Earth & Environmental Research

Focused Research

The UMD campus, located on the Canadian Shield, is in and near classic areas of Precambrian geology with spectacular Pleistocene glacial deposits and Lake Superior on our doorstep.

Paleozoic strata are easily found in southern Minnesota and there are a lot of hydrogeology opportunities. However, our research projects extend to other countries and other terrestrial planets!

For example, our faculty have research interests in Wyoming, the Four Corners, Barbados, Spain, Malawi, Krygystan, Papua New Guinea, Antarctica and Venus.

Working with Students

All of our faculty are involved in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and the department has scholarships for undergraduate students who are interested in research.

Areas of Expertise

Faculty conduct research in many geoscience fields, including:

  • Climate change & paleoclimatology [BrengmanBrown, Steinman, Daniels]
  • Fluvial Geomorphology [Gran]
  • Geochemistry & isotope geochemistry [BrengmanBrownGallup, Steinman]
  • Geomicrobiology [Todd]
  • Glacial geology & geomorphology [GranSwenson,]
  • Hydrogeology [Swenson]
  • Igneous & metamorphic petrology [Davis]
  • Lakes and limnology [BrownWattrus]
  • Planetary geology & remote sensing [Wattrus]
  • Sedimentology, basin analysis & basin modeling [BrengmanGranSwenson]
  • Seismology and acoustic geophysics [Wattrus]
  • Tectonics & structural geology [Davis, Gallup, Braunagel]
  • Conservation paleobiology, paleoecology, marine invertebrates [Smith]
  • Paleolimnology [Daniels]
  • Geomechanics [Braunagel]

Research Partners

Large Lakes Observatory (LLO)

Conducts research on Lake Superior and other large lakes of the world, including several in East Africa, Central America and Asia.

Field equipment and instrumentation available to LLO include an 87 ft. research vessel for work on the Great Lakes, high-resolution seismic reflection, multi-beam and side-scan sonar profiling systems, various coring systems and water sampling equipment. LLO has a general purpose sediment analysis lab, a sedimentary geochemistry lab, and a sample archive facility, along with laboratories in physical and chemical limnology.

UMD Video on water research 

Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

Located nearby in Duluth, this research institution houses a variety of lab facilities including a GIS system. Scientists at NRRI participate in joint research projects in the fields of economic geology, hydrology, and limnology.


Weather Station


Continuous Research

The EES department installed a weather station in Hartley Park in 2022 as part of a research effort to determine a water budget for Hartley Pond.  The weather station is also used by students in a Field Hydrology course each fall.  The weather station can now be accessed at"