Geology Alumni Newsletter 2012

Western's Geography Alumni Newsletter Fall 2012

For news from the faculty and your classmates go to: Alumni Newsletter News Notes

The slope of West Elk volcano with Flat Top and the Collegiate Peaks in the background.


Read about fellow Geology graduates in the Alumni News Notes.


 This is now our 7th Geology Newsletter. So far we’ve weathered the downturns in the economy and state funding and are going strong: 

  • As you can see from the new logo our name has changed with the addition of university status. We want to assure you that this will not affect our dedication to providing Western students the best possible undergraduate education in geology.
  • Western’s Geology program continues to grow over 80 majors, more than any time since the early eighties.
  • Dr. Tim Wawrzyniec is the new Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology. Tim has expertise in structural geology and LIDAR.
  • Dr. Amy Ellwein has joined the faculty. Amy has expertise in geomorphology and science education.
  • Dr. Dave Marchetti received the Gladys W. Cole Memorial Award form GSA.
  • Western will be hosting the 2013 Rocky Mountain GSA section meeting on May 15-17th. Tim and Amy are co-chairs of the meeting, Allen Stork is Technical Session Chair and Dave Marchetti is Field Trip Chair.
  • Our students have presented their research result the national AAPG convention and the GSA Rocky Mountain meeting. Their projects made possible by your donations to the Bartleson-Prather fund and by the Moncrief Petroleum fund. Thanks!


New Geology Faculty:  Dr. Tim Wawrzyniec


Tim Wawrzyniec came to Gunnison in the fall of 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Geology and the Moncrief Chair of Petroleum Geology and is excited to be at Western. Tim grew up in the USAF until his father retired and the family settled in a Mosinee Wisconsin, a small town located near the center of the state. In the years that followed he learned about becoming a “cheese head” and the importance of someday attending a Packer game at Lambeau Field – something that was finally achieved in 2001. In 1983, Tim chose to study Fine Art at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point but eventually grew weary of the foibles of other Art Majors and Majors and Faculty and found his true passion in the study of rocks.

Guided by one of his Geology UWSP Professors (Marshal Perry (M.S., University of New Mexico, 1957) and interested in a career in energy or minerals Tim transferred to the University of New Mexico in 1987. At that time the UNM Geology Department had an outstanding reputation as an “oil” school. In 1986, the UNM Geology Department had 310 majors enrolled in Mineralogy. Naturally, the oil market tanked and so did the number of geology majors. When Tim completed Mineralogy in 1987, there were only 7 other students in the class.

Undaunted by the changing career-scape, Tim graduated with a B.S. degree magna cum laude in geology in1990. At the time, there were few industry jobs and Tim decided to pursue an academic career and was admitted into the Institute of Technology at the University of Minnesota. Initially interested in geochemistry, Tim eventually began studying metamorphic petrology where he was introduced to the Taylor River Valley and the Star Peak Mylonite, which is a carbonate mylonite located at the western margin of the Star Peak Intrusion. After a short stent in the environmental industry, Tim finished his M.S. in 1994 and joined his “domestic-partner-to-be” Amy Ellwein in the graduate program back at the University of New Mexico where he entered into the fields of study of Paleomagnetism, Fluid Inclusions, and Fault Kinematics. Under the advisement of Dr. Jane Selverstone, he worked on the low-angle normal fault known as the “Simplon Line” in the Swiss Alps where he showed that the generation of CO2 during metamorphism can drive rocks from ductile to brittle deformation behavior at mid-crustal depths. Closer to home, and under the advisement of Dr. John Geissman, he worked on the Elk Range Thrust and the deformation of the eastern margin of the Colorado Plateau to demonstrate the importance of dextral shear and block rotation during Laramide-age deformation. In 1997, Amy finished her M.S. in geomorphology at UNM, we later honeymooned in March 16th on the North Shore of Lake Superior under the splendor of Halley’s comet. Near the end of his Ph.D. studies, Tim also worked in southeast China in a project that addressed the rotation of crustal blocks deformed by the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia.

After graduate school and to the dismay of his advisors, Tim turned down an opportunity to join a project at MIT as a post-doctoral researcher. Rather, he chose instead to join Vastar Inc. (a subsidiary of ARCO, now known as BP America) where he worked on 4 prospects in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which were all drilled and all found pay. Houston living left much to be desired and 9 months passed when Amy informed Tim that “she was leaving Houston” and that it would be nice if Tim came with her. Two weeks later Tim landed a position as a Research Professor at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin where he joined the International Energy Research Team as the structural geologist. It was a fine time, we were out of Houston, Tim was excelling as an interpreter of seismic imagery on projects sponsored by PEMEX. Over the next two years he worked on a series of projects from the southern Gulf of Mexico to Matamoros Mexico, and developed a coherent structural framework for nearly the entire east coast of Mexico. In the end, Texas was a bit too weird, or perhaps not weird enough, and Tim and Amy moved to Minnesota where Tim continued to consult for the University of Texas. In 2003, Tim and Amy moved back to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Amy perused her Ph.D. in geomorphology and Tim assumed the role of staff Research Scientist and supervised the UNM Paleomagnetism Laboratory. In 2004, Tim started the UNM Lidar Lab by cobbling together $60,000 from interested users to acquire a used lidar scanner. The facility was dedicated to generating high-resolution imagery of outcrops to facilitate the digital analysis of outcrop features in the laboratory. Collaborations with the oil industry and academic colleagues around the world helped the facility to grow to $360,000 facility that Tim brought with him to Western in 2010. Tim also brings with him experience as a lecturer; while at UNM he offered classes in petroleum geology, introductory geology, lidar analysis, alpine geology, and New Mexico Field Geology. On January 1, 2013, Tim will become a co-Science Editor for Geosphere, an online, peer-reviewed journal of the Geological Society of America.

Tim’s current research interests include work on fossil plate boundaries in Southern Mexico, the lidar-based analysis of fracture networks in Northern Iraq, kinematics of the Crested Butte Lineament, kinematics of the Rio Grande Rift, kinematics of Laramide uplifts, and the application of gravity and seismic data to understand subsurface geology. Tim enjoys living in the Gunnison Valley. Skiing, hiking, and mountain biking are excellent reminders why life is too short to live in Houston.


Dave Marchetti wins the Gladys W Cole Award from GSA


Dave Marchetti was the 2011 recipient of the Gladys W. Cole Memorial Research Award from the Geological Society of America. The award is to recognize a GSA Member or Fellow between who has published significant papers on the geomorphology of semiarid and arid terrains in the United States and Mexico.

The Gladys W. Cole Memorial Research Fund was established in 1980 by Dr. W. Storrs Cole in memory of his wife. The first award was presented in 1982. Dr. Cole passed away in 1989. He had been a fellow of GSA for 58 years and was one of the Society's leading benefactors.


Annual Geology Awards


We have had three graduating classes since the last newsletter. In 2009 we graduated 10 students, in 2010 we graduated 15 students and in 2011 we graduated 13 students.

The RMAG “Hammer” awarded to our outstanding graduating senior went to Andrew Payton’09, Katherine Schuller ’10, Amelia McMillin ’11 and to JessePisel ’12

The Val Mitchell Memorial Scholarship in Geology, awarded to our outstanding junior went to Katherine Schuller ’10 in 2009, to Matt McConell ’11 in 2010 to James Haag ’12 in 2011 and to Marcus Hinricher ’13 in 2012

The Menzer Scholarship, awarded to encourage a beginning student to think about a career in geology was awarded to James Haag ’12 in 2009 and Michael Jury ’14 in 2011.

The Richard and Belva Moyle Scholarship awarded for summer field camp went to Matt McConell ’11 in 2010 and to Kevin Clauss ’12 in 2012.


Bartleson and Prather Research Scholarships 


The Bartleson-Prather Fund for Excellence in Geology is going strong. As we described in past newsletters, the fund provides a scholarship and research supplies for students, on a competitive basis, between their junior and senior year.

We have awarded three scholarships since the last newsletter. James Haag ’12, worked with Dave Marchetti on the oxygen and hydrogen isotope variation of rain and snowfall in the Gunnison Basin. This two year study resulted in the production of a local meteoric water line. Preliminary results show that the Gunnison Basin has a range of isotopes that is nearly as great as the rest of the lower 48 states combined.

Jesse Pisel ’12 worked with Rob Fillmore measuring paleocurrent directions in the Maroon Formation in central Colorado, to study the potential influence of an ancestral Sawatch Uplift. Last summer Jesse measured nine different stratigraphic sections, totaling more than 3000’, and made over 1000 separate paleocurrent measurments. His work was presented at the GSA Rocky Mountain section meeting in Albuquerque this spring.

Jonathon Tree ’12 worked with Allen Stork on the Nine-Mile Hill volcanic field on the road to Lake City. Jonathon picked up where the 2006 Geol 411 Research in Volcanology class left off. He remapped the flows, measured vesicle and lava tube elongations as well as collecting new petrographic and geochemical data. His work was presented at the GSA Rocky Mountain section meeting in Albuquerque this spring.


