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Geology Majors' Handbook

Precambrian Basement:

Geology Department goes green with the annual alumni newsletter; featuring highlights from students, faculty, staff, and alumni.  Read all the department's highlights on this link: Precambrian Basement 2017-18 or prior years PCB publications.


Dr. John Taylor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania will present  "Biogeographic and Paleogeographic Utility of Cambrian–Ordovician Faunas” on Friday, September 29, at 12:15 in Tutt Science Lecture Hall.

Monday, October 9, “Successes and failures of 10Be cosmogenic dating for evaluating slip rates and earthquake history of the southern San Andreas Fault” and will be at 11:00 in Palmer 15.  Tuesday, October 10, “14.6 Ma aridification and development of the ancestral Taklimakan desert between the Pamir and Tian Shan orogens, western China, climatically or tectonically controlled?” This talk will be in Palmer 16 at 12:00. Both are presented by Dr. Richard Heermance, Department of Geological Sciences, California State University Northridge.

Dr. Cecilia McHugh, Queens College, CUNY, is presenting the 2017-18 Ocean Discovery Lecture Series “CAN CONTINENTAL MARGIN SEDIMENTS BE GLOBALLY CORRELATED DURING LARGE AMPLITUDE, GLACIO-EUSTATIC FLUCTUATIONS?”    Dr. McHugh is a marine geologist who uses sediments and acoustic images to understand continental margin sedimentation in response to global changes in sea level. Most recently, she has promoted the field of submarine paleoseismology to study earthquakes and tsunamis. She has participated in five Ocean Drilling Expeditions. Join the Geology Department in welcoming Dr. McHugh to Colorado College Monday,November 13, at 12:15 in Tutt Science Lecture Hall.

Dr. Francis Rengers, Geomorphologist at U.S. Geologic Survey, will present "Recent Progress in Debris-flow Research" on Friday, April 13, 2018, in Palmer Hall #16.

Dr. Karen Alley, University of Colorado Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research presented "Perspectives on ice shelf stability: Melting from above and from below" February 2, 2018, at 12:00 in Palmer Hall 16.

Dr. Jason Price, California Institute of Technology, presented "Cooling ages change a paradign: Normal fault movement on the Austroalpine 'overthrust', Central Alps, Switzerland" on Monday, April 30, 12:15 in Tutt Science Lecture Hall.

Roland LaForge '72, LaForge GeoConsulting, presented "Seismic Hazard Assessment: Colorado in Particular" on Friday, May 4, 12:15 in Palmer Hall 16.

Contact us:

General email: or

Precambrian Basement submissions:

Geology Department Chair Jeff Noblett:

Welcome back to CC Geology!

Professor Paul Myrow's interview on The John Batchelor Show to discuss a recent article “Rapid Sea Level Rise in the Aftermath of a Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth,” published in the journal Science in early May. He co-authored the article with Ryan Ewing ’98, who was a CC geology student and is now an associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Texas A&M. A third researcher on the paper is Michael Lamb, professor at California Institute of Technology. Part 2 of the interview.

The Geology Department at Colorado College offers introductory and advanced courses in earth sciences that may lead to a B.A.   in geology.

GY250 2017-18 Blk 8GY250/AN208 Past Climates & Human History in the Southwest

Mission Statement

The Geology Department is a place of active inquiry and intellectual exploration for faculty and students who are engaged in academic courses and original research in Earth Sciences. We use Colorado College's flexible Block Plan schedule to teach distinctive courses that extensively utilize the natural laboratory of the Rocky Mountain West and learning in the field to engage students in observing natural systems, understanding geologic time and geospatial concepts, studying the processes that make Earth a complex and dynamic system, and solving geological problems.

Curricular Goals

The Geology Department serves geology majors and CC students who opt to include geoscience perspectives in their liberal arts education through implementation of the following goals:

Goal One: Establish a strong foundational knowledge in fundamental principles of geology, in order to impart understanding of geologic time scales and spatial concepts and bring insight about the Earth as a complex and dynamic system.

Goal Two: Offer scientific experiences that train students in observing natural systems and apply such observations towards building an understand of the Earth.

Goal Three: Bring geoscience perspectives to bear on students' lives.

Goal Four: Prepare geology majors to function as earth scientists.

Goal Five: Contribute to the aims of a liberal arts education.

Department Philosophy

The courses in the major are designed to provide a foundation for a professional career in the earth sciences, provide the background for graduate school, which has increasingly become a necessary prerequisite to a professional career, provide an opportunity for students majoring in other fields to combine their expertise with geology, and educate students about the physical environment and our place in it, as part of a liberal arts education.

An excerpt from the nomination statement of Marcia K. McNutt (’74 graduate, Physics), presented to U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 10/8/09, during the process of her selection as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

“My favorite college course was Introduction to Geology, taught by Professor John Lewis. Colorado College uses the Block Plan, in which students take only one course at a time for a month. Introduction to Geology is two blocks long. So my first two months at college were spent with Doc Lewis and about 19 other students scrambling around the Front Range with our backpacks and sleeping bags trying to piece together the geologic history of the Southern Rockies from first principles. We never cracked a book the entire time. I was drawn to the grandeur of the Earth sciences and awed by the time and space scales upon which Earth processes played out. No lab coat. No test tube. Science outside!”

The Block Plan

The Colorado College Block Plan allows us to offer a unique program in geology. Because students take just one course at a time, with class size limited to 25 students, the program is intensive and individualized.

The flexibility of the Block Plan also allows faculty and students to pursue independent study and research projects, during the academic year as well as during summer and winter breaks. Much of this work takes place away from the campus. Many of our students do field-oriented research as part of a required senior seminar project or as part of a distinction thesis.

Students with strong interests in both geology and environmental issues may major in Geology and take elective courses in other environmental sciences and environmental issues. Alternatively, such students may major in Environmental Science complemented with coursework in Geology.