2014-15 Catalogs

Geosciences Overview

Chair of the Department: Stephen Pollock, Bailey Hall, Gorham

Professors: Fitts, Novak, Pollock, Swanson; Laboratory Associate: Vose

Geoscientists focus on planet earth. We study processes that have molded earth for unfathomable spans of billions of years, as well as processes that operate over the more familiar time frames we experience as humans. Students in our programs build a solid scientific understanding of earth's processes using the latest tools and technologies. Our graduates have gone on to funded graduate research and into entry-level jobs in the field. Many of these jobs are in New England with environmental and geotechnical consulting firms and government regulatory agencies working on contamination cleanup, construction projects, and water resource exploration. Others go into energy resource exploration, mineral exploration, and K-12 science teaching.

Geosciences crosses traditional discipline boundaries, incorporating concepts from physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics in the study of specific areas such as earth structure, history of life, plate tectonics, mountain building, earthquakes, ground water resources, climate, and energy resources. Our degree programs offer students the flexibility to tailor their sequence of courses to their interests. We offer a strong field- and laboratory-based sequence of courses. We conduct field trips to explore, map, and measure geologic processes throughout Maine and New England. Dedicated laboratories in Bailey Hall include the Petrology Microscope Lab, Sediment Analysis Lab, Rock Preparation Lab, and X-ray Diffraction Lab for mineral identification. The latest digital mapping technologies are available with global positioning system (GPS) and total station surveying equipment that is used in conjunction with the Gorham Geographic Information System (GIS) computer laboratory in Bailey Hall. The Gorham GIS Lab offers the latest software for modern spatial analysis and remote sensing of the earth's surface. Geoscience courses integrate our available equipment and technology resulting in a strong field-based, digitally supported degree program.

We also stress and value undergraduate student research and independent study. Faculty expertise offers student research opportunities in many areas including digital outcrop surface mapping, remote sensing using multiple data sources, groundwater resource mapping and modeling, and geoarcheology. Student work is presented at a number of venues including the USM Thinking Matters conference, Geological Society of Maine meetings, and Geological Society of America meetings.