 Student Presents at 2012 AAPG


Jesse Pisel ’12 presented the results of his research entitled “Petrophysical Characterization of the Depositional System for the Paleocene Raton Formation, Vermejo Park, New Mexico, USA”,at the national AAPG Convention in Las Angeles this spring. Jesse worked with Tim Wawrzyniec on the project.


 Top 100 Westerners of All Time


Hopefully, you have seen the summer, 2011 issue of the Westerner Alumni Magazine (if not, let us know!) At any rate, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Western State College, the administration decided to put together a “Top 100” graduates list and invited nominations from all alumni, faculty and staff. According to Tonya Van Hee, Alumni Director; “Boy, did you ever respond! Thank you! We received hundreds of nominations and the selection process was grueling.” As it turned out, our Geology Department was very well represented with seven of our alums being honored. Although I didn’t do a statistical analysis, I suspect that we had one of the best, if not the best, representations of any department on campus, especially considering our size. The Geology alums listed are as follows: Janie Chermak ’79, Peter Dea ’76, Dave Gaskill ’48, Pam Klessig ’78, Paul Rady ’78, Steve Reynolds ’78, and Tom Shrake ’81. (What’s with this class of 1978?). There really should have been more of you, but they had to leave room for the rest of the college. 


 In Memorium


Raymond L. Ruehle (1969-2004) -Ray passed away on October 6, 2011 at the age of 81 in the home he and his wife, Nancy, built and where they raised their three sons, Joel, Alex, and Grant.

Ray was born in Rosario, Honduras, on May 14, 1930, where he and his brothers, and their younger sister, shared an adventurous and memorable childhood living in a silver mining community tucked into a steep mountainside rain forest. Ray put himself through college working in his uncles’ carnation greenhouses and delivering mail for the Postal Service.

He received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1952. Upon graduation he conducted geophysical exploration in the Colorado Mountains for Newmont Exploration. In 1954, Ray enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Meteorology. With the knowledge gained there, he spent a year at Fleet Weather Central as Staff Meteorologist, forecasting for all naval units in the Central Pacific, and also served as Chief Meteorologist for the 7th Fleet.

After his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1957, he headed a seismic crew performing oil exploration in Western Colorado and conducted surveys as a Geophysicist in Southern Arizona for Phelps Dodge Corporation. He returned to school in 1960 to complete a M.S. in Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he also completed all the required courses for a Ph.D. He worked in Boulder for three years at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.



Theodore "Ted" Violett, (1959-2009) - Ted passed away on May 2, 2010. He taught at Western for 50 years -- longer than any professor in the College's history.

Ted was born in Great Bend, Kan., on April 27, 1932, and attended schools in Kansas City, graduating from East High School in 1949. He attended the University of Kansas City before transferring to the University of Missouri - Columbia where he received his Bachelor of Science in Education in 1953 and his Master of Arts in 1954. He served in the U.S. Army 1954-56 and was stationed in Huntsville, Ala., where he was involved in scientific research. His doctoral study for the Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Colorado - Boulder was completed in 1959 with a dissertation on “Solar Emission Lines in the Extreme Ultraviolet.”

Ted joined the Western State College physics faculty that fall, where he taught physics and astronomy for 50 years. Ted’s professional life centered on his teaching career at Western State College and he was very proud of his students and their accomplishments. A 2009 Homecoming reception honoring his emeritus status after 50 years of teaching welcomed many of his former students to campus for the celebration. Ted was a member of the board of the Gunnison Valley Observatory. He was recently a member of the Gunnison County Environmental Health Board and was on the RE1-J School Board in the early 1970s.Ted passed peacefully at his Gunnison home on May 2.


Faculty News

Inactive (old, retired or escaped) Division:

Bruce Bartleson (1965-1998) continues to serve on the Gunnison County Library Board and Western's Alumni Board. Furthermore, he is now more famous as the Gunnison weather historian than he ever was as a geologist. I’ve been writing a column for the local newspaper for some time and get stopped in stores, etc. (and Facebook) all the time about Gunnison weather. Still doing fun things like skiing, mountain biking and fly fishing but not so much in 2011 as you’ll see shortly. We’re still doing great trips and since last time we have been to: Green Sand beach on the Big Island of Hawaii, quick weekend trip to Chicago to see the Cubs play in Wrigley Field; a visit to the Bay Area of S.F. to see some old grammar school buddies; lots of great ice skating on Blue Mesa Reservoir (last fall was phenomenal – you could skate for miles): two visits back to the Superstitions of Arizona to re-visit the site where I was nearly dragged (drug) to death by a mule in July, 1956 (see my Facebook site); had yet another rotator cuff surgery, this time just a month after Deirdre, so we were both in slings at the same time (rotator twins) in summer of 2010; and another trip to Hawaii, this time to Maui where I finally realized my knees were totally shot. So, last year was a challenge; I had one knee replaced in April and the other in July (with a double hernia repair in between). As a result I spent most of 2011 in rest, recuperation and rehab – ARRGGH! I was also deeply involved in an election to build a new library, which did not pass. Most recently I am involved in organizing and finding my old (1949!) 8th grade graduating class from Chicago for a reunion. I was just voted “Educator of the Year” by the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce.


