Geology and Environmental Geology

Studying the complexities of Earth’s systems, materials and processes in order to understand the planet’s history, address contemporary issues, and predict and plan for future changes

Related Student Organizations and University Programs

Environmental Club

Environmental Residential College

Geological Society

Career Paths

Graduates of Bucknell’s geology program have entered the workplace in environmental consulting and exploration geology, as geoscientists with governmental agencies, as educators, as engineers, as consultants and more. Recent alumni have secured the following positions:

  • Engineer, ARM Group, Incorporated
  • Earth Science Teacher
  • Mineral Exploration Geologist, Newcrest Resources, Inc.
  • Staff Engineer, GeoSyntec Consultants
  • Staff Geoscientist, Jacques Whitford Environmental Consulting Company

Grants & Awards

Examples of recent grants and awards to the department/program or its faculty:

  • Chris Daniel, National Science Foundation, Acquisition of a New Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope with Integrated Energy-Dispersive X-ray Analysis System, $263,917.
  • Carl Kirby, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener program, Shamokin Creek Watershed Scarlift Site 21 AMD Treatment Design, Ranshaw, PA, $29,403.
  • Fred Day-Lewis and Mary Beth Gray, National Science Foundation - CCLI - Adaptation and Implementation Program: Integrating Applied Geophysics into a Student Centered Undergraduate Curriculum, $130,888.
  • Jeffrey Trop, American Chemical Society, Late Tertiary sedimentation and volcanism in the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains, Alaska: record of the transition from transform to subduction tectonics, $49,729.
  • Craig Kochel, North Carolina Stream Restoration Survey, 2004- 2007, $66,000 research grant.


Internships provide geology and environmental geology majors with hands-on experience and career networking opportunities. Recently, students have interned with:

  • Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • FTI Consulting
  • IRIS Seismology
  • Planetary Science Institute

Graduate and Professional School

Over the past 30 years, about 60 percent of Bucknell’s geology graduates have gone on to graduate or professional schools. Graduate schools that geology alumni have attended in recent years include:

  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Cornell University
  • Miami University of Ohio
  • Penn State University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Tufts University
  • Georgia Tech
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Idaho
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Selected Faculty Publications

Kochel, R.C., and Trop, J.M., 2008, Earth analog for high-latitude landforms and recent flows on Mars: Icy debris fans in the Wrangell volcanic field, Alaska: Icarus, v. 196, p. 63-77.

Daniel, C.G., and Pyle J.M., 2006, Monazite-xenotime thermo-chronometry and Al2SiO5 reaction textures in the Picuris Range, northern New Mexico: new evidence for a 1450-1400 Ma orogenic event: Journal of Petrology, 47(1), p.97- 118 doi:10.1093 / petrology / egi069.

Trop, J.M., 2008, Latest Cretaceous forearc basin development along an accretionary convergent margin: southcentral Alaska: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 120, no. 1/2.

Jacob, R.W., and Hermance, J.F., 2005, Random and non-random uncertainties in precision GPR measurements: Identifying and compensating for instrument drift: Subsurface Sensing Technologies and Applications Journal, v. 6, no. 1, p. 59-71.

Kirby, C.S., McInerney, B., Turner, M.D., 2008, Groundtruthing and Potential for Predicting Acid Deposition Impacts in Headwater Streams Using Bedrock Geology, GIS, Angling, and Stream Chemistry: Science of the Total Environment, v. 393, p. 249-261.

Herman, E.K., Toran, L., and White, W.B., 2008, Threshold events in spring discharge: evidence from sediment and continuous water level measurement: Journal of Hydrology, v. 351, no. 1-2, p. 98-106.

Gray, M.B., Stamatakos, J.A., Ferrill, D.A., Evans, M.A., 2005, Fault zone deformation in welded tuffs of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, U.S.A: Journal of Structural Geology. v. 27, p. 1873-1891.

