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Michael J. Zaleha, Ph.D.

Michael J. Zaleha
Associate Professor and Department Chair,
sedimentology, earth history, physical geology
BDK Science Center 115
(937) 327-7331
mzaleha@wittenberg.edu

Education

  • Ph.D., SUNY-Binghamton
  • M.S., Ohio University
  • B.S., Muskingum College

Interests
My specialities are physical sedimentology, stratigraphy, and basin analysis, with emphasis on intra- and extrabasinal controls on basin filling. I teach courses in sedimentology, sedimentary petrography, historical geology, tectonics, introductory courses for majors and non-majors, and field seminar. In general, my research interest are basin-filling processes, including local, tectonic, eustatic, & climatic affects on alluvial sedimentation; evolution and dynamics of sedimentary basins; and processes and deposits of modern and ancient fluvial (river) subenvironments, including main channel, floodplain, lacustrine, & pedogenic.

Current Research

Evolution of Gravel Bars, Mad River, Ohio
My current research concerns the evolution and character of gravel bars and smaller-scale bedforms of the Mad River, Ohio, and their formative flow conditions.  Gravelly river deposits form many important hydrocarbon reservoirs and aquifers.  Many such aquifers also have connections with freshwater aquatic habitats.  Understanding the sediment texture, distribution, and geometry of such deposits, which effect permeability, is critical to the effective development and management of petroleum reservoirs and aquifers.  The ability to relate gravelly river deposits to the formation and migration of channel bars and associated smaller-scale bedforms during formative flow conditions is critical to understanding the distribution of similar deposits associated with reservoirs and aquifers.  However, there is a paucity of data concerning the nature of formative flows associated with gravelly river deposits.

The Mad River in west-central Ohio is ideal for such a study because it commonly attains formative discharge without flooding, and the study reach is located within minutes of Wittenberg University.  Observations and measurements are being made before, during, and after formative flows.  The evolution and character of the bars, their internal bedding, grain sizes, porosities, and permeabilities are being documented.  Bar morphology and migration are being documented with low-altitude aerial imagery and by making detailed topographic maps of the bars.  Flow measurements are being conducted using an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) mounted on a small trimaran, and also with a non-contact gauging station installed at the site.  Flow measurements record bankfull discharge and stage, cross-stream velocity profiles, and water-surface slope (measured with a laser rangefinder).  Collectively, the results provide data concerning important relationships between bed shear stress and dimensionless bed shear stress, and grain size and grain Reynolds number for a grain size for which there is a paucity of data.  The integration of data and results will provide a comprehensive database concerning the evolution and character of gravelly river deposits and their formative flows.

Alluvial Stratigraphy, Lower Cretaceous, Wyoming
My other main focus of research concerns the depositional responses of Early Cretaceous rivers to basin-scale subsidence and small-scale syndepositional faults and folds in Wyoming. Results show that the alluvial stratigraphy of conglomerates deposited in the foredeep in western Wyoming, where sediment accumulation rates were relatively high, contrasts with that of stratigraphically equivalent conglomerates in central and eastern Wyoming that were deposited in the forebulge and backbulge depozones, where sediment accumulation rates were relatively low. In the forebulge and backbulge depozones, stratigraphic sections are relatively thin, dominated by sandstones and mudstones, and channel deposits tend to be laterally connected for distances on the order of many 10's of kms to over 100 km. In the foredeep, the stratigraphic section is more than an order of magnitude thicker, dominated by mudstone, and conglomerates are not as laterally extensive. These results support some alluvial stratigraphy models that indicate that, under certain conditions, higher sediment accumulation rates result in lower channel-belt interconnectedness.

Additionally, the alluvial stratigraphy of some deposits in the forebulge and backbulge depozones was effected locally by small-scale syndepositional faults and folds. Where movement on these structures caused locally high subsidence rates, channel-belt deposits tend to be connected laterally and vertically. Where local subsidence rates were lower, channel-belt deposits are typically isolated or laterally connected. Channel avulsion was apparently controlled by the effects of surface deformation and depositional topography. Hence, the alluvial stratigraphy was controlled by the interactions of local differential subsidence and deposition. However, the alluvial stratigraphy in these structural zones is commonly comparable to that in areas where structures are absent and the alluvial stratigraphy is governed more by intrinsic fluvial processes and regional subsidence. Hence, the two cases are not easily distinguished solely on the basis of alluvial stratigraphy. All of this research has implications for reservoir characterization and compartmentalization of fluvial rocks, evolution of the Sevier orogen and associated foreland basin, and fluvial basins elsewhere.

