shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Research Interests

Page address:

Geological Research at MSU Mankato

Geological research gives us insight into how the Earth system works. MSU Geology students have been active in research in Minnesota and throughout the US and beyond. Many students have presented their work at undergraduate and professional conferences throughout the US and overseas. Below is a list of projects in which students have been involved over the past few years.

Undergraduate Research Projects:

  • Bedrock control on pothole development at Interstate Park, Samantha Richard 2014
  • Sediment fingerprinting, Dan Scheeler 2014
  • Iron carbonates in Minnesota and Michigan lakes, Josh Torgeson 2014
  • High-temperature faulting in the Heart Mountain Detachment, Wyoming: Integrated Petrographic, SEM, Fluid Inclusion, and Geochemical Investigation, Samantha Theisen 2014
  • Efficacy of Floating Island Technology for Limiting Internal Sediment and Nutrient Loads Within Impaired Prairie Potholes, Kelly Hunt 2014. This project was funded by the John and Anne Frey SET Scholarship.
  • Rocks and Faulting Processes in the Heart Mountain Detachment, Wyoming, Ryan Bonney & Matt Jaros, 2013-14
  • The Effects of Deliberately Restricted Stream Flow on Water Quality in a Midwestern Agricultural Ditch System, Ryan Bonney and Kelly Hunt 2013-14. Supported by a grant from Minnesota Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources as well as MSU. The pair presented their findings at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting, 2014, in Portland OR.
  • A Calibrated Hydrologic Model of County Ditch 57 Watershed, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, Karynn Sebesta 2013-14 Undergraduate thesis
  • Early Diagenetic Alteration of Zeolites in Subseafloor Sediment of the South Pacific Gyre, Alyssa Witt 2012-13 (now in M.S program, Iowa State Univ.). Presented at the 2013 Goldschmidt Conference in Florence, Italy.
  • Hydrothermal oxidation and silica remobilization in the Biwabik Iron Formation, Minnesota, Ryan Rague 2011-13. Funded by MSU’s Undergraduate Research Council Foundation grant; presented at National Conference of Undergraduate Research (Provo UT and LaCrosse WI), and GSA national conferences (Minneapolis, 2011 and Charlotte NC, 2012)
  • Sediment Fingerprinting of Blue Earth clay in Southern Minnesota, Ryan Bonney 2013, funded by and presented at MSU’s Undergraduate Research Conference
  • Quantitative X-ray diffraction of Holocene sedimentary siderite from a small Michigan lake, Brady Lubenow 2011-2012 (now M.S. Candidate, University of Idaho). 2 MSU Undergraduate Research Council Foundation Awards.
  • Geologic mapping and paleo-Equillibrium Line Altitude interpretation of Pleistocene mountain glaciers, western Montana; Ryan Bleess, Questor German, Tyler Boley 2010–2011. Presented at national Geological Society of America (GSA); funded by MSU Undergraduate Research Council.
  • Fault rocks and processes in the Mormon Peak Detachment, Nevada, D. Bloom 2011
  • Bedrock Geology of the Le Sueur River Paleochannel, Kyle Makovsky 2009 (M.S., Boise State). Presented at national Geological Society of America conference.
  • OSL Chronology of the Le Sueur River Capture, Kate Meixell 2008-2009. Funded by MSU Undergraduate Research Council Foundation Award.
  • Fluid flow and high-grade iron ore formation in northern Minnesota, Elizabeth Drommerhausen 2006-2008, Kate Meixell 2008, Kyle Makovsky, 2008-2009, Ashley McCall, 2009. Funding from MSU Undergraduate Research Council.
  • Fluid pressure evolution in the Tiger Shoals oil and gas field, offshore Louisiana. Mike Krause, 2007
  • Oil and gas movement below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico. Andy Dickinson, 2006–2007
  • Nutrient Loading in Lake Titlow 2006, Sibley County, Minnesota. Ben Johnson.
  • Fluid flow and gold deposits in large faults in the southwestern United States. Elizabeth Drommerhausen and Elisha Fleming, 2006
  • Abnormal Groundwater Geochemistry, Rice County, Minnesota. Renae Haycraft and Heidi Bednar. 2005

Recent M.S. Theses Focusing on Geology:

  • Hydrodynamic Numerical Modeling of the Greater Blue Earth River Watershed, Minnesota and Iowa, USA, Mike Merlini, finished 2014. Supported by a grant from the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources.
  • Comparison of Distributed and Lumped Parameter Numerical Hydrologic Models in Small Watersheds of Southcentral Minnesota, Mustafa Tagelin, Started 2014
  • Adapting the SPEAR index for use in assessing pollution impacts on stream macroinvertebrate communities in southern Minnesota, Tom Burg, finished 2014

If you want more information about our research or how research fits our goal of providing excellent geology instruction, please feel free to contact any member of our staff.

An Example of Research at MSU Mankato: Iron Ore Resources

research minesresearch CLresearch fluids

All the high-grade iron ore in northern Minnesota is long gone...or is it? Large-scale open-pit iron mining has been carried out on the Iron Range for over 100 years, and the known big high-grade deposits were mined out about 50 years ago; since then, only low-grade "taconite" ore has been mined. Conventional wisdom holds that high-grade iron ore in Minnesota formed near the surface as groundwater percolated downward into iron-rich sedimentary rocks ("iron formation") and dissolved out pretty much everything except the iron ore minerals. According to this view, there is little or no high-grade iron ore left. However, it is possible that the fluids came up from below. If so, could more high-grade iron ore exist deeper below the surface?

At MSU, students are using techniques for analyzing the chemistry and temperature of the ore fluid to enable us to identify its source. We are analyzing microscopic bubbles of this fluid that were trapped when minerals associated with the high grade ore grew, and we are looking at fine detail of mineral structure beneath an electron beam. If fluid that produced the high-grade ore flowed upward from below, there may be deeper high-grade iron ore. If that is true, the economy of northern Minnesota may be energized and the U.S. may be able to produce more of its own iron.