Waterfall Geology Geoscience generic

Geology Department

What We Do

The mission of the Department of Geology is to provide knowledge and understanding of the earth and its hazards and resources as well as an understanding of the interactions of the earth with other natural environments and with society to students in Geoscience, the other natural sciences, liberal arts, and pre-professional programs who choose such courses as part of their majors, minors and general education electives.

Phone
(315) 792-3134
Email
Department Type
Office Location
176 Gordon Science Center

Geoscience is a broad, interdisciplinary field comprising geology as well as aspects of ocean science, atmospheric science, planetary science, and environmental science. Utica College offers both B.S. and B.A. degrees in Geoscience. 

The B.S. affords greater depth in geoscience and the other physical sciences and is designed to prepare students to work in applied earth and environmental science or pursue graduate studies in geoscience or related disciplines.

Those interested in a program in earth and environmental science designed to provide substantial breadth in science preparation by also including coursework in biology, environmental issues, and astronomy may elect to pursue the B.A. Each degree is also appropriate for teaching secondary earth science.

Students interested in teaching should see also the Undergraduate and Master's Programs in Education.

Geoscience Bachelor of Science

The bachelor of science option is designed to prepare students to work in applied earth and environmental science or pursue graduate studies in geoscience or related disciplines. A capstone experience such as a field course, directed research, or internship will be required of students receiving the B.S. to integrate liberal and professional study.

Students who complete the BS degree will:

  • Be able to explain the fundamentals of the Theory of Plate Tectonics, including its causes and its effects, and the evidence that supports its occurrence;
  • Be able to describe aspects of Plate Tectonic Theory about which there is uncertainty and/or disagreement;
  • Be able to explain how earth processes and materials impact human society, and how activities of human society impact the earth and environment;
  • Be able to describe and explain in detail several examples of each;
  • Be able to describe and explain the limitations of several different methods used to perform historical science, and understand and be able to explain how and why multiple approaches are used simultaneously

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

Geoscience Bachelor of Arts

The bachelor of arts option is designed to provide substantial breadth in science preparation by also including coursework in biology, environmental issues, and astronomy, allowing students greater flexibility in tailoring the degree to meet their needs and interests. 

Students who complete the BA degree will:

  • Be able to explain the fundamentals of the Theory of Plate Tectonics, including its causes and its effects, and the evidence that supports its occurrence;
  • Be able to describe aspects of Plate Tectonic Theory about which there is uncertainty and/or disagreement;
  • Be able to explain how earth processes and materials impact human society, and how activities of human society impact the earth and environment;
  • Be able to describe and explain in detail several examples of each;
  • Be able to explain what historical science is as well as why it is performed;
  • Understand how modern-day processes can be used to reconstruct the processes and events of Earths’ deep past and its evolution over periods of time.

BACHELOR OF ARTS ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

Academic Minor

Utica College also offers an Academic Minor in Geoscience.

A competence in geology and the other earth sciences may enhance the career possibilities of primary and secondary school teachers and individuals pursuing graduate opportunities or employment in other science fields, such as chemistry, biology and physics. The Geoscience Minor is also appropriate for majors in economics, politics, anthropology/sociology who anticipate careers in government or industry that will involve issues of public policy concerning the environment.

GEOSCIENCE MINOR

 

 

Geoscience team on water

The Geology program at Utica College thrives on small upper level class sizes and students in these classes benefit in several ways. Classes are small so students actively participate in their learning and have abundant opportunities to interact with professors and other students. Our students usually form strong bonds with one another and work together to solve problems and complete projects assigned in class. Professors have time to work with individual students both in and out of class and it is common for students to find professors to ask questions or seek advice outside of class or office hours.

Geoscience Team Exploring

As part of the Bachelor of Science in Geology at Utica College, students complete a capstone project that may be an independent research, an internship, or completion of field camp, although some students elect to do more than one project.

Most students in our program elect to conduct independent research that typically occurs in their senior year, although some have started in their junior year and worked on more than one project. Research is generally related to work that our professors are actively engaged in but we can accommodate a student who has a particular interest. These projects typically culminate with presentations at professional meetings. This allows student to begin building their CV’s for future graduate studies or entry to a professional field. Such projects allow students to show potential employers and graduate schools that they have mastered the skills needed to complete an independent project and have the discipline required to bring about its completion.

Research areas of the faculty at Utica College include climates studies using the sediment record of Adirondack Lakes, mountain building and structural geology in the Maine Appalachians, the Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest, Adirondack Mountains, as well as local studies of Central New York geology.