Quick Facts

Number of full-time faculty: 7

Average number of majors per class year: 6

Program Details

  • Geology students at Bucknell may complete either a B.A. or B.S. degree; each degree offers concentrations in either geology or environmental geology. The B.A. degree offers greater flexibility in course selection while the B.S. degree requires a greater number of science and mathematics courses.
  • Three minors are offered — geology, engineering geology and environmental geology.
  • Upper-level courses allow students to explore several major sub-disciplines including courses in Environmental Geochemistry, Geomorphology, Sedimentology, Mineralogy, Geophysics, Geohydrology and Structural Geology.
  • Geology students and faculty interact frequently with students and faculty from other campus programs, including biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and environmental studies.
  • Bucknell’s ability to provide students with a strong traditional foundation in geology and a background in groundwater, surface processes, shallow geophysics and environmental geochemistry makes its geology program one of the strongest undergraduate programs in the country.
  • New interdisciplinary courses center on watersheds, including Watershed Systems Science, Stream Restoration and Semester on the Susquehanna. Courses are crosslisted with geology, biology and environmental studies.


Bucknell’s geology faculty members are dedicated and skilled teachers who also publish regularly in scholarly journals and enjoy guiding students through research projects. Faculty members, rather than student assistants, teach all classes and laboratory sections.

Christopher Daniel
B.S. Southwest Missouri State; M.S. New Mexico; Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Teaching: mineralogy, igneous and metamorphic petrology, physical and historical geology. Research: Formation and tectonic evolution of continents and mountain belts, interactions between metamorphic and deformational processes.

Mary Beth Gray
B.A., B.S. Bucknell; M.A. Bryn Mawr; Ph.D. Rochester
Teaching: structural geology, tectonics, engineering geology, environmental geology, geophysics. Research: fold and thrust belts, progressive deformation, extensional deformation, fault zones.

Ellen K. Herman
B.S. College of William & Mary; M.S., Ph.D. Penn State
Teaching: hydrogeology, environmental geology and physical geology. Research: karst hydrology, hydrogeology, sediment transport and mathematical modeling.

Robert Jacob
B.S. Bucknell; M.S., Ph.D. Brown
Teaching: introductory geology, environmental and engineering geophysics, hydrogeology, hydrology, environmental GIS. Research: noninvasive monitoring of subsurface hydrology in unsaturated zone and comparison to hydro-dynamic models of unsaturated zone flow, applying geophysical methods to differentiate between debris fans and pediments along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, applying signal processing techniques to remotely sensed data to explore vegetation phenology using GIS software, seismic refraction for bedrock delineation and development of paleo-flow characteristics, evaluating current technologies used to locate buried infrastructure and using geophysical methods to investigate environmental sites and direct invasive activities.

Carl Kirby
B.A. North Carolina at Chapel Hill; B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Teaching: introductory and environmental geology, introductory geochemistry. Research: basic and applied aqueous and environmental geochemistry, acid mine drainage and treatment, acid precipitation.

Craig Kochel
B.A. Franklin & Marshall; M.S. Southern Illinois at Carbondale; Ph.D. Texas at Austin
Teaching: geomorphology, environmental geology, geologic hazards, hydrogeology, planetary geology. Research: fluvial geomorphology, floods, paleohydrology, hillslopes, periglacial processes, environmental geology, coastal geomorphology, planetary geomorphology, stream restoration, impact of land use in stream channels.

Jeffrey Trop
B.S. Rochester; M.S., Ph.D. Purdue.
Teaching: sedimentology, paleontology, historical geology, past and present global change, mass extinctions and the current biodiversity crisis. Research: Application of field, sedimentologic, geochronologic, paleontologic, petrologic, geochemical and paleomagnetic data to the evolution of sedimentary basins and the tectonic development of the North American Cordillera; paleo-environments, provenance and stratigraphy of sedimentary strata in Alaska, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Undergraduate Research

A senior thesis program (required for B.S. students) guides students through a supervised, independent research experience. Many students find this requirement, which is financially supported by alumni donations, the most challenging and rewarding experience in their college career.
Many students also take advantage of internally funded (McKenna Foundation, Bucknell Program for Undergraduate Research) and externally funded (private industry, National Science Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) grants to support independent research. These students often present their research results at regional meetings of the Geological Society of America.
Recent projects and fieldwork include:

