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Peter M LeTourneau

  • Peter M LeTourneau

Title

Adjunct Professor

Department

Natural Sciences

Phone

pletourneau@mmm.edu

About

Peter M. LeTourneau, Ph.D. is a research affiliate of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, and a former Visiting Scholar and Visiting Faculty in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University. Dr. LeTourneau has conducted extensive studies on the geology, ecology, and cultural history of the Connecticut Valley.

His latest book, The Traprock Landscapes of New England: Environment, History, and Culture (Wesleyan University Press, 2017) received acclaim for its unique perspective on the historic landscapes of the region. He has conducted substantial field research on the paleoclimates, fossils, and ancient environments of Triassic-Jurassic age rift valleys in New England, the mid-Atlantic area, the Canadian Maritimes, and the western High Atlas region of Morocco, as well as the Cenozoic through modern rifts of the U. S. basin and range province, including Death Valley and adjacent areas.

Dr. LeTourneau has extensive experience in applied environmental science including design and construction of engineered wetlands for water pollution control, environmental assessment and long-term monitoring of wetlands, water pollution control and remediation, hydrogeologic analysis of local and regional aquifers, environmental planning, and site suitability. He supervised the trial installation of a modified green roof at a local college, made recommendations for college greening, and applied green technologies and solutions to reduce environmental impacts of both new development and reclaimed sites, including bioremediation.

An experienced environmental educator, Dr. LeTourneau continues to teach undergraduate and graduate courses and has supervised undergraduate and graduate research in environmental science, geology, and paleontology. He previously taught middle school and high school science and served as an outdoor and environmental educator at museums and nature centers. He fosters student-centered teaching methods including extensive use of the “charrette” model to develop team solutions for current environmental problems, using mock town meetings to understand the regulatory process in a democratic society, and mini-projects using local parks and preserves

Dr. LeTourneau holds graduate degrees in earth and environmental science from Columbia (M. Phil, Ph. D.) and Wesleyan (M. A.). He served as a founding member of the Board of Directors for Geological Society of Connecticut (2009-2016) and as Vice-President from 2012-2016. Currently residing in Manhattan, Peter is an avid birder and enjoys landscape painting in watercolor and oils. In 2021, his watercolor, “Flag Day,” won a First Prize and the Judge’s Choice Award in a state-wide amateur competition.

Flag Day 2021 Flag Day 2021
Credit: Peter LeTourneau

Recent Work

2022 (January). Fidelity or Fantasy? The Geographical Landscapes of George Durrie, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church in the Connecticut Valley. The Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Conn. Virtual attendance: approx. 125

2021 (March). Boldest and Most Beautiful: The Science, Art, and Culture of the Traprock Landscapes of the Connecticut Valley. The New Haven Museum. Virtual attendance: approx. 350

2019 (June). No Place Like Home: The Traprock Highlands of the Connecticut Valley. The Hamden Land Trust.

2019 (September). Boldest and Most Beautiful: The Traprock Ridgelands of the Connecticut Valley. The Linnean Society, American Museum of Natural History.

Research

Selected Publications:

LeTourneau, P. M., in press (2022–2023). Of Farmers, Flagstones, and Curiosities: Edward Hitchcock and Early Discoveries of Fossil Footmarks in the Connecticut Valley. In: Farlow, J.O. and Hyatt, J.A. (eds.) Connecticut Dragons: The Dinosaurs of Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill, Connecticut) and Their World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

LeTourneau, P. M., in press (2022–2023). Fraught with Strange Meanings: Fossil Footprints from the Connecticut Valley and Early Models of Dinosaur Locomotion and Physiology. In: Farlow, J.O. and Hyatt, J.A. (eds.) Connecticut Dragons: The Dinosaurs of Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill, Connecticut) and Their World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

McDonald, N.G, LeTourneau, P.M., Huber, P., and Olsen, P.E., in press (2022–2023). Early Jurassic lake-shoreline environments of the Hartford Basin: Fossils, food-chains and implications for the facies-linked distribution of dinosaur tracks and track-makers. In: Farlow, J.O. and Hyatt, J.A. (eds.) Connecticut Dragons: The Dinosaurs of Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill, Connecticut) and Their World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

LeTourneau, P. M. and Pagini, R. 2018. Carved into history: Vernacular rock inscriptions of the Connecticut Valley. Connecticut History Review 57(2): 89-153.

Books:

LeTourneau, P. M. and Pagini, R. 2017. The Traprock Landscapes of New England: Environment, History, and Culture. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN: 978-0-8195-7682-8. Awarded for inclusion in the 2016 Driftless Connecticut Series as an outstanding book in any field on a Connecticut topic or written by a Connecticut author. Publication of this book was generously funded by the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and The Catherine LaPollo Fund.

LeTourneau, P. M. and Olsen, P. E. (eds.) 2003. The Great Rift Valleys of Pangea, Volume 1: Tectonics, Structure, and Volcanism. New York: Columbia University Press.

LeTourneau, P. M. and Olsen, P. E. (eds.) 2003. The Great Rift Valleys of Pangea, Volume 2: Sedimentology and Paleontology. New York: Columbia University Press.

Teaching

Environmental Science