Contact Us
Department of Geology
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: (610) 526-7392
Fax: (610) 526-5086

General Information

Welcome to the Department of Geology at Bryn Mawr College. In these pages you will find information about our courses and research, our students and faculty, our undergraduate and graduate programs, our history, our facilities, and our special events.

We occupy portions of three floors at the heart of the Park Science Center. This is an appropriate location for our department, because geology combines physics and biology, chemistry and math in the interdisciplinary study of the Earth and the environment. We encourage you to come visit, explore the halls, talk with students and faculty, take classes, and learn more about your planet. You won't be disappointed.

Our Origins

Florence Bascom
Florence Bascom holding a Brunton Compass
source: Sophia Smith collection, Smith College

When Florence Bascom was granted a Ph.D. in 1893, the event made headlines in the Baltimore Sun. She was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and was then the only woman in the United States to hold a doctorate in geology. Two years later she launched the geology department at Bryn Mawr. Florence Bascom offered training in the classroom combined with field studies.

A century later, Bryn Mawr's department is still training professional women geologists, and emphasis is still placed on the importance of field work in learning to understand and manage our physical environment. There have, of course, been many changes; some, such as plate tectonics, have had profound impact on our study of the earth. Because Haverford College has no geology department, some of the geology majors at Bryn Mawr today are Haverford students. Florence Bascom's one-woman department has expanded to four faculty members and several affiliates who teach courses and conduct research in areas that include invertebrate paleontology, sedimentology, mineralogy and petrology, structural geology, tectonics and geophysics.

Facilities and Resources

The department is fortunate to have several valuable collections from which students and faculty may draw in their research and classwork. As a repository for the U.S. Geological Survey, the department has an excellent collection of topographical and geological maps and publications. The Collier Science Library carries more than 100 geoscience journals, many of which include the entire publication history from the first issue to the present. The Geology department holds extensive paleontology, mineral, and rock collections for research and teaching. Many examples are on display in the hallways of the Science Center, including a portion of the Vaux Mineral Collection. The spectacular collection of colorful multi-faceted minerals is both a campus attraction and an invaluable source of instructional specimens.

using the total station
Low-field Magnetic cage in the Bryn Mawr College Paleomagnetism Lab.

A fully-equipped rock preparation facility, with rock saws, grinding, polishing, crushing, thin section and mineral separation equipment, allows students to prepare their own samples for petrographic and geochemical analysis. Students in intermediate courses use the department's petrographic microscopes, x-ray diffractometer and modern sedimentology laboratory for close analysis of minerals and rocks. We also operate a fluid inclusion laboratory, a cathode luminescence facility, and morphometric and image analysis systems for paleontology. The Department also houses a fully equipped paleomagnetic and rock magnetics laboratory.  Field equipment includes a collection of Brunton compasses, a high-precision surveying total station (theodolite and electronic distance meter), high precision GPS (both handheld and antenna based), high precision magnetic gradiometer, rock drills and ground-penetrating radar. We maintain research collaborations with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Franklin and Marshall College, and Dickinson College. Our faculty and students occasionally visit these institutions to carry our research.

Through the generosity of alumnae, Ida Ogilvie and Clarissa Dryden, the Department is able to offer extra support for students in geology, to assist in research, travel, and scholarships.