Mary Lou Bevier (1982-1985) is still teaching at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC along with her husband Jim Mortensen. She and Jim are both on sabbatical and here is a brief report:

”Mary Lou Bevier is still teaching geology at The University of British Columbia, and currently enjoying a sabbatical year. Last summer she had the opportunity to revisit her old master's thesis stomping grounds, the Rainbow Range shield volcano in west-central B.C., as the guest geologist on a horse-supported back-country hiking trip. She is also working on another book about the geology of the Gulf Islands, B.C. Husband Jim and she recently hiked 274 km of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, saw some cool geology, met some interesting people, and would like to go back and hike some more there soon. They ran into Rod Graham, ‘83 recently at the Cordilleran Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver. Rod is still in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and is working in mineral exploration.” She also admits to spending a lot of time staring out her window on lovely Salt Spring Island instead of working on her new book.


Jim Coogan – ”I’m finishing up my two year stint as Exploration Manager for a small oil company based out of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We are exploring the least populated parts of the least populated country on Earth - an opportunity that is well-suited to the traditional strengths of Western geology grads, including Rod Graham ’83 who just retired as COO, and Justin Tully ‘03 and Andrew Payton ‘08 who are here as field-tested Exploration Geologists. The Wild West meets the Wild East. We began exploring just as the first wells were being drilled and when much of the area was covered by Soviet era reconnaissance maps and little else. We’ve since taken the first look at many rift and inverted-rift basins with modern field work, biostratigraphy, radiometric dating, seismic, and stratigraphic wells in undrilled parts of eastern and central Mongolia. We’ll be presenting some of those results at the AAPG meeting at the end of April, but we’re more excited about drilling the new areas in the coming months. The scientific method in real time.

The best part of this work has been the immersion in a culture that is steadfast in its millennia-old nomadic tradition, even through the rapid growth that it shares with its giant neighbor and rival to the south. Ulaanbaatar is a Boomtown that would be recognized by any of our 70’s grads. Like those grads, the boom has brought a smart and hungry group of young local talent to the forefront. In some ways, I’ve had to stay in my professor role for much of my time here as we’ve trained Mongolian geoscientists in the ways and wiles of modern exploration. Mongolians now make up most of our very capable staff, so it’s a good time to head home to the States and enjoy the results from a distance.

I will finish up in Ulaanbaatar in mid-April, and will work my way home in May via Tibet. The side travels to China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, London and Paris provided a great snapshot of a different hemisphere during a period of rapid change. I look forward to many opportunities to catch up with all of you as I return to working and playing in Colorado.”

Since this communication, Jim has come back to the Denver area and is teaching at Western for one semester to teach Geophysics and Petroleum Geology for Tim while he is on sick leave.


Fred Peck (1968-88) - Many of you knew Fred and took classes with him in Anthropology and some will remember that it was Fred and Bruce who got the very successful Geology-Anthropology major started in the late 1980s. Fred retired to Silver City, NM and lived there until recently when he and his wife Diane were burned out of their home by a range fire. They are now living in Montrose and we have recently seen Fred. He’s now in his late 80s, but retains 100% of his old salty humor and quick wit.


Tom Prather (1965-99) "I continue to enjoy retirement though stretched pretty thin to keep up with all the fun activities. I enjoy hiking, mountain biking – mostly with Bruce and Vandenbushe at Hartman Rocks, some mountain climbing, golf, skiing – downhill and cross-country, fishing- while hiking the small mountain streams, floating the river, and keeping up with my running and exercise. Shaunalee and I have wimped out some in the winter spending about half of it in the warmer climates of southern Arizona and the Anza Borrego area of California. For world travel we have been to Scotland and Italy. On the geology scene I have enjoyed some field trips with the department and led a couple of Western Wednesday outings to view local geology.”


Vijay Satoskar (1967-68) has finally surfaced after many years of being an MIA. Ah, the wonders of modern search engines. At any rate he is now in Florida and here is his report:

“I was with the City of Jacksonville until September 2011 in their Groundwater Section. I am retired now but I don't like to be "retired". I am teaching a couple of classes of Earth Science at FSCJ and I am working on a groundwater project with the Engineers Without Borders group in Guatemala. In December, I will be visiting a couple NGOs in India regarding groundwater projects there. Just trying to stay creative, occupied and "out of trouble." Sure envy the Gunnison environment-- no mountains in Florida! Keep in touch!”


