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Faculty Image James W. Sears
Office: CHCB 362
Phone: (406) 243-5251
Email: james.sears@umontana.edu

 

Current Position:

Professor of Geosciences.

Description:

I recieved my PhD from Queen's University, Canada, in 1979, and have taught at the University of Montana since 1982. I research the structure and tectonics of the Rocky Mountain region.

Office Hours:

MWF 3-4 pm, CHCB 362

Field Of Study:

Tectonics

Structural Geology

Field Geology/ Geologic Mapping

Research Interests:

Tectonic evolution of Rocky Mountain region

Active fault zones

Deformation of unconsolidated fluvial deposits

Provenance of fluvial deposits in tectonically disrupted landscapes

Courses:

GEO 101N Introduction to Physical Geology

GEO  231 Geosciences Field Methods

GEO  315 Structural Geology

GEO 429 Field Geology

GEO 582 Topics in Structure & Geophysics

Hobbies:

Hiking, international travel.

Education:

Northern Arizona University, 1967-1971 (BS Geology)

University of Wyoming, 1972-1973 (MS Geology)

Queen's University, 1975-1979 (PhD Geology)

Teaching Experience:

1990-present         Full Professor, University of Montana

1982-1990            Associate Professor, University of Montana, Tenured in 1988

1979-1982            Assistant Professor, Auburn University

1978                      Instructor, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

1975-1978            Teaching Assistant, Queen's University

1974                        Instructor, University of Wyoming

1972-1973            Research/Teaching Assistant, University of Wyoming

1969-1971            Teaching Assistant, Northern Arizona University

TEACHING/RESEARCH AFFILIATIONS

2012                     Visiting Professor, University of Adelaide, Australia

2006                     Exchange Professor, University College, Cork, Ireland

2002-03                Exchange Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

1998                     Sabbatical at University of Wales

1993                     Honorary Research Professor, University of Adelaide, Australia

1992-93                Honorary Visiting Professor, Auckland University, NZ

1991                     Visiting Professor, University of Arizona

1984                     Visiting Professor, Universite d'Avignon, France

Affiliations:

Geological Society of America, Fellow

Tobacco Root Geological Society

Specialized Skills:

Structural analysis

Field geology

Scientific writing and editing

Professional Experience:

  • Structural geologist with many years of experience mapping and performing detailed analysis of geological deposits, including metals, petroleum, and groundwater
  • Taught/Directed University of Montana Field Geology Course in SW Montana for 30 years
  • Extensive international geological field experience in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia 
  • Geology professor at the University of Montana for 32 years
  • Published over 270 scientific works, including papers, geologic maps, and abstracts

International Experience:

FOREIGN TEACHING/RESEARCH

2012             Visiting Professor, University of Adelaide, Australia

2008-2009    UM Central Asian textbook project

2008, 2004    Siberian river expeditions

2006              Exchange Professor, University College, Cork, Ireland

2002-03         Exchange Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

1998              Sabbatical at University of Wales

1993              Honorary Research Professor, Adelaide University, Aust.

1992-93         Honorary Visiting Professor, Auckland University, NZ

1984              Visiting Professor, Universite d'Avignon, France

1975-1979     PhD student, Queen's University, Canada

Honors/Awards:

2012, 2014. Election to Executive Council of Senate (ECOS) University of Montana

2012. University of Montana Sabbatical Award, University of Adelaide, Australia

2010. TRGS Achievement Award

2009. Elected Fellow of Geological Society of America

2008. Distinguished Scholar Award, University of Montana

2006. Exchange Professor, University College, Cork, Ireland

2004. Expedition to Siberia with Russian Academy of Sciences

2002-03. Exchange Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

1998. Sabbatical at University of Wales

1987, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010. UM Merit Raises

1993. Honorary Research Professor, Adelaide University, Aust.

1992-93. Honorary Visiting Professor, Auckland University, NZ

1991. Visiting Professor, University of Arizona

1990.  Promotion to Full Professor, University of Montana

1984. Visiting Professor, Universite d'Avignon, France

1982. Promotion to Associate Professor, UM

1979. Promotion to Assistant Professor, Auburn University

1979. Geology Teacher of the Year, Auburn University

1975-77. McLaughlin Scholarship, Reinhart Fellowship, Queen's U

1972-73. Scholarship to University of Wyoming

1971. Graduation "with High Distinction", "Phi Kappa Phi"

Selected Publications:

Sears, J.W., 2014, Labrador’s drowned delta, its great lost river, and the origin of the Grand Canyon: Outcrop Magazine, v. 63, no. 2, lead story, p. 13-23.

