Jun 16, 2024  
Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 
Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG] See drop-down menu above to access other catalogs.

Geological Sciences


Chairperson: Professor Robert Cicerone

Professors: Richard Enright, Michael Krol, Peter Saccocia

Department Telephone Number: 508.531.1390
Location: Science and Mathematics Center, Room 201

Website: www.bridgew.edu/GeologicalSciences

Degree Programs

  • BA in Geological Sciences
  • BS in Earth Sciences
  • BS in Environmental Geoscience
  • BS in Geological Sciences
  • MAT in Physical Sciences

Undergraduate Minors

  • Geological Sciences
  • Geophysics

The following program is currently inactive:

  • MAT in Earth Sciences

Click on Academic Programs  for program information and requirements.

The Department of Geological Sciences offers several undergraduate programs in the geological sciences. Major degree programs include the more traditional BS in Geological Sciences as well as the more applied BS in Environmental Geosciences. Students interested in teaching at the secondary level can choose the BS Earth Science degree, which is designed to complement the Secondary Education major and prepare the student to take the Massachusetts MTEL specialty test in Earth Science for teaching licensure. Additionally, students interested in teaching at the elementary level can opt for the BA in Geological Sciences as their complementary major with Elementary Education.

The geological sciences faculty have a wide range of expertise within the geosciences and are actively engaged in research. The department includes faculty with extensive background and experience in the realm of fieldwork, laboratory investigations, and theoretical work, including computer modeling. This diversity supports a modern curriculum and provides numerous opportunities for students to extend their education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom.

Departmental faculty collaborate with scientists from other academic institutions to increase the number and variety of research opportunities for students. One member of the faculty is a guest investigator at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This appointment generates research opportunities for students in marine geochemistry, geology, oceanography, and includes sea-going expeditions. Another faculty member collaborates with the Earth Resources Laboratory in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The latter collaboration creates student research opportunities in geophysics, which includes projects focused on earthquake generation. The research program of a third faculty member enables additional undergraduate research opportunities in the fields of petrology, geochemistry, geochronology and tectonics with a focus on the geology of both the central and northern Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. The department also supports research within the realm of sedimentology and paleontology. This includes course-based research projects involving both field investigations and laboratory analysis of sediment transport and deposition, particularly within the coastal environment.

The department has a long history of active engagement within the cutting-edge field of remote sensing and supports these activities with both traditional courses and numerous applied research opportunities. In this regard, the department has been selected as the only one in the state college system in Massachusetts to participate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sponsored Joint Venture (JOVE) program. This distinction led to collaborations with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on remote sensing projects in Mexico, Alabama and Southeastern Massachusetts and the Goddard Space Flight Center on bolide impacts. Similar research projects, performed by both faculty and undergraduate students, are ongoing today.

The department is committed to providing undergraduate students the opportunity to perform research with a faculty mentor. Each year, geological sciences students are involved in research and present their work at professional conferences organized by both regional and national geologic organizations. These opportunities help to propel our students into rewarding careers and excellent graduate programs.

Modern equipment supports the department’s curriculum, including laboratory courses and undergraduate research projects. This equipment includes: X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF); an X-ray Diffractometer with powder cameras; Rock thin sectioning equipment; petrographic polarizing and stereoscopic microscopes; research grade Olympus polarizing microscopes, complete with digital cameras and image analysis software; a proton precession magnetometer; a seismic refraction unit; an AS-I earthquake seismometer; a Frantz Isodynamic Separator; a 14-foot coastal research vessel; a portable gamma-ray spectrometer; a portable visible-near infrared spectroradiometer; a Sunsparc 20 UNIX work station; a SunBlade 150 UNIX workstation; GPS surveying equipment; groundwater and stream water sampling/monitoring equipment; and ground penetrating radar.

Finally, our close relations with the Department of Chemical Sciences have facilitated access to more specialized instrumentation used to investigate geochemical problems. This includes anatomic absorption spectrometer, an ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer and a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer.

