Geology

The Colorado Rockies.
Volcanoes.
Tectonics.
Glacial valleys.
Active landslides... in your backyard 

Leading Edge Technology ... on your desktop

With a faculty committed to undergraduate education, excellent facilities and some of the world's most spectacular geology within walking distance, Western is the place to prepare for your career in geology.

What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

In addition to your classroom experiences, you'll have field study, where you examine local structures, processes and materials, including:

  • Spectacular structures in the high Colorado Rockies.
  • The volcanoes of the San Juan Mountains and West Elk Mountains.
  • The active tectonics of the Rio Grande Rift.
  • The classic rocks and structures of the Colorado Plateau.
  • Glacial valleys, wonderful rivers, deep canyons and active landslides.
  • The ancient, deformed rocks of the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gold Belt.

You'll also build skills in Western's dedicated computer lab for surface and subsurface mapping.

Western also offers an emphasis in Petroleum Geology with well-equipped laboratories and strong collaborations with the petroleum industry, thanks to generous support of the Paul M. Rady Family Foundation and W. A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr. This is one of only ten undergraduate petroleum geology programs in the country, and one of two in Colorado.

Beyond the Classroom

With strong alumni and industry support, Western students have opportunities for summer internships and undergraduate research.

After Graduation

Recent graduates have gone on to graduate school and have secured entry-level jobs in the petroleum industry, in mineral exploration and in environmental monitoring.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Geology Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

Share your interest with friends and family: 
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  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.

Courses

 GEOL 101 - PHYSICAL GEOLOGY (3 credits)

An introductory class that emphasizes the environmental aspects of geology. The course covers the basic principles of physical geology, such as minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and origin of landscapes by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and near shore processes. Throughout this course, focus is on the effect of geology on human society through the study of geologic hazards, energy resources, and mineral resources.

 GEOL 105 - PHYSICAL GEOLOGY LABORATORY (1 credits)

An introduction to identification of minerals and rocks and a discussion of their genesis followed by a study of landscapes formed by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and near shore processes. Many of these principles are observed on local field trips. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 101.

 GEOL 201 - HISTORICAL GEOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (0 credits)

A study of the interpretation of the geologic history, structure, and evolution of the Earth with emphasis on methods and concepts rather than factual information. Colorado geologic history and various principles are observed during three or four field trips. Topics and concepts such as geophysics, continental drift, and plate tectonics are integrated into discussions of Earth history. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105.

 GEOL 220 - FIELD GEOLOGY OF WESTERN NORTH AMERICA (1 credits)

An illustration of basic geologic principles using field trips to classic localities throughout western North America. Field trips change each year depending on student interest. Past field trips have gone to the Grand Canyon as well as other locales. A student may earn a maximum of two credits under this course number. Prerequisite: GEOL 201 or instructor permission.

 GEOL 240 - INTRODUCTION TO PETROLEUM AND MINING GEOLOGY (3 credits)

A survey of the physical and chemical processes responsible for the distribution of hydrocarbon and mineral resources in the Earth's crust and techniques for hydrocarbon and mineral resource exploration, assessment, and development. Includes field trips to oil and gas and mining operations in Colorado and Utah. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105.

 GEOL 300 - GEOLOGY FIELD TRIP (1 credits)

Provides students exposure to varied geologic terrains and settings. The course normally consists of preparatory lectures and the actual field trip, followed by a paper, talk, or examination. Students may earn a maximum of six credits under this course title. Prerequisite: GEOL 201.

 GEOL 302 - GEOSCIENCE WRITING (2 credits)

An introduction to the proper methods and accepted formats of written, graphical, and oral communication in the geological sciences. These skills are addressed through critical evaluation and discussion of the geological literature, by writing reports, review papers and research proposals, and giving oral presentations. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above and GEOL 201. Corequisite: GEOL 310.

 GEOL 305 - MINERALOGY WITH LABORATORY (0 credits)

An introduction to the study of minerals. Important topics include the crystallography, crystal chemistry, and optics of important rock and ore forming minerals. Emphasis is placed on the crystal chemistry and stability of major silicate mineral groups. The laboratory emphasizes the field identification of minerals and the application of optics to the identification of minerals in thin section. Prerequisites: GEOL 101, GEOL 105, MATH 141. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 111 and CHEM 112.