Active (currently employed) Division:
-note who has time to do interesting things.


Robert Fillmore ‘86 – Life in Gunnison is cruising right along. After seven years of excuses for going out to Utah, I finally completed my book on the geology of the Canyonlands region. Geological Evolution of the Colorado Plateau of Eastern Utah and Western Colorado was published by the University of Utah Press last year. If you think the title is long, wait until you see the book. It has been very well received and all the reviews so far have been great! Since its publication I have been traveling the west giving talks and publicizing it, and it has been great fun with lots of curious people with good questions.

I just got back from Utah where I was revisiting some Moenkopi sections and I have begun writing a paper on it. Many of you have worked with me on this in the past 10 years and your help is greatly appreciated!

I have been teaching pretty much the same courses (Sed/Strat, Historical Geology), but to MUCH LARGER classes. The new petroleum boom has taken hold, leading to substantial growth in the past few years. It makes field trips a bit chaotic, but we’re figuring it out. We have had some top-notch graduates in the past few years and most everyone is working in industry or is in graduate school.

I am presently gearing up for Field Geology – the mild winter has enabled us to go up high to map this year, to areas that mostly have been inaccessible in previous years.

On the family front my wife Hilary continues to tolerate me and my oldest son Everett started high school this fall – amazing on both counts. My younger son Henry began middle school, and both kids continue to be completely entertaining, although as they get older, in very different ways.


Dave Marchetti – I continue to teach Physical Geology, Geomorphology, Hydrogeology, GIS, and Research in Quaternary geology – sure keeps me busy. I’ve developed a new water science class for the ENVS water emphasis called Water Planet. This course is a blending of sophomore-level water chemistry, fluvial geomorphology and hydrogeology. It’s really fun to teach because we do a big water chemistry project on the Gunnison River and Tomichi Creek. I’m looking forward to teaching Geochemistry as a regular part of my schedule starting in 2013.

Dave thigh deep in 40ka basalt in Argentina

On the research front my co-authors and I have papers in review for our work on really old gravel-capped benches near Escalante, UT, cosmogenic ages of young lava flows in central Argentina, and the petrology, geochemistry and ages of volcanic rocks covering the Fish Lake Plateau in central Utah. As part of the Fish Lake work, we are also finishing up geologic mapping of four 7.5 minute quads. We hope to have a field review for at least two of those quads in summer 2012. Since 2008 Western's Geology majors Sarah Able ‘08, Andrew Heger ‘08, Rebekah Parks ‘11, and Mark Mikos ‘12 were funded by the USGS EDMAP program to help with that mapping. In 2011 I was able to finish up a few glacial related projects and had two papers come out in Quaternary Research. Since I’ve been at Western I’ve worked with several Western Geology majors on Bartleson-Prather funded research projects. Much of that work is described elsewhere in this newsletter but I just want to reiterate how incredibly beneficial the Bartleson-Prather scholarships are to Geology majors. Regardless of whether students are planning to go to grad school or pursue careers in industry or consulting, having worked on a significant, self-directed research project provides them with a tremendous advantage in their future career. PLEASE support the Bartleson-Prather fund! It’s a great place to contribute even modest amounts of money and know that it will make a big difference for a budding geologist.


Allen Stork – Teaching and research are still great fun! I’m still doing the “hard rock” and geochemistry curriculum. This has been mixed in with some time served as department chair but I’m trying to stay out of that as much as possible.

I’ve continued my research on the local volcanic rocks. My Research in Volcanology and Petrology classes have returned to the study of Neogene basalts in Colorado. In 2010, we expanded our field area out of the basin to the Crag Crest region on Grand Mesa. This work was done in collaboration with Rex Cole at Colorado Mesa University (the old Mesa State). I also had a Bartleson-Prather student, Jonathon Tree ‘12, rework Nine Mile Hill volcano that some of you first studied in 2006. He confirmed most of our hypotheses but added a lot of detail to the story. I hope to get this work out and published in the near future. This year’s class has crossed Cebolla Creek to study similar lavas on Carpenter Ridge.

Judy and I are doing well. We put in a lot of time in the garden in the summer and Judy is still producing art quilts. Stop by if you are ever in town and see her quilt of Etna in eruption that hangs in my office.


Allen and Bruce south of town in the “Gunnison Gold Belt” in 2008


Read about fellow Geology graduates in the Alumni News Notes.