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Teaching • • •

My philosophy is that students learn most when they are exposed to a mixture of instructional settings: lectures, laboratory exercises, formal and informal discussion, field trips, field exercises, and oral presentations, and writing assignments. Teaching in part is related to graduate advising, which in turn is tied to research. I am a firm advocate of continued formal instruction—beyond seminars—at the graduate level, as even the best-prepared incoming students benefit from taking additional classes. Graduate student research flourishes as students are exposed to new methods of quantitative analysis, critical thinking, and new ways of making, organizing, and conveying observations, and interaction with classmates from various disciplines.

Time and space are critical and interrelated elements in geology. To grasp their importance, it is essential that young geoscientists be exposed to geology in the field, learn how to make a map, gain confidence in relying on their own observations (rather than models), and develop a practice of searching for evidence that provides definitive constraints on relative ages of geologic events.

Dave Maher working on geologic cross sections
Dave Maher working on geologic cross sections
Physical Geology field trip to Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona
Physical Geology field trip to Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona

Undergraduate Courses:

Senior Undergraduate/Graduate Courses:

Graduate Courses:

  • Topics in Geosciences (GEOS 595A, with Zandt and with Patchett)
  • Advanced Techniques in Mineral Deposits (GEOS 596A, with Barton)
  • Field Mapping of Mineral Deposits (GEOS 596B)
  • Porphyry Deposits of Southwestern North America (GEOS 596B, with Barton)

Charles Ferguson at sundown, Carrizozo, New Mexico, on volcanology field trip
Volcanology mapping exercise, Superstition Mountains, Arizona
Physical Geology field trip, Assault on French Joe Canyon, Whetstone Mountains, Arizona
Physical Geology field trip, Assault on French Joe Canyon, Whetstone Mountains, Arizona
Marco Einaudi and Eric Seedorff at bench face, MacArthur deposit, Yerington district, Nevada


I advise students working on MS theses and PhD dissertations. The graduate programs in Geosciences and admissions requirements are described on the departmental web site. The admissions process is competitive across the department; all students admitted receive departmental support. Financial support commonly includes half-time work as a teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA). In the mineral resources (economic geology) program, it is common for students to have support from companies in the minerals industry. Some current students, for example, have been supported by ASARCO and Phelps Dodge.

Bill Stavast and Alex Pullen collecting data for U-Pb dates on zircons using the laser ablation ICP-MS method
Dave Maher and J. Clark

Advisor of the following current students:

Bill Stavast
(PhD), topic: Magmatic systems related to porphyry copper deposits of southern Arizona: Petrogenesis of the Schultze Granite and Ruby Star Granodiorite and their subsequent deformation

David Keeler
(MS), topic: To be determined

Co-advisor of the following current student:

David Maher
(PhD), topic: S tructural dismemberment and rotation of Laramide porphyry copper systems, southern Arizona

On research committees of the following current students:

David W. Armstrong (PhD, Mining and Geological Engineering Dept.), topic: Neural networks in short-range open-pit mine planning

Stacie Gibbins (PhD), topic: Geology and geochemistry of the Ertsberg deposit, West Papua, Indonesia

Chao Li (PhD), topic: Granitoid magmatism and related metallogeny of eastern China and a comparison of Mesozoic magmatism and mineralization between the western and eastern margins of the Pacific Ocean

Rafael Del Rio (PhD), topic: Molybdenum isotopic systematics and geologic applications

Kimberly Tait (PhD), topic: Investigations into the stability, morphology, and crystal structure of the coexistence of structure I and structure II methane-ethane clathrates hydrates—Occurrence and geological implications

On research committees of the following students who graduated:

Sergio F. Castro-Reino (PhD, 2004); Ph. D. dissertation: Intrusion-related mineralization in the central sector of the Sierra Madre Oriental

David Maher (MS, Oregon State University, 1995), Evolution of jasperoid and hydrothermal alteration at Veteran Extension in the Robinson (Ely) porphyry copper district, Nevada

Rubén Padilla Garza (PhD, 2003), Description and evolution of the Escondida porphyry copper deposit, Antofagasta region, northern Chile

John P. Porter (MS, 2004), 2004, Sulfur evolution of the Ertsberg intrusions and sulfur isotopes of the Ertsberg stockwork zone, Ertsberg mining district. West Papua, Indonesia

Brant Wilson (MS, 2004), Characterization of leached capping at the Dos Pobres copper porphyry, Graham County, Arizona

Charles Ferguson leading mapping exercise in Superstition Mountains, Arizona
Erik Flesch mapping in the Superstition Mountains, Arizona
Bomb (block) sag, Kilbourne Hole maar, New Mexico
Silicic lava with basal fall deposit and brecciated lava, overlying unwelded ignimbrite, Tank Mountains, Arizona

Lowell Program in Economic Geology

A new Professional Science Master’s degree (PSM) in Economic Geology is being created. The new degree will be distinct in name and content from the existing MS in Geosciences. I am directing the new program, with assistance from a half-time Program Manager, Dr. Lukas Zurcher. The program is targeted primarily at young economic geologists in the minerals industry who seek additional education, although students interested in land management and public policy would also be well served.

The Lowell Program in Economic Geology, described in greater detail at, will offer four emphasis areas to accommodate the career goals of students: (a) exploration geology, (b) development geology, (c) mining geology, and (d) environmental geology. The curriculum draws on existing courses across campus. The proposed new course on Project Stages and Best Practices is required, and it includes a new industry colloquium series. Students also are required to take at least one of the business courses especially designed for the Professional Master's Degrees by the Eller College. An internship requirement will be waived for those coming from industry. Two to five units of research are required, leading to a written report and public presentation (talk or poster), but a formal thesis is optional. Students will likely take short courses during Winter Session and spring break. It is thus possible to complete the program in one year by taking an aggressive schedule and being fully supported by his/her employer.

Short courses and modules will also be offered to industry for continuing education. The first offering is a Short Course on Porphyry Deposits to be held in Tucson, 7 – 16 December 2004.

Prior to finalizing the program, we sought advice from executives, managers, and practicing geologists in the minerals industry regarding the type of program that the industry and its geologic employees would like to have. These meetings took place at various times and places in the United States and in a concentrated series of meetings in Lima, Perú, and in Santiago and Concepción, Chile, in conjunction with attending the Chilean Geological Congress in Concepción during October 2003. We also visited several of the Australian academic institutions that contribute to the Australian National Masters in Economic Geology, in conjunction with attending the Society of Economic Geologists meeting, “Predictive Mineral Discovery Under Cover,” in Perth, Australia, during September and October 2004. We sought to learn the keys to success of those Professional Masters programs and to seek areas of possible future collaboration with the University of Western Australia in Perth, the University of Tasmania in Hobart, and James Cook University in Townsville. Collaborations with other institutions in the US and Canada is also possible.

Students in this program will not be supported by departmental teaching assistantships (TAs) or research assistantships (RAs). Hence, they can devote 100% of their time in residence doing course work and completing a small research project and conceivably can complete the program in one year by taking an aggressive schedule. Students in this program, however, are expected to be fully supported financially by their employers, scholarships, or their personal savings.