Department Office: 401 Laxalt Mineral Engineering Building, Mailstop 172,
Phone: (775) 784-6050; Fax: (775) 784-1833
Ralph J. Roberts Center for Research in Economic Geology
Office: 371 Laxalt Mineral Research Building, Mailstop 169
Phone/Fax: (775) 784-1382;
Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy
Office: 307 Mackay Mines Building, Mailstop 168
Phone: (775) 784-7018; Fax (775) 327-5801
The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering consists of 16 full-time teaching and research faculty. Several faculty hold joint appointments with the Seismological Laboratory. We also have 27 cooperating faculty from the Desert Research Institute, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and the U.S. Geological Survey. Cooperative teaching, equipment sharing and research programs also exist with the Department of Geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degrees are offered in: Geology, Geological Engineering, Geophysics and Hydrogeology (graduate degrees in Hydrogeology are offered through Hydrologic Sciences). Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees are also offered in Geochemistry.
Currently, more than 200 students are enrolled in all programs. Within the various degree programs, students may take more than 30 undergraduate and 30 graduate courses related to geological science and engineering. For academic credit in departmental courses, students must receive a grade of “C” or better.
Our faculty and students are active in both regional and international research programs. Field-related studies and research are among the strengths of our programs. The University of Nevada, Reno is located near the boundary between the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada physiographic and geologic provinces, and is near many world-class localities for field studies, ranging from glaciated high country to high desert environments. Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, Great Basin, and Lassen Volcanic national parks are all within easy reach of Reno. We maintain field instrumentation for geologic, seismic, gravity, magnetic and electrical and rock properties studies - with many systems incorporating state-of-the-art technology. We also have one of the world’s largest digitally recorded seismic networks.
Laboratories include: scanning electron microscope, atomic force microscope, petrographic microscopy, reflected light microscopy, laser ablation ICP-MS, ICP-ES, stable isotope geochemistry, X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, fluid inclusion facilities, paleomagnetism and rock magnetism, earthquake source modeling, conodont and radiolarian biostratigraphy, geographic information systems (GIS), computer graphics, computer modeling. These laboratories support research in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrogeology, ore deposits, petrology, slope stability, rock mechanics and planetary sciences.
Faculty and student research in the department covers a wide spectrum from fundamental to applied research. Within the applied research realm, our research covers the full range from environmental earth science to minerals exploration and production. Fields of research include: applied geophysics, aqueous geochemistry, earthquake seismology, environmental earth science, experimental geophysics, exploration geophysics, geologic hazards, geologic mapping, GIS, geomechanics, geomorphology, geostatistics, global change, hydrogeology, marine geology and geophysics, mineral deposits, mineralogy, neotectonics, paleomagnetism, invertebrate paleontology, paleoceanography, paleoseismology, petrology of igneous and metamorphic rocks, planetary geology, potential fields (gravity and magnetism), Quaternary sciences, reflection seismology, regional geology, remote sensing, rock fracture mechanics, rock slope instability processes, rock mass characterization and design, sedimentology, stable isotope geochemistry, stratigraphy, structural geology, tectonics, volcanic geology, and waste containment.
Geology is an interdisciplinary science that integrates physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, geophysics, geology and modern technology in the study of Earth’s processes, environments and history. Geology graduates choose from a wide variety of careers in government agencies, industry, research and teaching. By selecting specific courses, students and their advisors to design a curriculum to meet specific career goals. Students are required to meet with their advisors for program approval and for review of academic progress at least once each semester.
A truly interdisciplinary degree program, geological engineering applies physics, chemistry, meteorology, hydrology, biology, geology and engineering science to understanding Environment Earth, recognizing and coping with environmental hazards, exploiting natural resources while preserving the environment, and exploring Earth’s context in the solar system. The primary goal of the geological engineering program is to produce a professional who is uniquely skilled in solving problems in multiple technical disciplines. Graduates in geological engineering work in governmental agencies on transportation projects, monitoring of natural resources, and environmental protection. They are also employed with aerospace, mining, geotechnical, environmental, ground water and construction companies.
The Geological engineering program for the baccalaureate degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org .
The objectives of the Geological Engineering program are that upon completion of the degree requirements our graduates will:
- effectively demonstrate the application of design principles in a variety of real-life situations.
- demonstrate a solid foundation of fundamental principles, both theoretical and practical; of mathematics, science, and engineering.
- demonstrate knowledge of the larger context of engineering applications, including global, environmental, societal, and legal issues and will be able to effectively communicate these concepts.
- demonstrate proficiency in visualizing problems in three-dimensional space, geomechanics, and in applying geologic principles to solve problems related to the human interface with Earth.
Seniors are required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (formerly Engineers-in-Training) examination. Students are required to meet with their advisors for program approval and for review of academic progress at least once each semester.
The geophysics curriculum builds a broad and rigorous multidisciplinary foundation that prepares students for the successful pursuit of an advanced degree or a technical career.
Beyond the traditional core knowledge in geology, geophysics, chemistry, physics, mathematics and engineering science, students will gain experience in the integrated application of geologic observations and geophysical measurements (gravity, magnetic, seismic, electromagnetic, remote-sensing and GPS) to the analysis of earth science and related engineering problems using current, industry- standard computational and GIS tools.