 GEOL 310 - STRATIGRAPHY AND SEDIMENTATION WITH LABORATORY (0 credits)

A study of the basic principles and origins of sedimentary rock units. Topics studied include sub-division of the geologic column and geologic time, depositional systems, stratigraphic nomenclature and rules, principles of correlation including a review of modern geophysical, geochemical, and chronostratigraphic methods, biostratigraphy, and event stratigraphy. laboratory includes measurement of sections, examination of depositional systems in the field, and surface and subsurface stratigraphic techniques, including geophysical-log interpretation and computer mapping. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of "C-," GEOL 201.

 GEOL 311 - IGNEOUS METAMORPHIC PETROLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of igneous and metamorphic rocks, including their classification, field relations, tectonic setting, phase petrology, mineralogy, and geochemistry. The laboratory emphasizes both field identification of rocks and the use of petrographic microscopes. Several field trips are included. Prerequisite: GEOL 305. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 113 and CHEM 114

 GEOL 320 - GEOMORPHOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of the processes that create the landforms we see at the Earth's surface. In particular, processes associated with modern and ice-age climate are studied including erosion and weathering, soil formation, flooding, glaciation, and mass wasting. The laboratory emphasizes field-observation and data-collection techniques, and the interpretation of aerial photographs. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105; CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 GEOL 345 - STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (0 credits)

A study of the deformation of the Earth's crust. The course begins with a study of the forces and movements within the crust which cause folding and faulting of rocks and a description of the resulting structures. These topics are followed by an analysis of the regional tectonic patterns of the Earth's surface and theories for their origin. Prerequisite: GEOL 201 with a minimum grade of "C-" and MATH 141.

 GEOL 346 - SUBSURFACE GEOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An advanced undergraduate course in subsurface structural and stratigraphic methods pertinent to petroleum, groundwater, environmental, and tectonics investigations. The course applies traditional and computer-assisted techniques to subsurface problems. Students gain experience in integrating surface geology with subsurface well and geophysical data. Prerequisite: GEOL 310. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 345.

 GEOL 352 - APPLIED GEOPHYSICS WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

An advanced undergraduate course in the theoretical and practical application of physics to geology. Lectures cover seismic, gravity, and magnetic theory. laboratory exercises and lecture problem sets emphasize the interpretation of real-world data, with application to problems in stratigraphy, structure, hydrology, environmental geology, mining, and oil and gas. Students gain proficiency in the use of several advanced analysis and modeling software packages. Prerequisite: GEOL 310. Prerequisites or corequisites: GEOL 345 and PHYS 170.

 GEOL 360 - ISOTOPE GEOCHEMISTRY (3 credits)

A study of the distribution and movement of chemical elements and isotopes in the geologic environment. Topics include nucleosynthetic processes and the isotopic abundances of the elements; geochronology using radioactive decay schemes, including U-Pb, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, K-Ar, U-series isotopes, and cosmogenic isotopes; trace element partitioning; and the use of stable isotopes in geothermometry and ore petrogenesis. Examples illustrate the use of radiogenic and stable isotopes in petrology and their application to study of the Earth and Solar system and the evolution of the crust and mantle. Prerequisites: Geol 305 with a "C-" or better and Chem 113 and 114.

 GEOL 362 - ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY (3 credits)

An advanced geology course covering the low-temperature chemistry of the near-surface geologic environment. Topics include equilibrium thermodynamics, natural-water geochemistry, the carbonate system, mineral weathering, basic organic geochemistry and the evolution of Earth's atmosphere. Students gain quantitative problem solving skills through comprehensive problem sets and the collection and analysis of real-world geochemical data. Prerequisite: Geol 305 with a "C-" or better and Chem 113 and 114.

 GEOL 397 - SPECIAL TOPICS ( 1-6 credits)

Special topics (1-6 credit hours, to be determined by faculty, department and student)

 GEOL 411 - RESEARCH IN VOLCANOLOGY AND PETROLOGY WITH LABORATORY (3 credits)

An examination of the physical volcanology, petrology, and petrogenesis of volcanic rocks. A strong emphasis is placed on fieldwork and the description of the volcanic rocks of the Gunnison Basin and adjacent regions. The course is topical in nature and emphasizes individual and/or group research projects through study of the geologic literature, the collection of geologic data, and the presentation of results. Prerequisite: GEOL 311.

