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Elizabeth Petrie

Elizabeth Petrie

Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology


Ph.D., Utah State University, Geology, 2014
M.S., Utah State University, Geology, 2003
B.S., University of New Mexico, Earth & Planetary Sciences, 2000
B.S., University of New Mexico, Biology, 2000


What is your favorite thing about teaching in the Gunnison Valley?

The Gunnison Valley is a great place to learn and teach geology. From campus we can access the three main rock types in less than five miles and can explore both ancient and modern processes that shape our world, including Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks exposed at Hartman Rocks, volcaniclastics of the West Elk Mountains, the fossil-rich Morrison formation, and examples of modern landslide deposits that challenge today’s infrastructure.

What most excites you about your field?

I study structural geology, and specifically how rocks deform and how this deformation influences the movement of subsurface fluids. This topic is applicable to earthquake processes, distribution of energy and mineral resources, and subsurface storage of carbon dioxide or other waste materials. As technological advancements push to expand what is possible in the energy business, a thorough understanding of geologic processes and resource distribution makes for both a rewarding field of study and career.

I am excited to prepare students via a mix of coursework, fieldwork and independent research to meet the challenges associated with providing accessible and sustainable energy.

Courses Taught

  • GEOL 101 & 105 – Physical Geology & Lab
  • GEOL 240 – Introduction to Petroleum and Mining Geology
  • GEOL 345 – Structural Geology
  • GEOL 346 – Subsurface Geology
  • GEOL 352 – Applied Geophysics
  • GEOL 435 – Research in Structure and Tectonics
  • GEOL 450 – Field Geology
  • GEOL 453 – Advanced Field Geology
  • GEOL 455 – Petroleum Geology
  • GEOL 495 – Research Seminar in Geology
  • GEOL 497 – Special Topic: Career Pathways in Geology
  • GEOL 497 – Special Topic: Research in Structure and Tectonics

Research Interests

Structural geology, fracture analysis, rock mechanics and fracture development. Specifically, I study fracture development and propagation, and the history of fluid flow through permeable, subsurface fractures in and across various sedimentary rock types. My research combines quantitative observations from outcrop, laboratory experiments, and subsurface data sets to understand the formation and distribution of subsurface fractures and fault zones. I focus on the role variations in rock mechanical properties have on failure across many scales of observation.

Research in Progress

  • Fault zone architecture and permeability development
  • Structural diagenesis – the creation and destruction of porosity and permeability due to deformation
  • Rock mechanics and fault zone processes
  • Fracture distribution and morphology in fine-grained lithologies

Student Mentoring

  • Adam Simonsen 2018-2019, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2019
  • Stefan Whiting, 2017-2018, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2018
  • Nathan Cote, 2015-2017, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2017
  • Mark McClernan, 2016-2017, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2017
  • Camille O’Connell, 2015-2016, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2017
  • Aric Snellstrom, 2016, B.S. Geology – Petroleum Geology Emphasis – 2016
  • Matthew Tello, 2015, B.S. Geology – 2015

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