  • Provenance signature of a forecarc basin using detrital zircon geochronology and detrital modes, Paleogene Arkose Ridge formation, southern Alaska
  • Characterizing the role of biotic and abiotic systems on the net rates of removal of manganese in passive acid mine drainage treatment sites
  • A study of the effectiveness of an acid precipitation treatment system and its ecological effects on Buffalo Creek, Union County, Pennsylvania
  • Characterization of vascular cavity coatings and microscopic tube-shaped structures from Upper Cretaceous dinosaur bones - evidence for bacterial origin for dinosaur "blood vessels"
  • Geophysical analysis of seasonal Montandon gravel ridge water table fluctuation and moisture gradient variation due to storm events
  • Sedimentological and geochemical analysis of the Keyser and Old Port Formations, central PA:  Improved contraints on late Siluran-early Devonian paleoenvironmental conditions
  • Geochemical modeling and analysis of the frac water used in the hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Formation, Pennsylvania
  • Catastrophic paleofloods on the lower Susquehanna River: an analysis of slackwater deposits in Holtwood Gorge, Pennsylvania
  • Sedimentological analysis of overwash fan deposits on Cape Hattaras Island National Seashore, North Carolina
  • Evidence of Four Generations of Monazite Growth in Proterozoic Migmatites of the Santa Fe Range, North-Central New Mexico
  • Evidence of Radiation Damage and Chemical Alteration in Microlite from the Hardening Pegmatite, Taos County, New Mexico

GEOL 110, a summer travel course, begins in 2009. The course is intended for non-science majors focusing on active tectonics and geohazards; arctic processes, environments and global change; and conserving environmental frontiers.

Extended travel courses include a week-long Spring Break trip to study exceptional geological features. Recent destinations included Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Northern New York, Virginia and North Carolina.

Facilities & Resources

  • Bucknell is located in a magnificent site for studying geology. The nearby Appalachian Mountains, rich local farmland, forests, headwater streams, wetlands, anthracite coal regions, quarries and the Susquehanna River provide diverse locations for field study.
  • Course-related field sites include Virginia barrier islands, Montandon Wetlands, New York Adirondacks, New Jersey Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Geology students work closely with and help support Bucknell University Environmental Center (BUEC). They have access to a fleet of kayaks and river-related equipment.
  • The department is home to a 10 ft. by 50 ft. research-grade sediment/recirculating flume with tilt capability and rainfall simulation.
  • Other special laboratories include environmental scanning electron microscopy with EDS for chemical analyses and X-ray mapping and Powder X-ray diffraction lab, .
  • A bedrock well field for hydrogeology and geophysics studies was developed on campus in 2001.
  • Geophysical equipment includes a microgravimeter, ground penetrating radar, resistivity meter, 12-channel seismograph, seisgun, magnetometer and borehole tools.
  • Other field equipment includes a robotic laser total survey station, RTK global positioning system, paleomagnetic rock drill, and an array of hydrologic and geochemical water sampling and analysis equipment. Other resources include rock preparation equipment, surficial processes lab, aqueous geochemistry lab, Geospatial/Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory, hydrogeology lab, structural analysis lab, petrology lab, vibracore rig and basin analysis lab.
  • New or recently upgraded resources include:
    • Computer-driven laser mapping system for the Flume Lab
    • Trimble R8 GNSS GPS mapping system
    • Trimble robotic total survey station
    • SonTek/YSI Acoustic Doppler River Surveyor
    • Beckman-Coulter Laser Diffraction Particle Size Analyzer
    • Wilfley Model 13B Mineral Concentrating Table
    • Pulse EKKO PRO Ground Penetrating Radar System (GPR)
    • GEONICS Ltd. EM31 Electromagnetic Ground Conductivity Mapper
    • Seistronic RAS-24 24-channel Remote Acquistion Seismic System
    • G-858 Magnetic Gradiometer
    • Teledyne-Isco Portable water samplers
    • Iridium 9505a satellite phones
  • ICP and HPLC instruments for major element analyses are available in the University’s Environmental Science Lab.
  • Geology shares a field drilling rig with Bucknell’s civil and environmental engineering department. The department also owns a 4WD vehicle for fieldwork.

Courses Offered

All students take six core courses in common, then select from required courses and electives, depending on the concentration chosen. Many classes complete field exercises that give hands-on experience.

Applied Environmental Geomorphology
Engineering Geology
Energy and Natural Resources
Environmental Geochemistry
Environmental Geohazards
Environmental GIS
Evolution of the Earth
Geology Capstone
Global Change – Past and Present
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Physical/Environmental Geology
Physical Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
Senior Program I and II
Special Topics in Geology
Stream Restoration
Structural Geology
Undergraduate Research
Watershed Systems Science
When Rocks Attack

Study Abroad

Many geology students take advantage of study-abroad opportunities in such places as England, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.