Engaging Geology


YouTube VideoYouTube VideoPlay YouTube VideoSee how Lawrence geology students are engaging inside and outside the classroom in this short video.

If geology makes you think of dusty collections of rocks, minerals and old bones, visit the Lawrence geology department. You will discover a thriving group of faculty members and students who consider geology to be a way of seeing the Earth, a lens through which the planet’s past and present come simultaneously into focus.

Lawrence geology students have an exceptional range of research experiences, comparable to what students from larger universities would first encounter at graduate school.

In a single academic term, you could find yourself doing the following:

  • Sampling ice-age lake sediments with the department’s portable drill rig
  • Mapping the roots of an ancient mountain belt in Michigan’s upper peninsula
  • Instrumenting a watershed in eastern Wisconsin
  • Examining microscopic rock structures with image-analysis software
  • Conducting geochemical and crystallographic studies with research equipment shared with the chemistry and physics departments.

All geology majors complete a research project as part of their Senior Experience, and many present results of their research at professional meetings.

Field-based studies are at the heart of the Lawrence geology program. Recent destinations for the annual all-department field trip have included Hawaii, the Adirondacks, Wyoming, Ontario, Scotland and Puerto Rico. Shorter trips are integrated into academic-year courses, and there also are opportunities for summer field courses, internships and research projects. Appleton is within a few hours’ drive of classical geological localities, including:

  • Iron ore deposits and ancient volcanoes in northern Wisconsin and Michigan
  • A fossil forest preserved in glacial sediments on the shores of Lake Michigan
  • The world-renowned glacial landscape of the Kettle Moraine

Local environmental issues related to surface and groundwater protection also provide the basis for student field projects.

In many ways, geology is the ideal liberal arts degree. It is a discipline that draws not only upon one’s observational and analytical abilities but also upon one’s aesthetic and creative instincts.

Marcia Bjornerud (Professor of Geology)

Emily Zawacki ’15

Geology Department Field Trip, circa 1938

Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube