Office of Undergraduate Research

Application of GIS technology to extrapolate structures in rocks from Wisconsin's ancient mountains

The goal of this project is to integrate geographical information system (GIS) into contemporary structural geology research. GIS is commonly used in earth science applications including geologic mapping, watershed management, and environmental impact assessments. Here it will be used in small-scale rock deformation studies. The granitic rocks exposed near Mountain WI deformed deep within the crust approximately 1.8 billion years ago during a plate tectonic collision known as the Penokean Orogeny, and contain small, interconnected shear zones. Where observable, the shear zones, associated fabrics, and related features will be traced onto large plastic sheets and located precisely using Global Positioning System (GPS) and surveying. The sheets will be digitized and input into ArcGIS" and analyzed. In particular, we will see if GIS and spatial analyses can be used to extrapolate fabrics and shear zones where actual data may not be available due to lack of exposure. Students will have the opportunity to learn many skills including: innovative use of modern data gathering technology such as GPS in field-oriented geologic research, hands-on GIS experience in a research environment, and in-depth exposure to the tectonic processes that formed North America and particularly Wisconsin.

Tasks and responsibilities:

Student will be assigned to one or more of these activities based on interest: 1) Assist in field work in Mountain, WI learning to identify and trace rock deformation structures in the field. Requires hiking abilities. Will learn to use survey-grade GPS equipment. 2) Digitize data from field onto computer using ArcGIS". 3) Conduct spatial analysis of field data using built-in GIS networking tools.