The Department of Geological Sciences is located in the Eyring Science Center. Extensive renovation included construction of state-of-the-art classrooms with multimedia capabilities, office space for faculty and graduate assistants, and modern laboratories. The facilities house extensive instrumentation; computer facilities; and mineral, rock, and fossil collections.
The location of the university campus on the Wasatch Front near the juncture of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin provides an incomparable natural laboratory for geology studies. The Department of Geological Sciences utilizes this natural setting, and the many geologic problems that remain in it to be studied, as one of our main assets.
The department is well-equipped for graduate research in geology. A partial list of research equipment available includes: a wavelength dispersive electron microprobe (Cameca SX-50), a stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, atomic absorption spectrophotometers, a gradient elution ion chromatograph, an automated single crystal X-ray diffractometer, powder X-ray diffractometers, a visible/UV spectrophotometer, a cathodoluminescence microscope, a fluid inclusion heating and freezing stage, a core plug porosimeter/permeameter, liquid scintillaton counters, 3D subsurface mapping software, high resolution GPS, Worden gravimeters, proton precession magnetometers, a ground-penetrating radar system, a twenty-four-channel seismic system and portable energy source, variable offset electrical resistivity equipment, and a Mössbauer spectrometer.
Additional research facilities include:
Museum of Paleontology
The Museum of Paleontology includes exhibits, preparation laboratories, and fossil collections. Exhibits ranging from minerals to invertebrate and vertebrate fossils are open to the public and are an integral part of many courses. Collections are primarily from the intermountain region and include extensive assemblages of Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, Cenozoic vertebrates, and the Tidwell paleobotany collection, all of which provide research opportunities for faculty and students. Field equipment and preparation laboratories support ongoing research projects.
Fission Track Dating Laboratory
The Fission Track Dating Laboratory provides student and faculty researchers with the geochronological potential to solve problems in stratigraphy and structural geology, to determine rates of uplift and subsequently to aid in thermal modeling, and to provide support for numerous other faculty and student research projects where dating of events is necessary.
Supporting research work in exploration, environmental, and engineering geophysics, the Geophysics Laboratory houses seismic, ground-penetrating radar; electrical resistivity; and gravity, magnetic, and electromagnetic instrumentation, as well as computer support systems.
The Hydrogeochemistry Laboratory supports research programs in hydrology, environmental geology, economic geology, and petrology. In addition, the lab is used in teaching modern analytical techniques in upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses. Groundwater composition, migration, and pollution have been major emphases of research.
Chiefly supporting faculty, graduate, and undergraduate research, the Isotope Laboratory provides for analysis of stable isotopes of H, C, N, and O, as well as 14C and 3H. Analysis of H and O isotopes in water is fully automated. Hydrology, paleohydrology, paleoclimatology, and economic geology are currently major areas of research and teaching supported by this laboratory.
Mineral Surface Chemistry Laboratory
The Mineral Surface Chemistry Laboratory supports research on low-temperature chemical reactions that occur at the interface between mineral surfaces and aqueous solutions. The lab includes an atomic force microscope, a surface-area analyzer, and wet chemical facilities. Computer equipment and software are also available for molecular modeling.
The Sedimentology/Stratigraphy Laboratories support studies in stratigraphy, clastic and carbonate rocks, and micropaleontology. Analytical equipment to map and characterize both surface and subsurface reservoir-quality rocks, to resolve complex stratigraphic problems, and to understand diagenesis in sedimentary rocks is available to graduate and undergraduate students and faculty. Studies conducted in the labs have emphasized fluid flow and migration of both hydrocarbons and water, as well as detailed sequence stratigraphic modeling.
Faculty research interests currently include the following: the geodynamic evolution of the Banda arc-continent collision (structural features, uplifted synorogenic deposits and coral terraces, the GPS velocity field, and climate feedbacks); investigations of subsurface geology using seismic, gravity, and magnetic methods; composition of thermal waters; paleohydrology, paleoclimatology, and hydrogeology of arid and semiarid regions; petrogenesis of alkaline, mafic magmas; mineral surface structure and chemistry; crystallography and crystal chemistry of silicate minerals; studies of Cenozoic magmatism and tectonism in the western United States; correlation of volcanic ash beds in western North America; origins of gold, platinum, copper, and molybdenum deposits; tungsten skarns; reservoir characterization and sequence stratigraphy; and Carboniferous-Permian conodont biostratigraphy: Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs, Morrison and Cedar Mountain formations, dinosaur taphonomy, and K-T boundary.