Geological Society of America Features HWS Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Geological Society of America Features HWS Research

GENEVA, N.Y.-Two Hobart and William Smith students, Sandra Baldwin and Micah Nicolo, and three professors, John Halfman, Leah Joseph, and Don Woodrow, of the HWS geoscience department, will attend the National Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, November 1 through 10, in Boston, Mass. They will present studies that compare Seneca Lake to a lake in Africa as well as research on shorelines of Lake Ontario.

Sandra Baldwin, a William Smith senior from Stanley, N.Y., and John Halfman, associate professor of geoscience, will present a comparison of chlorophyll-a patchiness in Kigoma Bay, Lake Tanganyika, Africa, and Seneca Lake, Geneva, N.Y. Lake Tanganyika was chosen as part of the Nyanza Project that measured thermocline depth and wind stress in Lake Tanganyika, and Seneca Lake was used as a comparison because of its similar morphology and differences in climate. They concluded that as wind increased and the thermocline became shallower, more nutrient-rich water, containing chlorophyll-a, was brought to the surface. As the wind decreased, the water stabilized and the amount of nutrients brought to the surface decreased.

Baldwin and Halfman will also present an explanation of why the Seneca Lake Watershed is an ideal hydrogeochemical natural laboratory. They believe the Seneca Lake Watershed is ideal because it is fed by 29 inlets that drain from a variety of surface areas. These areas range from agricultural and forested to urban, bedrock which contains Paleozoic carbonates, shales, and coarser grained clastics, and a variety of soils and other features.

Micah Nicolo, a 2001 Hobart graduate from Horseheads, N.Y., will present with Leah Joseph, who is also assistant director of environmental studies, and Halfman a talk which stems from his honors research last year. His research indicates that the environmental system in the Finger Lakes region of New York went through a transition at the mid-Holocene period. He found that early Holocene sedimentary sections are truncated more than late Holocene sedimentary sections, which suggests that atmospheric circulation, as well as the greater environmental system, became more dynamic in the Finger Lakes region at the mid-Holocene period, possibly in relation to cooler surface air temperatures and an associated southward shift in the jet stream.

Meanwhile, Don Woodrow, professor emeritus of geoscience, will give a presentation on the lowering lake levels and datable climate change occurring in shore and lakebeds along eastern Lake Ontario, N.Y. This research is part of a continuing study of the sand developing there. The research is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and attempts to determine the origin, modern mobility, and erosion and deposition of the fine sand and gravel seen along the shore and in the dunes. Shore and dune sands are most readily explained in terms of lake level change. The research will continue to be analyzed and offer insight into the shore and dune accumulation rates, and correlate these rates with the now submerged and buried shoreline. Understanding exchange between the shore and offshore sand reservoirs may be critical to land management planning for the study area.

The Hobart and William Smith geoscience department encourages students to involve themselves in research projects and paper presentations beyond the HWS campus. Many class and independent study projects result in presentations at national meetings and/or publications in national and international journals. The department prides itself in providing the opportunity for students to become part of the international geological community and for them to experience possible career paths.

Hobart for men and William Smith for women-private, liberal arts and science institutions with a combined enrollment of 1,800-have an ambitious geology curriculum designed for students with a wide variety of interests and needs, ranging from an introduction to a strong preparation for a career in geology. Hobart and William Smith are located in Geneva, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

# # #