Research Assistant Professor
B.S. 1980 Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado
M.A. 2000 Department of Anthropology, University of Montana
Ph.D. 2006 Department of Geosciences, University of Montana
Faculty member at Stony Brook since 2008
Professors Sperazza’s research interests are related to paleoclimatic change over the Pleistocene and Holocene. His research not only documents the record of climate change but develops and tests methods used in paleoclimate research and examines impact of climate change on civilizations and human evolution.
Ongoing research of Professor Sperazza is broad-based collection of studies focusing on the methodological development and analysis of paleoclimate proxies. Included in this methodological research is the evaluation of proxies derived from grain size, quantitative X-ray Diffraction, magnetic secular variation, and magnetic inclination and declination. The paleoclimatic part of this research is to evaluate a suite of proxies for their connectivity to climatic variation and the robustness of these data in high-latitude, open-montane lake systems.
An additional part of this research has been examining the glacial history of the Flathead Lake basin including the sedimentary and flood depositions associated with glacial Lake Missoula in northwestern Montana and eastern Washington.
Space photo of Flathead Lake, Montana and major geographic features including the mission fault (dashed line).
Dr. Sperazza has recently begun a new research project. It is a collaborative, multidiscipline examination of Pleistocene and Holocene climate change as it relates to human evolution and adaptation in the Turkana Basin. Working with Richard, Meave, and Louise Leakey of the Turkana Basin Institute and researchers from Stony Brook University’s departments of Geosciences, Anthropology, and Marine and Atmospheric Science, as well as Rutgers University, he seeks to exam the impacts of climate variation on hominid morphologic change and adaptive behaviors. This research will include climate proxy studies (these proxies will include changes over time for grain size, sediment chemistry, magnetics, carbon species, and biologic changes) from lake sediment cores and surrounding outcrop exposures. The research will also include extensive GIS mapping of the basin using remote sensing and ground-based data. The GIS work will include construction and analyses of databases on hominid localities, geology, and tephrochronology.
Sea Level Rise
Current impacts of climate change are obviously an urgent topic in his discipline, and of particular interest are the strongly affected coastal regions here in the Northeast. Dr. Sperazza also has begun a second research project to examine the history of sea level changes in Shinnecock Bay, New York. This research project is designed to develop a timeline history of sea level change and causal conditions of climate change. Shinnecock Bay is at the confluence of marine and fresh water systems and receives the first impacts from sea level changes. As an embayment, it also should preserve a long record of change in the sediments that can be used to reconstruct the sea level record and the associated climate forcings. As part of this research, he will conduct an assessment of sea level impacts on the communities adjacent (Southampton, Hampton Bays, Quogue, and the Shinnecock Nation) to Shinnecock Bay. This assessment will include economic (impacts on businesses and residents), geographic (changes to the physical landscape), cultural (archaeological and spiritual sites), and hydrologic (impacts on the aquifer, streams, and lakes) assessments.
This project is designed to include field and lab data collection as well as data processing and analysis. A critical component of the research project is as an educational tool to teach students research methods and technologies.
Hofmann, M.H., Hendrix, M.S., Sperazza, M., and Moore, J.N.,
2006 Neotectonic evolution and fault geometry change along a major extensional fault system in the Mission and Flathead Valleys, NW Montana. Journal of Structural Geology v. 28, n. 7, p. 1244-1260.
Hofmann, M.H., Hendrix, M.S., Moore, J.N., and Sperazza, M.
2006 Late Pleistocene and Holocene depositional history of sediments in Flathead Lake, Montana: Evidence from high-resolution seismic reflection interpretation. Sedimentary Geology, v. 184, no. 1-2, p. 111-131.
Sperazza, Michael, Moore, Johnnie N., and Hendrix, Marc S.
2004 High Resolution Particle Size Analysis of Naturally Occurring Fine-grained Sediment through Laser Diffractometry. Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 74, n. 5, p. 736-743.
12/1997-1/98 Sexual Dimorphism in Ainu Cranial Measurements. Internet Journal of Anthropological Studies [Online Journal] vol 1, Issue 1, Article 3. Available: http://www.anthro.umt.edu/archive/ijas/ijasv1i1/TOCv1i1.htm
Papers and Presentations
Sperazza, Michael, Michael H. Hofmann, Marc S. Hendrix, Johnnie N. Moore
2008 Evaluation of Grain Size as a Paleoclimate Proxy for Lake Level Change or Precipitation in a Large Lacustrine System: Flathead Lake, Montana. GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 6, p. 165.
Hofmann, Michael H., Marc S. Hendrix, Michael Sperazza
2008 The Deglacial History of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet as Recorded in Sediments of Flathead Lake, Montana. GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 6, p. 165.
Hofmann, Michael H., Michael Sperazza, Marc S. Hendrix
2007 Deglaciation History of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet as Recorded in Lake Sediments of Flathead Lake, Montana: Implications for Climate Change and Sedimentary Processes. Quaternary International, 17th INQUA Congress, Cairns, Australia.
Hendrix, Marc S., Michael H. Hofmann, Johnnie N. Moore, Michael Sperazza
2006 Sedimentary Record of syn- and Post-glacial Climate Change Along the Former LGM ice Terminus, Flathead Lake, Montana. Eos Trans. AGU, v. 87, no. 52, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP51C-1147.
