Stop 2 – University of Oregon

The delayed jet-lag hit hard on my first full day in Eugene, OR, so I rose early and went for a run along the banks of  the mighty Willamette River. It was early, gloomy and overcast, with the south bank being very industrial and slightly Gothem-esque. However, the north bank, which took in the goose-infested Alton Baker Park, was wooded and far more picturesque. The run was an excellent way to continue my recovery from a pre-trip chest infection.

Refreshed, I headed back to my hotel for a hearty and healthy breakfast (the hotel only served farm-to-market produce grown/reared in the local area) and then into UoO with Becky, who had planned a breathless schedule before my 1600 talk. My first date was with Gene Humphreys, a geophysicist with research interests in the broad area of geodynamics and tectonics. Having discussed political high-jinks in our respective home nations, we moved on to talk about Gene’s past and ongoing super-cool research related to plate-scale deformation and magmatism in Oregon and the surrounding states.


Next up was Marli Miller, a member of faculty who is perhaps best described as a structural geologist. Marli has, however, many, many of other talents, being a professional photographer and an author, having relatively recently completed roadside geology books for both Oregon and Washington. I strongly encourage you to visit Marli’s webpage, which features an incredibly extensive library of free-to-download geological photos, ranging from fossils to minerals, and from structural geology to sedimentary rocks. It turned out that, unbeknownst to me, and much to Marl’s surprise, the second slide in my talk featured an image from her website! Thank God I’d included a reference…

Marli then dropped me off with Greg Retallack. Greg specialises in sedimentology and paleobotony, with particular interest and expertise in the recognition and utility of paleosols. We had much fun discussing controversies related to the depositional environment of the Ediacaran fauna, with Greg being a staunch advocate of a model envisaging these famous soft-bodied fauna were in fact lichens rather than critters and that, rather than dwelling in the deep-sea, were in fact deposited and preserved in terrestrial conditions. This is the sort of stuff that gets textbooks rewritten.

Deep-sea depositional environment for the Ediacaran fauna; basically, Greg thinks this is bullshit

Just before lunch I met Josh Roering, a geomorphologists who was very helpful in terms of organising my trip to UoO. Josh and I talked about some of our recent work related to the mapping and utility of ancient landscapes imaged in seismic reflection volumes, as well as some of the controversies related to the extraction of tectonic (or other) signals from river long profiles. We also discussed some of Josh’s work on the controls on erosion and sedimentation rates.

A a lovely thai lunch with Becky, and a quick trip to the UoO shop to buy some swag, and it was time to head back to the department for a couple of short meetings before my talk. I first met with Ben Heath, a PhD student working on magma storage beneath Santorini. It turns out that some of the volcanic and related deformation features observed in and around Santorini may share genetic parallels with features we at IC have studied in seismic reflection data. A rather animated hour flew by, before Ben delivered me to Alan Rempel, an incredibly numerate and thus scary geoscientist, with an interest in applying math (largely his words, not mine) to a range of geological problems.

It was then time for my talk, which was to be on normal fault growth. A large audience and an incredibly protracted and enthusiastic Q&A, which Becky did well to draw to a close, made for a very fun hour. Drinks (mainly IPAs, of course, it’s the Pacific North-West), dinner and great company followed at a dark, woody bar called McMenamins, before I headed home to pack and to prepare for my epic journey to Virginian Tech, Blacksberg, VA.

I’d just like to finish by saying a huge ‘thanks’ to all the folk at University of Oregon who made my visit so awesome. I had a ball. An extra-special thanks goes to Becky, who accepted my invitation to visit, and who organised accommodation, my schedule and some associated logistics. I look forward to catching-up with you all again in the near-future!

Author: Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson

I am Professor of Basin Analysis @imperialcollege. I ❤️ 🏃🏿, 🚴🏿 and @basinsIC (⛏). I obsess about the tectono-stratigraphic development of sedimentary basins. Why? Because I'm hopeless at everything else.

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