Will Amidon

Assistant Professor of Geology

 On Leave - Academic Year 2014-2015

My research focuses on using isotope geochronology, remote sensing, and modeling to understand the timing and rates of surface processes. I have a broad range of interests and experience including: spatial patterns of erosion, the tectonic evolution of intracontinental orogens, terrestrial paleoclimate, and neotectonics. I am an expert in cosmogenic dating, having spent much of my PhD working on developing techniques for 3He dating of new mineral phases such as zircon and apatite. I also apply (U/Th)-He, OSL, and U-Series disequilibria geochronology to a range of geologic problems. For more information, please visit my website.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

GEOL 0112 - Environmental Geology      

Environmental Geology
Geological processes form the physical framework on which ecosystems operate. We require an understanding of the geological environment in order to minimize disruption of natural systems by human development and to avoid hazards such as floods and landslides. This course is an overview of basic tectonic, volcanic, and landscape-forming processes and systems, including earthquakes, rivers, soils, and groundwater. Environmental effects of energy, mineral, and water resource use, and waste disposal are also examined. Weekly field labs after spring break. Registration priority for first and second-year students. 3 hrs. lect./disc., 3 hrs. lab/field trips SCI

Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

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GEOL 0221 - Geology of Climate Change      

The Geology of Climate Change
In this course we will discuss how external forces and internal feedbacks within the Earth system govern climate. Specific topics will include orbital variability, changes in ocean circulation, CO2 uptake in terrestrial ecosystems, and molecular vibrational controls on infrared absorption and Earth's heat budget. We will then examine climate change through Earth's history as evidenced by a number of geologic proxies including the sedimentary record, ice cores, isotopic records, glaciers, soils, and tree rings. Ultimately our improved understanding of past climates will provide a context within which to discuss future changes to come. (one Geology course) SCI

Spring 2012

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GEOL 0222 - Remote Sensing in Geoscience      

Remote Sensing in Geoscience
In this course we will discuss fundamentals of air- and space-based remote sensing applied to geological and environmental problems. The core goal is to understand how different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation interact with Earth's surface, and how images collected in these different wavelengths can be used to address questions in the Earth sciences. Lectures will present theory and basics of data collection as well as applications in hydrology, vegetation analysis, glaciology, tectonics, meteorology, oceanography, planetary exploration, and resource exploration. Labs will focus on commonly-used imagery and software to learn techniques for digital image processing, analysis and interpretation in Earth science. (A geology course or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs lab SCI

Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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GEOL 0251 / GEOG 0251 - Geomorphology      

In this course we will investigate processes that shape the Earth's surface, including weathering, mass movements, and the effects of water, wind, and ice. Students will examine how such processes govern the evolution of landforms in differing climatic, tectonic, and lithologic settings. Field and laboratory study will focus on the role of active surficial processes, as well as glaciation and other past events, in development of the landscape of west-central Vermont. We will also discuss implications for human activities and maintenance of natural systems. (GEOL 0112 or GEOL 0161 or GEOL 0170 or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab DED SCI

Fall 2013

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GEOL 0301 - Plate Tectonics- World Geology      

Plate Tectonics and World Geology
Tectonics refers to the many processes associated with development of regional-scale geologic features. These features include the origin and evolution of mountain belts, the growth of continents and ocean basins, and the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The challenge of tectonic analysis lies in the accumulation and synthesis of a wide range of geologic information in an attempt to reconstruct the tectonic history of a particular region. An overnight weekend field trip towards the end of the semester will introduce students firsthand to the tectonic elements of the Appalachians. 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Spring 2011, Spring 2013

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GEOL 0400 - Senior Thesis Research Seminar      

Senior Thesis Research Seminar
This seminar will focus on methods and strategies for completing advanced geological research and provides a springboard for senior thesis research. Topics will include field and laboratory techniques, primary literature review, and scientific writing. Students taking this course are expected to be simultaneously working on the early stages of their senior thesis research. During the semester students will present a thesis proposal and the seminar will culminate with each student completing a draft of the first chapter of their senior thesis. GEOL 0400 is required of all geology majors. 3 hrs. disc. or lab

Fall 2012

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GEOL 0500 - Readings And Research      

Readings and Research
Individual or group independent study, laboratory or field research projects, readings and discussion of timely topics in earth and environmental science. (Approval only)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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GEOL 0700 - Senior Thesis Research      

Upon completion of GEOL 0400, all senior geology majors will continue their independent senior thesis research by taking one unit of GEOL 0700. This research will culminate in a written thesis which must be orally defended. (Approval only)

Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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GEOL 1004 - Historical Geology of Vermont      

Historical Geology of the Champlain Valley
At the dawn of the 18th century, the Champlain Valley was largely the domain of the Abenaki and Mohawk nations. A century later Europeans populated the valley and Middlebury College was founded. In this course we will explore how the geologic environment defined these different cultures. Topics will include: the hydrologic system as transportation, energy, and food source; geologic controls on soil quality; geologic resources for building, tool making, and war; and the role of climate change and variability. The course will include numerous field trips to regional museums and geologic sites. Students should feel comfortable being outside in winter. SCI WTR

Winter 2012

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Recent Publications

  1. Amidon, W.H., and Farley, K.A., 2011, Cosmogenic 3He dating of apatite, zircon and pyroxene from Bonneville flood erosional surfaces: Quaternary Geochronology, v. 6, p. 10-21.
  2. Amidon, W.H., and Hynek, S.A., 2010, Exhumational history of the north central Pamir: Tectonics, v. 29.
  3. Amidon, W.H., and Farley, K.A., 2010, Mass spectrometric He-3 measurement in He-4-rich phases: Techniques and limitations for cosmogenic He-3 dating of zircon, apatite, and titanite: Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, v. 11.
  4. Amidon, W.H., Rood, D.H., and Farley, K.A., 2009, Cosmogenic 3He and 21Ne production rates calibrated against 10Be in minerals from the Coso volcanic field: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 280, p. 194-204.

Department of Geology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753