Chilisa Shorten

Department of Earth Sciences

209 Heroy GL


Chilisa's CV

PhD Student Earth Sciences
Advisor: Paul Fitzgerald

Research Interests

My research interests lie in understanding the geologic processes that form foreland basins and how the tectonic evolution of the crust shapes landscapes on Earth. Much of my dissertation research involves determining when, how and why foreland basins form and erode. I am a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University presently working on constraining the thermal and exhumation history of the Northern Appalachian Basin, located in Pennsylvania and New York, in particular the timing and significance of an enigmatic Cretaceous rapid cooling event.

I address my research questions using low-temperature thermochronology, typically apatite fission track thermochronology and apatite (U-Th)/He dating, applied to sedimentary and igneous rocks. These methods are useful for thermal history reconstruction and assessing the maximum post-depositional temperatures of sedimentary basins. Unlike other methods that have been developed to assess maximum temperatures, apatite fission track analysis also constrains the timing and rate of cooling from maximum temperatures, up to ~120 °C. This information can determine the timing, amount, and rate of exhumation across the basin – which is useful for identifying potential hydrocarbon production zones and the timing of generation. My research has direct applications to hydrocarbon exploration which can impact the development and extraction of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin.

There is a lot of work still to be completed to solve these questions and I am fortunate to have such strong support from the Department of Earth Sciences. Financial support from the GSA Graduate Student Research Grant, AAPG’s Sherman A. Wengerd Memorial Grant, Syracuse University’s Department of Earth Science and the K.D. Nelson Research Award made it possible for me to pursue this research. I will be presenting findings at the Central New York Association of Professional Geologists September 2016 Meeting and I am planning to present at the 2017 GSA Northeastern/North-Central Joint Section Meeting in the spring 2017.

Picture of outcrop

Chili collecting a sandstone sample from a small outcrop of Lower Devonian Lockhaven Formation in Mansfield, PA.


Instructor for EAR 105 Introduction to Earth Sciences: Summer Session II (July 5 – August 11, 2016)

EAR 117 Oceanography: Spring 2015 (TA Coordinator), Fall 2014 (TA Coordinator), Spring   2014 (TA Coordinator), Fall 2013

EAR 110 Dynamic Earth: Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Summer 2014



Contact Us

Department of Earth Sciences
204 Heroy GL
Ph: 315-443-2672
Fx: 315-443-3363

Research Area