Sears, J.W., 2013, Late Oligocene-early Miocene Grand Canyon: A Canadian connection? GSA Today, v. 23, no. 11, p. 4-10.

Sears, J.W., 2014, Tracking a big Miocene river across the Continental Divide at Monida Pass, Montana/Idaho: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 37, Ch. 4.

Sears, J.W., 2012, Transforming Siberia along the Laurussian margin: Geology, v. 40, p. 535-538.

Hendrix, M.S. and Sears, J.W., 2012, Mountain basins in Central Asia, Ch. 2, Discovering Central Asia: University of Montana Press, p. 75-111.

Sears, J.W., MacDonald, C., and Lonn, J., 2010, Lewis and Clark Line, Montana: Tectonic evolution of a crustal-scale flower structure in the Rocky Mountains, in Morgan, L.A., and Quane, S.L., eds., Through the generations: Geologic and anthropogenic field excursions in the Rocky Mountains from modern to ancient: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 18, p. 1-20

Lonn, J.D., MacDonald, C., Sears, J.W.,  and Smith, L.N., 2010, Geologic map of the Missoula East 30’ X 60’ quadrangle, western Montana: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Open File  Report 593Map, scale 1:100,000.

Sears, J.W., 2009, Great elliptical basin, western United States: Evidence for top-down control of the Yellowstonee hotspot and Columbia River Basalt Group:

 HYPERLINK "http://www.mantleplumes.org/CRBEllipse.html"

Sears, J.W., Hendrix, M.S., Thomas, R.C., and Fritz, W.J., 2009, Stratigraphic record of the Yellowstone hotspot track, Neogene Sixmile Creek Formation, SW Montana: Journal of Volcanological  and Geothermal Research.

MacLean, J., Sears, J. W., Chamberlain, K.C., Khudoley, A K, and Prokopiev, A. V., 2009, Detrital zircon geochronology of Proterozoic strata from southeastern Siberia and southwestern North America: Testing proposed paleogeographic connections, in Stone, D., ed., Geology and Tectonic Origins of Northeast Russia:  A Tribute to Leonid Parfenov: Stephan-Mueller series, European Geophysical Union.

Meere, P.A., Mulchrone, K.F., Sears, J.W., and Bradway, M.D., 2008, The effect of non-passive clast behaviour in the estimation of finite strain in sedimentary rocks: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 30, p. 1264-1271.

Sears, J.W., 2007, Lithospheric control of Gondwana breakup: Implications of a trans-Gondwana icosahedral fracture system, in Foulger, G.M., and Jurdy, D.M., eds., Plates, Plumes, and Planetary Processes: GSA Special Paper 430, p. 593-601.

Sears, J.W., 2007, Belt-Purcell basin: Keystone of the Rocky Mountain fold-and-thrust belt, United States and Canada, in  Whence the Mountains? Inquiries into the Evolution of Orogenic Systems: A Volume in Honor of Raymond A. Price: GSA Special Paper 433, p. 147-166.

Burtis, E.W, Sears, J.W., and Chamberlain, K.R., 2007, Age and petrology of Neoproterozoic intrusions in the northern Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.: Correlation with the Gunbarrel Magmatic Event, in Proterozoic Geology of Western North America and Siberia, Link, P.K., and Lewis, R.S., eds.: SEPM Special Publication 86, p. 175-192.

Sears, J.W., 2007, Rift destabilization of a Proterozoic epicontinental pediment: A model for the Belt-Purcell basin, North America, in Proterozoic Geology of Western North America and Siberia, Link, P.K., and Lewis, R.S., eds.: SEPM Special Publication 86, p. 55-64.

Other Publications:

Sears, J.W., 2014, Late Oligocene - Early Miocene Grand Canyon: A Canadian Connection? Reply to Discussion: GSA Today, v. 24.

Sears, J.W., 2014, Integration, fragmentation, re-routing of the Snake River over time: Snake River Workshop, Pocatello, ID.

Khudoley, A.K., Chamberlain, K.V., Ershova, V., Sears, J.W., Prokopiev, A.V., MacLean, J., Serkina, G., Malyshev, S., Molchanov, A., Toro, J., Vesolovskiy, R., Li, A., and Chipley, D., 2014, Proterozoic supercontinental restorations: Constraints from provenance study of Mesoproterozoic to Cambrian clastic rocks, eastern Siberia: Precambrian Research, in press.

Sears, J.W., 2014, Tracking a big Miocene river across the Continental Divide at Monida Pass, Montana/Idaho: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 37, Ch. 4.

Sears, J.W., 2014, Labrador’s drowned delta, its great lost river, and the origin of the Grand Canyon: Outcrop Magazine, v. 63, no. 2, lead story, p. 13-23.

Sears, J.W., 2013, Late Oligocene-early Miocene Grand Canyon: A Canadian connection? GSA Today, v. 23, no. 11, p. 4-10.

Sears, J.W., 2013, A big river ran through it: Reconstructing the Miocene drainage of SE Idaho and SW Montana, in Lewis, R.S., Garsjo, M.M., and Gibson, R.I., eds., Northwest Geology,  v. 42, p. 325-336.

Winston, D., and Sears, J.W., 2013, Stratigraphy of the Proterozoic Belt Supergroup and structure of the Belt Basin: Glacier National Park, in Lewis, R.S., Garsjo, M.M., and Gibson, R.I., eds., Belt Symposium V, Northwest Geology,  v. 42, p. 237-256.

Winston, D., and Sears, J.W., 2013, Stratigraphy of the Proterozoic Belt Supergroup and structure of the Belt Basin, Blackfoot River Canyon, in Lewis, R.S., Garsjo, M.M., and Gibson, R.I., eds., Belt Symposium V, Northwest Geology,  v. 42, p. 257-278.

Sears, J.W., 2012, Transforming Siberia along the Laurussian margin: Geology, v. 40, p. 535-538.

Hendrix, M.S. and Sears, J.W., 2012, Mountain basins in Central Asia, Ch. 2, Discovering Central Asia: University of Montana Press, p. 75-111.

Sears, J.W., 2011, Bedrock structure of the Lewis and Clark Line and Miocene diversion of the Clark Fork River: Field guide from Superior to Paradise, western Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 40.

Sears, J.W., MacDonald, C., and Lonn, J., 2010, Lewis and Clark Line, Montana: Tectonic evolution of a crustal-scale flower structure in the Rocky Mountains, in Morgan, L.A., and Quane, S.L., eds., Through the generations: Geologic and anthropogenic field excursions in the Rocky Mountains from modern to ancient: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 18, p. 1-20.

Sears, J.W., Link, P.K., Balgord, E.A., and Mahoney, J.B., 2010, Quartzite of Argenta, Beaverhead County, Montana, revisited: Definitive evidence of Precambrian age indicates edge of Belt basin: Northwest Geology, v. 39.

Sears, J.W., 2010, Lost lakes and re-arranged rivers: Neotectonic disruption of the Middle Miocene Big Hole River basin, SW Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 39, p. 113-121.

Sears, J.W., 2009, Straths as tectonic timelines and baselines: Example from southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 38.

Sears, J.W., 2009, Laccoliths along the Lewis and Clark line, Garrison, Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 38.

Sears, J.W., and Link, P.K., 2007, Quartzite of Argenta: Neihart Quartzite equivalent?, in Thomas, R.C., and Gibson R., eds., Geologic history of Southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 221-230.

Sears, J.W., and Thomas, R.C., 2007, Extraordinary Middle Miocene crustal disturbance in southwestern Montana: Birth of the Yellowstone hot spot? in Thomas, R.C., and Gibson R., eds., Geologic history of Southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 133-142.

Sears, J.W., 2007, Middle Miocene karst and debris flows and neotectonic faults near Clark Canyon Reservoir,  Southwest Montana, in Thomas, R.C., and Gibson R., eds., Geologic history of Southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 251-260.

Fritz, W.J., Sears, J.W., McDowell, R.J., and Wampler, J.M., 2007, Cenozoic volcanic rocks of SW Montana, in Thomas, R.C., and Gibson R., eds., Geologic history of Southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 91-110.

Sears, J.W., 2006, Self-organized breakup of Gondwana:

 HYPERLINK "http://www.mantleplumes.org/Earth Tes2.html"

www.mantleplumes.org/Earth Tess2.html.

Sears, J.W., St, George, G.M., and Winne, J.C., 2006, Truncated-icosahedral breakup of Laurasia and Gondwana and anorogenic magmatism:

 HYPERLINK "http://www.mantleplumes.org/Earth Tess.html"

www.mantleplumes.org/Earth Tess.html

.

Sears, J.W., 2006, Belt basin: A triskele rift junction, Rocky Mountains, Canada and USA: Northwest Geology, v. 35, p. 78-86.

Khudoley, A.K., Sears, J.W., and Price, R.A., 2006, Reply to comment by Natapov et al. (2005) : Precambrian Research.

Sears, J.W., Khudoley, A.K., Prokopiev , A.V., Chamberlain, K.R., and MacLean, J. S., 2006, Lithostratigraphic comparison of Meso- and Neoproterozoic strata between SE Siberia and SW Laurentia, in Stone, D.B, ed., Origin of Northeastern Russia: Paleomagnetism, Geology, & Tectonics, Geophysical Institute Report UAG-R-330 (CD publication), University of Alaska, Fairbanks AK 99775-7320  USA.

Sears, J.W., 2006, The Montana transform: Rotation along the northern boundary of the Wyoming foreland: Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 42, n.2, p. 65-76.

Sears, J.W., St. George, G.M., and Winne, J.C., 2005, Continental rift systems and anorogenic magmatism: LITHOS, v. 80, p. 145-154.

J.W. Sears, Jason Braden,  Jason Edwards,  Emily Geraghty,  Frank Janiszewski,  Michael McInenly,  John McLean, Karin Riley,  Edward Salmon, 2005, Rocky Mountain foothills triangle zone,  Sun River,  northwest Montana, in Thomas, R., ed., Annual Meeting Tobacco Root Geological Society, Northwest Geology, v. 34.

Mann, L.S., and Sears, J.W., 2004, The Contact metamorphic aureole of the Late Cretaceous Garnet stock, Garnet-Coloma area, Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 33, p. 34-48.

Sears, J.W., and Hendrix, M., 2004, Lewis and Clark line and the rotational origin of the Alberta and Helena salients, North American Cordillera, in Sussman, A., and Weil, A., eds. Orogenic curvature: Geological Society of America Special Paper, p. 383, p. 173-186.

Sears, J.W., Price, R.A., and Khudoley, A.K., 2004, Linking the Mesoproterozoic Belt-Purcell and Udzha basins across the west Laurentia-Siberia connection: Precambrian Research, v. 129, p. 291-308.

Sears, J.W., and Price, R.A., 2003, Tightening the Siberian connection to western Laurentia: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 115, p. 943-953.

Sears, J.W., and Price, R.A., 2003, The Udzha hypothesis: Siberian spillway to the Belt-Purcell basin: Northwest Geology, v. 32, p. 167-171.

Sears, J.W., and Ryan, P., 2003, Cenozoic evolution of the Montana Cordillera: Evidence from paleovalleys, in Raynolds, R., and Flores, J., eds., Cenozoic Paleogeography of western US: Denver, CO, Rocky Mountain Section, Society of Exploration Paleontologists and Mineralogists, p. 289-301.

Winston, D., Sears, J.W., and Lonn, 2003, Road log, Field Trip #1, Belt Symposium IV:  Missoula-Ravalli-Perma-St Regis-Alberton-Missoula, Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 32, p. 1-17.

Sears, J.W., and Price, R.A., 2002, Hypothetical Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Columbia: Implications of the Siberian-west Laurentian connection: Gondwana Research, v. 5, p. 35-39.

Timmons, J.M., Karlstrom, K.E., and Sears, J.W., 2003, Geologic structure of the Grand Canyon Supergroup: Chapter in Grand Canyon Geology, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, p. 76-89.

Languages Known:

  • English - elementary proficiency
  • French - elementary proficiency