Josh Fox '19
Summer Research Scholar with Jeff Rahl
This summer, I had the opportunity to continue working on a project that Professor Jeff Rahl introduced me to toward the end of my first year at Washington and Lee. While it began as the continuation of Tyler Gabrielson's ('15) senior thesis project, which was aimed at quantifying strain in the Antietam Formation of the Blue Ridge, it has since become a far more comprehensive and pointed study. Using the data collected from last summer's strain analysis, we have output several models and three-dimensional figures that show how each of our samples have been deformed by paleostresses. In doing so, we are actively exploring new methods to measure strain and paleostress in rock formations from the local Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as from Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains. While our primary goal is to prove the efficacy of some of our methods, such as the use of mineral inclusions to measure how intensely mountains have been altered by tectonic processes, this work may also expand our understanding of the tectonic history of mountain ranges. I am also extremely grateful to be involved in the publication process as we work to finalize a manuscript that incorporates some of my data into the work done by Professor Rahl and his colleagues.
Prior to continuing this work, however, I was very fortunate to travel to Crete, Greece with Professor Rahl and two other students. While abroad, we collected nearly fifty rock samples for analysis during two separate projects. One project, which is going to be James Willey's ('18) thesis project, is attempting to better understand the tectonic history of the island through analyses on the scanning electron microscope on campus. The other, which is equally interesting, but has less clear goals, is a study of the mineral olivine in rock from Crete's Uppermost Formation. Traveling to, and working in, Greece was an extraordinary opportunity, for which I am extremely grateful.
Whether in Greece, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, this field season has been very eventful. During the course of this summer, we have both finalized some results from our earlier work, as well as charted a course for the future of these studies.