DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University student Eric Mumper wants to know why a Delaware-area shale rock formation contains large cannonball-like structures and whether these “carbonate concretions” are tied to the shale’s potential as a source of natural gas.
The senior geology major and biology minor from Delaware, Ohio, believes understanding the microbiological processes at work in the creation of the black Devonian shale could “shed light on how to exploit modern microbial systems to develop sustainable sources for carbon fuels in the future.”
Mumper has been studying the issue with Ohio Wesleyan geology professor Karen Fryer, Ph.D., and he shared the results of their work in a poster presentation at the 46th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America North-Central Section. The meeting was held April 23-24 in Dayton.
“My research was to document the sizes, shapes, and composition of these iron concretions and to develop a model for their formation,” said Mumper, who plans to pursue a doctorate in geomicrobiology at Ohio State University this fall. “I was able to document four stages of development and built a model for this growth. The growth of these iron concretions reveals some interesting information about what conditions were like during the Late Devonian here in Ohio.”
Mumper’s research included using reflected light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to examine the shale and the concretions.
He said making the poster presentation helped to validate his work and ensure he was on the right path in the research.
“The presentation was an opportunity to put all of my work and interpretations to the test,” Mumper said. “I knew that there would be a number of geologists at the meeting who had much more experience than I do. If my model held up to their scrutiny, I would know that I did a good job. And it did! So much confidence was gained in presenting.”
The Geological Society of America, established in 1888, unites thousands of earth scientists worldwide to study the mysteries of the planet and share their findings. The society also supports the professional growth of earth scientists from all sectors: academic, government, business, and industry. Learn more at www.geosociety.org.
Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.