Master's Student Research

The following is a list of research by Master's students, both current and former, in the Geological Sciences Department.

In Progress

Masters Theses In Progress
Name Thesis Advisor
Emily Allen Spatial distribution of percolation rate in an artificial groundwater recharge system using Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (FODTS) to monitor the effects of basin stage on infiltration rate. Dr. Matt Becker
Michelle Baroldi Application of infrared sensors and Radon-222 samples to detect fresh water seeps off the coast of Volcanic Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Dr. Matt Becker
Daniel Boyd Evaluating the geometry, kinematics, and potential connectivity at the southern termination of the Palos Verdes fault, an active seismic hazard, using a dense-grid of high-resolution multichannel seismic reflection, CHIRP, and multibeam bathymetry datasets. Dr. Tom Kelty
Scott Brito Identification of the concentrations and relative mobility of major and minor elements in Easter Island groundwater and principal component analysis on the aquifer and estimation of the mean annual groundwater recharge rate. Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Vural Cakir My current project is related to utilization of B, O, and H stable isotope data for constraining the sources of fluids flowed through a shear zone in the Sierra Nevadas during Late Cretaceous. Dr. Greg Holk
Chris Ciervo Distributed Acoustic Sensing to measurement fracture displaced in a crystalline rock aquifer during periodic well tests at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire. Dr. Matt Becker
Brandy Coats I am interested in human-environmental interactions in southwest Iran during the last few thousand years. By combining a suite of geochemical analyses with coprostanol (a human biomarker) on a sediment core from Lake Maharlou, I will develop a picture of anthropogenic activity amongst regional climate change. Dr. Lora Stevens
Ben Davidson Deformation along the Henderson thrust at Henderson Summit, Vinini Creek, Mineral Hill, and Lone Mountain in Eureka County, Nevada using Dr. Stan Finney's tectonic erratic model: large carbonate masses of underlying autochthonous succession were plucked and carried along in the base of the upper plate of the Henderson thrust. The style of deformation paired with any observed kinematics should provide insight as to whether or not these locations fit the new model. Dr. Stan Finney
Maia Davis Spatial and geochemical characterization of anomalous, map-scale carbonate bodies in the Monterey Formation, Santa Maria Basin, California. Dr. Rick Behl
Derik Debaun Stable isotope analysis of silica deposits within the Currant Gap Detachment fault in the southernmost White Pine Range, East Central Nevada. Dr. Greg Holk
Kelsey Doiron Compound-specific isotope analysis of biomarkers in lacustrine sediments from Vietnam for paleoclimate reconstruction. Dr. Lora Stevens
Jack Donelan Elucidating groundwater surface water interaction along the Kern River using Radon-222 mass balance methods. Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Jack Farrell Lateral Variation of Siliceous Sedimentary Lithofacies in the Monterey Formation, Belridge-Lost Hills Oil Field Area, Kern County, California. Use of well logs and cores to better understand modes of fine-grained sediment transport in the upper Monterey Formation, Belridge oil field area. Dr. Rick Behl
Kristen Faulkner Recharge analysis of the Indian Wells Basin, California, using groundwater modeling with geochemical analysis of tritium, radiocarbon, and chloride mass balance Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Leo Giannetta 3D stratigraphic characterization of vertical and lateral compositional variations in the Eocene Kreyenhagen Shale: San Joaquin Basin, California Dr. Rick Behl
Matthew Graves Microgravity survey of southwest Long Valley caldera, Mammoth Lakes, California. Dr. Lora Stevens
Carolyn Hillman Exploring heterogeneities in a stressed alluvial aquifer using Radon-222 concentrations in groundwater. Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Ian McGregor Quantifying and characterizing late Quaternary deformation in the Santa Maria basin, California, by reconstructing and restoring depositional surfaces across regional fold-trends. Using OSL/IRSL dating techniques to constrain the timing of deformation. Dr. Nate Onderdonk
Cesar Mejia Mapping in north-central Nevada to study the deformation of Mineral Hill along the Henderson thrust. Searching for kinematic indicators of thrusting to test the Henderson thrust model (Finney et al., 2015). Research has significant implications for geologic mapping and new economic and oil exploration in the region. Dr. Stan Finney
James Minor Conducting controlled in situ chemical oxidation experiments, utilizing Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (FODTS) to trace oxidant movement through contaminated groundwater. Dr. Matt Becker
Megan Mortimer-Lamb My research will utilize Fourier Transform Infared Spectroscopy (FTIR), elemental analysis, X-Ray Diffraction, alkaline digestions of silica and other analytical methods to quantify biogenic silica in the Miocene Lark Formation, in the North Sea. The abundance of biogenic silica (diatoms) can be used to interpret ocean paleoproductivity, the interaction between the marine silicon and carbon biogeochemical cycles, and to characterize reservoir quality in highly siliceous sediments. Dr. Rick Behl
Brendan Neel Application of geochemical methods (major ions, 222Rn, 14C, 13C, 18O, and 2H) to test and further develop a conceptual hydrogeologic model of the Newport Mesa. Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Ashley Newman I am using fiber optic distributed temperature sensing and geophysical logs from six boreholes to characterize active fracture networks and groundwater flow paths in the San Gabriel Mountains. My research will aid in developing a conceptual framework of the regions hydrogeology for the California High Speed Rail Authority. Dr. Matt Becker
Patrick O'Connell Characterizing spatially and temporally heterogeneous infiltration rates at a groundwater recharge basin using distributed temperature sensing, hydraulic, geophysical and sediment data. Assisting Dr. Matt Becker with the development of a long-term infiltration monitoring program for OCWD. Dr. Matt Becker
Ani Pytlewski Quantifying slip along the Santa Ynez fault using OSL dating of deformed fluvial terraces. Dr. Nate Onderdonk
Jeremiah Rose Geophysical interpretation of the Poverty Hills, Northern Owens Valley Fault Zone, Eastern California. Dr. Lora Stevens
Alex Sedlak Chemostratigraphy of the Miocene Monterey Formation, San Joaquin Basin, California. Dr. Rick Behl
Peter Shimer I am looking at the Palos Verdes fault on the San Pedro shelf both for oil and gas resources and imaging to determine potential earthquake hazards due to faulting. Dr. Robert Francis
Mehgan Shimizu Lithological and geochemical characterization of the Alamos Canyon Member of the Peace Valley Formation, California. Dr. Lora Stevens
Casey Slatten Mapping, describing and dating terraces of the lower Santa Ynez River to evaluate the Quaternary activity of the Santa Ynez River fault and other structures at the southern edge of the Santa Maria Basin. Dr. Nate Onderdonk
Ryan Stewart Paleomagnetic study of Santa Catalina Island to test models of vertical-axis rotation in southern California. Dr. Nate Onderdonk
James Uroff TBD Dr. Greg Holk
Ryan Weller Compositional and diagenetic relationships and controls of mechanical behavior in siliceous mudstones of the upper Monterey Formation, Belridge Oilfield, San Joaquin Basin, California. Dr. Rick Behl


Completed Masters Theses
Name Thesis Completed Advisor
Bayanaa Bayarjargal Use of strain analysis and stable isotopic systematics to examine the gold-mineralizing self-organized critical system of the Olon Ovoot, Southern Mongolia. August 2017 Dr. Tom Kelty
Nolan Blackford Evaluation of vertical-axis rotation during Miocene large magnitude extension in the central Mojave Desert, California. Spring 2017 Dr. Nate Onderdonk
Matt Cole Periodic hydraulic testing to characterize fractured rock aquifers to better understand concepts like flow channelization and short circuiting for geothermal energy production. Winter 2018 Dr. Matt Becker
Andrew Farris Investigation of Quaternary deformation of the northern Santa Ynez Valley using fluvial terraces along Zaca Creek. My research focuses on quantifying Quaternary deformation in a strath chronosequence in the Santa Ynez Valley using OSL and a variety of field and GIS based methods. Spring 2017 Dr. Nate Onderdonk
Jeanette Harlow I am doing a pioneering study using the USGS soil water balance model on Santa Catalina Island to examine the spacial and temporal recharge patterns of groundwater recharge. Winter 2018 Dr. Ben Hagedorn
Wanjiru Njuguna Detailed examination of the lithology of the Miocene Monterey Formation exposed in the sea-cliffs of Malibu, California between Point Dume to Paradise Cove. The ~2400' section is subdivided into four members, each with distinct characteristics and properties. This is the first detailed stratigraphic section to be constructed in this area and furthers understanding of the evolution of the LA Basin and the deposition of the siliciclastic and siliceous succession of the Miocene Monterey Formation. Summer 2017 Dr. Rick Behl
Mo Nonu My thesis is a multi-proxy analyses including total organic carbon (TOC), delta 13C and delta 15N composition of bulk organic material, normal-alkane distribution and biogenic silica of lake sediment that attempts to discern shifts in the North American Precipitation Dipole (NAPD) between the early and late Holocene (~7.5 to 10.8 ka BP and ~1-2 ka BP) at Eagle Lake, CA (40.6540°N, 120.7439°W). A secondary objective is to determine if human-induced drops in lake level during the 20th century (e.g. the construction of the Bly Tunnel) can be separated from drought-induced drops (e.g. the 1930s drought). Fall 2017 Dr. Lora Stevens
Liz Vasquez I'm doing a fault study for potentially active faults in north central Mongolia using both field measurements and geomorphic indices. Winter 2018 Dr. Tom Kelty
AJ White Fecal stanol analysis of sediment from Horseshoe Lake, IL to construct 1000-year population proxy of the Cahokia archaeological complex. Fall 2017 Dr. Lora Stevens
Yannick Wirtz Measuring the amount of shortening across the Santa Maria Basin at a variety of scales. Summer 2017 Dr. Nate Onderdonk