Dave West
Office
McCardell Bicen Hall 428
Tel
(802) 443-3476
Email
dwest@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Monday & Wednesday, 9:30 - 11 a.m. either in person or Zoom during office hours, or other times by appointment

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.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Geologic Evolution 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 ECSC course) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips (formerly GEOL 0201)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

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) (formerly GEOL 0500)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

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Course Description

Earth Resources: Origin, Use, and Environmental Impacts
The global economy world politics, and many aspects of our daily lives are dependent on the extraction and use of materials taken from the Earth. Unfortunately, within our lifetimes, we will be faced with significant shortages of many of these resources. In this course we will focus on how resources such as oil, coal, aluminum, and even gem minerals are generated by geological processes, how they are extracted and processed, and how these activities impact the environment. Several field trips will allow us to view first-hand the impacts of resource extraction and use in the local area. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Natural Hazards
Despite increasing technological sophistication, modern civilization remains vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, extraterrestrial impacts, and other events. In this course we will consider the geologic mechanisms behind these hazards, the societal implications of these hazards, and approaches to reducing risk. Case studies will be combined with exploration of fundamental geologic concepts to provide students a foundation for understanding risk exposure and evaluating approaches to hazard management. (Not open to students who have taken GEOL 0112 or 0170) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Geologic Evolution 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

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

Requirements

SCI

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Course Description

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. (GEOL 0112, or GEOL 0161, or GEOL 0170 or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

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

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Winter 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

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)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Winter 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Energy Resources: Geological Origins and Environmental Impacts
In this course we will discuss how different types of energy resources are formed by geological processes, how they are extracted and used, and how these activities impact the Earth’s environment. We will discuss traditional fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, as well as nuclear, wind, and solar power. A portion of the class will focus on major energy issues facing the northeastern United States, such as the role of nuclear power in Vermont, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas in New York and Pennsylvania, and the wide spread installation of wind turbines and solar farms. (Not open to students who have taken FYSE 1120)

Terms Taught

Winter 2020

Requirements

SCI, WTR

View in Course Catalog

Publications

  1. West, D.P., Jr., Peterman, E.M., and *Chen, J., 2021, Silurian-Devonian tectonic evolution of mid-coastal Maine, U.S.A.: Details of polyphase orogenic processes, American Journal of Science, vol. 321, p. 458-489
  2. West, D.P., Jr., and Hussey, A.M., II, 2020, Bedrock geology of the Bath 7.5’ quadrangle, Maine: Maine Geological Survey Map 02-12, Scale = 1:24,000.
  3. West, D.P., Jr., 2019, Bedrock Geology of the Lisbon Falls South 7.5’ quadrangle, Maine: Maine Geological Survey Map 19-7, Scale = 1:24,000.
  4. *Cartwright, S.F.A., West, D.P., Jr., and Amidon, W.H., 2019, Depositional constraints from detrital zircon geochronology of strata from multiple lithotectonic belts in south-central Maine, USA, Atlantic Geology, vol. 55, p. 93-136.
  5. West, D.P., Jr. and Hussey, A.M. II, 2018, Bedrock geology of the Freeport 7.5’ quadrangle, Maine: Maine Geological Survey Open-File Map 18-11, Scale = 1:24,000.
  6. West, D.P., Jr., Bradley, C. and Coish, R.A., 2016, The Litchfield Pluton in South-Central Maine: Carboniferous Alkalic Magmatism in northern New England, Atlantic Geology, vol. 52, p. 169-187.
  7. Berry, H.N. IV, and West, D.P., Jr. (editors), 2016, Guidebook for Field Trips along the Maine Coast from Maquoit Bay to Muscongus Bay: New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference Guidebook, 326 pages
  8. West, D.P., Jr., Abbott, R.N., Jr., Bandy, B.R., and Kunk, M.J., 2014, Protolith provenance and thermotectonic history of metamorphic rocks in eastern Jamaica; Evolution of a transform plate margin: Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 126, p. 600-614.
  9. *Johnson, J.E., West, D.P., Jr., Condit, C.B., and Mahan, K.H., 2014, Strain localization in the Spanish Creek mylonite, northern Madison Range, southwest Montana, U.S.A., Rocky Mountain Geology, vol. 49, no. 2, p. 91-114.