Geology Honors Senior Wins Best Student Poster Award at GSA South-Central

Geology Honors Senior Wins Best Student Poster Award at GSA South-Central
Poster Covered Study of Pacific Seafloor Igneous Rocks

Elizabeth ThompsonElizabeth Thompson, a senior geology honors student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, won the Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award at the Geological Society of America (GSA) South-Central Section Meeting held in Austin on April 4-5.

Her poster, entitled "Using Spinel to Track Mantle Depletion and Melt-Rock Interaction during Back-Arc Extension: A Story from the Godzilla Megamullion," is also the topic of her UH senior thesis. The poster detailed her analyses of rocks dredged from the seafloor from an area of oceanic spreading in the southwestern Pacific. Professor Jonathan Snow, her honors thesis advisor, recovered the rocks during an expedition.

The goal of Thompson’s study was to use an electron microprobe to study the changing compositions of igneous rocks formed in an area of extreme crustal extension. Her observations trace the vertical path of molten rock from the upper mantle to its emplacement in the upper crust during the spreading process.

Her winning poster presentation, the first presentation of her results at a scientific conference, comes with a $250 stipend from the GSA South-Central Section and complimentary meeting registration to the 2013 GSA Annual Meeting and Exposition, October 27-30, in Denver. Her outstanding poster will be prominently displayed at the meeting.

In addition to this project, Thompson worked on undergraduate research with Professor Tom Lapen on laser ablation analyses of tektites, or debris from meteorites, that formed about 800,000 years ago during a large meteorite impact event that affected a large swath of Australia and Asia. She is completing a one-year term as vice president of the GeoSociety, an organization of geology students within the department.

Thompson, who is from Columbus, Texas, will graduate in May 2013 and begin full-time work on geophysical data processing with ProSeis, a company based in Houston. Though she entered UH as a freshman pre-pharmacy major, she changed her major to geology in 2011 after taking introductory geology courses.