Southwestern's Geology Department

About Us

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.

   May2019 POSTER Palumbi

Saturday, April 13th at 7:00 pm

Dr. Julia Reece
Texas A & N University
“Mud and Bugs Under Stress: Compression of Marine Sediments Beneath the Seafloor”

An Ocean Discovery Distinguished Lecturer

 IODP Exp 308

Friday, May 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Stephen Palumbi
Stanford University
“The Extreme Life of the Sea: Thriving in a Changing World”
palumbi extreme

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

DB Western

Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology/Seismological Society of America

NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS)

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.

Fall Term 2017 Regional Geology Field Classes

Crater Lake – Saturday, September 30th - The Crater Lake trip focuses on the geologic history of Crater Lake National Park. The intention is to drive the rim road, weather permitting, making a variety of stops that allow discussion of a variety of volcanic features and processes. Additional stops may include pillow basalts near Bridge, Colliding Rivers near Glide and Watson Falls prior to entering the park and the pinnacles which are often overlooked by casual tourists in the area.

Depoe Bay – Two options: Saturday, October 28th or Sunday, October 29th - This trip will travel north along the coast making a variety of stops between Coos Bay and Depoe Bay. We will observe several different rock types. The interaction between tectonic activity and our coast will provide a backdrop for observation and discussion.

Winter Term 2018 Regional Geology Field Classes

The Dunes – Saturday, January 20th or Tuesday, January 23rd - The Dunes trip focuses on the geologic history of the coast between Horsfall and Yachats. The trip allows participants to observe and compare the northern portion of the trip with stops at Smelt Sands Beach, Heceta Head and Strawberry Hill with a volcanic signature with the coastal dune sheet associated with the Oregon Dunes Natural Resource Area. There will be the opportunity for several hikes out into the dunes between Florence and Coos Bay.

Cape Blanco to Brookings – Saturday, February 3rd - This trip will focus on the southern Oregon coast between Cape Blanco and Brookings. The geology of the south coast will come to life with stops at Cape Blanco, Cape Sebastian, Harris Beach and Rainbow Rock. We will have the opportunity to observe igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, plus coastal processes and landslide activity.

Geology Lectures & Events