UW-Eau Claire geology research team shares findings at Barron County

Geology students studied the glacial geology of the proposed Dreamer Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Maggie OBrien

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Photo by UWEC Geology

Dr. Kent Syverson, Kenzie Sedlacek, Jackson White and Kristen Gunderson-Inden, a 1995 UWEC geology alumna, pictured at Thursdays at the U presentation.

A UW-Eau Claire geology research team presented the results of their research at Thursdays at the U. The presentation took place at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, at UW-Eau Claire — Barron County

According to the UW-Eau Claire website, the Thursdays at the U weekly series is free and open to the public, and neither seating reservations nor parking permits were required for campus guests.

The research team was composed of second-year Kenzie Sedlacek and fourth-year Jackson Avery White, both geology students with environmental science emphases, and Professor Kent Syverson, a professor of geology and environmental science.

According to Syverson, the Ice Age Trail Alliance commissioned a study of the geomorphology of the proposed trail segment to create publication-quality materials, both text and figures, for a future interpretive guide. 

Syverson said Geographic Information System analysis, published papers, LiDAR-based shaded digital based evaluation models and five days of field work in August and October 2022 were among the methodology used in this research. 

“The most important thing about explaining geology to laypersons are pictures and images.  Kenzie is a sophomore geology major with the ability to learn,” Syverson said.  

According to Syverson, the main intent of his research and field work with Sedlacek and White was to help people better understand the glacial history of Wisconsin. 

Sedlacek said the team’s field work involved walking around and looking for glacial landforms and geological features that could be put in a guidebook.

“It was a fun experience being out there, we were out there in the fall so there were a lot of pretty colors,” Sedlacek said. 

Sedlacek said any of the negative experiences that she had with the geology research were outweighed by the positive experiences that came with the field work and relationships she was able to build. 

White said the team’s research began in May of 2022 and wrapped up shortly before the Thursdays at the U presentation and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. 

White said he felt the research will prove to be very useful for Sedlacek to get started with research very early on and thought the research put her ahead in a lot of things, especially regarding field work and office work.

“The big thing is making interpretative materials for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, be that trail markers, or stuff like that, and then a field guide,” White said. 

White said the field guide will be less of a scientific writing and more of an accessible, grade-school level guide that anyone can view and approach without feeling overwhelmed. 

“Kenzie and Jackson clearly presented their research results and made the geological concepts accessible to around people at the UWEC — Barron County talk,” Syverson said. “I also received good comments from attendees, so I think our mission was accomplished.” 

According to Sedlacek, the large turnout for the Thursdays at the U presentation was unforeseen and so many people attended that the event organizers ended up having to bring out extra chairs for all of the attendees. 

The Thursdays at the U presentation: Geology of the Ice Age Trail Dreamer Segment was livestreamed and recorded and can be viewed online

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected].