A senior this year at Shawnee State University, Blake Smalley (Hometown: Peebles, Ohio) recently presented at the Geologic Society of America (GSA) Conference. Smalley, a double major in Natural Sciences –Geology and Integrated Science AYA 7-12 Education, presented on the dissolution micro-textures of carbonate rocks in a controlled laboratory setting.
“This experience meant so much to my development of my educational career,” he said. “Being able to experience new surroundings, being exposed to new techniques, new information, and new possibilities to further my education in graduate school are all opportunities that I will forever be grateful to witness and experience.”
GSA offers undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors the opportunity to meet and present research in their field as well as expand their current knowledge through workshops on new ideas and findings in geological fields. Smalley was excited to have the opportunity to present research he had worked on in the classroom.
“My research involved looking at my samples before and after they’ve been dissolved and examining the difference using a Scanning Electron Microscope,” he said. “Additionally, I also examined thin sections of my samples to create a point count that can distinguish the general composition of the sample.”
Aligning with his original hypothesis, Smalley’s research showed that allochems were being dissolved first rather than the cement of the sample. In some cases, though, he saw his sample’s dissolution occur on the cleavage planes of the sample if they didn’t have any discernible allochems. Completing this research by hand, Smalley reviewed his samples for up to a week to a week and half to calculate their dissolution rates. After that period, he would use the Scanning Electron Microscope to view the surface of the rocks and then conduct a point count of their overall composition.
“My experience at this event can be described in only one word: rewarding,” he said. “Not only did this further my development in my understanding of Geology but also how I can apply the information to my future classroom environment as well.”
To learn more about the Geology program at Shawnee State University, visit www.shawnee.edu/geology.