Jan. 31, 2007
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Antarctica expedition provides a 'Rock Solid' learning
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Michael Zieg, assistant professor of
geography, geology and the environment at Slippery Rock University,
knows the meaning of a "Rock Solid" education more than most
people. Zieg just returned from a two-week research expedition in
Antarctica, where he collected 150 rocks he and SRU geology majors
will analyze to learn more about the separation of continents.
Zieg was selected as one of nine geologists, eight from America and
one from Poland, for the National Science
Foundation Office of Polar Programs project. The project hopes
to shed light on the rifting of Antarctica from Australia.
NSF selected Zieg because of his previous Antarctic experience and
his ongoing study of igneous rocks. He has been to Antarctica three
igneous rocks, formed by cooling magma, are part of a sequence
of sills, or horizontal intrusions, Zieg said. These sills
were discovered as part of Capt. Robert F. Scott's famous Discovery
Expedition from 1901 to 1904.
collected his samples in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, which, contrary
to what one would assume, "is an ice free area," he said. "That is
part of what makes this project so important, that the rocks are
exposed on the surface with no soil, poison ivy or
said the trip was an outstanding opportunity to examine a
classic rock sequence and provide learning opportunities. "My
students and I will be able determine how the sills
formed and cooled and learn more about the
development of igneous intrusions. I see a number of
educational opportunities for Slippery Rock University
is significant student buzz about this trip," added Michael
Stapleton, SRU assistant professor of geology. The team's previous
work was highlighted in National Geographic.
assistant professor of geology for three years, received his
doctorate in earth and planetary science at Johns Hopkins
University and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at NASA
Johnson Space Center. In 2006, Zieg received the SRU's President's
Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier
public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides
students with a comprehensive learning experience that
intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced
educational and learning opportunities that make a positive
difference in their lives.