Student Profile

Jackson School of Geosciences

Catherine Ross

Catherine  Ross
B.S., Earth and Planetary Science, McGill University, 2016
M.S., Geology, McGill University, 2017
Ph.D., Geology, University of Texas at Austin, expected 2022

Office: EPS
Mailcode: C9000

Co-supervisors


Committee Members


I study punctuated events in Earth's history using field observations, geo/thermochronology, microstructural analysis, and geochemistry. I am broadly interested in how deformation and sedimentation on the seconds to days timescales are expressed in the rock record.

My first project involves dating the Chicxulub target rock, which is important to advancing the understanding of ejecta and environmental processes. The Yucatàn basement target rock has a debated tectonic history, but is suggested to be predominately Gondwanan. However, in the Carboniferous, northwest Gondwana and associated terranes-including the Yucatàn block-collided with the Laurentia's southern margin, forming the Ouachita collisional belt. Using the IODP 364 drillcore, we use U-Pb zircon analyses to track Carboniferous arc magmatism as the Rheic ocean closed.

In my second chapter, I use detrital zircon (DZ) analyses to “fingerprint” impact-related deposits to disentangle these three processes thereby creating the first comprehensive DZ dataset for key K-Pg boundary sections. I aim to groundtruth ejecta models that estimate the atmospheric and environmental effects of the impact to understand the potential killing mechanisms of the mass extinction.

Although zircon (U-Th)/He is currently being used to date impact events, the impact-induced microstructural changes and the response of radiogenic elements to shock pressure and heating remain poorly understood. The microstructures in highly shocked grains might be more susceptible to impact-induced hydrothermal resetting. We aim to better understand the diffusion patterns of highly shocked zircon. Understanding the helium diffusion kinetics will allow the community to develop (U-Th)/He as a viable chronometer for impact craters.

I am also passionate about diversifying the geosciences. I am involved in the Geoscience Ambassadors Program where I focused on breaking down the barrier between art and STEM. Geology is a creative science!

During my Masters, I mapped cm- and mm-scale deformation around pseudotachylyte fault veins in the Fort Foster Shear Zone in the Norumbega Shear Zone in Maine. We model these stress changes after the earthquake to investigate which areas are more likely to fail. Stress changes due to healing can affect spatial distribution and magnitude of aftershocks and are important for the prediction of seismic hazard changes related to static stress transfer.

During my undergraduate, I mapped cm-scale pseudotachylyte fault veins and their insections with each other in the Norumbega Shear Zone. We found multiple generations of fault veins signifying multiple earthquakes, show the geometry of complex earthquake ruptures at mid-crustal depths, and predict what seismologists would observe if similar earthquakes are happening today.

Current Research Projects

Constraints on Carboniferous Arc Magmatism in the Chicxulub Impact Crater

Helium diffusion kinetics of shock-metamorphosed zircon

K-Pg boundary sections in North America

Past Research Projects

Multi-surface ruptures preserved in ancient fault zones

Wallrock recovery after an earthquake: Stress changes around pseudotachylyte fault veins

Geological Society of America Outstanding Mentions - GSA (2020 - 2019)

Geological Society of America ExxonMobil Student Grant - GSA (2019 - 2020)

Reinhardt C Fellowship - McGill University (2016 - 2017)

Differential Fee Waiver - McGill University (2016 - 2017)

Student Industry Fieldtrip Larry Strong Financial Award - Student Industry Fieldtrip (2016)

Introduction to Research Scholarship - GEOTOP (2015 - 2016)

Osisko Scholarship in Earth & Planetary Science - McGill University (2015 - 2016)

SEG Canada Foundation - SEG Canada (2015)

Osisko Scholarship in Earth & Planetary Science - McGill University (2014 - 2015)

International Entrance Award - McGill University (2013 - 2012)

Philanthropy Chair, Graduate Student Executive Committee, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geoscience (2019 - 2018)

Planning Committee, North American Workshop on Laser Ablation, NAWLA (2019)

Convener, Mars Geochronology Workshop, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geoscience (2019)

Geoscience Ambassador, Geoscience Ambassadors Program, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geoscience (2018 - 2019)

Mentor, GeoFORCE, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geoscience (2017 - Present)

Social Representative, Graduate Student Geology Club, McGill University (2016 - 2017)

Vice President Internal, Earth & Planetary Science Monteregian Society, McGill University (2014 - 2015)

Geochronologic Constraints on Carboniferous Arc Magmatism in the Chicxulub Impact Crater, Jackson School Symposium, (2020)

Zircon U-Pb Geochronology and Trace Elements of the Chicxulub Impact Structure Basement, Large Meteorite Impacts IV, Brasilia, Brazil (2019)

Helium Diffusion Kinetics of Shocked Zircons from the Chicxulub Impact Crater, Jackson School Symposium, (2019)

Helium Diffusion Kinetics of Shocked Zircon from the Chicxulub Impact Crater, AGU Fall Meeting, (2018)

Chicxulub Geochronology and K-Pg Deposits, University of Texas at Austin, UTIG Brownbag Seminar, (2018)

U-Pb Geochronometry of the Chicxulub Impact Crater, Jackson School Symposium, (2018)

Helium Diffusion Kinetics of Shocked Zircons from the Chicxulub Impact Crater, Goldschmidt, (2018)

Comparison Between Modeling & Field Observations of Off-Fault Strain of Pseudotachylyte Fault Veins, Structural Geology and Tectonics Forum, (2016)

A Comparison Between Modeling and Field Observations of Off-Fault Strain of Pseudotachylyte Fault Veins, Norumbega Shear Zone, southern Maine, AGU Fall Meeting, (2016)

A Comparison Between Modeling and Field Observations of Off-Fault Strain of Pseudotachylyte Fault Veins, Norumbega Shear Zone, southern Maine, International Geological Congress Program, (2016)

Comparison Between Modeling and Field Observations of Off-Fault Strain of Pseudotachylyte Fault Veins, Norumbega Shear Zone, southern Maine, Canadian Tectonics Meeting, (2016)

Multi-surface Earthquake Rupture Recorded in Pseudotachylyte Vein Geometries, Norumbega Shear Zone, southern Maine, AGU Fall Meeting, (2015)