Geology Department

Position opening: full-time one-semester position of Visiting Assistant Professor in Geomorphology
For application information, visit the College's website at

Announcement: For Fall 2014, some Geology course names have changed! GEO 111 is now "Our Planet: Introduction to Earth Science" (previously Principles of Geology); GEO 246 is "Earth Surface Processes" (previously Geomorphology); and, GEO 324 is "Sedimentary Systems" (previously Sedimentology/Stratigraphy).

2013 Geology Newsletter now available here!

Geologists study Planet Earth – its composition, landscapes, climate, natural resources, natural hazards, and the evolution and extinction of life. The science of geology is driven by our need to understand our home planet and to use its resources wisely. The Department of Geology helps students understand Earth; we are interested in the processes that act on it today, those that occurred in the past, and events that might happen in the future – both natural and human-influenced.

Geology is particularly relevant in today's world. Geologists evaluate areas for geologic safety, assessing whether earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, or landslides pose a danger to human life and infrastructure. Conserving the environment requires that we understand the processes that shaped that environment long ago, as well as the events that have occurred more recently. The search for natural resources is necessarily a geological search, and geologists play an important role in finding, using, and conserving those resources. Geologists map the landscape, informing our communities about the land beneath our feet. The story of Earth's distant past is a geological one, and geologists examine the record of ancient life and rocks to describe the landscape during the last ice age, or longer-ago, when the ocean covered this part of the world, making Minnesota a tropical paradise.

Geologists, and geology students, spend a lot of time outside, observing the record that Earth has left for us to interpret. They also come indoors to learn the analytical, laboratory, and computer techniques that decode the details of the geological landscape. From the introductory courses through the senior thesis, geology students learn to read the story of the Earth and help the planet tell its tale to the humans that inhabit it.

The Geology Program

The geology program emphasizes field and research experiences at all levels of the major. First-year courses provide an overview of the principles of geology and an outline of the history of the earth, while students gain basic skills in addressing geologic problems. Second-year courses are designed to deepen understanding of earth processes and to sharpen field, laboratory, and research skills. Third-year courses emphasize the development of critical thinking and communication skills within the context of the mechanisms of and evidence for earth processes. In the fourth year, students use their accumulated skills and knowledge to conduct a senior research project, under the direction of a faculty member, culminating in a senior thesis. To graduate with degree in geology, students must also participate in at least one extended field experience, in addition to normal class field trips, as part of a departmentally organized or approved field trip.

Name Title Phone
Julie Bartley Associate Professor, Geology Chair 507-933-7307 web
James Welsh Associate Professor 507-933-7335
Laura Triplett Assistant Professor 507-933-7442 web
Marilyn Frederick Administrative Assistant 507-933-7333
Joe Carlson ’60 Professor Emeritus