Concord University Geology Professor and Students Make Discovery

For Immediate Release: 
Sep 27 2005

Concord University Geology Professor and Students Make Discovery

Athens, W.Va. – Five Concord University students will present three papers that were accepted for the national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Salt Lake City, Utah, this October.

Felicity Ferri from Oak Hill, W.Va., Megan Ganak from Charles Town, W.Va., Anthony Johnson from Parkersburg, W.Va., and Jessica Ofsa from Athens, W.Va., co-authored two papers with Dr. Joseph Allen and undergraduate faculty and student researchers from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

The researchers discovered a previously unrecognized fault zone in the southern Rockies. The students completed field mapping of the structure while attending Concord’s summer geology field course.

“Subsequently, we did some lab work at the University of New Mexico that indicates the fault zone is approximately 1.4 billion years old and documents the assembly and growth of the western part of North America,” Allen stated.

Work by Allen related to this discovery was recently published in the journals “Tectonophysics” and “Rocky Mountain Geology.” The research Allen has been doing on these fault zones helps us to better understand how earthquakes are triggered and how they mechanically rupture and propagate. The work is the first to discover that many numerical properties of earthquakes can be measured and quantified in exposed rock and has been cited in the journal “Nature.”

Erin Ellison Hunt from Delbarton, W.Va., a former Concord undergraduate, co-authored a third paper to be presented with Allen and a professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at the same conference. The paper examines features preserved within sedimentary strata in Bluefield, Va., indicating this area was located in the southern hemisphere of the Earth 356 million years ago.

Allen is a professor of geology and chair for the division of natural sciences at Concord University where he has taught geology for eight years. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.


CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Stephanie Harmon, a senior majoring in communication arts wrote this news release. Her hometown is Princeton, W.Va.