Middle Cambrian Wheeler Formation in the Drum Mountains, western Utah


The Program
The Locality
Graduate Courses in Sedimentology
Research Facilities
Current Students and Projects
Recent Graduates and Projects

The Program

The Department of Geology at Utah State University offers both Masters of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy Degrees in Geology with emphasis on Sedimentary Geology. The MS degree program consists of twenty hours of course work (see below) in Geology and allied departments (e.g. Watershed Sciences; Plants, Soils and Biometeorology) and ten hours of thesis work.  The PhD degree includes 30-40 hours of coursework and 20-30 hours of dissertation research (with prior MS degree).

The Locality

Northern Utah is a sedimentary geologist's paradise. In the immediate area of Logan the entire Paleozoic section is easily accessible and well exposed. This is predominantly a passive-margin marine section. Within a few hours drive of Logan, Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments also occur. The Mesozoic includes both marine and continental sediments deposited on an active margin while the Cenozoic includes a variety of continental sediments (lacustrine, fan, fluvial). Lacustrine deposits include the famous Eocene Green River and Pleistocene Lake Bonneville deposits.

Graduate Courses in Sedimentology

Basin Analysis (Janecke)

Quantitative Geology (Liddell)

Sedimentary Rocks II - Noncarbonates 

Fluvial Geomorphology 
(Allmendinger, Schmidt)

Paleoecology (Liddell)

Tectonics  (Janecke)

Hillslope and Landscape 
Geomorphology (Pederson)

Petroleum Geology (Evans)

Paleoclimatology (Rittenour)

Sedimentary Rocks I - Carbonates 


Research Facilities

The department houses numerous facilities for the analysis of sedimentary materials, including a rock preparation area with rock saws, crushers, thin section preparation equipment and sieves; microscope room with research-grade petrographic scopes, automatic point counter and luminoscope; X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) lab; and clean lab for preparation of samples for geochemical analyses.  Other departments on campus (Biology; Plant Science, Soils and Biometeorology) and nearby institutions (Brigham Young Univeristy; Idaho State University) provide access to stable isotope, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP) and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) labs.


Nicholas Allmendinger (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ph.D. 2004, University of Delaware).  Geomorphology, hydrology.   

Carol M. Dehler (Assistant Professor, Ph.D. 2001, University of New Mexico).  Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Sedimentary Geochemistry, and Precambrian Geology.  Topical research areas: sedimentology; cyclostratigraphy and chemostratigraphic analyses; Precambrian paleogeography; Rodinia; Snowball Earth hypothesis; geoscience education.  Current research:  Facies and stratigraphic analyses of the Neoproterozoic Chuar Group, Grand Canyon and Uinta Mountain Group, Utah; Neoproterozoic basin evolution of the southwestern U.S. (“CHUMP” hypothesis).    [Homepage]

Sussane U. Janecke (Professor, Ph.D. 1991, University of Utah) Tectonics.  My students and I perform integrated field-based studies of rift basins, develop a stratigraphic framework, document the basin architecture, perform basin analysis, and interpret the basin evolution in light of the local and regional structural geology.  Detailed geologic mapping and field studies form the core of my research program.  [Homepage]

Peter T. Kolesar (Professor Emeritus, Ph.D. 1973, University of California, Riverside) Carbonate Petrology and Sedimentary Geochemistry. Current topics include the origin of Late Tertiary/ Quaternary calcite veins and their use in paleoclimatology and groundwater hydrology of the southern Great Basin, geochemistry of ground and surface water, characterization and uses of zeolites.

W. David Liddell (Professor, Ph.D. 1980, University of Michigan) Paleoecology and Sedimentology. Research topics include: modern coral-reef ecology, with emphasis on environmental monitoring; the evolution of Paleozoic hard substrate communities; and sequence stratigraphy and facies architecture of Cambrian rocks in Utah and Nevada. [Homepage]

Robert Q. Oaks Jr. (Professor Emeritus, Ph.D. 1965, Yale University) Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Petroleum Geology. Sedimentary processes in modern and ancient settings, interpretation of depositional environments, provenance, and diagenetic history of sedimentary rocks, paleogeography and paleotectonics using stratigraphic studies, and exploration for petroleum resources. Basin studies and tectonics in central Australia, origin of paleovalleys at the base of the Wasatch Formation, northern Utah, and tectonics of Cache Valley during deposition of the Salt Lake Formation.

