Mark Swanson Ph.D.


Office Location

300 Bailey Hall



Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D. in Geology from the State University of New York at Albany
  • M.S. in Geology from Lehigh University
  • B.S. in Geology from Northeastern University


Professor Swanson has been teaching at USM since 1983, in Gorham’s Department of Geosciences until 2016 with courses in introductory geology, structural geology field methods, and, currently, in the Geography/Anthropology Department with courses in digital mapping techniques and digital cartography. For the past 35 years I have been conducting geologic field research into the structural history of crustal deformation as preserved in the rocks of coastal Maine. The last 15 years involved collaborative work with GYA Professor Bampton in the use of sea kayaks and digital survey instrumentation to explore the endless bedrock exposures on Maine's coast and offshore island.  A real scientific adventure, filled with the exhilaration of discovery and exploration in mapping the patterns of small-scale granite intrusions in a world of wild and intense crustal deformation along Maine's magnificent rocky coastline.

This Swanson/Bampton collaborative field research had been supported for 8 years (2002-2010) through an NSF-sponsored REU Site Program (National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program) that combined undergraduate education with direct experience in relevant field research projects using the latest digital survey and mapping instruments (GPS, total station) and resources (GIS, software, aerial imagery).  These techniques were used to create detailed maps of new never-before-seen geologic features on some of the most remote and beautiful islands in Maine.   

Areas of Expertise

Digital mapping techniques and GIS, structural geology of the Maine Coast.

Research Interests

Detailed geologic outcrop mapping of bedrock exposures at publicly-accessible sites on the Maine coast using precision survey-grade instrumentation, imagery and GIS.

Exploring the significance of massive landslides hidden in the Lidar landscape of southern Maine as a possible catastrophic response to the 1755 Cape Ann Massachusetts Earthquake.

Recent Publications

Swanson, M.T., 2014, Mapping Dikes and Faults at Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, in Albee, E. & Miller-Rushing, A. (eds), 2014, Proceedings of the Acadia National Park Science Symposium, April 16, 2014, Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park Acadia Science Symposium, page 28 abstract with poster presentation.

Swanson, M.T., 2014, Mapping Mafic/Felsic Dikes and Strike-Slip Faults at Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, Geological Society of America Northeastern Section 50th Annual Meeting, March 23-25, Abstracts with Programs, v. 47, no. 3,  p. 90 abstract with poster presentation.

Ross, C., Rowe, C., Swanson, M.T., and Pollock, S.G., 2015, Multi-surface earthquake rupture recorded in pseudotachylyte vein geometries, Norumbega Shear Zone, southern Maine, Abstract MR33c-2698 presented at 2015 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, Ca, Dec 14-18.  Represents field collaboration between McGill University in Montreal and USM on a fault zone research project in Monroe, Maine.  Full manuscript in preparation.

Swanson, M.T., 2016, Kinematic indicators and ductile strain domains associated with regional shearing: A transect across the Norumbega Fault and Shear Zone System, Pemaquid Point to northern Casco Bay, in Berry, H.N. IV & West D.O. Jr. Guidebook for Field Trips along the Maine Coast from Maqouit Bay to Muscongus Bay, 108th Annual New England Intercollegiate Geologic Conference, October 14-16, Trip A-1, p.1-18.