Geology

Get Involved

  • Fieldwork: Students explore the Elk, West Elk and San Juan ranges; the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gold Belt; the active tectonics of the Rio Grande Rift and more. 
     
  • Research Funding: The Bartleson-Prather Fund provides students with scholarships and research stipends. 
     
  • Geology Club: The Geology Club is active in fundraising for student experiences, including field trips and attending professional conferences. 
     
  • Geology Scholarships and Awards: Four annual scholarships, from generous geology alumni donations, are awarded to geology students to help offset educational costs. 

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

Available to:

An outstanding undergraduate student who is majoring in Geology.

Provided by:

Paul Rady, Peter Dea & Barrett Resources Corporation.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Geology Department Scholarship Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

 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 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, Colo., or from the Western Slope of Colorado.

Scholarship Provided by:

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western 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 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 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 Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

Application: Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 (Hurst Hall 128)

Learn more about Western's Physics Program.

Learn more about Western's Biology Program.

Learn more about Western's Chemistry Program.

Learn more about Western's Geology Program.

 Fred J. Menzer 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 Colorado University Geology Faculty

Application:

Geology faculty review Geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for additional information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Geology Program

 Mitchell, Valerie Ann Memorial Geology Scholarship

Available to:

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

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)

Selected by:

Western Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application:

Geology faculty review geology majors for consideration. Contact the Department of Natural & Environmental Sciences for additional information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Geology Program

 

 Moyle, Richard W. and Belva R. 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 Colorado University Geology Faculty.

Application:

Contact the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Geology Program

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Available to:

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

Provided by:

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

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application:

Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department  for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Learn more about Western's Physics Program.

Learn more about Western's Biology Program.

Learn more about Western's Chemistry Program.

 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 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

 Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship is Available to:

 Full-time students who are majoring in Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field. Must be junior level (60 credits) or above and have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Preference given to students with financial need who are residents of the Western Slope of Colorado and have expressed interest in a career in park operations/park management or a career in the earth sciences.

Environmental Studies Scholarship Provided by:

Barbara Kastellic and gifts from others to honor Joseph, who was the first Superintendent of the Black Canyon National Monument from 1975-1984.

Amount: 

Award depends on funds available.

Application: 

Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Office of Financial Aid. A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

Learn more about Western's Environment & Sustainability program. 

Learn more about Western's Biology program. 

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Holly  Brunkal, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer in Geology
B.A., University of California Santa Cruz, M.S., California State University, Ph.D., Colorado School of Mines
Phone: 970.943.2180
Office Location: Hurst Hall 018
Brad Burton, Ph.D. headshot
Rady Chair in Petroleum Geology
B.S., Montana State University, M.S., Idaho State University, Ph.D., University of Wyoming
Phone: 970.943.2252
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16A
James Coogan, Ph.D. headshot
Adjunct Professor of Geology
B.S., College of William and Mary, Ph.D., University of Wyoming
Phone: 970.943.3425
Office Location:
Amy Ellwein headshot
Adjunct Professor in Geology
B.S., University of Minnesota, M.S., University of New Mexico, Ph.D., University of New Mexico
Phone:
Office Location:
Robert Fillmore headshot
Professor of Geology
B.A., Western Colorado University, M.S., University of Northern Arizona, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Phone: 970.943.2650
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16B
David W. Marchetti, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Geology
B.A., State University of New York, College at Geneseo, 1996, M.S., University of Utah, 2002, Ph.D., University of Utah, 2006
Phone: (970) 943-2367
Office Location: Hurst Hall 224
Elizabeth Petrie, Ph.D. headshot
Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology
B.S., University of New Mexico, Biology, 2000, B.S., University of New Mexico, Earth & Planetary Sciences, 2000, M.S., Utah State University, Geology, 2003, Ph.D., Utah State University, Geology, 2014
Phone: 970.943.2117
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16D
Allen Stork headshot
Professor of Geology
B.A., Pomona College, Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz
Phone: 970.943.3044
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16C

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I (3 credits)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1 credits)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Corequisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - General Chemistry II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 with a minimum grade of C-.

 CHEM 114 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 CS 190 - Computer Science I (3 credits)

An introduction to software development taught in Python. Topics include control structures, I/O, functions, strings, lists, files, other data structures and basic algorithms that use them. Emphasis is placed on good problem-solving practices, testing and debugging.

 GEOG 340 - Introduction of Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)

An introduction to the concepts and techniques of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Topics covered include fundamentals of mapping, data formats, data acquisition, and quantitative analysis of spatial data. The laboratory component emphasizes practical applications of GIS to contemporary problems including but not limited to watershed analysis, land-use planning, environmental assessment, and market analysis. Prerequisites: GEOG 222 or GEOL 105; college-level mathematics requirement with a minimum grade of "C-"; junior standing or instructor permission.

 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 nearshore 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 nearshore processes. Many of these principles are observed on local field trips. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 101.

 GEOL 201 - Historical Geology (with laboratory) (4 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105.

 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) (4 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 101, GEOL 105, MATH 141. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 111 and CHEM 112.

 GEOL 310 - Stratigraphy and Sedimentation (with laboratory) (4 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 correlationÀincluding 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of "C-," GEOL 201.

 GEOL 311 - Igneous and 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. Additional course fee applies. 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 EarthÀs 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105; CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 GEOL 345 - Structural Geology (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A study of the deformation of the EarthÀs 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 EarthÀs surface and theories for their origin. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: GEOL 201 with a minimum grade of "C-" and MATH 141.

 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 Geomorphology (3 credits)

An advanced study of geomorphology. Topics may include fluvial, glacial, mass movement, neotectonic, and eolian processes and landforms as well as weathering and soils. 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. Prerequisites: GEOL 320, GEOL 345, and GEOG 340.

 GEOL 450 - Field Geology (4 credits)

An emphasis on field observation, proper geologic mapping techniquesÀon both maps and aerial photosÀand 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345; or instructor permission.

 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. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345.

 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.

 MATH 151 - Calculus I (4 credits)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 630 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. GT-MA1

 MATH 213 - Probability and Statistics (3 credits)

A course in the use of statistical techniques to draw knowledge from data. Topics include exploratory data analysis, descriptive statistics, t-procedures, ANOVA, chi squared procedures, regression, and non-parametric tests. Statistical software is used extensively to analyze real data sets. Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-, or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test score of 85 or above; or instructor permission. GT-MA1

 MATH 251 - Calculus II (4 credits)

Topics include techniques of integration, area computations, improper integrals, infinite series and various convergence tests, power series, Taylor's Formula, polar coordinates, and parametric curves. Prerequisite: MATH 151 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 MATH 252 - Calculus III (4 credits)

Topics include calculus of functions of several variables, differentiation and elementary integration, vectors in the plane and space. Prerequisite: MATH 251 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 PHYS 170 - Principles of Physics I (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of college algebra is recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics test score of 95 or above, or MATH 141. GT-SC1

 PHYS 171 - Principles of Physics II (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 170 dealing with electromagnetism, light, thermodynamics,and the atomic structure of matter. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: PHYS 170.

 PHYS 200 - General Physics I (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and PHYS 200. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or Corequisite: MATH 151. GT-SC1

 PHYS 201 - General Physics II (with laboratory) (3 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

Major
Bachelor of Science
Natural & Environmental Sciences 

Geology students study in and explore one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world, all accessible from campus.

General Description 

Geology is the study of the Earth. This includes the study of rocks and minerals, topography, plate tectonics (earthquakes, volcanism and mountain building), the physical history of the Earth and the history of life on the Earth. Geology students are closely involved with the related sciences of chemistry, physics and mathematics. 

The Program

The Geology program has five emphases available to students that can be selected based on interests and career goals. 

  • The Environmental Geology emphasis is for students interested in careers in hydrogeology, natural hazards and environmental consulting. 
  • The Geology emphasis prepares students for work as geoscientists across many disciplines. 
  • The Geoarchaeology emphasis provides a geoscience background to support archaeology studies which include geologic history, past climates and landscapes that would have impacted societies. 
  • The Petroleum Geology emphasis is for students planning careers as geoscientists in the oil and gas industry, as well as careers in resource assessment and energy policy. 
  • The Secondary Earth-Space Licensure emphasis qualifies students for the State of Colorado License in Secondary Science Education. 

Careers

Every aspect of the Geology program meets or exceeds American Geological Institute standards, meaning students graduate more than ready for entry-level positions in fields such as: 

  • Education
  • Environmental geology & geoscience
  • Field sedimentology
  • Geochemistry
  • Geological engineering
  • Geological surveying
  • Glacial geology
  • Government agencies
  • Hydrogeology
  • Mining
  • Oil & gas 
  • Pollution control
  • Volcanology

Learn More

Allen Stork, Ph.D.

David Marchetti, Ph.D.