May 2019

I submitted an NSF EAGER proposal to continue studying how silicic lavas flow - fingers crossed.

Working with graduating geology senior Trevor Byers, I have started making 3D models of rock and mineral samples using Agisoft Metashape (was Photoscan) and SketchFab. Our first models can be seen and downloaded at Eventually these models will form a teaching resource. Here’s an example from the Stockdale kimberlite in Kansas…

April 2019

We hosted a visit by National Science Foundation program officers on 4/5 to allow them to meet WVU Geology faculty and students.

Senior thesis students Brenna Cole, Emma Krolczyk, and Charlotte Lilly presented their research at the 3rd Undergraduate Research Symposium on 4/12.

Shelby Isom passed her PhD proposal and comprehensive exam is now a full PhD candidate. Shelby and I were awarded an NSF INTERN supplement to my existing research grant to study silicic lavas. Shelby will be interning at the USGS in Menlo Park, CA, in Spring 2020.

Holly Pettus was awarded a NASA-WV Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship for 2019-20 to support her MS research on lava flows in Hawai’i, beginning in May this year.

March 2019

Brenna Cole and I attended the NC-SC-RM Joint Section Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Manhattan, KS. I gave a talk and Brenna gave a poster, both about the emplacement of the Masontown kimberlite. Just before that we made a successful excursion to the Masontwon kimberlite and recovered a huge sample from the Third Run creek.

Colleagues Matthew Brueseke (Kansas State) and Genevieve Robert (Bates College) visited the lab and gave seminars to the Geology Department.

January and February 2019

January sees two new undergraduate researchers join the lab group: Anna Himelstein and Trevor Byers.

We had a new paper on ancient glacial landscapes in Namibia published in PLOS One on January 30th that has generated a lot of media interest through February (Science Daily, NY Times, Atlas Obscura, Live Science, and many more). It even has a Wikipedia page apparently. Thanks to all the people who have contacted me to ask questions or just say that they enjoyed the study.

The lab has hosted several excellent seminar speakers in February too: Dr. Dawn Ruth (Ohio U. and USGS), AEG Distinguished Lecturer Deb Green, and WVU alumna and UArk PhD candidate Caitlin Ahrens.

December 2018

PhD candidate Shelby Isom, VPL lab technician Holly Pettus, and I are attending the 2018 AGU meeting in Washington DC. Shelby and I are presenting a poster on our research at Obsidian Dome on Tuesday morning (T21E-0247). Holly is presenting a poster on her undergraduate research with Dr. Ken Brown on Wednesday afternoon (V33D-0277).

Dr. Sarah Brown and I completed 2 weeks fieldwork in SW Sardinia and SW Gran Canaria examining rheomorphic ignimbrites. This is research continuing my interest in welding and rheomorphism that I developed during my PhD thesis.

November 2018

PhD candidate Shelby Isom is presenting a talk on her MS thesis research at the GSA meeting in Indianapolis. Session T138 on Monday 11/5 at 10.30am.

VPL lab research technician, and WVU alumna, Holly Pettus and I are presenting a GSA poster about our study abroad class to Iceland in May 2018 in session T72 on Monday 11/5. Download the poster PDF here.

I attended a GSA pre-conference workshop on the use of drones in the geosciences by Greg Baker (GeoAvatar & Univ. of Kansas). I also just got a super-duper powerful PC to process the drone imagery we collect, and to manipulate CT imagery.

New workstation with very powerful graphics card and processor - going to be the workhorse for analyzing CT data and making 3D models by structure-from-motion.

New workstation with very powerful graphics card and processor - going to be the workhorse for analyzing CT data and making 3D models by structure-from-motion.

October 2018

Paper submitted on Carboniferous glacial features in the Namibian desert with Dr. Sarah R. Brown and WVU undergraduate students Andrew McGrady and Shannon Maynard - fingers crossed!

IN REVIEW: Conceptual reconstruction of the Namibian ice sheet in the Late Carboniferous and how it fed ice streams flowing into the Parana Basin of Brazil (adapted from Fallgatter & Paim, 2018).

IN REVIEW: Conceptual reconstruction of the Namibian ice sheet in the Late Carboniferous and how it fed ice streams flowing into the Parana Basin of Brazil (adapted from Fallgatter & Paim, 2018).

I gave a presentation to the Pittsburgh Geological Society entitled “Flow or Blow? How Structural Geology Helps Unravel Volcanic Processes”.

September 2018

NEW MS PROJECT advertised! See “research opportunities” for details. Transcripts and GRE scores by 12/15 and final application by 1/1.

I took part in my first “Skype a Scientist” with Pengfei Song’s class at Thomas Nelson Community College in Virginia.

PhD candidate Shelby Isom and research tech (and recent WVU grad) Holly Pettus completed two week’s fieldwork at Inyo Domes, Long Valley caldera, in California. I joined them for a week and tried out the new DJI Phantom 4 drone to make orthorectified images for Shelby and Holly to map on to in’s FieldMove software. Shelby is investigating the origins and emplacement mechanisms of the rhyolite obsidian lavas within the Inyo Domes.

Healed high-temperature fracture cutting across flow-banding in rhyolite from Dome Crater, Inyo Domes.

The lab hosted Prof. Drew Coleman from UNC-Chapel Hill to give the Geology colloquium on 9/7.