Hofmann, Michael H., Marc S. Hendrix, Johnnie N. Moore, Michael Sperazza
2006 Duration and magnitude of Middle Holocene megadrought record from Flathead Lake, Montana and probable link to volcanic forcing. 22nd Pacific Climate Workshop.
Sperazza, Michael, Michael H. Hofmann, Johnnie N. Moore, Marc S. Hendrix
2005 Quantitative Evaluation of a Rapid and Severe Early Holocene Drought in NW-Montana. Eos Trans. AGU, v. 86, no. 52, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP31A-1503.
Hofmann, Michael H., Michael Sperazza, Marc S. Hendrix, Johnnie N. Moore
2005 Rapid late Pleistocene and Holocene climate changes in NW-USA revealed by glacial lobe fluctuations and lake level changes of Flathead Lake, Montana. GSA Abstracts with Programs v. 37, no. 7.
Hofmann, Michael H., Marc S. Hendrix, Michael Sperazza, Johnnie N. Moore
2005 Significant Holocene lake-level changes and late Pleistocene glacial lobe fluctuations and their implication for rapid late Pleistocene and Holocene climate changes in NW-USA: results from Flathead Lake, Montana. Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft fuer Geowissenschaften, Hamburg, Germany.
Hofmann, Michael H., Marc S. Hendrix, Johnnie N. Moore, Michael Sperazza, Mark Shapley, Chad Wittkop, and Jeffery Stone
2003 Sedimentary indicators of significant late Pleistocene – early Holocene lake-level fluctuation: preliminary results from Flathead Lake, Montana. Eos Trans. AGU, v. 84, no. 46, 2003, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP32B-0288.
Sperazza, Michael, Thomas Gerber, Marc S. Hendrix, and Johnnie N. Moore
2003 Lacustrine Record of Climatic Transition in Flathead Lake, Montana: Late Pleistocene through Holocene. Poster at International Limnogeology Congress, March 2003.
Sperazza, Michael, Thomas Gerber, Marc S. Hendrix, and Johnnie N. Moore
2002 Record of Late Pleistocene Through Holocene Climate Change in a Regional Lake System: Flathead Lake Basin, Northwestern Montana. Eos Trans. AGU, v. 83, no. 47, p. 941, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP21B-0326.
Sperazza, Michael, Johnnie N. Moore, and Marc S. Hendrix
2002 Methodology for Lacustrine Sediment Grain Size Analysis by Laser Diffraction: A High Resolution Application. GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 34, no. 6, p. 207.
Hendrix, S. Marc, Michael Sperazza, Johnnie N. Moore, and Thomas Gerber
2001 Record of the Late Pleistocene to Holocene Transition, Flathead Lake, Montana. Eos Trans. AGU, v. 82, no. 47, p. 755, Fall Meet Suppl., Abstract PP22A-0497.
Sears, J.W. Brooks, J.A., Clements, P.S., Hughes, N.D., Priest, B.M., and Sperazza, M.
2000 Thermal Structure and Fracture Strength of the Lewis-Eldorado-Hoadley Thrust Slab, Montana Rocky Mountains. GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 5, p. 38.
Skelton, Randall, Michael Sperazza, et al.
1997 Case Coordinator on Forensic Report DSF Case #97-2026. Montana State Medical Examiner.
1997 Case Coordinator on Forensic Report DSF Case #97-3459. Montana State Medical Examiner.
Skelton, Randall, et al.
1999 Forensic Report DSF Case #99-948. Montana State Medical Examiner.
1997 Forensic Report DSF Case #97-3483. Montana State Medical Examiner.
1998 The Geographic Distribution of Molar Cusp Patterns of Australopithecus and Paranthropus. Presented at the Northwest Anthropological Conference, April 1998.
1997 Case Procedures for a Forensic Laboratory. Presented at the Northwest Association of Forensic Scientists Conference, April 1997
1996 Materialism: A Cultural and Historical Perspective. Presented at the annual meeting of the Montana Academy of Science, April 1997.
1996 Sexual Dimorphism in Ainu Cranial Measurements. Presented at the annual meeting of the Montana Academy of Science, April 1997.
News & Announcements
Dr. Brandy Toner will be delivering a lecture entitled "The Speciation of Particulate Iron in Marine Geochemical Gradients" on Thursday, 10/15/15 at 4:00PM in the Hanson Seminar Room (ESS 123)
Geosciences Department Newsletter
Celebrating Robert Cooper Liebermann
Professor Joel Hurowitz named Deputy PI for Mars 2020 Rover Instrument
PhD Student Yuyan (Sara) Zhao selected for Prestigious Dwornik Award
Professor Timothy Glotch to lead NASA funded research team
Professor Martin Schoonen named Chairman of the Environmental Sciences Department at BNL
Professors John Parise and Artem Oganov pursue Materials Genome Initiative
Professor Deanne Rogers finds evidence for past groundwater on Mars
Professor Robert Liebermann accepts Edward A. Flinn Award
Professor Scott McLennan selected for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Team