Graduate Curriculum

The Department of Geosciences offers a Masters of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Completion of a graduate degree is excellent preparation for a career in governmental agencies, private industry, teaching, or research. The strong placement record and extensive alumni network attest to the high quality of our graduate program.

Each graduate student follows a custom-tailored program of coursework and research developed with their advisor and graduate committee. Strengths of the department include diverse field-driven scientific specializations; an interdisciplinary approach to addressing earth resource education and professional preparation; global research interests; cutting edge analytical, field, and computational facilities; and close student/faculty working relationships.

Graduate Course Offerings

GEOL 530 Advanced Petrology – (3 credits)
Igneous and metamorphic processes and products explored through thermodynamics, phase equilibria, and textural analysis. Prerequisite: GEOL 364. Must register for lecture and lab

GEOL 535 Microtectonics – (3 credits)
Focuses on microstructural features, processes, mechanisms, and measurements. Structurally interesting rocks especially on the microscale, development of structural fabrics and reactivation, analysis of fault rocks and kinematic indicators especially in fault and shear zones, stress measurement through microstructural indicators, shock deformation/metamorphism in impact structures, chemical changes with deformation, deformation mechanisms, and isotopic investigation of deformation. Prerequisits: GEOL 332 and GEOL 372

GEOL 540 Petrophysics and Well Logging – (3 credits)
Petrophysics and well log interpretation as it relates to hydrocarbon exploration and production. Wireline logs, calculating rock and fluid properties from log measurements, and recognizing zones of potential hydrocarbons. Prerequisite: GEOL 344; PH 142.

GEOL 541 Geostatistics – (2 credits)
Geostatistics for earth science applications. Aquifer and reservoir heterogeneity, spatial data analysis, variogram modeling, spatial estimation, kriging, and geostatistical simulation. Prerequisites: GEOL 150 and (MATH 161 or MATH 255) and (STAT 301 or STAT 315)

GEOL 543 Carbonate Sedimentology – (2 credits)
Recognition of carbonate grains, cement types, and carbonate depositional environments, and their response to sea-level changes. Prerequisite: GEOL 344.

GEOL 545 Shale Sedimentology – (2 credits)
Recognize and interpret mud and mudstone facies and their depositional environments, as well as reconstructing their diagenetic history. Observe stacking patterns and reconstruct sea-level fluctuations from mudstone/shale successions and their impact on the 3D distribution of mudstones/shales. Prerequisite: GEOL 344.

GEOL 546 Sedimentary Basin Analysis – (4 credits)
Sedimentologic data base, correlation, mapping, facies models, classification, and evolution of sedimentary basins. Applications to petroleum exploration. Prerequisite: GEOL 343. Must register for lecture and lab.

GEOL 547 Ore Deposit Geochemistry – (3 credits)
Geochemical techniques applied to the geology, exploration, and environmental analysis of ore deposits. Prerequisite: GEOL 447.

GEOL 548 Petroleum Geology – (4 credits)
Comprehensive treatment of the petroleum system with focus on hydrocarbon exploration and production data and methods. Prerequisites: GEOL 344 and GEOL 372.

GEOL 551 Groundwater Modeling – (3 credits)
Groundwater modeling from a geologic perspective. Conceptual models and computer modeling of groundwater flow and solute transport. Prerequisite: GEOL 452 or CIVE 423.

GEOL 552 Advanced topics in Hydrogeology – (2-3 credits)
Current literature, new techniques, legislative and political developments in hydrogeology, and appropriate case histories. Prerequisite: GEOL 452.

GEOL 553 Tracer Hydrogeology – (3 credits)
Use of environmental and applied tracers in hydrogeology to understand groundwater flow and transport properties. Environmental tracers are used to determine groundwater age and recharge rates, ground/water surface water interactions and to estimate the average temperature when the groundwater was recharged. Applied tracers are used to determine flow and transport processes in porous media to understand controls on solute transport, especially related to contaminant movement. Prerequisite: CIVE 423 or GEOL 452.

GEOL 554 Remote Sensing of the Earth System – (3 credits)
Introduction to the physics and specific applications of common passive and active remote sensing techniques to study the Earth system. Gain an understanding of how to access, process, analyze and interpret remote sensing observations to answer specific research questions focused on the Earth system. Senior geology majors or graduate students. Must register for lecture and laboratory. Credit not allowed for both GEOL 554 and GEOL 580B2.

Prerequisite: (GEOL 110 or GEOL 120 or GEOL 122 or GEOL 124 or GEOL 150) and (PH 122 or PH 142)

GEOL 570 Plate Tectonics – (3 credits)
Examination of the historical development of plate tectonic theory and its application to understanding geological processes. Prerequisite: GEOL 364; GEOL 372; PH 142.

GEOL 571 Tectonic Geomorphology – (3 credits)
Interactions between tectonic, climatic and earth surface processes that give rise to mountainous landscapes. Topics range from landscape response to single earthquake events to geochronological tools used to constrain rates of landscape change to orogen-scale interactions and feedbacks between tectonics and climate through lectures, in-class activities, data analysis, modeling, and reading assignments. Prerequisite: GEOL 372; GEOL 454 or concurrent registration; MATH 160.

GEOL 572 Advanced Structural Geology – (4 credits)
Rheology, deformation mechanisms, structural associations and advanced methods of structural analysis. Prerequisite: GEOL 436. Must register for lecture and lab

GEOL 574 Geodynamics – (3 credits)
Mechanics of deformation of the crust and the mantle, and heatflow and gravity as they pertain to deep Earth problems. Prerequisite: GEOL 250; MATH 261; PH 141.

GEOL 575 Subsurface Geophysical Mapping – (4 credits)
Advanced techniques for creating subsurface geological maps based on seismic reflection and well log data. Prerequisite: GEOL 344; GEOL 372; MATH 161; PH 142. Must register for lecture and lab.

GEOL 576 Exploration Seismology – (3 credits)
Seismic exploration methods, including theory, data acquisition, and data processing. Prerequisite: GEOL 344; GEOL 372; MATH 161; PH 142.

GEOL 578 Global Seismology – (4 credits)
Quantitative introduction to seismology; basics of seismic data analysis; fundamentals of wave propagation; earthquakes; structure of the Earth. Prerequisite: MATH 261; PH 142.

GEOL 579 Solid Earth Inverse Methods and Practices – (3 credits)
Inverse and parameter estimation theory and applications in the earth sciences in the context of Frequentist and Bayesian approaches to estimating and interpreting data-driven models. Review of linear algebra, statistical, and other mathematical underpinnings, and of basic MATLAB programming. Linear and nonlinear inverse problems. Nonuniqueness, ill-posedness, rank-deficiency. Regularization methods for geophysical problems. Prerequisite: MATH 161 or MATH 255; MATH 229; STAT 301 or STAT 315.

GEOL 580A9 Physics of Earth’s Interior (3 credits)
A survey of the structure of Earth’s interior, with emphasis on the processes that operate within Earth and how those deep Earth processes interact with geological processes that contribute to shaping our planet’s surface. Examination of the formation of early Earth and the evolution of the planet to its modern state. Prerequisite: GEOL 364; GEOL 372 or concurrent registration; MATH 161 or concurrent registration; PH 122 or concurrent registration or PH 142 or concurrent registration.

GEOL 580B1 Paleoclimatology (3 credits)
A survey of past climate and Earth system states, from the Archean to the Holocene. Special emphasis on extreme climates (pre-oxygenated atmosphere, Snowball Earth, and super greenhouse climates) and on time periods where there remains substantial model-data disagreement (early Eocene, Heinrich events). Role of paleoclimate in understanding future warming and evolution of the Earth system. Detailed look at paleoclimate proxies and their limitations. Local field trips will be offered. Prerequisite: CHEM 113 and GEOL 154 OR Consent of the Instructor

GEOL 581A7 Reservoir Characterization and Modeling – (4 credits)
Geological heterogeneity (stratigraphic, sedimentological and structural) impacts subsurface hydrocarbon distribution, flow and recovery. Evaluate subsurface reservoir heterogeneity in various depositional environments (e.g., fluvial, deep-water, etc.) and structural settings using geological, geophysical, and engineering subsurface data for interpretation and modeling methodologies. Prerequisite: GEOL 344; GEOL 372. Must register for lecture and lab.

GEOL 581A8 Geophysical Data Analysis – (3 credits)
Linear analysis of geophysical time series and spatial data in solid earth sciences. Review and development of linear systems theory, sampling, spectral analysis, filtering, instrument response and partial deconvolution, random processes and statistical aspects of geophysical data processing. Prerequisite: MATH 161 or MATH 255; MATH 229; STAT 301 or STAT 315.

GEOL 581A9 Brittle Structural Analysis – (2 credits)
Focuses on geometric, kinematic, and dynamic analysis of brittle structures. Topics covered include fracture mechanics, fault kinematics, analysis of fault slip data, brittle fault rocks, and spatial and geometric relationships in extension fracture sets. Emphasis on learning to collect and analyze data in the field and via software programs. Prerequisite: GEOL 372. Must register for lecture and laboratory.

GEOL 601 Professional Development for Geoscientists – (1 credit)
Core concepts of scientific approaches, local geology of Colorado, and preparation of geoscience thesis proposals. Prerequisite: none.

GEOL 652 Fluvial Geomorphology – (3 credits)
Geomorphology of channels, slopes, and drainage systems. Prerequisite: GEOL 120.

GEOL 662 Field Geomorphology – (3 credits)
Field-based geomorphologic analysis of landscape forms and processes. Apply appropriate field techniques to address relevant research hypotheses related to advanced subject matter in geomorphology. Analyze and interpret field-based data, orally present findings in a symposium setting, and discuss and critically evaluate relevant literature. Prerequisite: GEOL 454.