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Department of Geology

Research Areas

Research foci

Kansas State University is on course to become a top 50 public research university by 2025 (read about it here). For its part, the Department of Geology is deepening its research focus in three critical areas:

Energy and Mineral Resources

How will we responsibly acquire and transport oil and natural gas to fuel our nation? How will we evaluate and extract mineral resources? The department is asking questions about the biogeochemistry of unconventional natural gas reservoirs and geological carbon storage.

Earth Surface Processes and the Environment

K-State geologists want to know about the impacts of natural hazards, the quality and quantity of water resources, and how to predict and manage key processes in Earth's Critical Zone. How will environments respond to future stresses? What biological, geochemical, and geomorphic processes impact Earth's Critical Zone?

Evolution and Solid Earth

The Department of Geology is digging deep to better understand the processes that have shaped Earth's crust and mantle. How are magmas generated and how do they evolve? What are the links among tectonism, magmatism, and ore deposits? Research is uncovering processes of mantle evolution and geodynamics.

Faculty research areas

The table below provides a summary of research areas in our department. For non-geologists, it may be unclear how different subdisciplines of geology can be applied. For example, some of the geochemistry, geomicrobiology, and sedimentary geology research in our department is related to understanding climate, including modern controls on Earth's climate and past variation in climate (i.e., paleoclimate). But, non-geologists might not recognize that these subdisciplines can contribute to climate research. The table attempts to shed light on those linkages. More details about specific research interests of our faculty are available on individual faculty pages. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to contact them directly.

Research areaRelated subdisciplines in our departmentFaculty
ClimateGeochemistry, Geomicrobiology, Sedimentary Geology, Geochronology, Geomorphology, Quaternary GeologyGoldberg, Kirk, Spencer
Deep Earth processesGeophysics, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Structural GeologyAdam, Brueseke, Kempton, Lacroix
Earth surface processesGeochemistry, Geomorphology, Geochronology, Quaternary Geology, Sedimentary GeologyGoldberg, Kirk, Spencer
Geological carbon storageGeochemistry, Geomicrobiology, GeophysicsKirk, Raef
Mineral resourcesIgneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Structural GeologyBrueseke, Kempton, Lacroix
Earthquakes and volcanoesGeochronology, Igneous Petrology, Quaternary Geology, Structural GeologyBrueseke, Kempton, Lacroix, Spencer
Coastal and ocean processesGeophysics, Geochronology, Geomorphology, Quaternary GeologySpencer
Oil and gas resourcesGeophysics, Petroleum Geology, Petrophysics, Sedimentary GeologyGad, Ghanbarian, Goldberg, Lambert, Raef, Totten
Water and soil resourcesEnvironmental Geology, Hydrogeology, Geochemistry, Geomicrobiology, Geophysics, Geochronology, Geomorphology, Quaternary GeologyAdam, Ghanbarian, Kirk, Spencer

Student projects

"Science is more than a body of knowledge. It's a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility." - Carl Sagan

Research is a central component of the graduate program. But, we also encourage undergraduate students to get involved in research and to not wait until they are a senior. We don't just want our students to learn about science. We also want them to get experience doing science. We integrate the scientific process within our course offerings. But, it is ideal if students build on their course work by completing an individual project.

How to get started? A good first step would be to learn about the research our faculty are guiding by looking at their webpages and then emailing those whose interests match your own. Once connected with a faculty member, the student will want to discuss opportunities to obtain credit hours for their research activities. They might also consider participating in the Research for All program as an introduction to research.

Student doing lab work