Apr 24, 2024  
2011-2012 Catalog 
2011-2012 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Sciences and Technology


The natural setting of Western Washington University adjacent to the Cascade Mountains and Salish Sea provides an ideal situation for study of a wide variety of geologic problems.


At the present time the department consists of 13 faculty members who have a broad range of backgrounds covering the entire field of geology. There are about 150 undergraduate students declaring geology majors and approximately 30 graduate students in the department.

BERNARD A. HOUSEN (1997) Chair and Professor. BS, University of Washington; MS, PhD, University of Michigan.
RANDALL S. BABCOCK (1967) Professor. AB, Dartmouth College; MS, PhD, University of Washington.
JACQUELINE CAPLAN-AUERBACH (2006) Associate Professor. BA, Yale University; PhD, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
DOUGLAS H. CLARK (1998) Associate Professor. BS, MS, Stanford University; PhD, University of Washington.
SUSAN M. DEBARI (1998) Professor. BA, Cornell University; PhD, Stanford University.
DAVID C. ENGEBRETSON (1983) Professor. BA, Western Washington University; MS, PhD, Stanford University.
THOR A. HANSEN (1985) Professor. BS, George Washington University; PhD, Yale University.
DAVID M. HIRSCH (2001) Associate Professor. BS, University of California-Los Angeles; PhD, University of Texas-Austin.
SCOTT R. LINNEMAN (2000) Professor. BA, Carleton College; PhD, University of Wyoming.
ROBERT J. MITCHELL (1996) Associate Professor. BS, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; MS, Michigan Technological University; PhD, Michigan Technological University.
ELIZABETH R. SCHERMER (1990) Professor. BS, Stanford University; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
PETE STELLING (2011) Assistant Professor. BA, Western State College, Colorado; PhD, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
CHRISTOPHER A. SUCZEK (1977) Professor. AB, University of California-Berkeley; PhD, Stanford University.

Research Associates

CLARK M. BLAKE (1993) AB, University of California-Berkeley; PhD, Stanford University.
RUSSELL F. BURMESTER (1978). BS, Stanford University; MA, University of Texas-Austin; PhD, Princeton University.
CHARLES A. ROSS (1992) BA, University of Colorado; MS, PhD, Yale University.

Adjunct Faculty

DAVID TUCKER (2006) BS, MS, Western Washington University.
PETER WILLING (1997) BA, University of Washington; MS, PhD, Cornell University.

Declaration of Major

Some 300-level geology courses give preference to majors during Phase I of registration, so it is important to declare a major as early as possible.

Students can be admitted to the BA or BS major once they have completed GEOL 211. (NOTE: Grades of D-, D, or D+ are not acceptable for major and supporting courses.) Students must apply to the department and complete an advising appointment for admission to the major.

Geologist License Education Requirements

A professional license is required by law to practice geology in Washington State. The first step toward licensure is passing the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) Fundamentals of Geology exam. To qualify to take ASBOG’s Fundamentals of Geology exam you must satisfy certain educational requirements. If you obtain a B.S. degree in geology from WWU your educational requirements are met. If you choose a B.A. in geology or a B.S. in geophysics degree you must have a minimum of 36 credits in specific content areas, so please see your departmental advisor for planning if you take one of these degrees and wish to pursue a professional license.

Departmental Honors and Distinctions

BA or BS students and students in the University Honors program who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher meet the requirements for departmental honors. Those students who have completed at least 4 credits of GEOL 490 and have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.20 meet the requirements for departmental distinction.

Other Departmental Information

Facilities and Equipment

Geology is a science that studies the earth, including its surfaces, interior and history and the processes that have altered it through time. It embraces investigation of the natural environment both in the field and in the laboratory. The Geology Department occupies laboratories, classrooms and offices constructed in 1976 in the Environmental Studies Center. Geology laboratory facilities and equipment are available for X-ray diffraction, atomic absorption, sedimentation, air photo interpretation, flume and wave tank studies, paleomagnetic analysis, near-surface geophysics, seismology, geochemistry, and petrography. Additional equipment and facilities are available through the Geology Department’s affiliation with the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC).


Objectives of the department are varied, including preparation of undergraduate and graduate students for careers as professional geoscientists and also preparation of earth science teachers at the primary and secondary levels.

A wide variety of geologic phenomena in the adjacent Cascade Range and the marine environment of Salish Sea provide a broad spectrum of geologic features for study.

The department offers BA, BAE, BS and MS degrees plus specialized courses in the following subjects: economic geology; environmental geology; geochemistry; geomorphology; geophysics; glacial geology; hydrology; paleomagnetism; paleontology; petrology; sedimentation; stratigraphy; and structure and tectonics.

Student Involvement in Research

The faculty in the Geology Department are active in a wide variety of ongoing research projects that frequently involve undergraduate and graduate students in special projects and thesis projects or provide employment. Some of this research is funded or partially supported from grants to individual faculty members from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Parks Commission, Office of Ecology and geological-related companies. Many of these projects are in the Western Washington region, others include investigations in other parts of the United States, Canada,   overseas, or at sea as part of larger oceanographic projects.

Writing Proficiency Course Guidelines

The geology department has a multi-tiered system for upper division writing proficiency courses. Courses are assigned writing proficiency points based on the percentage of the course grade that is determined by writing assignments. A minimum of three writing proficiency points in approved upper-division writing proficiency courses at WWU with a minimum grade of C- is required.

Undergraduate Degrees and Programs

Earth Science — Elementary, BAE 

Earth Science — Secondary, BAE 

Earth Science/General Science — Secondary, BAE 

Geology Minor 

Geology, BA 

Geology - Geology Concentration, BS 

Geology — Geology Concentration: Thesis Option, BS 

Geology — Environmental Geology Concentration, BS 

Geology — Environmental Geology Concentration: Thesis Option, BS 

Geology — Geophysics Concentration, BS 

Geology — Geophysics Concentration: Thesis Option, BS 

Geophysics, BS 

Graduate Degrees and Programs

Geology, Thesis, MS 

Geology Courses


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Sciences and Technology