The Department of Geosciences presents

Geology Open Night

Spring 2011

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The Glacial Landscape and Natural History of Glacial Lake Missoula and the Channeled Scablands

Michael Sperazza

7:30 PM Friday
February 18, 2011

Late Wisconsinan Geology
of Long Island

Gilbert N. Hanson

7:30 PM Friday
March 18 , 2011

Earth and Space Sciences Building 
Lecture Hall (Room 001)
SUNY Stony Brook Campus

There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Geology Open Night Presentations.

Admission is Free!!

Link here to be placed on the mail or e-mail list to receive announcements.

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?

Geology Open night lectures are usually on topics in the geosciences related to the current research of the faculty, staff and students at SUNY Stony Brook. These presentations are intended for:

  • those interested in new developments in the sciences

  • earth science high school students and teachers

  • undergraduate and graduate students in geosciences

  • professional geologists

In-service Credit is available for teachers attending the Geology Open Night lectures.


The Glacial Landscape and Natural History of Glacial Lake Missoula and the Channeled Scablands

Michael Sperazza

In the early 20th Century geologists viewed geologic processes in a very Darwinian way, as very slow changes which occurred over very long periods of time.  This is the detective story of two geologists, working independently in two different states, who used the sedimentary record to uncover the history of the landscape and show that the landforms we see today can be shaped by large catastrophic events.  The glacial Lake Missoula and Channeled Scablands story covers the western part of the US, from western Montana to the Pacific Ocean.  Now, after 100 years of 'knowing' the story of the catastrophic flood events, researchers are using new interpretations and methods to retell the history of our western landscape.

Dr. Michael Sperazza is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences and part of the faculty in the Sustainability Studies Program at Stony Brook University.  He holds degrees in sedimentary geology and physical anthropology both from the University of Montana.  Dr. Sperazza's research interests include paleoclimatology and glacial reconstructions of the Pleistocene/ Holocene boundary in western Montana.  He is also working on paleoclimate studies and how these changes have impacted human evolution in the Turkana Basin, Kenya.

Late Wisconsinan Geology of Long Island

Gilbert N. Hanson

 If it were not for the glaciers, Long Island would not exist. Streams from the melting, advancing glaciers deposited sands and gravels in front of the glaciers and the advancing glaciers pushed the underlying Cretaceous and Pleistocene sediments into a series of arcuate structures that now make up the Ronkonkoma and Harbor Hill moraines. There is evidence that the glacier(s) advanced to the southernmost parts of Long Island.

 Subglacial streams scoured much of the North Shore of Long Island leaving numerous tunnel valleys. After the glaciers left Long Island some 20,000 years ago there was a period of extremely cold temperatures, a periglacial climate, until about 15,000 years ago. The area would have been a desert tundra slowly changing to a spruce forest, and then pine forest as the area warmed.

During the time of periglacial climate ephemeral streams were forming south of the Ronkonkoma Moraine. The remnant valleys formed by these streams are now recognized as dry valleys with streams in the lower ends. The water in these streams are reoccupying the dry valleys as a result of water table rise associated with sea level rise.

Dr. Hanson is a distinguished service professor in the Department of Geosciences who has been interested in the geology of Long Island for the last couple of decades. Much of the research has been undertaken by earth science education students and earth science teachers as well as  geoscience masters students.


You may also be interested in the following lectures:
Astronomy Open Night,

The Worlds of Physics and
The Living World
These lectures are usually held in ESS 001 at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays during the academic year.

In-service credit is also available for teachers for attending these lectures.

We will offer  in-service credit for the 
Conference on the Geology of Long Island and Metropolitan New York
on Saturday April 9, 2011

Information will be available on the Long Island Geologists web site at:

Web pages describing earlier Geology Open Night presentations

Spring 1998Fall 1998, Spring 1999, Fall 1999, Spring 2000, Fall 2000, Spring 2001,
Fall 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2002, Spring 2003, Fall 2003Spring 2004, Fall 2004,
Spring 2005, Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006, Spring 2007, Fall 2007, Spring 2008,
Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010


There will be Refreshments and Demonstrations after the Presentations.

Admission is FREE!

Presentations are in Room 001 ESS Building SUNY Stony Brook

How do I get to the Earth and Space Sciences Building at SUNY Stony Brook?