Illinois-based field course led by Brandon Curry of ISGS

Posted on 02.17.2016
Glacial sediment at Spring Lake

Adjunct Professor Brandon Curry of the ISGS led a field course aimed at regional geology in Fall, 2015.  The class was intended for motivated seniors and graduate students interested in the geology of the Midwest. Course goals were to 1) facilitate understanding of the geologic framework of this region by highlighting field trips, 2) generate interest in doing cutting-edge research in the region, through the talks of invited speakers, reading and evaluating papers and proposals, 3) develop reasonable geological problems to explore within the confines of a 15-week semester, and 4) generate a product that is either publishable, or stimulates continued research. 

Main activities included:
1) Visiting research sites in NE IL, including the Mastodon Gallery in Aurora; ice-walled lake deposits and a torrent-eroded valley across a key moraine; an underground  dolomite/limestone mine (facilitated by Jared Freiburg of the ISGS); and a sand and gravel pit at Spring Grove, IL, with spectacular exposures of glaciotectonically folded and faulted glaciofluvial sediments (see picture). Sept. 11-13. Overnighted in Kane County, IL, on Friday. 
2) Bedrock field trip: A one-day trip to Thornton Quarry was led by Don Mikulic (ISGS); other stops included a proglacial glacial succession of fluvial, lacustrine, and till deposits, and an exposure of fossiliferous lacustrine deposits of Glacial Lake Chicago, the precursor of Lake Michigan, both near Sauk Village, IL. 
3) A geoarcheological-themed field trip to Cahokia Mounds. Students visited the museum, the limestone quarry at Dupo, IL, and cored a lacustrine succession at Prairie Lake. Results will be presented at the upcoming NC-GSA meeting. In preparation for the field trip and coring, a seminar was given by Dr. Sam Munoz (Woods Hole). 
4) A day trip to a site near Clayton, Indiana, was provided to collect samples to test if there are any significant age differences between the age of Succinea (terrestrial gastropod) shells and plant macrofossils (needles, tundra plants, wood).