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The study of the processes (both inorganic and microbially mediated) that control the chemical composition of surface and ground waters. We have an active program tracing water-rock interaction using stable isotopes of Sr and Pb. We are participating in research related to geologic sequestration of CO2 released by burning of fossil fuels. Other active research deals with the fundamental chemical processes that occur at mineral surfaces during water-rock interaction - adsorption, catalysis, kinetics of growth and dissolution, and electron transfer. Applications of this work include processes that control the movement of metals released by mining and other human activities, the long-term storage of radioactive waste, processes that control the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, the cycling of biogeochemically important elements, and the chemical means by which microorganisms interact with minerals.
Economic Geology is the study of mineral resources: how ore deposits form, how we effectively explore for ore deposits, and the role ore deposits play as geochemical anomalies throughout earth history. At the University of Wyoming, we study ore deposits using field work, laboratory analyses (e.g. electron microprobe analyses, isotopic analyses, whole rock compositions, fluid inclusion microthermometry), and experimental work. We are able to take advantage of an amazing array of deposit types within Wyoming (e.g., uranium roll-front deposits, REE-bearing carbonatite, Cu-Au alkaline systems, VMS, layered mafic intrusions, Fe-Ti oxides in anorthosite complexes) and across the American west (porphyry Cu, Carlin-type gold, epithermal, etc.).
The study of the movement of water through the Earth system, its impact on geologic processes and the affect of water quantity and quality on human activities. Geohydrologists investigate water on the Earth's surface such as in wetlands or streams. In addition, they deal with water in the subsurface. Groundwater quality, quantity and movement are all geohydrological concerns of immense societial importance.
The quantitative study of the structure, composition and dynamic changes of the Earth, based on the principles of physics. Geophysics is very broad in both scope and scale, embracing a variety of specialties including geology, hydrology, petrophysics, environmental engineering, oceanography, and seismology from the deep earth to the near surface. The investigative surface and borehole techniques (seismology (controlled and natural source), electromagnetics, magnetics, gravity, nuclear magnetic resonance, grounding penetrating radar, electrical) are used in exploration and characterization projects by the petroleum and mineral industry, groundwater and aquifer professionals, environmental remediation experts and geotechnical/geohazard engineers.
The study of the life of past geologic periods based on fossil remains, clues in the sedimentary record and relationships to existing plants, animals and environments, in the pursuit of detailing the chronology of major events and feedbacks in Earth's history.
Petrology is the branch of geology dealing with the origin, occurrence, composition, structure, properties and history of rocks. The study of the absolute and relative abundances of chemical elements in the minerals, soils, ores, rocks, water and atmosphere of the Earth.
The sedimentary geology program focuses primarily on diverse aspects of clastic basin analysis, including diagenesis, in a variety of tectonic settings. Studies are broadly integrative with other members of the faculty here and elsewhere. In cooperation with the Institute of Energy Research, a research arm of the department, there is also an emphasis on aspects of petroleum geology concerning reservoir analysis and carbon sequestration. Approaches emphasize the combination of observations at outcrop, subsurface and seismic scales and encourage multidisciplinary approaches. Presently there are a variety of projects being pursued in the United States, particularly the Rocky Mountain region, South America, Europe and Asia.
The study of the form, arrangement and internal structure of the rocks, especially the description, representation, orientation and analysis of structures, chiefly on a moderate to small scale. Structural geology is similar to tectonics, although the latter is generally used for broader regional or historical phases.
The Cold Regions Analysis Group explores Earth processes through observation and modeling of surficial processes. Glaciology models how glaciers advance and retreat and the physical changes that convert snow to the various types of ice. Geomorphology is the study of the origin and evolution of the Earth's landforms.