Ray Coish

Robert R. Churchill Emeritus Professor of Geosciences

 Professor Emeritus

I've been teaching at Middlebury for more than 30 years. I grew up in Newfoundland and arrived at Middlebury after completing my Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario and doing post-docs at the University of Tennessee and M.I.T. I teach a variety of courses at all levels (see below). My research is mainly in the area of geochemistry of metamorphosed igneous rocks in the northern Appalachians. More information is available at 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 0104 - Earthquakes and Volcanoes      

Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, despite being labeled as "natural disasters," are normal, natural geologic processes that have been occurring for billions of years on this planet. Unfortunately, these processes claim tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in property damage annually (on average). This course will focus on the fundamental causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the wide range of secondary effects (e.g., landslides, tsunami, etc.) that accompany these natural disasters. (Students who have completed GEOL 0170 are not permitted to register for GEOL 0104) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. SCI

Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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GEOL 0201 - Bedrock Geology of Vermont      

Bedrock Geology of Vermont
This course explores the fascinating geology of Vermont. Students learn the geology through six field problems, involving extended trips around western Vermont. Lectures on the meaning of rocks support the fieldwork. The last few indoor labs are devoted to understanding the geologic map of Vermont. Emphasis is on descriptive writing and on use of data to interpret origin of rocks. Culminates in a written report on the geologic and plate tectonic evolution of Vermont. (One geology course) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips CW SCI

Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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GEOL 0211 - Mineralogy      

This course covers the nature, identification, composition, and meaning of minerals and mineral assemblages. Introduction to crystallography, hand-specimen identification, optical mineralogy, x-ray analysis, and electron microbeam analysis. Laboratory: study of minerals in hand-specimen and under the polarizing microscope; use of x-ray diffraction and electron microscopy in mineral analysis. (One geology course) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab SCI

Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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GEOL 0300 - Introduction to Petrology      

Introduction to Petrology
An introduction to processes involved in the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The first half of the course includes inquiry into the classification, plate tectonic setting, and evolution of volcanic and plutonic igneous rocks. The second half includes study of progressive metamorphism, the pressure-temperature- time history of metamorphic rocks, and the relation between metamorphism and plate tectonics. Labs will include thin section studies of igneous and metamorphic rocks, as well as field trips in Vermont and the Adirondacks. (GEOL 0211) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips

Fall 2014

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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)

Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 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 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

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GEOL 1002 - Mars: Geology & Exploration      

Mars: Geology, Evolution, and Exploration
Mars is an Earth-like planet that holds a fascination for scientists, space explorers, science fiction writers, movie makers, and anyone with a curiosity about the sky. In this course, we will explore what we know about the geology and evolution of Mars from spacecraft missions. Volcanism, tectonics, existence of water, and possible presence of life are some topics that will be covered. We will study the results from the probes currently in orbit and on the surface of Mars. We will also investigate plans for sending humans to Mars and building a base on the red planet. lect./disc. WTR

Winter 2016

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Recent Publications

  1. Macdonald, F. A., Ryan-Davis*, J., Coish, R. A., Crowley, J. L., and Karabinos, P., 2014, A newly identified Gondwanan terrane in the northern Appalachian Mountains: Implications for the Taconic orogeny and closure of the Iapetus Ocean: Geology, v. 42, no. 6, p. 539-542, doi: 10.1130/g35659.
  2. Coish, R., Kim, J., Morris*, N., and Johnson*, D., 2012, Late stage rifting of the Laurentian continent: evidence from the geochemistry of greenstone and amphibolite in the central Vermont Appalachians: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 49, 43-58.
  3. Coish, R.A., 2010, Magmatism in the Vermont Appalachians, in From Rodinia to Pangea: The Lithotectonic Record of the Appalachian Region, R.P. Tollo, M.J. Bartholomew, J.P. Hibbard and P.M. Karabinos (eds), Geological Society of America Memoir 206, pp. 91- 110.
  4. Kim, J., Gale, M., Coish, R., Laird, J., and Walsh, G. J., 2009, Road to the Kingdom: A bedrock transect across the pre-Silurian Rowe-Hawley Belt in central Vermont, in Westerman, D. S., and Lathrop, A. S., eds., Guidebook for Field Trips in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and Adjacent Regions, New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference, 101st Annual Meeting, p. 95-120.

Department of Geology

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