 GEOL 420 - RESEARCH IN QUATERNARY GEOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (3 credits)

A study of the geology and climate of Quaternary Period, a time commonly referred to as the ice ages. Topics include glacier dynamics, glacial landforms and soils, methods of dating Quaternary deposits, and pale climate modeling. The laboratory emphasizes individual or group research projects that explore the Quaternary geology of the Gunnison and Crested Butte area. Projects are presented at the standard expected for a professional presentation. Prerequisites: GEOL 310, GEOL 320, and CHEM 111.

 GEOL 430 - HYDROGEOLOGY (3 credits)

A study of the occurrence, movement, and chemical properties of groundwater. Topics include the hydrologic cycle, surface-water hydrology, principles of ground water flow, and water chemistry. laboratory exercises focus on quantitative analysis and modeling of groundwater data. Prerequisites: GEOL 310, CHEM 111, and MATH 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: PHYS 170 or PHYS 200.

 GEOL 450 - FIELD GEOLOGY (4 credits)

An emphasis on field observation, proper geologic mapping techniques on both maps and aerial photos and interpretation and synthesis of field data into a report. Different geologic terrains in Colorado or other states are examined. Ideally, this course should be taken during the Summer semester, immediately prior to the senior year. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345; or instructor permission.

 GEOL 455 - PETROLEUM GEOLOGY WITH LABORATORY (4 credits)

A study of the physical and chemical processes responsible for the distribution of hydrocarbons and associated fluids in the Earth's crust and techniques for hydrocarbon exploration and resource assessment. Topics include the principle components of Petroleum Systems Analysis, including: the maturation, expulsion, and migration of hydrocarbons; hydrocarbon reservoirs; hydrocarbon seals; and structural, stratigraphic, and unconventional hydrocarbon traps. laboratories include geochemical modeling of source rocks, geophysical log analysis and correlation, seismic interpretation, computer mapping, and a regional field trip. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345.

 GEOL 465 - RESEARCH IN BASIN ANALYSIS WITH LABORATORY (3 credits)

A study of sedimentary processes and environments, including the tectonic origin of sedimentary basins. This includes the most common terrestrial and marine depositional systems and their relationships. A strong emphasis is placed on field relations and research on the sedimentary rocks of Western Colorado and the Colorado Plateau. The course is topical in nature and requires individual and/or group research projects through the study of the geologic literature, the collection of geologic data in the field, and the presentation of results. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and CHEM 113.

 GEOL 493 - INDEPENDENT STUDY (1 credits)

Advanced undergraduates can engage in independent research projects under the direction of a faculty member. Topics may include any research specialty in geology or geophysics depending on the mutual interests of the student and faculty.

 GEOL 495 - GEOLOGY SEMINAR (1 credits)

A seminar where advanced undergraduate students can develop critical reading and thinking skill through discussion and presentation of research literature. Topics are chosen from the current research literature. A student may earn a maximum of four credits under this course title. Prerequisite: GEOL 305, GEOL 310, GEOL 320, or GEOL 345.

 GEOL 497 - SPECIAL TOPICS ( 1-6 credits)

Special topics (1-6 credit hours, to be determined by faculty, department and student)

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

 Bartleson-Prather Research Scholarship

Bartleson-Prather Geology Research Scholarship is Available to:

Outstanding undergraduate student who is majoring in Geology.

Scholarship Provided by:

Paul Rady, Peter Dea & Barrett Resources Corporation.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Geology Department Scholarship Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more information about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Charlesworth, William Memorial Mathematics and Natural Science Scholarship Available to:

The applicant has applied to and has been accepted for admission to Western State Colorado University and is pursuing a major in mathematics or related natural sciences. The applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance. The applicant has demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics. Preference should be given to entering freshmen; however, all classes, freshmen through senior, are eligible. Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income. No preference should be given based on the sex of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, Colorado, or from the Western Slope of Colorado.

Scholarship Provided by:

Established with the Western State Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western State Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Chaired by the chairman of Mathematics and Computer Information Science and shall include a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.

Application: Contact the Mathematics and Computer Information Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information. MCIS Department: (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128 Athletic Department: (970) 943-2079 - Paul Wright Gym 201

Find out more about Western's Math Program at www.western.edu/mathematics.

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry.

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology.

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarship

Mckenny, Casey James Memorial, Natural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time students at Western who are Juniors or Seniors (qualified Juniors shall be given preference over Seniors). Must be a declared major in Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or greater. Recipients must follow Casey's example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Scholarship Provided by:

Gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western NAES faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128.