Although geophysics graduates commonly pursue advanced earth sciences degrees, many are employed directly by government agencies and private industry in fields such as resource exploration, environmental monitoring, geographic information systems and land management, geotechnical engineering, or natural hazard assessment.
Students are required to meet with their advisors for program approval and for review of academic progress at least once each year.
The hydrogeology curriculum serves three objectives:
- To provide a sound foundation in physical, chemical, geological and quantitative sciences as a basis for understanding the hydrologic cycle and managing water resources.
- To prepare students for entry-level professional careers in firms and agencies that address hydrologic, hydrogeologic and environmental geology issues.
- To prepare students for graduate study in hydrologic sciences.
Students in this program develop basic skills in math, chemistry, and physics, as well as in geology and geological engineering. Optional courses are offered for students who plan to continue into graduate studies. Students are required to meet with their advisors for program approval and for review of academic progress at least once each semester.
The Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering consists of 16 full-time teaching and research faculty. Several faculty hold joint appointments with the Seismological Laboratory. We also have 27 cooperating faculty from the Desert Research Institute, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Cooperative teaching, equipment sharing and research programs also exist with the Department of Geoscience, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Desert Research Institute. Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are offered in:
Geological Engineering and Geo-Engineering
Hydrogeology (through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Hydrologic Sciences)
Within these degree programs, students with interests in environmental science and engineering may choose from more than 30 relevant graduate courses offered by department faculty.
The general university requirements for all advanced degrees are listed in the Graduate School section of this catalog. The Department strongly encourages master students to pursue the plan ‘A’ (thesis) option. However, students may take a plan ‘B’ option with the consent of the advisor, advising committee and Department faculty.
Foreign Language Requirements
Students, in some instances, may be required to demonstrate their ability to read and comprehend the technical literature in a foreign language.
General Admission Procedures
Students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university to be accepted as a graduate student. For full graduate standing, at least 30 credits of undergraduate work in geology and/or related fields must have been completed.
To be considered for admission, students must meet the following minimum departmental requirements:
Grade-point average (GPA): Four-year undergraduate GPA of 2.75, or a 3.0 GPA for the final two years of undergraduate study
Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Combined score of 1,200 or higher in verbal and quantitative sections (V + Q= or>1,200)
Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold an overall GPA of at least 3.0. Provisional admission is permitted with GPAs below 3.0 in exceptional cases. In addition, the Ph.D. degree applicant must meet the requirements listed above.
The applicant must fulfill all requirements of the Graduate School and, in addition, must send the department chair:
three letters of recommendation certifying ability to perform graduate-level work
a personal letter specifying area(s) of scholastic interest in the geological sciences.
Application Deadlines and Addresses
For fall semester admission, complete applications must be received no later than February 1; for spring semester admission, completed applications must be received no later than September 15. Applicants are strongly encouraged to send copies of all admissions materials to:
Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering/172
Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557
Phone: (775) 784-6050
Fax: (775) 784-1833
For the Hydrologic Sciences program, graduate applications and letters of reference must be received by Jan. 10 for fall semester admission and by Aug. 10 for spring semester admission. Send application materials to:
Hydrologic Sciences Program/175
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557
There are three principal sources of financial support for graduate students within the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering: teaching assistantships, faculty research assistantships, and industrial grants/assistantships. In addition, the Department, in conjunction with the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, offer up to four Mackay Fellowships ($12,000/year in addition to any other assistantships), which are used to attract outstanding student to our PhD program.
Teaching Assistantships–the department has 12 such assistantships per year, and graduate students are also eligible for one assistantship in the William F. Keck Museum and two assistantships in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.
Assistantships pay tuition, some fees, healthcare fees and a monthly stipend of $1,500 for 10 months; a teaching assistant is expected to work approximately 20 hours per week.
Faculty Research Assistantships–faculty members within the Department and cooperating faculty support a number of graduate students from research grants and contracts. In these cases, students perform research for their thesis or dissertation on a project related to the goals of the grant or contract. Stipends vary, but are a minimum of $1,500/month for 10 months, and may include $3,000/month for two summer months, with tuition and fee waivers similar to teaching assistantship.
Industrial Grants/Assistantships–a significant number of graduate students receive grant or assistantship support from mining and geotechnical companies within the state of Nevada, which entails research on topics or properties of interest to the sponsor. Stipends are usually competitive with other sources of funding.
The Hydrologic Sciences program has several additional sources of funding, and should be contacted for details.
Students will first be assigned temporary advisors by the Department chairman. They are encouraged to obtain permanent advisors as early as possible during their first semester in residence. Students are required to meet with their advisors for program approval and for review of academic progress at least once each semester.
Students enrolled in master’s programs are required to take the Department’s comprehensive examination prior to their thesis defense. The examination requirements for the Ph.D. degrees are outlined in the Graduate School section of this catalog. All graduate students are required to take GEOL 697 - GEOL 698, graduate seminars (one of each) during their time at UNR.
Specific program requirements are outlined in the descriptions that follow.