Graduate Opportunities

Graduate opportunities in Geology at Northern Arizona University.

Funding in the Geology Program, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability is available beginning Fall 2014 for 3-4 PhD and 4-5 MS Geology students in: 



Pennsylvanian – Permian Stratigraphy and Tectonics (Paul Umhoefer lead). 

River science and geomorphology in the Colorado River basin including Grand Canyon (USGS-NAU and Rod Parnell lead). 

Turkey, Indonesia (Mary Reid lead). 

     A project targeted at the recent evolution of the Toba Caldera Complex in Indonesia, including the highly explosive 75 ka Youngest Toba Tuff and the subsequent, more quiescent post-caldera eruptions. This study aims to reconcile the various crystal-scale records for the origin, assembly, and thermal history of the magmatic systems responsible for these eruptions. Your research would contribute to understanding magmatic signals in the lead-up to eruptions, and the potential for future volcanic hazards associated with this volcano.  Please contact Mary Reid ( for more information.

Development of escape tectonics and surface-to-mantle dynamics of Anatolia (Paul Umhoefer and Mary Reid lead).

     A large, international and multidisciplinary project to investigate the development of escape tectonics and surface-to-mantle dynamics of Anatolia (Turkey). At NAU, we are focusing on igneous petrology and geochemistry of Miocene to Quaternary volcanic rocks (Mary Reid) and sedimentary geology and basin tectonics (Paul Umhoefer). Your research would provide new insights into the origin of this region’s enigmatic intraplate volcanism, and complement other components of the CD-CAT project, including seismology, structural geology, geochronology, low-temperature geochemistry, metamorphic petrology, geomorphology, and numerical modeling. Interested students should visit the project’s web site ( for more information and contact details. Please contact Mary Reid ( for more information.  

Holocene climate change (Darrell Kaufman lead).

Water management, governance, and policy related to forest restoration  (Erik Nielsen lead) (pending availability of funding; 2 M.S. in Environmental Sciences and Policy and 1 Ph.D.)   

Forest restoration paired observational watershed study  (Abe Springer) (pending availability of funding; 1 M.S. in Geology and 1 PhD.) 


Water management (Abe Springer & Erik Nielsen lead).

   Water management and policy related to energy resources.


Sedimentary record of Permian magmatism and tectonics of the Southwest (Nancy Riggs lead).

     Magmatism began diachronously off western North America in Early Permian to Triassic time.  Plutonic and volcanic evidence of the earliest magmatism is sparse, and so we look to the sedimentary record to understand when subduction began.  A fully funded MS project is available that encompasses a detailed stratigraphic study of the Permian Monos Formation in Sonora, Mexico, which likely holds the oldest record of magmatism.  The Monos Fm is limestone and silty to sandy limestone; a large part of the project will entail a detailed detrital zircon study.  Contact Nancy Riggs ( for more information.

Northern Arizona Volcanism (Michael Ort lead

     Tephrostratigraphy and characterization of the scoria clasts from the Sunset Crater eruption (~1085CE).  The MS student would work with Michael Ort on refining our knowledge of how the magma of this iconic Strombolian to violent Strombolian eruption was able to produce high sustained eruption columns (perhaps up to 20 km in height) at the same time it effused (apparently passively) three lava flows.  We will develop a solid knowledge of the stratigraphy and then characterize the scoria (shape, vesicularity, composition, textures) in order to understand how it fragmented, at what depth, and whether different magma types can be identified. Contact Michael Ort ( for more information.


Application deadline February 1, 2014;  more information at: