My research and that of my students (see their research summaries below) in petrotectonics spans the range of phenomena that operate at the grain to terrane scale. We apply petrology (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary), geochemistry (petrologic thermodynamics and phase equilibria; stable and radiogenic isotopes;microbeam analysis), bedrock mapping and structural geology in field-based research projects that attempt to decipher the tectonic history of the Appalachian-Caledonian and Grenville orogens. My primary research tool is the electron probe microanalyzer. At UK we have a recently upgraded CAMECA SX50 electron probe microanalyzer with CL detector for imaging zircon growth zoning histories. I teach igneous and metamorphic petrology and run regional field trips to New England, Canada, and the Blue Ridge. Besides research and teaching, I have a keen interest in undergraduate education and alumni relations. I am now Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Current Graduate Students (all M.S. candidates)
Evan Kelly is from Wisconsin and earned dual degrees in Geology and Economics from Vanderbilt University. Evan is working on the provenance of uppermost Ocoee (Walden Creek Gp.) clastic sediments in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mtns. area. He will use a variety of provenance tools, such as sandstone petrography, microprobe analysis of detrital feldspar, and detrital zircon and monazite geochronology. Evan will be defending his M.S. thesis in the Spring 2014 term. After that, Evan plans to start a career as an exploration geologist with Pioneer Natural Resources in Dallas.
Lucas Rohrer is from western Kentucky and earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Asbury University. Lucas wll work on the tectonic history of a zone of dextral transpression in central Conn., Mass., and N.H. This research will require detailed bedrock mapping and structural analysis at a range of scales to test the extent of transpressional deformation in central New England. Lucas recently completed an entire summer of independent field mapping in central Massachusetts. Highlights of that work include dealing with a bull moose whose territory overlaps with Lucas's field mapping area.
Daniel Spaulding is an M.S. candidate from Hazard, Kentucky, and received his B.A. in Geology from UK. Dan is mapping part of a quadrangle in the rugged and remote eastern Great Smoky Mountains, including part of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which will serve as the basis for research focused on deteremining whether Taconian metamorphic isograds were telescoped during late Paleozoic ductile shearing and folding. Daniel completed his mapping during the Spring 2013 term, and then did a summer internship with Pioneer Natural Resources in Summer 2014.
Emma Larkin is a new M.S. candidate from Salem, Massachusetts. She received her B.S. in Geology from Salem State University, Massachusetts. Emma's thesis research will delineate the extent of Grenville basement rocks in the eastern Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, and will involve bedrock mapping, structural analysis, petrology, and geochronology.
James McCulla is from Virginia (College of William and Mary) and is a new graduate student in the M.S. program at UK. He will work on dating the timing of transpression in central New England using monazite and zircon U-Pb geochronology.
Recent Graduate Students
Susan Leib (M.S. 2013) is from the "Quad Cities", and earned her Bachelor's degree from Olivet-Nazarene University. Susan worked on the P-T history of metamorphosed pseudotachylytes from a ductile normal detachment fault in the Caledonides of northern Norway. Susan's research employed petrology, microprobe analysis, and thermobarometric calculations. Susan is now enrolled in the Museum Studies program at University of Western Illinois.
Gabriel RiCharde (M.S. 2013) is from Boston and earned his Bachelor's degree from Wheaton College. Gabe worked on the P-T history of eclogites from Liverpool Land, East Greenland. Gabe now works as a geologist for Schlumberger in Madrid, Spain.
Ryan Quinn (M.S. 2012) completed an M.S. thesis project on the petrogenesis of Grenville basement rocks in the eastern Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. Ryan's research employed whole rock major and trace element geochemistry, Nd and Pb isotope geochemistry, and zircon U-Pb geochronology. Ryan is now in the Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Eric Anderson (Ph.D., 2011) completed a dissertation on the tectonic evolution of the eastern Great Smoky Mtns. basement. This work was published in two papers (Anderson and Moecher, 2007, 2009).
Dr. Suvankar Chakraborty completed a dissertation study (Ph.D., 2010) on the provenance of the Ocoee Supergroup in the southern Appalachians. He is now a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of EES at UK. His dissertation was recently published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin (see Chakraborty et al., 2012, in Moecher's recent publications list).
Dr. Matthew Massey completed a dissertation (Ph.D., 2010) that documented a zone of crustal extrusion within a regional zone of dextral transpression in central Massachusetts. This work was based on a 1:24000 scale bedrock map and included structural analysis at a range of scales, along with U-Pb geochronology. The map was published as an open file report with the Massachusetts Geological Survey and as an NEIGC field guide in 2008. The second chapter of his dissertation (see Massey et al., 2011, in my recent publication's list), published in Journal of Structural Geology, was awarded the JSG Student Paper of the Year Award for 2011. Massey will start as a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UK in January 2013.
Tom Walker (M.S., 2011) mapped the East Brookfield 7.5 min. quadrangle in south-central Massachusetts and established the tectonic history of an area straddling the Bronson Hill-Central Maine zone boundary. Tom worked for Schlumberger for a year after graduation and is now employed as a geologist by the State of New York Office of Natural Resources.
Donny Loughry (M.S., 2010) completed a thesis on the composition and geochronologic evolution of eastern Great Smoky Mtn. basement rocks. He is now employed by Pioneer Natural Resources, Dallas, TX.
Tim O'Brien (M.S., 2008) mapped the Winchendon 7.5 min. quadrangle in north-central Massachusetts, another area straddling the Bronson Hill zone-Central Maine zone boundary. Tim is currently exploring Ph.D. opportunities on the west coast.
Chakraborty, S.*, Moecher, D.P., and Samson, S.D., 2012, Provenance of the Ocoee Supergroup, eastern Great Smoky Mountains: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 124, 1278-1292.
Moecher, D.P., and Steltenpohl, M.G., 2011, Petrologic Evidence for Seismogenic Slip in Extending Middle to Lower Continental Crust: Heier’s Zone of Pseudotachylyte, North Norway: “Geology of the Earthquake Source - a Volume in Honour of Rick Sibson”, Special Publication 359, Geological Society, London, 169-186.
Hietpas, J., Samson, S.D., and Moecher, D.P., 2011, Assessing the utility of detrital monazite as a provenance indicator: Examples from six Appalachian foreland basin clastic units: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 310, 488-497.
Steltenpohl, M.G., Moecher, D.P., Andresen, A., Ball, J., Mager, S., 2011, The Eidsfjord shear zone: an Early Devonian, paleoseismogenic low-angle normal fault exposed in Lofoten-Vesterålen, north Norway: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 33, 1023-1043: doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2011.01.017.
Massey, M.A.*, Prior, D.J., and Moecher, D.P., 2011, Microstructure and crystallographic preferred orientation of polycrystalline micro-garnet aggregates developed during flattening, grain boundary sliding, and diffusion creep: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 33, 713-730. doi: 10.1016/j.jsg2010.12.009.
Moecher, D.P., Hietpas, J., Samson, S.D., and Chakraborty, S.*, 2011, Insights into southern Appalachian tectonic history from ages of detrital monazite and zircon in modern alluvium and bedrock sources: Geosphere, v. 7, 494-512. doi: 10.1130/GES00615.1
Hietpas, J., Samson, S., Moecher, D., Chakraborty, S., 2011, Enhancing tectonic and provenance information from detrital zircon studies: Assessing terrane-scale sampling and grain-scale characterization: Journal of the Geological Society-London, v. 168, 309-318. doi: 10.1144/0016-76492009-163.
Saha, A., Dhang, A., Ray, J., Chakraborty, S*., and Moecher, D.P., 2010, Complete preservation of ophiolite suite from south Andaman, India: A mineral-chemical perspective. Journal of Earth System Science, v. 119, 1-16.
Hietpas, J., Samson, S., Moecher, D., and Schmitt, A., 2010, Recovering tectonic events from the sedimentary record: detrital monazite plays in high fidelity. Geology, v. 38, 167-170.
Moecher, D.P., and Steltenpohl, M.G., 2009, Calculation of rupture depth for an exhumed paleoseismogenic fault from mylonitic pseudotachylyte. Geology, v. 37, 999-1002.
Anderson, E.D.*, Moecher, D.P., 2009. Formation of high-pressure metabasites in the southern Appalachian Blue Ridge via continental subduction beneath the Laurentian margin. Tectonics, v. 28, TC4012, doi:10.1029/2008TC002319.
Clemons, K.M.*, Moecher, D.P., 2009. Re-interpretation of the deformation history of the Greenbrier Fault, Great Smoky Mountains: Petrologic, structural, and geochemical constraints: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 120, 1108-1122.
*UK Graduate Student