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Welcome to the Geological Society of Minnesota

The Geological Society of Minnesota is a public-spirited, nonprofit educational organization that has been in operation since 1938. Our ongoing mission has been to promote public interest and supply educational support in the geological sciences. We do this by sponsoring free lectures and labs at the University of Minnesota, conducting statewide and regional field trips, holding classroom presentations for schools, maintaining a media library, publishing relevant information for public distribution, and maintaining and expanding upon a series of geological markers located throughout the state.

GSM's exciting, illustrated Seminars are presented by leading professionals in their fields of Geology or Earth Science. These engaging talks are free and open to the public, and are especially valuable for enthusiastic learners from secondary school students to adults. A question and answer opportunity is always included. Where else can you enjoy an intriguing exchange with a leading scientist or educator? Our novice-friendly labs demonstrate at a comfortable pace the ideas and principles of geology and earth science. They allow an involved, hands-on learning experience for beginners, or a helpful refresher for the seasoned enthusiast. These instructive sessions are also free and open to the public. Where else can you actively practice science, under expert guidance, for free? 


Seminars and Labs

The schedule of seminars and labs for 2016-2017 is now available; click here

The seminars are on Mondays at 7:00 PM on the University of Minnesota campus, except where noted otherwise.

 GSM will make any decision canceling or postponing a lecture due to inclement weather no later than 3:00PM the day of the lecture. This information will be posted on the GSM home page
The U locks its doors promptly at 7 PM.  Please wait, as a person will come every five minutes until 7:15 to let in latecomers. 

Next Seminar: January 23, 2017 7:00 PM

On the Hunt for Chunks of Earth’s Mantle in Central Arizona: Vignettes from an Active Geoscientific Study

Alan Chapman, Ph.D., Macalester College

Kenneth Keller Hall, 200 Union St. SE, Minneapolis MN 55455

Room 3-230. MAP

Note: this is the lecture room adjacent to the room used for the Fall 2016 seminars


In January, 2016, my students and I began a new project aimed at understanding ~1000 km scale tectonic displacements beneath the southwestern U.S. To date, we have recovered over 200 samples of mantle fragments (kindly brought to us from ~100 km depths beneath the surface through the explosive power of volcanoes) and we have determined the ages of approximately 10 of these samples using fancy mass spectrometers. This conversation will provide an overview of the scientific method, a glimpse into where this active project falls on the scientific method roadmap, where the project will go from this point, and an opportunity to see, touch, and smell (no tasting, please) chunks of the Earth’s mantle.


B.S. Geology, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2005)

B.S. Geophysics, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2005)

Ph.D. Geology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA (2011)

Dissertation: “Late Cretaceous gravitational collapse of the southern Sierra Nevada batholith and adjacent areas above underplated schists, southern California” Advisor: Jason Saleeby.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (September, 2011 – April, 2013) Supervisor: Mihai N. Ducea.

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow: Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA (July, 2013 – July, 2014) Supervisor: Marty Grove.

Assistant Professor of Geology: Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO (August, 2013 – August, 2015)

Assistant Professor of Geology: Geology Department, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, USA (July, 2015 – present)

RESEARCH INTERESTS: I apply a combination of structural, petrologic, geochemical and isotopic techniques to understand the formation and deformation of continental material at convergent margins.




Summer Fun Activities

Visit our Road Marker web site GSM Road Markers where we have create a geologic summer vacation game called Marker Treasure Hunt visit the site for more details.


Field Trips


GSM conducts professionally-guided field trips. Typically, these are excursions made to locations of geologic interest not usually experienced by the casual traveler. Local field trips can be as short as a few hours, others might encompass a weekend, and still others might take most or all of a week. We have travelled as near as the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and as far as the San Andreas Fault and Death Valley in California. These trips provide a satisfying and memorable learning experience because there are always plenty of opportunities to ask questions of the experts and do hands-on investigations. A comradery with enthusiastic learners and people curious about their natural environment is always a reward in itself. Depending on the destination, there may be a modest charge that includes shared expenses, and a liability waiver must be signed for each participant.  Taking part in the fun may permit Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for teachers and extra credit for students. Past and upcoming field trips are described here.

Upcoming Field Trips and Tours

On Saturday, January 28, 2:30 PM, GSM is organizing a tour of the Wildlife Science Center in Columbus, MN. The cost is $10/person, free for 3 and under, payable to WSC at the time of the tour. The tour will last 2 to 3 hours. Additional information on this trip is here. Please respond to Dave Wilhelm ( ) if you plan to participate or might participate.


Saturday, 11 Feb 2017 at 10:00AM, we will be given a tour of the American Engineering Testing Company in at 550 Cleveland Avenue North in St. Paul by Dan Vruno of AET.  Please watch for more information and we will have signup for the tour at the January 23th and February 6th lectures at the University of Minnesota.




Speakers for metro area elementary schools are available through the Public Service Committee to help enrich the education of young learners, particularly the 2nd to 4th grade levels.


Membership in the society is open to anyone with an interest in geology. The benefits of membership include:

  • Extensive Media Library - GSM maintains a collection of more than 240 geological DVDs. These are available to the members at lectures or through the mail for a nominal rental fee. Catalog
  • GSM Newsletter - A quarterly publication containing announcements of upcoming activities, interesting and informative articles on the earth sciences, GSM project and activity reports, and general club news and notices. Past issues
  • GSM Directory - An annual book that is a handy information resource, and makes it easy to access your organization.
  • The opportunity to meet others of diverse backgrounds who share an enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity for the natural world around them.
  • The rewarding feeling of supporting a public-spirited, nonprofit organization dedicated to public education.

Membership Information

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