By Margaret McKinney
New Mexico Highlands University geology graduate, Marine Foucher, is headed for a geophysics doctoral program at Michigan Technological Institute.
The 24-year-old native of Lisieux, France graduated in May 2012 with a master’s degree in geology and a 3.9 GPA.
For her master’s thesis at Highlands, Foucher studied the anatomy of the extinct Cienega cinder cone volcano in the Cerros del Rio Volcanic Field southwest of Santa Fe. Highlands geology professors Michael Petronis and Jennifer Lindline were Foucher’s thesis advisers.
Foucher said, “Cinder cone volcanoes are commonly envisioned with a simple magma feeder geometry such as a dike or pipeline system transporting molten rock from a deep reservoir to the eruptive vent. In my research, I tested the hypothesis that small volcanic conduit systems are inherently more complex and involve numerous magma feeder channels.
“We sampled different parts of the volcano and analyzed the rock samples back at Highlands in the paleomagnetic lab. My main finding was that magma was in a secondary conduit flowing away from the main conduit. One important purpose of volcanology is to understand and model the behavior of active volcanoes in populated areas, helping to predict hazard areas.”
Foucher is the first international student to participate in the student exchange program Petronis developed with Blaise Pascale University geology professor Benjamin Van Wyk de Vries. Foucher completed one year of graduate volcanology studies with Van Wyk de Vries at the French university and her second year at Highlands.
Michigan Tech geophysics professor Alexsey Smirnov will be Foucher’s doctoral adviser.