August 2018

I contributed to a KIJK magazine story (in Dutch) about surprising new results from monitoring of the Halemaumau lava lake at Kilauea.


Check-out our new logos

Designed by WVU senior Jessica Shulman, major in Industrial Math & Geology.

July 2018

PhD candidate Shelby Isom is attending the 19th Melts, Glasses, and Magmas short course at LMU in Munich, following the end of her first field season at Obsidian Dome.


GSV Sleeper Service

The lab's new DJI Phantom 4 drone arrived and will be in the air soon. It is registered with the FAA as GSV Sleeper Service in honor of my favorite author Iain M. Banks.

The drone will be used to image and map outcrops, and to create 3D models by photogrammetry.

June 2018

Congratulations to all WVU graduates but especially budding petrologists Holly Pettus and Clayton Reiner.

Holly Pettus at WVU Geology fieldcamp out west.

Holly Pettus at WVU Geology fieldcamp out west.

PhD candidate Shelby Isom is continuing her fieldwork at Obsidian Dome, California, with field assistant Levi Fath. I was with Shelby for two weeks, along with colleagues Alan Whittington, Stuart Kenderes (Mizzou), and Kenny Befus and Tyler Leggett (Baylor), working as part of our National Science Foundation-funded project to study the emplacement mechanisms and timescales of glassy rhyolite lavas. See new field photos in galleries.

Shelby Isom examining scours in the Noonday Dolomite at Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley NP.

Shelby Isom examining scours in the Noonday Dolomite at Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley NP.

PhD candidate Alyssa Kaess is helping to teach the first session of WVU's summer fieldcamp in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Dr. Sarah Brown and I have been working on improving the characterization of vesicles in welded ignimbrites to use CT-imaging as a way to measure strain. See our first animation here.

June 14th I was interviewed for local radio's Gary Bowden show on volcanic eruptions in the news. You can listen here.

May 2018

Classes are finished and I just got back from the WVU Fire and Ice Study Abroad trip to Iceland. The trip was a huge success and a great advertisement for combined teaching by faculty with different expertise - I couldn't have done it without the help of Dr. J. Steve Kite.


PhD candidate Shelby Isom starts her field research at Obsidian Dome this on May 26th when we meet up with our project collaborators from Mizzou and Baylor universities. 

April 2018

A big lab representation at the 2nd Research Symposium (4/14) in WVU's Mountainlair - 5 posters by researchers Brenna Cole, Holly Pettus, Nick Fair, Andrew McGrady, and Clayton Reiner, under the supervision of myself and Ken Brown. Andy and Brenna both placed in the Environmental Sciences category. 

Brenna Cole and Andrew McGrady both received WV Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Fellowships for 2018-19 to conduct research with me and my colleague Dr. Shikha Sharma, respectively.

March 2018

Undergraduate researcher Holly Pettus was awarded an inaugural Helen Lang Undergraduate Scholarship. Helen passed away in December after a short illness and is greatly missed. Holly, Ken Brown, and I presented petrology-themed posters at Helen's memorial service in the Department of Geology and Geography (obituary).

Holly also received a scholarship from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers to help defray the costs of summer fieldcamp.

Check the new images and videos from our GEOL460 Physical Volcanology class.

PhD candidate Shelby Isom completed her prelim exam on March 2nd.

PhD candidate Alyssa Kaess just returned from University of Colorado Boulder's TRaIL (Thermochronology Research and Instrumentation Lab) where she was picking apatite grains from the Fraser River Basin, British Columbia, as part of her thesis research. 

Alyssa and Shelby both completed their Wilderness First Aid credentials in preparation for fieldwork later this year.

February 2018

Undergraduate geology majors Brenna Cole and Nickolas Fair joined the research group with their projects analyzing LiDAR images of silicic lavas and the paleo-landscape of the Fraser River Basin, respectively.

I contributed towards a Dutch popular science magazine article and website (in Dutch) on new research from Kikai submarine caldera, SW Japan.

Undergraduate researcher Andrew McGrady presented his research at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, and inadvertently witnessed the first really big day of the WV teachers' strike. 

Planning for the "Geology of Iceland" study abroad class is now in full swing. 10 WVU undergraduates, 1 graduate student, and 6 continuing education students are joining Prof. Steve Kite and I in southern Iceland in May.

The GEOL460 Physical Volcanology class got a behind-the-scenes visit of the rock and mineral collections at the Smithson Institution's Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. Highlights included getting to hold and examine Martian and Lunar meteorites and demonstrations of the giant pyroclastic density current tank. See "galleries".

NEW PAPER published in Island Arc on the tephra record of the Izu-Bonin arc for the last one million years.

October 2017

Undergraduate research students Holly Pettus and Andrew McGrady have both been awarded NASA Space Grant Scholarships by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

Holly Pettus, Dr. Ken Brown, and I will all be presenting research at the 2017 GSA Meeting in Seattle, WA (Oct. 23rd - 25th).

September 2017

NEW PAPER published in International Geology Review on the geochronology of volcanic rocks from the Izu rear arc (IODP Expedition 350)!

August 2017

I'm off to Iceland for a week to scope out locations for the 2018 WVU Geology Spring Break trip and future research sites.


June 2017

I just got word that our NSF proposal to work on Obsidian Dome and South Coulee lavas in eastern California has been recommended for funding!

Here we come...

Here we come...

Strain markers waiting to be analyzed.

Strain markers waiting to be analyzed.