Feb 27, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geophysics Minor

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Dr. Stephen A. Leslie, Department Head

Phone: (540) 568-6130                                                                 
Email: lesliesa@jmu.edu
Location: Memorial Hall, Room 7335                                           

S. Baedke, L. Eaton, L. Fichter, L. Kearns, S. Leslie, E. Pyle, K. St. John, S. Ulanski, S. Whitmeyer

Associate Professors
J. Haynes, E. Johnson

Assistant Professors
Y. Admassu, R. McGary

C. Kearns, S. Whitmeyer


Our mission is to serve two vital needs of the JMU students. First, the majors in geology present high-quality programs of specialized study focusing on Earth materials, internal and external Earth processes, analysis of Earth history and application of geology to environmental and engineering issues. In support of this mission is a commitment to foster the ability to think analytically and to communicate both within the discipline and with non-scientists. Course work and research experiences prepare the student for postgraduate study or professional careers that are subject to rapidly changing societal needs. Second, our department strives to enhance the university’s general education program by offering timely and challenging courses that provide insight into Earth processes and human-environment interactions. These courses promote life-long liberal learning by fostering critical thinking and an awareness of natural science.


Provide a stimulating, intellectual environment for students in geology and environmental science that will generate interest and enthusiasm for learning and will provide a solid foundation for graduate work and careers in geology and environmental science.

Teach science as science is practiced. Since the advancement of scientific knowledge often occurs within a social context – collaboration among scientists, conferences, seminars – the goal is to develop a similar mode of operation for the geology program.

Provide high-quality, relevant general studies courses within the discipline that focus on the fundamental science in the societal context (e.g., environmental change, climate change, hazards). These courses will incorporate critical thinking and an appreciation of human-environment interactions.

Career Opportunities

  • Earth Science Teacher
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Environmental Scientist/Specialist
  • Geochemist
  • Government or Industry Geologist
  • Geological Oceanographer
  • Geomorphologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Science Museum Curator
  • Paleoclimatologist/paleoceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Soil Scientist

Co-curricular Activities and Organization

The department encourages majors and minors to participate in the student Geology Club, which sponsors field trips, camping excursions, and hosts educational activities for elementary school students. Geology majors are encouraged to apply to be laboratory teaching assistants and research assistants for faculty in the department. Majors and minors are also strongly encouraged to become members of one or more of the following geoscience organizations and to present their research at the affiliated regional or national meetings:

  • Geological Society of America (GSA)
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)

Geophysics Minor

The minor in geophysics is designed to provide adequate training for professional work or graduate school in geophysics in the broad sense. No more than 10 credits from the geophysics minor may be used to double count with a major. The requirements for the geophysics minor are a minimum of 21 credits, including at least one semester each of geology, mathematics and physics, distributed as follows: 

Required Courses

Choose one of the following: 4 Credit Hours

Choose one of the following elective courses: 3-4 Credit Hours

Additional elective courses permitted upon approval from minor adviser.

Total: 22-23 Credit Hours

Note for Geology Majors

The geology major requires a sequence of math and physics courses (see major program  for details). The following sequence of courses will satisfy the major requirements and is strongly recommended for students interested in geophysics. In particular, MATH 236  is a prerequisite for several courses included in the geophysics minor.

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