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The Geology Department occupies one wing of the Science Building on the Cheney campus of EWU. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are also located in this building. The picture above is a view of the building facing Washington Street.
The Geology Department occupies one wing of the Science Building on the Cheney campus of EWU. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are also located in this building. The picture above is a view of the building facing Washington Street.

Biostratigraphy Laboratory

The Biostratigraphy research laboratory is divided into two areas, the research office and the preparation laboratory. The research office contains two desks, a research table with a binocular Leica Wild M8 microscope, a map cabinet, a research library and a Gateway 2000 computer. The preparation laboratory is equpped with a large (six-foot) fume hood, a sample preparation oven, a diamond blade trim saw, two rock splitters, a binocular microscope, three student prepration stations, a sink and a large sample storage facility. In addition, a Polaroid MP4 copystand camera and a darkroom are available.

Ongoing faculty and student research has centered on the Cambrian System (540-490 million years ago), although research topics ranging from the upper Proterozoic to Devonian (700-360 milion years ago) have been completed. Current research is focusing on the Lower to Middle Cambrian mass extinction and the faunal recovery interval in the southern Great Basin. Research covers all aspects of this interval, including sedimentology/stratigraphy and taxonomic description of the trilobite faunas, in addition to isotopic studies being carries on by Isabel Montanez and her students at UC Davis.

Geochemistry Laboratory

The Geochemistry Lab has the equipment for preparing and analyzing water, soil, and rock samples for their elemental composition. The major instruments in the lab are an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) and a UV/VIS spectrophotometer. The lab also has several fume hoods, a laminar flow hood, ultrapure water system, analytical balance, pH meters, muffle furnace, drying oven, centrifuges and hot plates.

Paleontology Laboratory

The invertebrate paleontology laboratory is equipped to make thin sections and acetate peels, produce photomicrographs of fossil specimens, and perform quantitative measurements of various morphological features. Diamond saws, diamond grinding wheels, and polishing machines are used to produce polished specimens of fossils for thin sections and peels. Several microscopes and cameras are available to study and photogrpah both thin secitons and peels. A digitizer board and measuring instrument simplify the quantitative aspects of working with fossils.

The primary group of fossil studies in the paleontology lab at Eastern are colonial marine orgnaisms called bryozoans. Most of the morphological structures present in these organisms require microscopic studies to identify the various species of bryozoans. Presently, in this laboratory, we are studying Permian bryozoans from Washington state, New Zealand, Russia, Pakistan, Nevada, and China.

The laboratory also contains a large library of books and articles on fossil bryozoans to aid in our research.

Sedimentology Lab

The sedimentology lab is used for both teaching and research. The lab contains equipment to perform basic sieve analyses and grain size analyses of silts and clays, heavy mineral separation and basic soil engineering tests. We have also constructed a small plexiglass flume to demonstrate sediment transport mechanics in alluvial channels, as well as a turbidity tank to simulate turbidity flows and associated deposition.

There is a large teaching collection of sedimentary rocks, both detrital and carbonate, for use in undergraduate classes. There is also a large collection of a wide variety of sedimentary structures. In addition, there are several sets of core from sedimentary sequences in Washington and from the Colorado Plateau.

A small office and prep room are attached to the main lab space, and are used by students and faculty for special projects.

Mineralogy/Petrology Laboratory

The Mineralogy and Petrology Laboratory is used primarily for undergraduate study and research. The laboratory has a collection of museum quality specimens available for viewing and numerous teaching specimens including Ward's 100 North American Rocks and Minerals. The Cheney-Cowles Museum donated a beautiful collection of museum quality mineral specimens which are available for teaching. Another collection was acquired  for display and/or teaching from Paul and Alice Weis, both etirees from the local office of the United States Geological Survey. A hallway display of some of their specimens is updated on a regular basis for viewing by the general public.  Most recently, the department acquire a collection from Elizabeth Lynch Williams Ralls consisting of micromounts and small samples of nicely crystallized minerals that are instrumental in teaching crystallography.

The laboratory also has a collection of ball-and-stick models (14 Bravais Lattices, six Crystal Systems, and several minerals including halite, graphite and diamond) for teaching purposes. Mineral identification by students is facilitated with hardness kits, streak plates, glass plates and magnets.

The laboratory is equipped with ten CX31-P  Olympus student petrographic microscopes. The department also has a mobile petrographic teaching workstation consisting of a high resolution Javelin video camera (CV-730) that mounts onto a microscope for thin section study or onto a Computar macroscopic zoom lens for viewing mineral/rock specimens on a 19" SONY Trinitron color video monitor. This petrographic workstation aids in teaching optical mineralogy and petrology.

Thin Section Laboratory

Students and faculty ulitize the state-of-the-art thin section laboratory for rock and mineral sample preparation including cutting, grinding and polishing of rock and mineral specimens. The facility maintains five rock saws, equipped to handle large and small samples, five variable speed grinder-polishers, an automatic vibratory polisher, two slab polishers and two thin section machines, including a Microtec semiautomatic machine capable of producing both standard and large-format thin sections.

Weissenborn Map Library

The Weissenborn May Library, named in memory of Al Weissenborn, a USGS geologist and longtime friend of the Department of Geology, houses an extensive collection (20,000-plus different titles) of topographic, geologic and other thematic maps encompassing the Pacific Northwest and the world beyond that are available to students and faculty for use in teaching and research.

General Geology Lab

The general geology labs have large lab tables and chairs. They are used for both lecture and lab, and can be rearranged for group work. There is a sink in the front table. Rooms are wired for instructor use of the Internet, and have wall-mounted large screen TVs.

SCI 137 Classroom

This large, multimedia-equipped classroom seats more than 80 students. During a recent renovation of this space, a state-of-the-art electronic classroom was installed.

Classroom lighting, audio and all electronics are controlled from the speaker's podium. There are two large screens at the front of the room that can be operated independently, as well as sliding white boards and chalkboards. A high resolution video projector hangs from the ceiling and has video input from a dedicated Mac computer (Internet networked), a VCR, a videodisc player, a digital slide projector and an Elmo projector (digital overhead). Cool!


The Department of Geology and the U.S. Geological Survey share a cooperative agreement that benefits both institutions. The USGS provides funding for student internships and lab maintenance, and they receive access to the laboratories, faculty expertise and student help at the university.

This lab space consists of several PC and Mac computers configured primarily for GIS work. A laser printer, a large format digitizing tablet and a large format ink jet plotter are all networked.

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