In addition to course-related laboratory spaces, the department has several specialized laboratories to support research activities. These include a well-equipped remote sensing laboratory, x-ray and geochemistry laboratory, a mineral separation laboratory, petrographic laboratories, and extensive facilities for the preparation of rock samples for numerous analyses.

Geology faculty are using Bridgewater State University’s sophisticated computer facilities for classroom instruction, including demonstrating and displaying Web-based and self-authored material and models. In a growing number of courses, students may submit assignments online, and in some courses, a majority of class time is spent in “virtual classrooms.” To learn more, visit the department website at http://www.bridgew.edu/GeologicalSciences/.

The department boasts an active student-led Geology Society that sponsors local (Harvard Museum of Natural History), regional (New Hampshire’s White Mountains), national (Hawaii), and international (Canada, Iceland, Mexico) field trips. The Society also organizes the department speaker series. Students may also qualify for Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the national earth science honor society.

Geological Sciences Major

The major in geological sciences is a solid, broad-based program that provides the student with an understanding and appreciation of the physical aspects of the earth and earth processes. Career opportunities for graduates exist in federal, state and local government service, industry and environmental studies both with regulatory agencies and consulting firms. Teaching in the elementary, middle and secondary schools is another option. Many of our geological sciences majors have been awarded full scholarships or assistantships at leading graduate schools. In addition, the faculty have an extensive program of undergraduate research, and many students have presented the results of their undergraduate research at various professional national meetings. The majority of this research has been funded through ATP or department grants, and students are encouraged to contact the faculty if interested. Internships are also available for those students desiring to prepare themselves for employment upon graduation. Interested students are encouraged to contact the earth science/geology faculty - Drs. Cicerone, Enright, Kaczmarek, Krol and Saccocia - for more information about earth science/geology programs. 

The most comprehensive of all of the geological sciences programs within the commonwealth, this concentration provides students with an understanding of the physical and chemical aspects of the earth and its internal as well as surface processes. Career opportunities for graduates exist in federal, state and local government service, industry and environmental studies both with regulatory agencies and consulting firms. With the selection of appropriate electives, students will be prepared for government service, for environmental work related to the detection and monitoring of pollutants as well as for remediation of affected areas, and for careers in such fields as environmental geology, mining or petroleum geology and hydrology. This concentration gives students a solid background in geology and the cognate sciences required to successfully pursue graduate work at leading universities.

Educator Licensure

Students interested in seeking Massachusetts teacher licensure should refer to the following department links for specific teacher licensure and program requirements: Elementary and Early Childhood Education  or Special Education  for students double majoring in elementary education, early childhood education or special education; or Secondary Education and Professional Programs  for students minoring in secondary education (high school, middle school or PreK-12 specialist).

Geophysics Minor

For further information, contact the department chairperson.

Minor in Secondary Education (High School, Middle School or PreK-12 Specialist)

Students may minor in secondary (high school, grades 8-12; middle school, grades 5-8; or PreK-12 specialist) education. Successful completion of this minor will lead to Massachusetts Initial Teacher Licensure. Please refer to the “Department of Secondary Education and Professional Programs ” for specific teacher licensure and program requirements.

Honors Program

The honors program in geological sciences provides highly motivated geology majors with opportunities to enhance their academic program through scholarly study and research designed to be of assistance in postgraduate employment or in the pursuit of an advanced degree in geological science.

Contact the Department of Geological Sciences for further information.

Master of Arts in Teaching Physical Science

The Master of Arts in Teaching degree in physical science was developed for high school and middle school subject area teachers who have an initial license in chemistry, earth sciences or physics and are seeking a professional license in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This MAT program is designed to meet the “appropriate master’s degree” requirement, which is part of the criteria for professional stage licensure, as set forth in the most recent MA DESE licensure regulations.

Students should consult the “Graduate Academic Policies ” section of the catalog for information regarding graduate program policies and procedures.

For current information concerning program requirements, consult the “Physics ” section of this catalog.