Joel L. Pederson (Associate Professor, Ph.D. 1999, University of New Mexico) Geomorphology, Sedimentology and Paleoclimatology.  Climate controls on landscape change and sedimentation; hillslope sedimentology; continental basin sedimentation; GIS landscape analysis; Cenozoic landscape evolution of the Colorado Plateau and Grand Canyon. [Homepage]

Tammy M. Rittenour (Assistant Professor, Ph.D. 2004, University of Nebraska) Geomorphology,  Luminecence Geochronology, Quaternary Geology, Paleoclimatology.

John C. (Jack) Schmidt (Adjunct Professor of Geology, Professor of Watershed Sciences, Ph.D. 1987, Johns Hopkins University) Geomorphology and Environmental Geology. Current research: geomorphic effects of large dams on downstream rivers (Glen Canyon Dam/Grand Canyon National Park, Flaming Gorge Dam/Green River, Hells Canyon Dam/Snake River), geomorphic basis of aquatic habitat, geomorphic basis of in-stream flow determination; temporal and spatial patterns of sediment storage in western river systems.

Graduate Students and Projects (Advisors)

Current Graduate Students

Bronson J. Barton. The Giant Armored Dinosaurs (Ornithischia: Ankylosauria) of the Cedar Mountain Formation. (Liddell)

Dawn S. Hayes. Geochemical Evidence for Possible Eutrophication in the Proterozoic Red Pine Shale. (Dehler)

Eva Lyon. The Interrelationship of Biostratigraphy and Sequence Stratigraphy in the Middle Cambrian Spence Shale in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. (Liddell)

Heidi Pearce.  Paleoecology and Sequence Stratigraphy of Bioherms in the Ordovician Garden City Formation of Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. (Liddell)

Recent Graduates

Scott J. Friedman. 2009.  Evolution of the Lower Cretaceous Chifeng Half-Graben Basins, Inner Mongolia, China. (Ritts)

Jonathan E. Harvery. 2009. Reconciling Holocene Alluvial Records in Buckskin Wash, Southern Utah. (Pederson)

Blair C. Larsen. 2009. Using Real-World Data as a Basis for Problem-Based Learning: Investigating Preservational Biases of Fish in Fossil Butte National Monument. (Evans)

John A. Peterson. 2009. Geochemical Provenance of Clastic Sedimentary Rocks in the West Cordillera: Utah, Wyoming, and Oregon. (Shervais)

Daniel J. Rybczynski. 2009. Correlation, Paleogeography, and Provenance of the Neoproterozoic Eastern Uinta Mountain Group, Goslin Mountain Area, Northeastern Utah. (Dehler)

Dustin J. Keele.  2008. The Marriage of Eolian Rock Properties and the Style of Structural Deformation of the Nugget Formation; Anschutz Ranch East Field: Northeast Utah and Southwest Wyoming. (Evans/Liddell)

Caroline A. Myer. 2008.   Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Organic Geochemistry of the Neoproterozoic Red Pine Shale, Uinta Mountains, Utah: A Prograding Deltaic System in a Mid-Neoproterozoic Interior Seaway. (Dehler)

Thaddeus  Nichols. 2008.  Decadal-Scale Change on Coral Reefs in Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Liddell)

Andrew M. Brehm. 2007.  Re-evaluation of the Jesse Ewing Canyon Formation: Implications for Neoproterozoic Paleogeography and Tectonic Setting of Northeastern Utah. (Dehler)

Douglas D. Smith. 2007.  Sequence Stratigraphy of the Middle Cambrian Marjum Formation: Response of Sedimentary Facies and Biota to Sea-Level Change. (Liddell)

Benjamin J.  Kessel. 2006.  Lower Paleozoic Sequence Stratigraphy, Deposystems and Paleogeography of Northwestern Ordos Basin, North China. (Ritts/Liddell)

Alexander N. Steely. 2006.  The Evolution From Late Miocene West Salton Detachment Faulting to Cross-Cutting Pleistocene Oblique Strike-Slip Faults in the SW Salton Trough, Southern California. (Janecke)

Stefan M. Kirby. 2005. The Quaternary Tectonic and Structural Evolution of the San Felipe Hills, California. (Janecke)

Links to

Utah State University

Department of Geology, Utah State University


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