M.S. Graduate Thesis



Advisor(s): Dr. John Isbell (UW-Milwaukee); Dr. Julie Bowles (UW-Milwaukee);  Dr. Fernando Vesely (Universidade Federal do Paraná)

There are many paleoenvironmental aspects of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age (LPIA) that are still unknown, including whether or not Gondwana was covered by one large ice sheet or if multiple smaller ice caps were spread across the supercontinent. In general, the occurrence of diamictites within the Gondwana succession has been traditionally used to indicate the occurrence of subglacial deposition despite the potential occurrence of other depositional modes. The ability to better differentiate between subglacial from glacial marine processes (e.g., subaqueous resedimented gravity flows, and rainout resulting from ice rafting) in addition to determining glacier flow or mass transport directions, will allow scientists to more accurately reconstruct and interpret diamictite deposits of the LPIA. One area of interest in Gondwana where these types of deposits are known to occur is in the Paraná Basin, Brazil. In sedimentary fabrics, anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) has been used to determine the preferred orientation of the constituent grains to differentiate between modes of deposition (suspension, current, mass transport, lodgment), and to determine paleocurrent orientations. My research aim was to better understand if AMS can be used to delineate glaciogenic deposits of the LPIA


Vesely, F.F., Rodrigues., M.C.N.L., da Rosa, E.L.M., Amato, J.A, Trzaskos, B., Isbell, J.L., Fedorchuk, N.D., 2018, Emplacement of non-glacial mass-transport diamictite within higher frequency glacial cycles during the Late Paleozoic icehouse: Geology

Amato, J. A., 2017, Using AMS to Help Interpret Glaciogenic Deposits of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age in the Paraná Basin, Brazil [10619377 M.S.]: The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, 161 p.



Amato, J., Al-Chokhachy, R., Hostetler, S., and Anonymous, 2016, Understanding variability of stream temperature to potential climatic drivers in headwater ecosystems; a need for salmonid conservation: AGU Virtual Poster Showcase, v. 5.

Amato, J., Hooyer, T., McCracken, R., Iverson, N., Schomacker, A., and Anonymous, 2014, Patterns of glacier sliding on drumlin surfaces, Mulajokull, Iceland: Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, v. 46, no. 4, p. 9.


  • 2016: University of Minnesota Institue of Rock Magnitism US Student Fellows

  • 2016: Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies Tinker Field Research Grant

  • 2016: Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies Travel Grant

  • 2016: Society for Sedimentary Geology Student Assistance Research Grant

  • 2016: Wisconsin Geological Society Research Grant

  • 2014: UW-Milwaukee Dr. Robert E. Gernant Summer Field Work Scholarship

  • 2013: Geological Society of America ‘On to the Future’ Travel Grant

  • 2013: UW-Milwaukee Stipend for Undergraduate Research Fellows Award

USGS/NAGT Cooperative Field Training Program

Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Bozeman, Montana: June - August 2016
Supervisor(s): Dr. Robert Al-Chokhachy, Dr. Adam Sepulveda

Established in 1965, the USGS/NAGT Cooperative Summer Field Training Program is one of the longest continuing science internship programs in the country, with many participants proceeding on to distinguished careers with the USGS, with academia, and with industry. Because of James' exemplary performance at field camp, he was nominated by his field camp director to participate in the program.

In 2016, James was selected to assist Dr. Robert Al-Chokhachy and Dr. Adam Sepulveda from the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center on their ecology research projects in the Greater Yellowstone area. The projects entailed sampling for fish and amphibian distributions, in addition to deploying instrumentation to collect stream discharge and temperature information. The summer internship was a valuable experience for James, allowing him to gain a better understanding of what it's like conducting research for a federal agency, and the opportunity to develop a broader perspective for the field of biology.


UW-Milwaukee - Department of Geosciences
Iceland: July - August 2013
Advisor(s): Dr. Thomas Hooyer, Dr. Neal Iverson

In 2013, James participated in two Iceland-­based research projects as a student worker. He assisted Dr. Neal Iverson (Iowa State University) and Dr. Thomas Hooyer (UW-Milwaukee) collecting AMS samples for their drumlin formation research project at Múlajökull; an outlet glacier located in the Central Highlands. After, James assisted Bill Jacobson, a Ph.D. student at UW-Milwaukee, in collecting cores for his basal-ice research project at Flàajökull; an outlet glacier located in the Southeast. Participating in these projects was a valuable experience for James, allowing him to develop his skills of collecting data in the field and analyzing it in the lab. James went on to conduct his own undergraduate research project, investigating the direction of ice flow on drumlin surfaces.