Subsurface Imaging of Fluvial & Glacial Deposits
I am also involved in several projects imaging fluvial, glaciofluvial, and glacial deposits using our electrical resistivity ground imaging system (ERGI). ERGI is a geophysical technique for acquiring geological profiles of the shallow subsurface by injecting electrical currents into the ground. ERGI is sensitive to properties of Earth materials such as rock and sediment composition, grain size, water content, and composition of that water. Our results show that fluvial, glaciofluvial, and glacial deposits can be readily differentiated. Additionally, these sediments are easily discerned from the bedrock on which they were deposited. This research is being expanded to help decipher the post-glacial valley-filling history in Ohio and elsewhere. We also have used ERGI to image buried karst topography and caves in Ohio and Kentucky.

 

In addition to my teaching and research, I have reviewed numerous manuscripts for the Journal of Sedimentary Research, Sedimentology, Sedimentary Geology, Geology, Cretaceous Research, Interpretation, and IAS Special Publication from the 6th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, and proposals for the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society - Petroleum Research Fund.

Memberships
SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)
International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS)
Geological Society of America (GSA)

Publications
Zaleha, M.J., Geophysical subsurface investigation of the Serpent Mound area using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI): Evaluation of bedrock controls on surface features, in, Romain, W.F., ed., Serpent Mound Revealed: Context, Archaeology, and Meaning: in preparation.

Zaleha, M.J., 2013, Paleochannel hydraulics, geometries, and associated alluvial architecture of Early Cretaceous rivers, Sevier Foreland Basin, Wyoming, USA: Cretaceous Research, v. 45, p. 321-341.

Ritter, J.B., Rumschlag, J.H., and Zaleha, M.J., 2007, Evaluating recent stream channel and pattern changes for stream resource protection and restoration: an example from west-central Ohio: Journal of Great Lakes Research, v. 33, Special Issue 2, p. 154-166.

Zaleha, M.J., 2006, Sevier orogenesis and nonmarine basin filling: implications of new stratigraphic correlations of Lower Cretaceous strata throughout Wyoming, U.S.A.: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 118, p. 886-896.

Zaleha, M.J., and Wiesemann, S.A., 2005, Hyperconcentrated flows and gastroliths: sedimentology of diamictites and wackes of the upper Cloverly Formation, Lower Cretaceous, Wyoming, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 75, p. 43-54.

Zaleha, M.J., Way, J.N., and Suttner, L.J., 2001, Effects of syndepositional faulting and folding on Early Cretaceous rivers and alluvial architecture (Lakota and Cloverly Formations, Wyoming, U.S.A): Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 71, p. 880-894.

Zaleha, M.J., 1997, Fluvial and lacustrine palaeoenvironments of the Miocene Siwalik Group, Khaur area, northern Pakistan: Sedimentology, v. 44, p. 349-368.

Zaleha, M.J., 1997, Intra- and extrabasinal controls on fluvial deposition in the Miocene Indo-Gangetic foreland basin, northern Pakistan: Sedimentology, v. 44, p. 369-390.

Zaleha, M.J., 1997, Siwalik paleosols (Miocene, northern Pakistan): genesis and controls on their formation: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 67, p. 821-839.

Technical Reports & Non-refereed Publications
Zaleha, M.J., 2012, Electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI) investigation of topographic depressions near the Serpent Mound Native American effigy, Adams County, Ohio, in, Romain, W.F., ed., Report of Investigations at Serpent Mound: submitted to the Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio.  14p.

Zaleha, M.J., 2005, Subsurface void detection using electrical resistivity ground imaging: Pholeos, v. 23, p. 14-15.

Zaleha, M.J., 1999, Assessment of flow, sediment dynamics, and deposits of the Fawn River near Orland, Indiana: Prepared for Dan Willard of Dinosaur, Inc., Bloomington, IN, 46p.

Hays, C.T., and Anderson, C.M., (with contributions by Pope, M., Zaleha, M., and Knapp, T.), 1994, Cultural resource management survey, 1993 Highway Program, Paragraph 4 site examinations, PIN 9041.12.101, Susquehanna River crossing, eastern Tioga and western Broome Counties, New York: Binghamton University Public Archaeology Facility Report, submitted to The New York State Museum, State Education Department.

