Dave West, Chair

Professor of Geology

 Monday 10 - noon; Wednesday 10 - 11 a.m.
 McCardell Bicentennial Hall 428

Dave West is a North Carolina native who completed his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at the University of Maine in 1993.  Prior to arriving at Middlebury in 2001, Dave taught geology Bowdoin, Lafayette, and Earlham Colleges.  Broadly speaking, Dave's research is focused on understanding the distribution, in time and space, of deformational and thermal events during mountain building processes.  Dave is basically a "hard-rock field geologist" whose research involves bedrock geologic mapping, structural analysis, igneous and metamorphic petrology, and thermochronology.  Most of his research to date has been directed towards unraveling the ancient plate tectonic history of the northern Appalachian mountains.

Visit Dave's website for more details.



Course List: 

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

GEOL0104 - 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 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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GEOL0105 - Energy and Mineral Resources      

Energy and Mineral Resources
The global economy, world politics, and many aspects of our daily lives are dependent on the extraction and use of materials taken directly from the Earth. Within our lifetimes we will be faced with significant shortages of many of these resources. In this course we will focus on how energy resources (e.g., oil, coal, natural gas), and mineral resources (e.g., aluminum, gold, rare earth elements) are generated by geological processes, how they are extracted and processed, and how these activities impact the environment. Field trips during the laboratory portion of the course will allow us to view first-hand the impacts of resource extraction, processing, and use. Not open to students who have taken FYSE 1120. 3 hrs lect./disc.; 3 hrs lab SCI

Spring 2016

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GEOL0170 - The Dynamic Earth      

The Dynamic Earth
Sea-floor spreading and continental drift, earthquakes and volcanoes, origin and evolution of mountain systems, and concepts of plate tectonics are viewed in light of the geology of ocean basins and continents. Modern processes such as river, coastal, wind, and glaciers will be studied and their effect on shaping the geologic landscape. Laboratory: field problems in Vermont geology; interpretation of geologic maps, regional tectonic synthesis. 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab/field trips SCI

Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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GEOL0211 - 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 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2017

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GEOL0281 - Structural Geology      

Structural Geology
Plate tectonics and mountain building processes result in deformation of the Earth's crust. Structural geology is the study of this deformation, and this course will examine the many types of structures found in crustal rocks (folds, faults, etc.) and explore the forces responsible for their formation. Laboratory exercises will emphasize the hands-on description and analysis of structures in the field, as well as the practical aspects of map interpretation and computer analysis of structural data. (A geology course or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips CW SCI

Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016

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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 2015

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GEOL0400 - 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 2016

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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, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017

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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, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017

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Recent Publications

  1. West, D.P., Jr. (editor), 2011, Guidebook for Field Trips in Vermont and Adjacent New York: New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Guidebook, 347 p.
  2. West, D.P., Jr., Yates, M.G., Gerbi, C., and *Barnard, N.Q., 2008, Metamorphosed Ordovician iron- and manganese-rich rocks in south-central Maine: From peri-Gondwanan deposition through Acadian metamorphism: American Mineralogist, v. 93, p. 270-282.
  3. West, D.P., Jr., Roden-Tice, M.K., Potter, J.K., and *Barnard, N.Q., 2008, Assessing the role of orogen-parallel faulting in post-orogenic exhumation: Low temperature thermochronology across the Norumbega fault system, Maine: Canadian Journal of Earth Science, v. 45, p. 287-301.
  4. West, D.P., Jr., Tomascak, P.B., Coish, R.A., Yates, M.G., and *Reilly, M.J., 2007, Petrogenesis of the Lincoln Syenite, Maine: Late Silurian-Early Devonian melting of a source region modified by subduction driven metasomatism. American Journal of Science, v. 307, p. 265-310.

Department of Geology

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