Oct 22, 2021  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
    
2020-2021 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geological Sciences


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Faculty

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

Joe Lee-Cullin, assistant professor.
B.S., University of Iowa; Ph.D.,  Michigan State University. Appointed 2020.

Beth Z. Lincoln, professor.
A.B., Smith College; Ph.D.,  University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 1981.

Timothy N. Lincoln, professor.
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles. Appointed 1981.

Madeline Marshall, assistant professor.
B.A., Macalester College; Ph.D., The University of Chicago. Appointed 2019.

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

Thomas I. Wilch, professor.
B.A., Macalester College; M.S.,  University of Maine; Ph.D., New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Appointed 1998.

Introduction

Earth scientists study the Earth as a system in motion–from a stream moving a pebble over a matter of seconds to tectonic plates moving entire continents over millions of years and everything in between.  Students will develop a deep understanding of our Earth and apply this to the pressing issues of today, including climate change, energy sources and sustainability.

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

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 field 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.

Student Learning Outcomes

Geology Major

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts in core areas of geology, including plate tectonics, earth history, solid-earth composition/structure, and surface and atmospheric processes.

  2. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  3. Use the scientific method to investigate geologic questions.

  4. Employ field and laboratory skills to gather geologic data.

  5. Interpret qualitative and quantitative data to answer geologic questions.

  6. Integrate geologic concepts, methods, and data to solve geologic problems.

  7. Achieve stated personal goals in further education or careers.

Earth Science Major

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts in most core areas of geology, including plate tectonics, earth history, solid-earth composition/structure, and surface and atmospheric processes.

  2. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  3. Use the scientific method to investigate geologic questions.

  4. Employ field and laboratory skills to gather geologic data.

  5. Interpret qualitative and quantitative data to answer geologic questions.

  6. Integrate geologic concepts, methods, and data to solve geologic problems.

  7. Achieve stated personal goals in further education or careers.

Geology Minor

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts in some of the core areas of geology, including plate tectonics, earth history, solid-earth composition/structure, and surface and atmospheric processes.

  2. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  3. Use the scientific method to investigate geologic questions.

  4. Employ field and laboratory skills to gather geologic data.

  5. Interpret qualitative and quantitative data to answer geologic questions.

Environmental Geology Minor

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts of geology that relate to the surface and near-surface environment, including rock weathering and soil formation, slope failure and erosion processes, streams and groundwater systems, and landscape evolution.

  2. Comprehensively summarize either chemical interactions of water with the solid Earth or glaciation and the Earth’s climate system. 

  3. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  4. Use the scientific method to investigate environmental geology questions.

  5. Employ field and laboratory skills to gather hydrologic and geomorphologic data. 

  6. Interpret qualitative and quantitative data to solve environmental geology problems.

Paleontology Minor

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts in core areas of paleontology including Earth and life history, evolution, extinction, and surface processes and deposits.

  2. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  3. Use the scientific method to investigate paleontological questions.

  4. Employ field and laboratory skills to gather paleontological data. 

  5. Interpret qualitative and quantitative data to solve paleontological problems.

  6. Apply a historical perspective to current biological questions.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Minor

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate fundamental concepts in core areas of geospatial sciences and geography, including geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, spatial analysis, digital mapmaking, and physical and cultural geography.

  2. Apply fundamental geospatial science and geography concepts to other disciplines.

  3. Articulate ideas effectively orally and in writing.

  4. Critically analyze presentations of spatial data.

  5. Employ field and GIS skills collect and create original spatial data.

  6. Employ GIS and remote sensing skills to analyze spatial data to address geospatial problems and/or research questions.

  7. Produce maps that effectively communicate the information they are intended to.

Programs

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