Anderson, C.M., Prezzano, S.C., Zaleha, M., and Kastl, R., 1993, Cultural resource management survey, 1993 Highway Program, Paragraph 3 reconnaissance, PIN 9041.12.101, Susquehanna River crossing, eastern Tioga and western Broome Counties, New York: Binghamton University Public Archaeology Facility Report, submitted to The New York State Museum, State Education Department.

Hays, C.T., and Zaleha, M.J., 1993, Phase I archaeology survey, Nicholson Borough sewer project, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania: Binghamton University Public Archaeology Facility Report ER 93-0846-1311-A, 65p.

Hohman, C.D., and Kastl, R., (with contributions by Zaleha, M.J.), 1993, Cultural resource management survey, 1993 Highway Program, Paragraph 3 archaeological reconnaissance, alternate modifications and deep testing, PIN 3802.10.101 (Baldwinsville bypass), Village of Baldwinsville and Towns of Lysander and Van Buren, Onondaga County, New York: Binghamton University Public Archaeology Facility Report, submitted to The New York State Museum, State Education Department.

Zaleha, M.J., 1993, Geological/geomorphological report of archaeological sites near the airport north of Norwich, New York: Prepared for Pratt & Pratt Archaeological Consultants Inc., Cazenovia, NY, 13p.

Abstracts
Zaleha, M.J., Flis, M.J., and Sherman, J.B., 2016, Discriminating meandering and braided channel patterns on the basis of discharge and slope using a physical laboratory model: the EmriverTM River Process Simulator: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 48, no. 7, p. 311.  Paper no. 341-22.

Zaleha, M.J., 2015, Migration, electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI), and textural characteristics of gravel bars, Mad River, Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 47, no. 7, p. 585.  Paper no. 229-9.

Zaleha, M.J., and Romain, W.F., 2014, Geophysical subsurface investigation of the Serpent Mound area (Ohio, USA) using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI): evaluation of bedrock controls on surface features: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 46, no. 6, p. 96.  Paper no. 29-25.

Zaleha, M.J., and Moore, E.S., 2014, Grain size distributions, porosities, and permeabilities of a gravelly point bar deposit, Mad River, Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 46, no. 6, p. 768.  Paper no. 320-14.

Grandy, T.J., and Zaleha, M.J., 2013, The geology of SpongeBob SquarePants: the potential of a cartoon to enhance student learning in the geosciences: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 45, no. 7, p. 471.  Paper no. 192-14.

Zaleha, M.J., and Romain, W.F., 2012, Electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI) investigation of topographic depressions near the Serpent Mound Native American effigy, Adams County, Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44, no. 7, p. 568.  Paper no. 239-20.

Zaleha, M.J., 2011, Paleochannel hydraulics, geometries, and associated alluvial architecture of Early Cretaceous rivers, Sevier foreland basin, Wyoming, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 43, no. 5, p. 547.  Paper no. 227-6.

Burdsall, A.C., and Zaleha, M.J., 2011, Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of a fossil-rich Pennsylvanian-Permian outcrop, Dunkard Group, southeastern Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 43, no. 5, p. 430.  Paper no. 174-2.

Akerman, K.H., and Zaleha, M.J., 2010, Resolving gravel point-bar, overbank, and glaciofluvial deposits using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI), Mad River, west-central Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 42, no. 5, p. 425.  Paper no. 174-6.

Zaleha, M.J., and Parsell, C.R., 2010, Exceptional bedding-surface exposure of shallow-marine carbonate sand waves (dunes) in the Cedarville Dolomite, Silurian, west-central Ohio, USA: insights into mid-continent deposition during the Silurian: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 42, no. 5, p. 137.  Paper no. 51-3.

Zaleha, M.J., 2009, Effects of vegetation growing on upper point-bar surfaces on bar migration, outer bank erosion, and channel evolution: observations of the gravel-bed Mad River, west-central Ohio, USA: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 41, no. 7, p. 558.  Paper no. 218-10.

Ritter, J.B., Zaleha, M.J., McElwain, D.R., Shaw, K.A., and Tlachac, H.M., 2009, Exploration of Diamond Caverns, Kentucky, using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI): Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 41, no. 4, p. 68.  Paper no. 28-9.

Zaleha, M.J., Ritter, J.B., McElwain, D.R., Shaw, K.A., and Tlachac, H.M., 2009, Cave exploration using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI) [peer reviewed]: Ohio Journal of Science, v. 109, no. 1, p. A-22.

Zaleha, M.J., 2008, Catastrophic release of sediment and water from Orland Reservoir into the Fawn River, northeastern Indiana, USA: assessment of flow, sediment dynamics, and deposits: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 6, p. 272.  Paper no. 203-8

Zaleha, M.J., 2007, Implications of an alternative interpretation of the lowermost Brassfield Formation, southwestern Ohio: a record of falling sea level during the Early Silurian: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 39, no. 6, p. 419.  Paper no. 154-3.

Zaleha, M.J., 2006, Inverse relationship between sediment accumulation rate and channel-belt connectedness: an example from Lower Cretaceous strata of the Sevier foreland basin, Wyoming, U.S.A.: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 38, no. 7, p. 128.

Ritter, J.B., Rumschlag, J.H., and Zaleha, M.J., 2006, Evaluating recent stream channel and pattern changes for stream resource protection and restoration in west-central Ohio: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 38, no. 4, p. 20.

Zaleha, M.J., 2005, Fluvial responses to large-scale basin subsidence versus small-scale syndepositional structures, Sevier foreland basin, U.S.A.: 8th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, Delft, The Netherlands, p. 322-323.

Zaleha, M.J., Ritter, J.B., Rumschlag, J.H., 2005, Resolving fluvial, glaciofluvial, and glacial deposits using electrical resistivity ground imaging (ERGI): 8th International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, Delft, The Netherlands, p. 324.

Zaleha, M.J., 2003, Sevier orogenesis and nonmarine basin filling: implications of new stratigraphic correlations of Lower Cretaceous strata throughout Wyoming: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 34, no. 7, p. 175.

McCullough, L.N., Ritter, J.B., Zaleha, M.J., 2003, Habit, formation, and implications of elongate calcite concretions, Victoria, Australia: Proceedings of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2003, Salt Lake City, Utah, 8 ms p. [also presented at Keck Geology Consortium Symposium, April, 2003, Beloit, WI]

Wiesemann, S.A., Zaleha, M.J., Elliott, W.S., Jr., and Suttner, L.J., 2000, Tectonic significance and depositional processes of diamictites within the upper Cloverly Formation, Lower Cretaceous, Wyoming: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. A-305.

Elliott, W.S., Jr., Pratt, L.M., Wiesemann, S.A., and Zaleha, M.J., 2000, Environmental control of clay mineral content in mudstones of the Lower Cretaceous Cloverly Formation of central Wyoming: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. A-458.

Zaleha, M.J., Suttner, L.J., Nolan, C., and Yokoyama, C., 1998, Basin physiography, filling, and dynamics of the nonmarine portion of the Cordilleran Foreland Basin, Cloverly/Lakota Formations (Lower Cretaceous), Wyoming, U.S.A.: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 30, no. 7, p. A-193.

Zaleha, M.J., Suttner, L.J., Way, J.N., and Furer, L.C., 1998, Intrabasinal structural controls on the hydraulics of Early Cretaceous rivers and on the connectivity and geometry of their channel deposits, Central Cordilleran Foreland Basin, Wyoming [extended abstract]: AAPG/SEPM Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City.

Bridge, J.S., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Khan, I.A., Willis, B.J., and Zaleha, M.J., 1997, Evolution of Miocene fluvial environments in northern Pakistan [extended abstract]: Third Geosas Workshop on the Siwaliks of South Asia, Islamabad, Pakistan, March 1-6.

Khan, I., Zaleha, M., and Bridge, J.S., 1993, Evolution of Miocene fluvial environments in northern Pakistan, in, Yu, B., and Fielding, C.R., eds., Modern and ancient rivers: their importance to mankind: Fifth International Conference on Fluvial Sedimentology, Brisbane, p. 63.

Zaleha, M.J., 1992, Local and regional controls on the formation of Siwalik paleosols, northern Pakistan: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 24, p. A349.

Zaleha, M.J., and Fastovsky, D.E., 1987, Evolution of fluvial systems in the Hell Creek Formation, Late Cretaceous, E. Montana: SEPM Annual Midyear Meeting Abstracts, p. 94.

Zaleha, M.J., and Kovach, J., 1985, Strontium concentrations in deer antlers from eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and northern West Virginia: Ohio Journal of Science, v. 85, no. 2, p. 5-6.

Dr. Zaleha in the News

Wittenberg Geology Professor Mike Zaleha Awarded Grant To Complete Ambitious Research Agenda

 

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