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Menzer, Fred J. Jr. Geology Memorial Scholarship

Menzer, Fred J. Jr. Geology Memorial Scholarship Available to:

Geology majors who are committed to the timely and enthusiastic pursuit of a Geology degree. Must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Scholarship Provided by:

Art H. Menzer Amount: $500

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western State Colorado University Geology Faculty

Application: Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Mitchell, Valerie Ann Memorial Geology Scholarship

Mitchell, Valerie Ann Memorial Geology Scholarship is Available to:

Students majoring in Geology who have completed their junior year of study at Western State Colorado University. Must be able to demonstrate high GPA and leadership potential within the field of geology.

Scholarship Provided by:

The parents and friends of Valerie Mitchell who died in an accident at the end of her junior year.

Amount: Award depends on funds available. (Anticipated award $200)

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western State Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application: Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 

 Moncrief Petroleum Geology Scholarship, Freshman

Moncrief Petroleum Geology Scholarship, Freshman

Scholarship Available to:

Incoming Freshman students with an interest in working in the petroleum industry with a declared major in Geology. Highschool GPA of 3.25 or higher and an ACT composite of 25 or greater. Renewable for up to four years with continuing progress made toward a degree in Comprehensive or Petroleum Geology, full time status and a cumulative 3.0 GPA overall.

Scholarship Recipient Provided by:

W. A. Moncrief, Jr.

Amount: $1,500 a year for up to four years.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western State Colorado University Geology faculty

Application: Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 Moncrief Petroleum Geology Scholarship, Transfer Students

Moncrief Petroleum Geology Scholarship for Transfer Students is Available to:

Students transferring to Western State Colorado University, with an interest in working in the petroleum industry with a declared major in Geology. Completion of at least 45 credit hours, GPA of 3.25 or higher and an ACT composite of 25 or greater. Renewable for up to two years with continuing progress made toward a degree in Comprehensive or Petroleum Geology, full time status and a cumulative 3.0 GPA overall.

Scholarship Provided by:

W. A. Moncrief, Jr.

Amount: $1,500 a year for up to two years

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western State Colorado University Geology faculty

Application: Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

 Moyle, Richard W. and Belva R. Geology Scholarship

Moyle, Richard W. and Belva R. Geology Scholarship

Geology Scholarship Available to:

Students majoring in Geology with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Must have academic promise and financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Richard W. and Belva Moyle.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Western State Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology.

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Nauman, James D. Department of Environmental Sciences Scholarship is Available to:

Full-time, Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences. Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and demonstrated financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

Amount: Award depends on funds available.

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. (970) 943-2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Physics Program at www.western.edu/physics

Find out more about Western's Biology Program at www.western.edu/biology

Find out more about Western's Chemistry Program at www.western.edu/chemistry

 Marquerite Davidson, Geology Scholarship

Marquerite Davidson, Geology Scholarship is Available to:

Students majoring in Geology that show academic promise and have financial need.

Scholarship Provided by:

Marquerite Davidson

Amount: Award depends on funds available

Scholarship Recipient Selected By:

 Western State Colorado University Geology Faculty

Application: Applicants must write a letter stating their interest in Geology and explaining their financial need.  Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for additional information.  (970) 943-2015 – Hurst Hall 128

Find out more about Western's Geology Program at www.western.edu/geology

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Lecturer in Geology
B.A., University of California Santa Cruz, M.S., California State University, Ph.D. Candidate Colorado School of Mines
Phone: (970) 943-2180
Office Location: Hurst Hall 016A
Rady Chair of Petroleum Geology
B.S., College of William and Mary, Ph.D., University of Wyoming
Phone:
Office Location:
Adjunct Professor in Geology
B.S., University of Minnesota; M.S., Ph.D.,University of New Mexico.
Phone:
Office Location:
Professor of Geology
B.A., Western State College of Colorado; M.S. University of Northern Arizona; Ph.D., University of Kansas.
Phone: (970) 943-2650
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16B
Associate Professor of Geology
B.A., State University of New York, College at Geneseo; M.S., Ph.D., University of Utah.
Phone: (970) 943-2367
Office Location: Hurst Hall 224
Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology
Phone: (970) 943-2117
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16D
Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology
Bachelor of Science in Biology and Earth & Planetary Sciences from the University of New Mexico; master of science and doctorate in Geology from Utah State University
Phone: 970.943.2117
Office Location:
Professor of Geology
B.A., Pomona College; Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz.
Phone: (970) 943-3044
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16C
Adjunct Professor of Geology
Phone:
Office Location: