wife Hilary have a two-year-old son, Everett. Rob has just completed a book on the geology of the Southern Colorado Plateau to be published by the University of Utah Press late this spring that is destined to become the standard for the region.

Dr. John Stamm

When Tom Prather fully retired last term we had another vacancy and we were able to search for a new faculty member. After much head scratching, discussion and crystal ball gazing we decided to try to find a Geomorphologist/Quaternary geologist. It seems as though hiring a petroleum type is probably not such a good idea, at least for awhile. I guess you get the picture of the type of person we hoped to find - somewhat of a hybrid between an environmentally oriented geomorphologist and an academic research type. A major motivation here is that several people in the Science Department are keenly interested (and we have some grant money) in the Cenozoic history and evolution of the Gunnison Basin, including our anthropologist, Mark Stiger. Mark is very interested in the last 12,000 years of the Gunnison Basin climatic, biotic and human history. Undergraduate research programs are now very much on our agenda.

At any rate, last spring we hired John Stamm and we feel he fits the above description. John has been teaching geomorphology, soils, and fluvial hydrology, at California State University, Monterey Bay for the past three years. He earned his BA at SUNY-Oneonta, MS at Penn State and PhD at Kent State in 1991. He did his MS work mapping in southern Death Valley along the Garlock fault zone with Lauren Wright and Bennie Troxel, both highly respected Basin and Range geologists. After he recieved his MS, John worked for two years for The Mobil Corporation (offshore oil exploration in California and uranium production in Texas/New Mexico) and had a brief stint with the USGS programming an earthquake database. John's Ph.D. research was on a computer model of ice-age climate of the southwest U.S. He did a Post-Doc at Princeton doing computer modeling related to hydrology and global climate change. John then shifted from computer modeling to field hydrology. He accepted a Post-Doc with Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) and worked on sediment transport in headwater streams in central Idaho. This work supports the U.S. Forest Service in a large water-rights court case in Idaho. So, John's quite well rounded but specializes, and is most interested, in fluvial geomorphology-hydrology and climate change. Because of his broad background, he can do a lot of things (very useful here!) and will be willing to take on projects that fit the local (Gunnison) scene, like landslides, glaciation, etc. I'm sure he will be very collegial with Rob, Allen, and the other science people and will get along with the modern students, which you know quite well can be a formidable task. We'll do a more complete spread on John in the next newsletter.

Hurst Hall

The Hurst Hall construction and renovation project is well underway. The construction of the new wing started this past summer with the demolition of the large lecture halls on the south end of Hurst. This fall the contractors built the basic structure and tried to get the building enclosed before the snow. Over the spring they will work on the interior, finishing the exterior façade, sidewalks, and landscaping. If all goes according to schedule we will move into the new wing this summer and they will start renovation of the old Hurst.

The first floor of the new wing will house geology and anthropology. There will be a new lecture hall, teaching and research labs for both programs, space for computers and instrumentation, and a student learning center (a coffee/study room). We are looking forward to moving in and the new spaces will significantly improve the programs.

Annual Geology Awards

The annual graduation banquet is still going strong. We have held two geology banquets since the last newsletter. In 1998 the banquet was in Allen Stork's backyard catered by Pie-Zans Pizza. Allen had fun holding off the police, who were responding to the noise complaints about the band. In 1999 we moved back indoors. It's a little cold in early May-nothing to do with the noise, to the multipurpose room of the rodeo grounds. The banquet, catered by Mikes Market, received rave reviews. Both were tremendous successes as we celebrated the graduation of five graduates in 1998 and eight graduates in 1999.

The VAL MITCHELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP and the RMAG Hammer were given out as usual. The VAL MITCHELL MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP, given to our outstanding junior, went to Rebbeca Baily ('98) and Becky Thompson ('99). The recipients of the "Hammer" were Kayte McConaghy ('98) and Ralph Falsetto ('99).

In addition to the geology awards, Rebecca Bailey received an all-campus award as one of the top ten graduates of 1999. Rebecca, Bruce, and Paul Rady ('78) missed most of the geology party to attend this banquet. Bruce was there because Rebecca selected him as the person that was most important to her education and Paul was the keynote speaker for the award ceremony.

The annual graduation banquet is held each spring the night before graduation. All geology alumni are invited but because reservations are usually required, please let us know in advance if you plan to join us.

Bartleson and Prather Scholarships

Last newsletter we announced a scholarship for student research that was initiated by Paul Rady ('78) and Peter Dea ('76). This year we would like to announce the continuation of this program as the Bartleson/Prather Fund for Excellence in Geology. The fund will still supply a scholarship and research stipend for students on a competitive basis, who are between their junior and senior year. The idea is to enable them to do some meaningful geology in the summer without severe financial hardship. If you or your company might be interested in contributing to the fund let us know.

Last years scholarships have been completed. Rebecca Bailey ('99) worked on the Tertiary Telluride Conglomerate in the San Juan Mountains. Brian Coven ('99) worked on the initiation of West Elk Volcanism. He was able to show that the entire West Elk Field was deposited within a relatively short 500,000yr interval 30my ago. His results were presented at the Denver GSA this fall. Ralph Falsetto ('99) looked at the Harding Sandstone in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to decipher the detailed depositional environment of this Ordovician deposit.

Two more scholarships were awarded this year. Becky Thompson will continue work on the Telluride Conglomerate in an attempt to understand the regional paleogeography during the Eocene-Oligocene. Ryan Murphy is engaged in a petrologic study of two of the Gunnison Laccoliths - Storm Ridge and East Beckwith. He will be studying the relationship between the laccoliths and West Elk Volcano. His project will include petrologic, geohemical and Ar/Ar dating of the laccoliths.

Denver Museum of Natural History Alumni Reception

On Friday evening, April 9, 1999 the college put on an alumni reception at the Denver Museum of Natural History in conjunction with the museum's Colossal Fossil Exhibit. Since it was kind of geological and since many consider Bruce to be a living fossil, it seemed appropriate for the geology staff to be there. So, Bruce Bartleson, Rob Fillmore, and Allen Stork all showed up as co-hosts and guides. It turned out to be a great success and a lot of fun, as over 50 alumni showed up. Happily, a good number of geology alumni showed up and we had a great time reminiscing. Those present included: Renee Brekke-Liederbach '96, Scot Donato '81, Scott Effner '88, Dave Gaskill '48, Bob and June Just '74, Chris Lawson '94, Ken Miller '83, Ken Nibbelink '79, and Bob Richardson '93

New Anthropology Major

After ten year of planning, preparation, and politics Western has a new major in anthropology. For those of you who were around recently, you know that the Geology Department is a major supporter. We have worked closely with Dr. Mark Stiger to show that anthropology should be an important part of Western and that there was a demand for the major by offering a Geology Major with an Emphasis in Anthropology. This has been a popular part of our department and the interest of students and your success getting jobs in the field and into graduate school were vital in convincing the State that we could offer the program.

Curecanti Mapping Project

This summer the entire department was involved in a project to help complete the basic 1:24,000 geologic maps of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument (soon to be a park) and Curecanti National Recreation Area. This project is part of a national effort to complete geologic maps of all the National Parks. You just think someone would have done this before

Bruce Bartleson helped set up the project by attending a planning meeting with the Park Superintendent and interested parties. He convinced them that they should hire the locals to do the work. We received a contract to map the McIntosh Mountain and Little Soap Park quadrangles. Rob Fillmore ('86), Kurt Panter ('86), Allen Stork, the summer field camp, Brian Coven ('99), Ralph Falsetto ('99), Ryan Murphy ('00), Jodie Medico ('00), Ben Stookesbury ('01), and Becky Thompson ('00) all worked at various times. The only way we could complete this project was to rely heavily on previous work by Dave Gaskill ('48) and Bruce who worked on the West Elk Wilderness Study. Dave had donated field maps and notes from this project a few years ago.

The most interesting results came from mapping paleo-Gunnison River gravels, containing Precambrian, Paleozoic and Mesozoic clasts, that trace out how the path of the river was changed by the eruption of the large ash flows out of the San Juan Calderas 50-70 kms to the south. There will be many fascinating studies generated out of this work. We hope that this will become a long-term project.

We will propose to map the West Elk Peak Southwest Quadrangle next summer. Wish us luck!

Retirement Parties!

There were two outstanding retirement parties you folks put together for Tom and Bruce. Thanks! The first affair was in late July 1998 with Tom and Anne Shrake acting as hosts in their beautiful new home in the mountains so near of Reno. Tom barbecued a brisket of beef and opened up his considerable wine cellar for tasting. Alumni attending included: Rosemary (Hart) Carroll ('95); Brian Cellura ('95); Steve Craig ('74); Elliott Crist ('75); Ed DeVenyns ('78); Jim Douglas ('77); Dave Ernst ('78); Pam Klessig ('78); Kim (Hunter) Mauch ('80); Laura (Nelson) and Eric Ruud ('82); Anne (Bouchet) and Tom Shrake ('82); Kirk Swanson ('83); Ron Thoreson ('75) and Gene Urie ('77). Greg Hill ('91), was planning to come, but had a rather lame excuse - he got married that day! We forgive you Greg!

Then, in early October, Jan and Rod Mcabe ('77) kindly hosted a great blowout near Conifer, CO. We didn't really call roll but in our collective memories we counted 50 to 60 alumni. Al Clough ('77) flew in from Alaska, Mark Fernandes ('78) and Nancy Molyneux ('77) came in from Connecticut and Rhode Island, respectively; Brad Boshetto ('83) and Dale Marcum (83') came in from California, but the champion long-distance traveler was Brian Johnson ('80) from Australia. Two groups of alumni stand out: the class of '83 had by far the biggest single year turn-out (10), and the Deerfield, Illinois group now hold the record for the most people from one high school (4). The party was a great success with speeches (mostly short), awards, lots of reminiscing, and lots of good food and drink (the special turkey that Jim Brown ('70) and his wife prepared was the hit of the party). Everyone agreed that we really should do this sort of reunion/party more often and plans are underway.

Peter Terbush - A sad death

You may have seen a news report in June concerning a Western State student being killed in a rock fall accident in Yosemite. The student was Peter Terbush and very sadly, he was a new geology major having just completed Physical and Historical Geology. He was a very enthusiastic young man and had a great deal of experience climbing. He was apparently belaying some of his friends at the base of a 100-foot rock face when a large mass of rock came down. Instead of running and risking the lives of his friends he held his position and took the full brunt of the rocks. This was a major rock fall that was described as "a huge rumbling sound, like a jet coming close -- we saw a tiny plume of impact that then rose up like a nuclear blast. A huge layer of dust settled over much of the valley."