Geoscience Rock Formation

Geology classes at Utica College are strongly infused with field experiences in the form of field trips during laboratories, or as larger weekend trips to Vermont and the Adirondacks. Also, our field experience to Oregon and New England is a multi-week trip during the summer. Field trips give students the opportunity to examine and learn to recognize rocks, landscapes, and surficial features related to mountain-building, mineralogical, hydrologic (streams, lakes, groundwater), glacial, and weathering processes.

Geoscience Students in front of water

Some of our students have been selected to serve as interns at the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, NY. The positions are summer paid positions and housing is provided by the Rogers Center. Interns typically facilitate environmental education programs for children, but also assist with mixed adult and kids programs such as canoe and kayak trips. They also have the opportunity to develop their own environmental education programs to be implemented at the center.

Geoscience Students on top of rock

The department offers a field camp experience in Oregon, Washington State, and northern California, or in New England. In the Pacific Northwest, students visit a variety of volcanoes and learn about volcanic and plate tectonic processes first hand. This is a multi-week trip that combines camping, mountain-climbing (non-technical), sample collection, and geologic mapping in a spectacular landscape. We also visit the California and Oregon Coast to see coastal processes first-hand along with the Redwoods! Students may also elect to combine their field camp experience with an independent research project in the Big Craggies (Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area) of southwest Oregon.

The New England field camp combines a wide variety of experiences for students including a dinosaur trackway, examination of mountain-building processes in the northern Appalachians, coastal Maine excursions, field mapping, and trips to the North Maine Woods and Adirondack Mountains as well as field stops in the New Hampshire White Mountains and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

The Utica College campus offers excellent facilities and resources for the study of geoscience. Recent NASA and NSF grants have supported the installation of additional advanced technology and instrumentation (see below). 
 
The proximity of Utica College to the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, Mohawk Valley, Utica Marsh, and Great Lakes and Finger Lakes makes its geographic location ideal to provide ample learning opportunities vital to advanced learning in geoscience. 

Housed in UC's Gordon Science Center, the Geology Department equipment includes:

  • sieves
  • a Ro-Tap shaker
  • hydrometers
  • a current meter
  • microscopes

Equipment for sedimentological analysis includes:

  • rock cutting and thin-sectioning equipment and microscopes for petrographic analysis
  • a gravimeter and a collection of local- to continental-scale topographic and geologic maps and aerial photographs for structural geologic studies

The Department maintains extensive fossil and mineral collections that include numerous specimens from the local area and the Adirondack Mountains.

A $1.7 million grant from NASA to UC was used to update and expand the college's science teaching and research resources. From this the geology department added instrumentation to support coursework and faculty and student research in paleolimnology, paleoceanography and paleoclimatology; including:

  • sediment coring equipment and a small inflatable raft for lake and wetland sampling and monitoring
  • a YSI in-situ multisensor water quality probe
  • an integrated suspended sediment sampler and bottom sediment grab sampler
  • a Malvern automated sediment grain size analyzer
  • Bartington whole-core and discrete-sample magnetic susceptibility meter
  • Ortec gamma detection system for radiometric dating of sediment cores, and
  • ArcGIS geographic information systems (GIS) software.

A grant from the National Science Foundation to a Geology Department faculty member enabled purchase of a large-format plotter. And, reflecting the College's commitment to providing opportunities to work hands-on with modern technology, UC recently provided the Geology Department funds to purchase new geophysical equipment, including instrumentation for seismic profiling.

In Progress

Sarah Robinson - Assessment of Lake Morphometry Influences on Paleoproductivity in Four Lakes Under Similar Climate Change Conditions in the southern Adirondacks of New York


2013

James Lee - Using Geophysical Methods to Determine the Southern Extent of the Dolgeville Fault in central New York

Dan Plows - Petrography, Field Relations, and Geochemical Analysis of Ordovician Metamorphosed Mafic Igneous Rocks of the Caucomgomoc Lake Inlier, northern Maine


2012

Kimberly Foote – Morphological Variation in Fragillariopsis kerguelensis in South Atlantic Sediments in Response to Deglaciation

Katrina Burnett - Examination of Geographic and Socioeconomic Patterns in Opinions About Hydrofracking for Natural Gas in Central and Southern New York.


2011

Tiffany Bichrest – A Structural Transect in the Devonian Seboomook Formation of Maine

Miriam Bernstein – Potential Impact of Calcium Content of Drinking Water Sources on Osteoporosis Incidence

Dan Plows – Radiometric Dating to Determine Changing Sedimentation Rates in an Adirondack Lake


2010

Tiffany McGivern – Characterization of Surface and Groundwater Chemistry Before and After Gas Drilling and Hydro-Fracturing, Town of Maryland, Otsego County, New York

Spencer Roose – Record of the 1918/1919 El Nino and a Long-Duration Positive Phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation within an Adirondack Lake.

