Dec 11, 2019  
2018-2019 Academic Catalog 
2018-2019 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geological Sciences

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Beth Z. Lincoln, co-chair and professor.
A.B., 1973, Smith College; Ph.D., 1985, University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 1981.

Timothy N. Lincoln, co-chair and professor.
B.S., 1972, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Ph.D., 1978, University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 1981.

William S. Bartels, professor.
A.B., 1977, Rutgers College; M.S., 1981, Ph.D., 1987, University of Michigan. Appointed 1986.

Michael W. McRivette, assistant professor.
B.S., 2001, University of California, San Diego; Ph.D., 2011, University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 2008.

Carrie A. Menold, associate professor.
B.S., 1999, University of Michigan; Ph.D., 2006, University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 2006.

Thomas I. Wilch, professor and Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Trustees’ Professor of the Sciences.
B.A., 1987, Macalester College; M.S., 1991, University of Maine; Ph.D., 1997, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Appointed 1998.


Geology is the study of the earth, the processes that shape it and the materials of which it is composed. Geology gives students an understanding of the world around them, an appreciation for the length and events of earth history, and the knowledge to help them make informed decisions about environmental concerns.

The Department of Geological Sciences provides undergraduate students intellectually engaging and challenging learning opportunities in geology through integrated classroom, laboratory, field, and research experiences. Our students learn to deal with transdisciplinary problems involving complicated systems with complex variables, a wide range of scales of both time and space, and often incomplete or ambiguous data sets. This is excellent preparation for many careers, including geology, environmental science, law, business, and medicine, as well as for informed citizenship.

Geological Sciences Department Website

Career Opportunities

Albion College geology graduates are successful in obtaining interesting and rewarding jobs. Currently, there are numerous well-paying jobs with petroleum and mineral exploration companies as well as in the area of water resource and environmental management. Other geology graduates have been employed by numerous consulting firms; by research institutes; by state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey; by universities and colleges as geology professors and by secondary schools as earth science teachers.

Over one-half of our graduates have chosen to continue studying geology or other disciplines, including business, law, medicine, and public policy, at major universities and have obtained master’s or doctoral degrees before beginning their careers.

Special Features

The department’s facilities include six instructional laboratories, a GIS lab, individual faculty offices and research labs, a student research lab, a map room, and a rock and fossils preparation shop.

Three National Science Foundation grants to the department have established sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS), inductively coupled argon plasma (ICP) spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry laboratories. Another NSF grant has provided electronic mapping tools, including global positioning receivers and base stations, laser ranging equipment and an electronic total station for precise fieldwork.

The Dow Analytical Science Laboratory houses a JY ICP spectrometer with a Cetac 5000AT ultrasonic nebulizer, a Rigaku 2100 wavelength dispersive XRF spectrometer, a Fluxy automatic fluxer, a Sedigraph 5100 particle size analyzer, a Rigaku miniflex X-ray diffractometer, and a CEM Mars 5 microwave digestion system. This equipment supports analysis of a wide range of materials, including rocks and natural solutions, for most elements from trace (parts per billion) to major (%) levels. The Geology Shop includes rock crushing and grinding equipment, rock saws and polishing equipment and a Buehler petrographic thin section machine. Students in both introductory and advanced courses use the equipment, and it supports advanced environmental and geological research projects.

Our other laboratories are also well-equipped and include: an Olympus research-grade petrographic microscope with heating/freezing stage and digital imaging systems; a Franz magnetic separator; new binocular and petrographic student microscopes (along with color digital video and photographic microscopy units and image analysis software); three stream tables; a 3-meter flume, wave tank, current velocity meters and data-logging water analysis sondes; exploration seismograph; resistivity apparatus; and a magnetometer. Department collections include over 6,000 rock and mineral specimens, over 10,000 fossil specimens and more than 2,000 specialized maps.

Many departmental maps, minerals, rocks and fossils are displayed throughout the science complex. The Mitchell Museum and the science complex atrium include the wave tank and additional fossil, rock and mineral displays. The hallways of the department also have exhibits of current faculty and student research as well as additional maps and specimens.

The computer laboratory for GIS and digital image analysis includes 16 workstations, two color scanners: a large format map and poster scanner and a desktop flatbed scanner, a color inkjet printer, a laser printer, and a link to the E-size printer/plotter in the nearby Dow Analytical Laboratory. Software for creating, manipulating and analyzing spatial data and images (maps, aerial photos and satellite imagery) includes the most recent versions of ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced, ArcPad, and ENVI.

Field study is important in geology, so the department maintains an active field program. Each spring students and faculty participate in a regional geology seminar and subsequent eight- to 14-day field trip; trips have been to the Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin, California, Louisiana, Great Britain, Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona and New Mexico, New England, the Ozarks, the Northern Appalachians and the Smoky Mountains. Local field trips are sponsored by the student-run Geology Club. In addition, the Geology Department operates a biennial six-week summer field program in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Students from Albion and many other colleges and universities attend this camp for training in geologic mapping and field research.

Research opportunities are available to all majors in their junior and senior years. Students may work on an individual laboratory or field problem within the scope of their background and present their results at professional meetings. Outstanding seniors are encouraged to complete honors theses. The Lawrence D. Taylor Undergraduate Geology Research Fund supports student research and travel to present at regional and national meetings. A local chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, a national earth science honorary, is active on the Albion campus.

Departmental Policy on Advanced Placement Credit

Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam will receive one unit of credit from the Department of Geological Sciences. Students who receive AP credit for calculus, chemistry, computer science, and/or physics from the respective department may use the AP credit to replace equivalent requirements for majors and minors offered by the department. In most cases, these courses might replace a cognate course requirement. Students should consult with the department chair to verify how AP credit may be awarded.



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