Southwestern's Geology Department

The geology department at SWOCC provides foundational lab science courses in introductory geology for our students. This includes a full year series of courses: Physical Geology I (G 201), Physical Geology II (G 202), and Historical Geology (G 203) that may be taken out of sequence, plus a term of general science (GS 106). Additional non-lab coursework is offered as scheduling allows. In addition to the classroom focus, the department also has a long standing tradition of geology field classes that may be taken for elective college credit or for personal enrichment. The one day trips that are offered range from visiting a variety of coastal localities between Cape Kiwanda to the north and Brookings to the south, looping around the Agness Divide/Rogue River, circling Crater Lake or focusing on Cape Arago and Bandon in the Coos Campus back yard. The three day trip visits Lava Beds National Monument in northern California where a blend of geology, Native American cultural history, history and nature provide a rich context for learning.

In addition to coursework, the geology department has hosted a lecture series in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts since 2005. This venue provides the stage for distinguished speakers to present their research on cutting edge science to students and community members alike. Over the years speakers have come from varied states and backgrounds: from academic institutions in the west like UO, OSU, UW and Portland State to Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina State and Iowa; from a variety of agencies like the Cascade Volcano Observatory and other branches of the USGS, State Surveys like Oregon’s own DOGAMI to representatives of the Center for Earthquake Research and Information and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The subjects are equally varied ranging from early life on Earth to soft tissue in T. rex or frozen mammoths from Siberia. 2015-16 shows a typical range in topics: cutting edge studies of Antarctic ice quakes, volcanoes and new landscapes beneath 2 miles of ice, marine archeology, robotic study of the ocean floor, the Oso Landslide and, of course, the annual Cascadia Anniversary earthquake talk. In addition, since 2010 most of the talks have been livestreamed for an audience that can’t reach Coos Bay and archived for future reference.

Friday, October 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Dr. Caroline Beghein


"From Plate Tectonics to Deep Earth Dynamics: A Seismological Journey Inside the Earth"

An IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturer

Link for Caroline Beghein:

Friday, December 2, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Dr. David Sutherland

University of Oregon"Estuary Circulation and Its Link To Water Quality In Coos Bay"

Link for Dave Sutherland:

Friday, January 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Dr. John Vidale

University of Washington

Director, Pacific NW Seismic Network

An IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturer

“A Tale of Three Pacific Northwest Temblors:  One Big, One Deep and One Direct Hit”

The 12th Annual Cascadia Anniversary Lecture

Link for John Vidale:

Link for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN):

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Dr. Scott Burns

Portland State University

Discussing Terroir in the Umpqua Wine Growing Region

Link for Scott Burns:

Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Dr. Mark Tveskov

Southern Oregon University

The Archaeology of the Rogue River War”

Link for Mark Tveskov:

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Dr. Carolyn Porco

University of California Berkley

“Cassini to Saturn:  The Journey and the Legacy” 

Link for Carolyn Porco:

All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.  They take place in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the Coos Bay campus of Southwestern Oregon Community College.

These popular community events would not be possible without generous sponsorship support.  The current contributors to the geology lecture series include:

Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation

Link for SWOCC Foundation:

Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology/Seismological Society of America

Link for IRIS:

Link for SSA:

The Regional Geology field trip classes serve a number of educational purposes at Southwestern. Students in the geology sequence are required to attend at least one field trip each term in order to utilize the extensive real world classroom available in the Pacific Northwest.  The field trip classes also serve as a college transfer elective class.  Finally, a zero credit option is also available for individuals that are interested in gaining a better understanding of local geology.

Geology Lectures & Events