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Graduate School

    The University of Maine
  Oct 20, 2017
2008-2009 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth Sciences

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Both the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees require a thesis embodying original research. Entering graduate students should be well prepared in ancillary sciences. This normally would include a full year of calculus, chemistry, and physics. Preparation in statistics and computer programming is recommended.

Departmental research facilities are extensive and modern. Facilities available for solid-earth research include a Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), powder x-ray diffraction, stable isotope laboratory, computational geodynamics facility, mineral separation, rock preparation, polishing and thin section laboratories, and high resolution photomicroscopy.

Marine Geology equipment and facilities include a suite of digital electronic geophysical equipment for sidescan sonar and seismic reflection, current meters and tide gauges and ground penetrating radar. We have a marine electric vibracorer, a portable coastal vibracorer and hand-operated corers. The sedimentology laboratory is fully equipped for core analysis, photography, microscopy, weighing, centrifuging, drying, muffle furnace, sieving, and automated textural analysis with a settling tube for sand and an X-Ray sedigraph for mud. GIS capability is supported with computer workstations mounting ArcView and ArcInfo software.

Facilities and instrumentation in the Sawyer Environmental Chemistry Research Laboratory include three ‘clean’ rooms, two atomic absorption spectrophotometers, two inductively coupled plasma spectrophotometers (one with mass spectrometer), high and low resolution gas chromatograph mass spectrometers, several ion chromatographs, infrared spectrometer, two autoanalyzers, liquid chromatograph, gas chromatograph, and four mercury analyzers.

Field work, supplemented by modern laboratory study and analysis, is a major focus of our Department. Specific research thrusts are summarized below and additional information can be found at our web site (

AQUEOUS ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS include geochemistry and hydrogeology and focuses on the chemical interaction of water with geologic materials and the movement of water within earth systems. Evaluating interactions through field and numerical experiments among water, biota, humans, and geologic materials provide insights into environmental processes. Areas of particular interest within this sub-discipline include: the linkages between ecosystems and hydrologic processes, the fate and transport of chemicals within the streams, lakes and ground water, and the characterization of the geologic materials that influence the chemistry and flow rates of water at the surface and in the subsurface.

CLIMATE CHANGE research in the Department of Earth Sciences is integrally related to the Climate Change Institute. The Climate Change is an interdisciplinary research unit organized to conduct research and graduate education focused on variability of the earth’s climate, ecosystems, and other environmental systems and on the interaction between humans and the natural world. Institute investigations cover the Quaternary Period, a time of numerous glacial/interglacial cycles and abrupt changes in climate, ranging in time from the present to nearly 2 million years ago. Research activities include field, laboratory, and modeling studies that focus on the timing, causes, and mechanisms of natural and anthropogenically forced climate change, and on the effects of past climate changes on the physical, biological, chemical, social, and economic conditions of the earth. Institute Facilities include the Stable-Isotope Laboratory, the Ice Core Microparticle and Tephrochronology Laboratory; the Ion Chromatography and Glaciochemistry Laboratory; the Marine Geology/Geophysics Laboratory, Geographic Information Systems Laboratory, the Micropaleontology Laboratory, the Laboratory for Paleoecology and Paleohydrology; the Zooarchaeology Laboratory; the Laboratory for Northeastern Prehistory; and the Andean Archaeology Laboratory. Institute research is of international scope and significance, and includes projects in the United States, Antarctica, Asia, Canada, Europe, Greenland, New Zealand, South America, and many regions of the world’s oceans.

GEODYNAMICS focuses on the relationships between the underlying physics of earth dynamics and the signals observed by geophysicists, geologists, geomorphologists and climatologists. Consequently, we integrate information from both ancient and modern orogens to gain insight into material behavior, kinematics and dynamics in the interaction of the earth with the atmosphere.

MARINE GEOLOGY - SEDIMENTOLOGY focuses on sediment processes, geomorphology, and stratigraphy of nearshore and coastal systems in the Gulf of Maine and many other localities worldwide, including Ireland, Peru, Atlantic Canada, Israel and Portugal. Major themes of research include geologic history and climate changes within the Quaternary time period (ca. 1.7 Myr to present), effects of sea-level change, glaciated coasts, Maine lakes, and policy-related issues of human occupation and engineering in modern coastal systems. Primary tools include digital marine geophysical surveys (seismic reflection and sidescan sonar), underwater and coastal coring, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), land and satellite (GPS) surveying, image analysis, and Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis. An adjunct expertise is in Archaeological Geology, using most of the same tools.

IGNEOUS and METAMORPHIC PETROLOGY and GEOCHEMISTRY require the integration of field observations with experimental analogs and thermodynamic theory. Research is aimed at elucidating the nature and extent of equilibrium, determining the chemical evolution of magmas, characterizing reactions among minerals as conditions change, and estimating the pressure-temperature conditions of formation on the basis of chemical analyses of rocks and their constituent minerals.

STABLE ISOTOPE GEOCHEMISTRY focuses on the isotopic ratios of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon in water and calcium carbonate. Physical, chemical, and biological processes in the Earth System fractionate these light stable isotopes to various degrees, and thus the isotope ratios preserved in precipitation and various geologic archives (e.g., ice cores, marine and lacustrine carbonates) can be used to interpret climate and environmental variability on timescales ranging from individual storm events to glacial/interglacial cycles.

STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY AND TECTONICS involve studies of Earth deformation at all scales, from tectonic plates to individual mineral grains. Recent work has focused on the structural and tectonic evolution of volcanic arcs in western North America, the Main Central Thrust zone in the Nepal Himalaya, and relationships between deformation, metamorphism and igneous intrusion in Australia and the New England Appalachians.

QUATERNARY GEOLOGY AND GLACIOLOGY emphasizes field problems that commonly integrate glacial geology, glaciology, and paleo-oceanography. Recent work has been directed toward elucidating the glacial history of Maine, the dynamics of ice streams and ice shelves, the dynamics and history of marine ice sheets, Holocene variations of alpine glaciers, and the Quaternary history of Antarctica and of the Norwegian and Greenland Seas. Affiliations exist with CReSIS universities, including Penn State, Ohio State, U. of Kansas, Elizabeth City State Univ. in NC, and Haskell Indian Nations Univ. in KS.

Cooperative relationships exist with the Maine Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Geology of the University of Bergen (Norway), the Swedish Lappland field station at Tarfala, as well as the University’s Climate Change Institute, the School of Marine Sciences and other disciplinary units. These relationships provide numerous opportunities for field work, training, and financial and logistical support. Nearly all graduate students are provided support in the form of research or teaching assistantships.

Graduate Faculty

Daniel F. Belknap, Ph.D. (Delaware, 1979), Professor. Sedimentology, marine geology, stratigraphy.

Joseph V. Chernosky, Jr., Ph.D. (M.I.T., 1973), Professor. Geochemistry, experimental petrology.

George H. Denton, Ph.D. (Yale, 1965), Professor. Quaternary and glacial geology.

Christopher C. Gerbi, Ph.D. (Maine, 2004), Assistant Professor. Mineralogy, rheology, geochronology and tectonics.

Edward S. Grew, Ph.D. (Harvard, 1973), Research Professor. Metamorphic petrology.

Brenda L. Hall, Ph.D. (UMaine, 1997), Associate Professor. Quaternary and Glacial Geology, millennial-scale climate change and ice sheet stability.

Gordon Hamilton, Ph.D. (Cambridge, 1992), Research Associate Professor. Polar glaciology, ice sheet mass balance, and the role of ice sheets in modulating global sea levels.

Terence J. Hughes, Ph.D. (Northwestern, 1968), Professor. Glaciology, materials science.

Scott E. Johnson, Ph.D. (James Cook, 1989), Professor. Structural geology, microstructural processes, Earth rheology, tectonics, coupling of deformation and metamorphism.

Joseph T. Kelley, Ph.D. (Lehigh, 1980), Professor. Marine geology, sedimentology (Maine Geological Survey).

Thomas B. Kellogg, Ph.D. (Columbia, 1973), Professor. Marine micropaleontology.

Peter O. Koons, Ph.D., (E.T.H., 1983), Professor. Mechanics of mountain building, interaction of surface processes and plate tectonics, metamorphism and deformation, the evolution of active continental margins and deformation in the mantle.

Karl J. Kreutz, Ph.D. (New Hampshire, 1998), Associate Professor. Stable isotope geochemistry, paleooceanography, ice core geochemistry.

Daniel R. Lux, Ph.D. (Ohio State, 1981), Professor. Isotope geochemistry, geochronometry.

Kirk A. Maasch, Ph.D. (Yale, 1989), Professor. Climate Modeling.

Paul A. Mayewski, Ph.D. (Ohio State, 1973), Professor. Glaciology and climatology.

Stephen A. Norton, Ph.D. (Harvard, 1967), Professor. Environmental geochemistry.

Andrew S. Reeve, Ph.D. (Syracuse, 1996), Associate Professor. Hydrogeology.

Martin Yates, Ph.D. (Indiana, 1987), Associate Scientist. Microprobe analysis, ore deposits.

Adjunct Graduate Faculty

Stephen M. Dickson, Ph.D. (Maine, 1999), Faculty Associate. Oceanography (Maine Geological Survey).

Roger L. Hooke, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology, 1965), Adjunct Professor. Glacial geology, geomorphology.

Robert G. Marvinney, Ph.D. (Syracuse, 1985), Faculty Associate. Regional geology of Maine, (Maine Geological Survey).

Woodrow B. Thompson, Ph.D. (Ohio State, 1975), Faculty Associate. Quaternary and glacial geology (Maine Geological Survey).

Thomas K. Weddle, Ph.D. (Boston University, 1991), Faculty Associate. Glacial geology (Maine Geological Survey).

Elizabeth A. Wilson, Ph.D. (University of Delaware, 1978), Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences.

Faculty Emeritus

Harold W. Borns, Ph.D. (Boston University, 1959), Professor Emeritus. Quaternary and glacial geology.

Edward R. Decker, Ph.D. (Harvard, 1966), Professor Emeritus. Gravity and heat flow geophysics, numerical and mathematical geology, computer modeling.

Bradford Hall, Ph.D. (Yale, 1964), Professor Emeritus. Stratigraphy, sedimentology.

Philip H. Osberg, Ph.D. (Harvard, 1952), Professor Emeritus. Structural geology, tectonics, regional geology.

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