Will Amidon

Associate Professor of Geology

 work(802) 443-5988
 Mondays & Tuesdays, 2 - 4 p.m.
 on leave academic year

My research focuses on  using geochronology, remote sensing, and modeling to understand the timing and rates of surface processes. Much of my work involves cosmogenic dating and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. In 2013 I founded an OSL lab at Middlebury, which is open to visitors and collaborators. Recent projects have looked at spatio-temporal patterns of erosion, neotectonics, and terrestrial paleoclimate. 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]

FYSE 1480 - Geologic Origins of Energy      

The Geologic Origins of Energy
In this seminar we will seek to improve our understanding of where energy comes from and how it is converted into forms useful to humankind. Specifically, we will explore the origins of nuclear, geothermal, fossil fuel, wind, and solar energy and understand how they relate to Earth’s geologic systems and its climate. To explore the social implications of problems involving energy, we will learn basic scientific concepts and compare our findings with information disseminated in the popular media. We will also take several short field trips to observe and experience some of the geologic phenomena we discuss. 3 hrs. sem. CW SCI

Fall 2016

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FYSE 1520 - Pollution of Rivers and Lakes      

How Should We Clean Up Our Rivers and Lakes?
Vermont’s Champlain Valley is a major agricultural center, whose lakes and rivers are experiencing nutrient pollution due to runoff off manure and fertilizer from farm fields. Difficulty identifying the sources of nutrient pollution confounds management decisions. In this research-driven experiential course students will work in teams to collect water quality data and analyze land use and water flow characteristics in polluted watersheds. The goal is to understand when and where pollutants enter regional water bodies, and use these insights to inform management plans. One important aim of this course is to foster collaborative skills and improve student resourcefulness and problem-solving acumen. 3 hrs. sem. CW SCI

Fall 2018

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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

Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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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) (open to Juniors and Seniors by waiver) SCI

Spring 2019

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GEOL 0222 - Remote Sensing in Geoscience      

Remote Sensing in Environmental Science
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 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018

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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. (GEOL 0112 or GEOL 0161 or GEOL 0170 or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect. SCI

Fall 2016, Fall 2017

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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 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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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 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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STLD 1009 - Zero Energy School Design      

Zero Energy School Design
There are over 100,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. and these buildings are, on average, over 50 years old. Many of these schools will need to be replaced in the coming years and it is critical that designs today can meet the needs of the future. Designing schools to achieve Zero Energy presents an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the learning environment in classrooms, and save districts money. Zero Energy schools incorporate the latest advances in energy efficient building design and use on-site renewable energy to produce more electricity than they consume each year. In this course we will learn about the Zero Energy design process and develop a design for a Zero Energy elementary school to be built in Vermont. Approval Required (Credit/No Credit) non-standard grade WTR

Winter 2018

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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