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Geology at Mercyhurst

The geological scientist brings a unique perspective to global change issues, as summarized by the fundamental concept: “the present is the key to the past and the past is the key to the future.”

Geology is the study of the planet Earth, its history, and the processes that act upon it. Geologists seek to understand how the earth formed and evolved into what it is today. They investigate changes that the earth has undergone in its 4.5 billion-year history as its physical, chemical, and biological systems have interacted.

Students studying this “environmental legacy” at Mercyhurst University are preparing to take an active role in the utilization of the earth's resources while protecting its fragile environment. Course work incorporates rigorous field and laboratory-based research and “hands-on” learning into the undergraduate curriculum.

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree in geology at Mercyhurst are provided the background and critical thinking skills necessary to pursue graduate study and future careers in academia, industry or government service.


Why Mercyhurst? 


Small classrooms ensure a high level of faculty-student interaction and our faculty members are dedicated to providing the highest quality instruction possible. Student-organized, but faculty-led field trips occur throughout the school year. Recent destinations include Death Valley (CA), the Grand Canyon (AZ), and Sudbury, Ontario. Externally funded projects also provide opportunities for every student to participate in faculty-supervised research.


Because of Mercyhurst University’s proximity to Lake Erie, geology majors have the unique opportunity to study Ice Age deposits and modern coastal processes on the lake shore, as well as folded sedimentary rocks of the Appalachian Mountains, and the igneous and metamorphic rocks of nearby Canada.

Sincak Natural History Exhibit

The Geology Department manages an unparalleled exhibit of casts, fossils and other natural history specimens donated to the university by Michael and Barbara Sincak. The collection is curated by geology instructor Scott McKenzie.


Field Experience

Field trips are a critical component of the geology experience - and they are fun! At its heart, geology is a field science. All of our classes include a field component. We also offer field opportunities outside the classroom for both geology majors and non-majors. Some of these opportunities are student run, and initiated and organized by the Mercyhurst Geology Club.


Destinations over the last 5 years

Lang's Eurypterid Quarry, NY
Grand Canyon, AZ/Death Valley, CA
Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA
Sudbury, ON
Serpent Mounds, OH
Northern California
Laurel Caverns, PA
Harlansburg Cave, PA
McConnell's Mills State Park, PA
Appalachian Mountains, PA and MD
Florida (May '09)
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, PA
Cleveland Museum of Natural History, PA
Linton Coal Fossil Beds, OH
Ludlowville Fm Fossil Beds, NY
Union City Dam, PA
Kelwasser interval, Silvercreek, NY

Michael and Barbra Sincak Natural History Collection

Mercyhurst College is fortunate to house the Michael and Barbra Sincak Natural History Collection, the life time accumulation of geologist Michael Sincak, and his wife and business partner Barbra. The Sincaks have traveled the world in search of the finest specimens and have made exacting casts of famous one-of-a-kind fossils from the classic museums of Europe, Asia, and the United States.

The collection includes a vibrant display of fluorescent minerals, modern and extinct animal endocasts, natural crystals, native handicrafts from exotic locations, and many other treasures. Mercyhurst is proud to exhibit:

  • Life-size Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops skull casts
  • A two ton petrified tree trunk from Indonesia
  • A 4.5 billion year old meteorite from South America
  • A five foot tall amethyst geode and many other objects

To date, over ten thousand people have seen the collection during annual exhibits. The Michael and Barbra Sincak Collection is a unique legacy that commemorates their life work and provides an awe inspiring educational resource for our students and the public.

Many of the donated specimens are not yet on display because of space limitations. The college is actively seeking the right donor or donors to build and name an atrium addition to the Zurn Science Center to house and display this and other collections as a permanent museum open to the public.