• Student in research lab.
  • Students on a field visit.
  • Faculty conducting Aquoustest.

The Department of Geosciences is a research intensive unit within the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University. For more than 50 years, the Department of Geosciences faculty has been devoted to addressing pressing geologic and environmental questions through basic and applied research with a strong emphasis on hydrogeology and paleoclimate studies. For instance, our hydrogeological field course is one of the most attended nationwide. In 2011, the department became the home of the Michigan Geological Survey. The Department of Geosciences is also the home of the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education, which is a leading research facility for subsurface coring.

Our department has national and international research sites. Examples of the national research that have had a direct bearing on Michigan's environment and natural resources include:

  • Surface characterization and mapping of the highly-complex glacial deposits (which contain most of our groundwater and aggregate resources).
  • Subsurface exploration and delineation of oil and gas reservoirs, mineral deposits, and water resources.
  • Assessing Michigan’s subsurface rocks for geothermal energy potential, enhanced oil recovery, and carbon sequestration.
  • Investigating water resource-related issues in the context of Michigan’s unique proximity to the Great lakes.
  • Assessing the mobility of toxic elements in groundwater and aquatic environments.
  • Investigating the causes and impacts of climate change in the region.
  • Applying remote-sensing techniques and new geophysical methods to help answer questions about Earth and other planets.

Examples of international research are:

  • The study of fossil aquifers in the north African Sahara.
  • The study of landslides in the Arabian peninsula.
  • The study of the subsidence of the Nile Delta.
  • Monitoring algae blooms in the Persian Gulf.
  • Subsidence in Euroasia resulting from tectonic activity.
  • Monitoring ground movement in Nepal. 

Finally, our department has engaged in comparative planetary hydrogeology studies relating the Earth desert hydrogeological and climatic evolution to the one observed on Mars and bodies of the solar system. Over the last five years, our department's average externally funded activity has been approximately 5 million dollars, in addition to inner-research funds provided by the university.

To learn more about the expertise of individual faculty member and related research possibilities, please visit:

For students who are preparing posters to present at conferences, please consult:

  • Poster printing guidelines and tips for success

Digital databases

External researchers can access our Web-searchable data and online repositories.

  • Earth Science Remote Sensing Lab: This lab is part of a large number of interdisciplinary research projects funded by national and international agencies. The spatial data from such investigations are available through our webmap services. These databases include geospatial data for hydrologic, geologic and groundwater studies focusing mainly on Asia, Middle East and Africa.
  • Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education: MGRRE contains well log and drill core data from historic to recent oil and gas exploration in the Michigan Basin and includes water well cuttings from over 2000 Michigan community wells. Online data includes inventories of cores; cuttings; thin-sections; historic maps; oil, gas, bottom-hole pressure data; total production information and well log data and drill cuttings for water wells and water analyses.

Selected most recent department publications

  • Abotalib, A.Z. and Mohamed, R.S. 2013, Surface evidences supporting a probable new concept for the river systems evolution in Egypt: a remote sensing overview, Environmental Earth Sciences, vol. 69, no. 5, pp. 1621-1635.
  • Abouelmagd, A., Sultan, M., Sturchio, N., Soliman, F., Rashed, M., Ahmed, M., Kehew, A., Milewski, A., Chouinard, K., 2013, Paleoclimate record in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Quaternary Research, v. 81, pp. 158-167.
  • Ahmed, M., Sauck, W., Sultan, M., Yan, E., Soliman, F., Rashed, M., 2013, Geophysical constraints on the hydrogeologic and structural settings of the Gulf of Suez Rift–related basins: case study from the El Qaa Plain, Sinai, Egypt: Surveys in Geophysics, v. 35, pp. 415–430.
  • Ahmed, M., Sultan, M., Wahr, J., Yan, E., Chouinard, K., 2014, The use of GRACE data to monitor natural and anthropogenic induced variations in water availability across Africa, Earth Science Reviews, v. 136, pp. 289-300.
  • Alharbi, T., Sultan, M., Sefry, S., El Kadiri, R., Ahmed, M., Chase, R., Milewski, A., AbuAbdallah, M., Emil, M., Chouinard, K., 2013, An assessment of landslide distribution in the Fifa area, Saudi Arabia, using remote sensing and GIS techniques, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Discussion, v.1, pp. 6685-6717.
  • C.J. Schmidt,  S.C. Whisner, and J.B. Whisner, 2014, Folding of a detachment and fault-modified detachment folding along a lateral ramp, southwestern Montana, USA, Journal of Structural Geology, v. 69 pp. 334-350.
  • Dailey, D., Sauck, W., Sultan, M., Milewski, A., Ahmed, M., Laton, R., Elkadiri, R., Foster, J., Schmidt, C., Alharbi, T., 2014, Geophysical, remote sensing, GIS, and isotopic applications for a better understanding of the structural controls on groundwater flow in the Mojave Desert, California: Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, in press.
  • El Kadiri, R., Sultan, M., Youssef, A., Elbayoumi, T., Chase, R., Bujlkhi, and A., Bujlkhi, M.M., 2014, A Remote-Sensing-based approach for debris-flow susceptibility assessment using artificial neural networks and logistic regression modeling, IEEE JSTARS, DOI: 10.1109/JSTARS.2014.2337273. 
  • Gregg, J.M., Bish, D., Kaczmarek, S.E. and Machel, H, 2015, Mineralogy, nucleation and growth of dolomite in the laboratory and sedimentary environment:  A review, Sedimentology,DOI: 10.1111/sed.12202.
  • Kaczmarek, S.E. and Sibley, D.F., 2014, Direct physical evidence of dolomite recrystallization, Sedimentology, v. 61, no. 6, pp. 1862-1882,DOI: 10.1111/sed.12119.
  • Esch, J.M. and Kehew, A.E., 2014, Surficial Geology of the Southeast Albion 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Calhoun and Jackson Counties, Michigan, Surficial Geologic Map Series SGM-14-05, scale 1:24000.
  • Kehew, A.E. and Esch, J.M., 2014, Surficial Geology of the East Leroy 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Calhoun County, Michigan, Surficial Geologic Map Series SGM-14-01, scale 1:24000.
  • Kehew, A.E. and Esch, J.M., 2014, Surficial Geology of the Southwest Albion 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Calhoun County, Michigan, Surficial Geologic Map Series SGM-14-04, scale 1:24000.
  • Kehew, A.E. and Esch, J.M., 2013, Surficial Geology of the Climax 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties, Michigan, Surficial Geologic Map Series SGM-13-03, scale 1:24000.
  • Kehew, A.E., Ewald, S.K., Esch, J.M. and Kozlowski, A.L. 2013, On the origin of tunnel channels of the Saginaw Lobe, Laurentide Ice Sheet, Michigan USA. Boreas, Vol. 42, pp. 442–462.
  • Kehew, A.E., Kozlowski, A.L., Bird, B.C. and Esch, J.M. 2013, Contrasting terrains of the Lake Michigan and Saginaw lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in southern Michigan, in, Gillespie, R., ed., Insights into the Michigan Basin, Geological Society of American, Field Guide 31, pp. 15-36.
  • Milewski, A., Sultan, M., Al-Dousari, A., Yan, E., 2013, Geologic and hydrologic settings for development of freshwater lenses in arid lands, Hydrologic Processes, doi: 10.1002/hyp.9823.
  • Pearl, F. B., and W. A. Sauck, 2014, Geophysical and geoarchaeological investigations at Aganoa Beach, American Samoa:  an early archaeological site in Western Polynesia, Geoarchaeology; doi 10.1002/gea.21491.
  • Petcovic, H. L., Stokes, A., and Caulkins, J. L., 2014, Geoscientists’ perceptions of the value of undergraduate field education. GSA Today, 24(7), pp. 4-10. DOI: 10.1130/GSATG196A.1
  • Su, B.X., Qin, K.Z., Zhou, M.F, Sakyi, P.A., Thakurta, J., Tang, D.M., Liu, P.P., Xiao, Q.H and Sun, H., 2014, Petrological, geochemical and geochronological constraints on the origin of the Xiadong Ural-Alaskan type complex in NW China and tectonic implication for the evolution of southern Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Lithos, vol. 200-201, pp. 226-240,doi: 10.1016/j.lithos.2014.05.005.
  • Sultan, M., Ahmed, M., Wahr, J., Yan, E., Emil, M.K., 2014, Monitoring aquifer depletion from space: case studies from the Saharan and Arabian aquifers, Rodell, M., (Ed.), Chapman Remote Sensing AGU monograph number 206, (in press).
  • Sultan, M., Chouinard, K.Ahmed, M., Sturchio, N., Yan, M., Milewski, A., Becker, R., Becker, D. and  Wahr, J., 2013, Assessment of the vulnerabilities of the Nubian Sandstone Fossil Aquifer, North Africa. climate vulnerability: understanding and addressing threats to essential resources. Elsevier Inc., Academic Press, pp. 311–333.
  • Sultan, M., Sefry, S., AbuAbdallah, 2014, Impacts of climate change on the Red Sea region and its watersheds, Saudi Arabia, Red Sea Book Series, Elsevier Inc., Academic Press (in press).
  • Thakurta, J., Ripley, E.M. and Li, C., 2014, Platinum group element geochemistry of sulfide-rich horizons in the Ural-Alaskan type ultramafic complex of Duke Island, southeastern Alaska, Economic Geology, vol. 109, pp. 643-659.
  • Voice, P. J. and Harrison, W. B. III (eds.) 2014, Michigan basin field experience and Devonian carbonate reservoir core workshop, Michigan Petroleum Technology Transfer Institute Satellite Workshop Volume prepared for the March 2014 MI PTTC Meeting, Mt. Pleasant, MI.
  • Voice, P. J. and Harrison, W. B. III 2014, Paleozoic Geology of the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Michigan Basin Geological Society Summer Excursion Guide book, Co-published by the Michigan Basin Geological Society and the Michigan Geological Survey, p. 111
  • Vuke, S.M., Lonn, J.D., Berg, R.B., and Schmidt, C.J., 2014, Geologic Map of the Bozeman 30’ X 60’ Quadrangle, Southwestern Montana, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Open File Report.
  • Whisner, S.C., Schmidt, C.J., and Whisner J.B., 2014, Structural analysis of the Lombard  thrust sheet and adjacent areas in the Helena salient southwest Montana, USA, Journal of Structural Geology, v. 69 pp. 351-376.
  • Zaki, A., Sultan, M., and Elkadiri, R., 2014, Comment on: Polygonal faults in chalk: Insights from extensive exposures of the Khoman Formation, Western Desert, Egypt, Geology, July 2014, v.42, pp. 342.