Geology

  • Bachelor of Science in Geology
    • Major
    • Minor
    • Secondary Licensure

    Get Involved

    A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

    • 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. 
       
    • 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. 
       
    • Research Funding: The Bartleson-Prather Fund provides students with scholarships and research stipends. 

    Scholarships

    Program-Based Scholarships

    Bartleson-Prather Research Scholarship

    Eligibility

    • An outstanding undergraduate student who is majoring in Geology

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by Paul Rady, Peter Dea & Barrett Resources Corporation.

    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

    Eligibility

    • Applied or accepted Western student
    • Student is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences
    • Applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance
    • Demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics
    • Preference should be given to entering freshmen, however all classes are eligible
    • Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income
    • No preference shall be given based on the sex of the applicant
    • Preference will be given to applicant from Delta County, CO. or the Western Slope of Colorado

    Description

    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.

    Award depends on funds available.

    Selected By: The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and 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 & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

    Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128
    Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 | Paul Wright Gym 201.

    Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarships

    Eligibility

    • Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors)
    • Must be declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department
    • Must maintain at least 3.2 GPA
    • 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.

    Description

    this scholarship is provided by the gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.

    Award depends on funds available.

    Selected by: Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.

    Application:

    Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

    970.943.2015 | Hurst Hall 128

    Fred J. Menzer Jr. Geology Memorial Scholarship

    Eligibility

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

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by Art H. Menzer.

    Amount: $500

    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

    Mitchell, Valerie Ann Memorial Geology Scholarship

    Eligibility

    • 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

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by the parents and friends of Valerie Mitchell who died in an accident at the end of her junior year.

    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

    Eligibility

    • Students majoring in Geology
    • 3.0 GPA or higher
    • Must have academic promise and financial need

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by Richard W. and Belva Moyle.

    Award depends on funds available.

    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

    Eligibility

    • Full-time Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department
    • Must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 minimum
    • Demonstrate financial need

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.

    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

    Marquerite Davidson, Geology Scholarship

    Eligibility

    • Students majoring in Geology
    • Demonstrate academic promise and financial need

    Description

    This scholarship is provided by Marquerite Davidson.

    Award depends on funds available

    Selected By: 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

    Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship

    Eligibility

    • Full-time students who are majoring in Environment & Sustainability, Environmental Biology or a related field
    • Must be a junior level (60+ credits) 
    • 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

    Description

    This scholarship is 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.

    Award depends on funds available.

    Application: 

    Complete and submit The Joseph A. Kastellic Scholarship application which is available in the Financial Aid Office.

     A recommendation and a one-page essay will be needed to complete the application.

    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit western.edu/mars.

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    Faculty & Staff

    Faculty

    Holly  Brunkal, Ph.D. headshot
    Lecturer in Geology
    Phone: 970.943.2180
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 018
    Brad Burton, Ph.D. headshot
    Rady Chair in Petroleum Geology
    Phone: 970.943.2252
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 16A
    James Coogan, Ph.D. headshot
    Adjunct Professor of Geology
    Phone: 970.943.3425
    Office Location:
    Amy Ellwein headshot
    Adjunct Professor in Geology
    Phone:
    Office Location:
    Robert Fillmore headshot
    Professor of Geology
    Phone: 970.943.2650
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 16B
    David W. Marchetti, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of Geology
    Phone: 970.943.2367
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 224
    Elizabeth Petrie, Ph.D. headshot
    Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology
    Phone: 970.943.2117
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 16D
    Allen Stork headshot
    Professor of Geology
    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 note bookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Co-requisite: 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 notebook keeping 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 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. 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 land forms 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. 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 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. 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 techniques on both maps, 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. 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.

  • Bachelor of Science in Geology
    • Major
    • Minor
    • Secondary Licensure

    Located in the Gunnison Basin in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Western Geology students live and learn in one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world.

    Geology involves the study of rocks, minerals, topography and plate tectonics (earthquakes, volcanism and mountain building) as well as the history of both Earth and life on Earth. Every aspect of the Geology major meets or exceeds American Geological Institute standards, meaning students graduate more than ready for entry-level positions in career fields that grapple with complex issues like climate change, energy use, clean water, mineral resources and natural hazards like landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes and flooding. 

    The Program

    • The Geology emphasis prepares students for work as geoscientists across many disciplines. 
       
    • The Environmental Geology emphasis is for students interested in careers in hydrogeology, natural hazards and environmental consulting. 
       
    • 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 & Opportunities

    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

    Reach out to Allen Stork, Ph.D. or David Marchetti, Ph.D. for more information.