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Earth and Space Sciences

What We Offer

Contact Earth and Space Sciences  

Earth and Space Sciences

207 Merion Science Center
720 S. Church Street
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2727

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What We Offer

The Department of Earth & Space Sciences at West Chester University frequently hosts speakers from national lecture series. The presentations are open to the public and typically held each Fall Semester on Thursdays, unless otherwise noted, from 3:25-4:15pm in Merion Science Center Room 113. Fall 2018 engagement dates appear below.  As speakers are booked, the presentation schedule will be updated.

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A panel of alumni speak to current students about their career paths in industry, education, and graduate school

Seminar Image 2

Students work on their resumes and interview skills


Date Speaker(s) Title
Aug. 30, 2018 Earth and Space Sciences Department Faculty, Drs. Cynthia Hall, Daria Nikitina and Howell Bosbyshell Introduction to Seminar
Sept. 6, 2018    
Sept. 13, 2018    
Sept. 20, 2018    
Sept. 27, 2018    
Oct. 4, 2018    
Oct. 11, 2018    
Oct. 18, 2018    
Oct. 25, 2018 Dr. Maureen Long, Professor, Yale University  
Nov. 1, 2018    
Nov. 8, 2018    
Nov. 15, 2018    
Nov. 22, 2018 No Seminar  
Nov. 29, 2018    
Dec. 6, 2018 Earth and Space Sciences Department Faculty, Drs. Cynthia Hall, Daria Nikitina and Howell Bosbyshell Assessment Survey

Special Courses

International Field Trips (ESS 348/548)

The Department offers field courses to study and explore geology in regions outside the United States. The field study is conducted under the supervision of West Chester faculty and graduate students, during which students learn to apply geology field methods to study geomorphology and morphotectonics. Here is a summary International trips in the past:

2009 - Peru

2011 - Costa Rica

2013  - Russia

In conjunction with Moscow State University, several students studied the most preserved geologic regions of all Europe; the Khibiny Mountains and Lovozero Tundra, the Baltic Shield.

2015 - Costa Rica

2017 - Jamaica

NEW 2018 - Iceland

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students! For more information, please contact

Dr. Daria Nikitina


Geology of the National Parks (ESS 394/594 and 395/595)

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Every two years in late summer, the Department offers a course studying field geology in the Western U.S., alternating between the NW Parks (in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) and SW Parks (in Arizona and New Mexico). In this multi-week experience, students conduct geologic mapping exercises and investigating stratigraphy, tectonic history, structural geology, igneous petrology, geomorphology, hydrogeology, soils, natural hazards, and economic resources of the national parks.

For more information, please contact

Dr. Martin Helmke


Field Trips

ESS 201 - Field Geology

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Gordon Natural Area

The Gordon Natural Area (also referred to as 'the Gordon' and ‘the GNA’) occupies approximately 135 acres along the southeastern corner of West Chester University's campus and is administered in collaboration with the University's Office of Sustainability. Established as a protected area in 1971, the GNA has since served as a refuge for local wildlife and native plants, and as a multi-use setting for researchers, nature lovers, runners, dog walkers, and people looking to reconnect with the natural world.

Student Research

2014 Northeastern Section Conference of GSA

WCU Geology majors presented their research posters at the 2014 Northeastern Section Conference of the Geological Society of America. A total of seven WCU students presented research posters that week - a record for the Department, and one of the larger University groups at the meeting.

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Field Trips

Petrology Field Trips

Petrology Field Trips 1

Petrology Field Trips 2

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy Field Trips

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy Field Trip 1

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy Field Trip 2

Structural Geology Field Trips

Structural Geology Field Trip 1

Structural Geology Field Trip 2

Summer Southwestern Parks Field Trip

Summer Southwestern Parks Field Trip

Service Learning Projects

Earth Day Fair - 2014

To benefit local land preservation and ecosystem restoration programs. 

Earth Day Fair 2014

Annual Garlic Mustard Pull

Students harvesting this non-native plant in the Gordon Natural Area.

Garlic Mustard Pull

Annual Clean-Up of Goose Creek in West Chester

Geoscience students participate in the Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association's annual clean-up of Goose Creek.

Goose Creek Cleanup Volunteer

Goose Creek Cleanup Volunteer

Tree Planting Along the Brandywine

Students planting trees along the Brandywine Creek to benefit local land preservation and ecosystem restoration programs.

Planting Along the brandywine volunteers

Planting Along the brandywine volunteers

Native Plant Gardening

Students gardening native plants at Hildacy Preserve, Natural Lands Trust

Land Preservation Project Volunteers

Brandywine Polar Plunge 2014

Students took the plunge for this fundraising event to keep the Brandywine and Red Clay Watersheds
clean and healthy, and to support environmental education at the Myrick Center.

Polar Bear Plung Sign: Today's temperatures 32 degrees, Air temperature 37 degrees

Brandywine Polar Bear Plunge sign

Brandywine Polar Bear Plunge participants

WCU Student Facilities

There are many facilities in the Department of Earth & Space Sciences available to students. These range in nature from student study areas to extensive sample collections to high-tech research equipment.

On the second floor of the Merion Science Center, where the department main office and faculty offices are located, is a student computer lab and a student library. The computer lab hosts 16 Windows PCs, a printer and scanner. The student lounge functions as a library and a place for students to gather and work on projects.

Weather Station

The department maintains a weather station on the roof of the Merion Science Center. Data collected from our local station in combined with satellite images, Doppler radar graphics, upper level atmospheric readings, and detailed surface maps which provide data concerning the conditions of the atmosphere world-wide. This data is used in classroom laboratory activities, as well as for student research projects. The Department also operates a local GPS calibration station.

Astronomical Observatory

The College of the Sciences and Mathematics maintains an astronomical observatory on the roof of the Schmucker Science Center which is overseen jointly by the Departments of Physics and Earth & Space Sciences. The main instrument is a 10-inch Meade reflecting telescope. The observatory has two SBIG CCD cameras and an SBIG stellar spectrograph. The telescope system can be used for basic observing, astrophotography, photometry, and spectroscopy. The observatory is used as an astronomical laboratory for astronomy courses and as a research area for independent study research projects. In addition to the permanently mounted telescope, there is also a suite of portable telescopes: seven 8" Dobsonian telescopes, three 8" Scmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, and a 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Other facilities and scientific equipment that are available to students for both classroom use and independent research projects include:

  • An electron microscopy laboratory equipped with an FEI Quanta 400 Scanning Electron Microscope with the Oxford 400 EDS system, and an FEI Technai 12 Transmission Electron Microscope
  • An outstanding collections of rocks, minerals, and fossils
  • A sedimentology/stratigraphy analysis laboratory
  • A geophysics lab with ground velocity station seismograph, portable signal enhancement seismograph, and flux-gate field magnetometer
  • A geochemistry laboratory
  • A petrography laboratory with optical polarizing microscopes and X-ray diffractometer
  • An X-ray flourescence spectrometer
  • A mapping laboratory with ArcMap 9, digitizer, reflection projector and drafting facilities
  • Meteorological instruments
  • GPS calibration station
Student Facilities
Student Facilities
Student Facilities

Current Research Projects

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