2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


WIEBE, R.A., Department of Earth and Environment, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA 17604-3003, WOBUS, R.A., Department of Geology, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267 and HAWKINS, D.P., Dept of Geology & Geography, Denison Univ, Granville, OH 43023, bob.wiebe@fandm.edu

The Keck Geology Consortium, with help from NSF, supported four summer research projects on Silurian bimodal plutonic-volcanic complexes on the Maine coast between 1993 and 2002. These projects involved the authors as project leaders and a total of 32 undergraduates from 13 different liberal arts colleges. During each four-week project the students completed fieldwork, cut rocks for thin sections and wrote research proposals. Nearly all students completed a formal senior thesis over the following academic year.

The field areas proved ideal for a wide range of interconnected process-oriented field problems. After preliminary reading and 2-3 days of field trips, the group identified a list of key problems, and students chose projects from the list. Fieldwork was supported by about 20 visiting geologists from the students’ home institutions, research institutions, and the Maine Geological Survey. Each student completed careful fieldwork, acquired petrographic and geochemical data and then described and analyzed those results in a senior thesis. The year-long projects culminated in late Spring at a symposium where all students presented the results of their research. Extended abstracts were published in a proceedings volume.

A case has often been made that these types of programs provide valuable experience for faculty at small colleges and for undergraduates, especially those who pursue graduate studies or become professional geologists. However, we think these programs can also provide rich opportunities for high quality research. Although student projects only rarely reached a level ready for publication, the resulting set of observations and analytical databases were later integrated into powerful data sets that addressed a complex set of inter-related magmatic processes. The observations and data from these four Keck projects resulted in numerous abstracts, 13 journal articles involving 12 different students as coauthors, and led to three field trips (GSA, NEIGC, Hutton) and a GSA Field Forum. In addition, the projects chosen by students, supported by the involvement of faculty from other institutions, broadened the research topics far beyond the expertise of the project leaders. As a result we recognized and pursued many promising research topics that we might never have identified.