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.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FYSE1480 - 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
GEOL0112 - 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 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017
GEOL0222 - 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 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017
GEOL0251 / GEOG0251 - 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
GEOL0301 - 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 2013, Fall 2016
GEOL0500 - 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 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017
GEOL0700 - 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 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017
- 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.
- Amidon, W.H., and Hynek, S.A., 2010, Exhumational history of the north central Pamir: Tectonics, v. 29.
- 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.
- 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.