Kristen Hamner - Magnetic Susceptibility and Loss-on-Ignition Analysis of Adirondack Lake Sediments


2009

Keriann Thuener – Dikes of the Adirondack Region: A Mafic Dike at Golden Stair Creek

Yvette Abounader – Estimation of the Annual Carbon Footprint of Utica College


2008

Greg Hurd (a visiting Wesleyen University student intern) – High-Resolution Multiproxy Analysis of Adirondack Lake Sediments to Constrain the Timing and Frequency of Multiannual- to Decadal-Scale Variations and Identify Potential Causes

Tessa Malcarne – Environmental Audit of Utica College


2007

Adriane Spytko – Morphological Variations in Stephanodiscus niagarae in Lake Erie Sediments in Response to Historical Nutrient Loading

 

2006

Amanda Whittemore – Examination of Sediment Grain Size and Organic Content in Marsh Sediments and Implications for Polychlorinated Biphenyl Affinity and Distribution. 
 

2005

Michael Washburn – Morphology of Ice-Rafted Debris in the Southeast Atlantic Across Glacial Termination V. 

Jennifer Lounsbury and Elizabeth Hyer – Occurrence of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in the Utica Marsh, New York.
 

2004

Gillian Chapman – Grain Size Analysis of Fine Sediments at Site 1094 (South Atlantic): Eolian vs. Hemipelagic Origin. 
 

Resulting Student Research Presentations at Conferences

(Student authors shown in bold.)

Plows, D.R. and A. Schoonmaker, 2013. Petrography, Field Relations, and Geochemical Analysis of Ordovician  Metamorphosed Mafic Igneous Rocks of the Caucomgomoc Lake Inlier, northern Maine. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 45, no. 1: p. 59. Northeast Regional Meeting, Bretton Woods, NH.

Foote, K. and S.L. Kanfoush, 2012. Preliminary examination of valve size of Fragillariopsis kerguelensis as a potential indicator of nutrient content of the Southern Ocean across the glacial termination. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 44, no. 2, p. 49.  Northeast Regional Joint Meeting, Hartford, CT.

Bichrest, T. and A. Schoonmaker, 2011. A structural transect of the Seboomook Formation, Caucomogomoc Lake, northwestern Maine. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 43, no. 1, p. 148.  Northeast and North-Central Regional Joint Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

McGivern, T. and A. Schoonmaker, 2011. Ongoing testing of groundwater and surface water chemistry in the vicinity of the Ross #1 natural gas well, Maryland, New York. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 43, no. 1: p. 105. Northeast and North-Central Regional Joint Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

Roose, S. and S.L. Kanfoush, 2011. Record of the 1918/1919 El Nino and long-duration phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation in an Adirondack Lake. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 43, no. 1, p. 70.  Northeast and North-Central Regional Joint Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

Roose, S. and S.L. Kanfoush, 2010. Potential impacts of interannual to mutidecadal climate oscillations on an Adirondack Lake. Lake, Stream, and Watershed Issues Conference, Sponsored by the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, Hosted by Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.

McGivern, T. and A. Schoonmaker, 2010. Characterization of surface and groundwater chemistry before and after gas drilling and hydro-fracturing, Town of Maryland, Otsego County, New York. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 42, no. 1: p. 122. Northeast and Southeast Regional Joint Meeting, Baltimore, MD.

Whittemore, A., Kanfoush, S.L., Provost, T. and C. Pullium, 2006. Examination of polychlorinated biphenyl affinity with sediment grain size and organic matter. American Chemical Society Abstracts with Programs, Northeast Regional Meeting, Binghamton, NY.

Kanfoush, S.L.and M.W. Washburn, 2006. Preliminary study of morphology of ice-rafted debris in the southeast Atlantic across Termination V. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 38, no. 2: p. 14. Regional Meeting, Harrisburg, PA.

Hyer, E.A., Lounsbury, J.A., Kanfoush, S.L., Provost, T.L. and C.R. Pulliam, 2006. Downcore occurrence of polychlorinated biphenyls in the Utica Marsh, central New York. American Chemical Society Abstracts with Programs, Northeast Regional Meeting, Binghamton, NY.

Lounsbury, J.A., Hyer, E.A., Kanfoush, S.L., Provost, T.L. and C.R. Pulliam, 2006. Downcore occurrence of polychlorinated biphenyls in the Utica Marsh, central New York. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs vol. 38, no. 2: p. 80. Regional Meeting, Harrisburg, PA.

Chapman, G.E., Kanfoush, S.L. and E. Domack, 2004. Fine sediment in ODP Site 1094 (South Atlantic): Eolian versus hemipelagic determination. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 36 (2): 154. Regional Meeting, Washington, D.C.

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