Kathryn Moody

Katie is from San Antonio, Texas.  She began studying geology when living in Anchorage, Alaska and plans to finish her undergraduate degree at NMSU. Her current project involves using geochronology methods to date tuffs in the upper Bell Top Formation to find out more about the magmatism and extension of the area and possible correlations with calderas in the Mogollon-Datil volcanic field. She enjoys the outdoors and loves snowboarding, hiking, and camping.


Project Description:

Volcanic tuffs are a rock formed from the compaction and lithification of volcanic ash and can possess minerals useful for figuring out the time and place of the eruption that formed them.  In this project, we collect samples from various tuffs in the field and use mineral separation methods to extract the minerals used for dating, in this case zircon and sanidine.  We then use dating methods (lasers!) to understand when the minerals formed. In this way we can compare age and composition of the tuffs with possible source sites and help put together a picture of ancient volcanic activity in southern New Mexico.



  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Present scholarly work at conference, exhibition, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media

*completed benchmarks in italics


Katie’s mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Amato:

Jeff Amato is a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at New Mexico State University. He was born in Vermont and grew up in northern California. He did his undergraduate work at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and received a Ph.D. in Geology from Stanford University in 1995. He has been a faculty member at NMSU since 1999. He specializes in the fields of structural geology, tectonics, and geochronology. He has worked on geology projects in New Mexico, Alaska, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico, and Patagonia.