2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 14, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Earth and Environmental Sciences, MS

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Program Description

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences offers two master's degree programs-the Master of Science and the Master of Science in Teaching (Earth Science). The Master of Science program prepares students for careers as professional earth scientists in industry, government, or education, or for continued graduate study. Current research focus areas of the department include Aquatic Biogeochemistry, Hydrogeology, Geophysics, Geospatial Analysis and Remote Sensing, Complex Earth Processes, Paleoecology and Sedimentary Environments, and Earth Science Education. The department is widely recognized for its applied and multidisciplinary programs and maintains a strong emphasis on practical field applications.

A non-thesis M.S. degree option is available for individuals seeking to gain expertise in earth or environmental sciences who already have an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in science or engineering from an accredited university, and who have completed a research thesis or dissertation.

The Master of Science in Teaching (Earth Science) program is designed for K-12 educators seeking to build their Earth/Space science content knowledge and pedagogical skills. Students in this program can take a variety of traditional, online and field-based courses, as well as up to 10 semester hours of education courses through the College of Health, Education, and Human Services. Up to 12-quarter hours or 8-semester hours of graduate courses may be eligible for transfer.

Admissions Requirements

A candidate for the Master of Science degree must possess a Bachelor of Science degree or Bachelor of Arts degree from a recognized institution. Students must have a strong background in earth or environmental sciences with appropriate courses in supporting sciences, mathematics, and computer science. Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted with deficiencies. A candidate for the Master of Science in Teaching degree must possess a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from a recognized institution.


The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is housed primarily in Oelman Hall and in the Brehm Laboratory. Department facilities include 12 teaching and research laboratories and a wide variety of specialized facilities. The department's research facilities and equipment are outstanding and lend critical support to its applied programs. The department's computer facilities provide PCs, Macs, and custom workstations for GIS, geological, hydrological, geophysical, and remote sensing applications.

The facilities and equipment supporting research in geophysics include a 144-channel ARAM seismic reflection system, 10 long-period Guralp seismometers for passive seismic and earthquake studies, geophysical workstations for seismic modeling, software for Amplitude vs Offset (Angle) analysis, Sun workstations running PROMAX and linux workstations running GeoTomo GeoThrust software for 2D and 3D seismic data processing, computers donated by Hess installed with Schlumberger PETREL subsurface mapping and interpretation software, workstations running surface wave dispersion software (Surfseis, SeisOpt ReMi, and Geopsy), three gravity meters (LaCoste-Romberg and Worden), a magnetic gradiometer system, both GSSI SIR-2 and SIR-3000 ground-penetrating radar systems with a wide range of antennae, a Sting-Swift 2D/3D resistivity imaging system, a 48-channel Strataview engineering seismograph, a trailer-mounted Bison elastic wave generator, a Leica TCRA1105 total survey station and a survey grade Trimble GPS system.

Several laboratories support research in environmental geochemistry. Field campaigns are supported by equipment for either sampling or in situ determination of both the physical and the chemical properties of environmental systems, including: water and sediment sampling systems; in situ electrodes with automated digital data acquisition systems; and downhole geophysical logging tools. Two field sites, including an experimental wetland, with multiple pumping and monitoring wells, are maintained for teaching and research.

The environmental geochemistry laboratories have a complete line of instrumentation for the analysis of aqueous chemical parameters. These instruments include multiple ion chromatographs, gas chromatographs, UV/Vis spectrophotometers, flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer, carbon and nitrogen analyzer, gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer, high-performance liquid chromatograph, cold-vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometers, and an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.

An additional laboratory focuses on measuring the physical properties of sediment and fluids, including porosity and permeability, and a computer laboratory has computer workstations dedicated to hydrogeologic modeling.

The Department has a remote sensing facility running permanent ERDAS and ERMAPPER licenses with the capability to download and process a variety of satellite and airborne image formats. The facility includes a large-format plotter suitable for large-scale mosaics.

In addition to the laboratory facilities described here, the department has an exceptional array of field equipment for faculty and student use. This equipment includes truck-mounted drilling rigs and other vehicles for field research. Two technicians are employed to maintain and improve both field and laboratory equipment.

For More Information

Program Requirements:

I. Graduate School Requirements

Program of Study completed by the end of the first semester.

Minimum of 30 credit hours completed.

Minimum of 22 credit hours must be taken at WSU.

Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

No more than 6 credit hours of C may apply towards degree.

II. Degree Program Policies

Thesis proposal approved by committee by end of second semester and filed with graduate advisor.

Must be registered in the semester of thesis defense.

Six credit hours of EES 8990  Thesis evaluated for letter grade; any additional hours evaluated as P/U

Department Core and Electives

Research/Areas of Expertise:

Research on exploration seismic studies include gathering of industry standard vibroseis and dynamite seismic lines, processing of seismic lines, correlation of seismic attributes with fluid content and mapping structures and facies changes in the Midwestern subsurface. We also carry out near-surface geophysical studies related to environmental and engineering problems includes geophysical archaeology, karst/mine detection and mapping, geophysical mapping of levee integrity, and detection of old coal mines from scattering of in-seam seismic waves generated by active mining nearby. Additional research includes the study of long-period seismic waves for direct monitoring and detection of subsurface fluids.

Current projects in environmental geochemistry include studies of 1) nutrients and trace metals in Ohio watersheds, 2) mercury cycling in marine environments, 3) trace metal geochemistry and toxicity in river sediments, 4) application of environmental isotopes for the investigation of hydrologic systems and biogeochemistry of natural waters, 5) the impacts of land use and cover on water quality, 6) biotransformation processes of organic pollutants in wetlands and similar vegetated aquatic environments, and 7) abiotic degradation of environmental pollutants by nanoscale reductants and mineral phases.

Current research in subsurface fluid flow and transport modeling includes projects that address heterogeneity at scales ranging from centimeters to kilometers. Projects within this area focus on CO2 sequestration, enhanced oil recovery, and combined surface/ground water flow in the hyporheic zone. Other recent projects have focused on the hydraulics of fractured rocks, and the characterization of hazardous waste repositories.

Computational research utilizes the mathematical tools of fractals, chaos, and complexity to analyze, model, and forecast future behavior of complex systems. Current research topics include the temporal dynamics of stream and river discharge, temporal clustering of reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field, shoreline dynamics, and the temporal variation of climate over the past one million years.

Current research projects in clastic sedimentology focus on facies analysis of Paleozoic fluvial sandstones, Pleistocene glacial (fluvial and lacustrine) sediments, and the effects of sedimentary structures and facies distributions on ground water flow.

Excellent cooperative academic and research relationships exist with other departments on campus and with surrounding colleges and universities in southwestern Ohio. The department has wide-ranging capabilities and can accommodate through its facilities a very broad range of research ideas.

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