Short Courses

Early registration deadline: 1 October.
(Registration opens in June.)
Cancellation deadline: 8 Oct.
Registration after 1 Oct. costs an additional US$30
(price increase is already reflected below).

Learn and explore a new topic!

Short courses are open to everyone. Early registration is highly recommended to ensure that courses will run.

Friday Courses

Click on title for abstract and details.

Abstract: This one-day course will provide faculty, students, and professionals with an introduction to Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS—a.k.a., ground-based lidar) for research and education. TLS provides high-resolution three-dimensional images of geologic features and has emerged is a powerful tool for applications ranging from outcrop mapping to analysis of earth-surface processes. The course will focus on TLS technology, data collection, processing and analysis, and examples of science and educational applications. A combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations of TLS equipment and data processing will be used. Limited financial support may be available for students (see the UNAVCO Short Course Series page). This course can be taken alone or together with "High Resolution Topography and 3D Imaging II: Introduction to Structure from Motion (SfM) Photogrammetry" (course #510) for an introduction to 3D imaging technology that compliments TLS.


Friday-Saturday Courses

Click on title for abstract and details.

Abstract: Participants will acquire and practice strategies and tactics to prepare for and lead safe and effective field activities. The first day of this fully interactive course covers injuries and illnesses that occur commonly during field activities, why accidents occur (human factors analysis), a first-aid review, and the field safety process in normal operations and emergency response through scenario analysis, problem solving, and role play. Participants will also practice using field safety training materials and modules designed for field camp students and suitable for use in field methods classes. On the second day, participant teams will take turns leading a model field day at a site near Indianapolis, including briefings, driving, hiking, risk assessment, intervening for safety, safety equipment use, and emergency response drills. Participants will receive copies of the Field Safety in Uncontrolled Environments textbook, field-safety notebook, and training modules. (Although not required, previous participants have suggested that having wilderness first aid or equivalent training will enhance the course experience. This course is not intended to compete with any commercially available first aid training. The participants will not receive any level of first-aid certification [and it is not linked to the American Red Cross digital certification system]).

Abstract: This course will explore the concepts, methods, and tools of petroleum geoscience used on a day-to-day basis in the energy industry. We will focus on how we make decisions with limited information, evaluate risk vs. uncertainty, and maximize value from integrated teams. Day 1 reviews fundamental stratigraphic and structural concepts. Day 2 is an applied problem in basin exploration. Students will make play maps, bid on prospective acreage, and analyze individual prospects within that acreage. Throughout the course, we will stress integration across disciplines and scales, focusing on interaction and expression of basin formation, fill, and evolution processes from regional to prospect scale.

Abstract: This two-day short course is designed to teach graduate students the principles, concepts, and methods of sequence stratigraphy. Sequence stratigraphy is a methodology that uses stratal surfaces to subdivide the stratigraphic record. This methodology allows the identification of coeval facies, documents the time-transgressive nature of classic lithostratigraphic units, and provides geoscientists with an additional way to analyze and subdivide the stratigraphic record. Using exercises that utilize outcrop, core, well-log, and seismic data, the course provides hands-on experience. The exercises include classic case studies from which many sequence stratigraphic concepts were originally developed.


Saturday Courses

Click on title for abstract and details.

Abstract: This course covers a bit of everything about GPR. The classroom agenda covers basic GPR theory, instrumentation, and survey design. The field portion takes the class outside to collect some data, including GPR cross sections integrated with GPS and a grid survey over a rectangular area of about 15 × 15 meters. Afterward, we will return to the classroom, install software on the students PCs, and transfer the data from the GPR system to everyone's computers. Students will learn about plotting data as cross-sections, 2D depth slices, and 3D cubes. At the same time, we will discuss principles of interpreting GPR data and how to present GPR data effectively for scientific papers and reports. GPS integration and displaying data in Google Earth is also covered. Case studies are presented to expose students to data from other application areas.

Abstract: This short course will focus on the application of detrital zircon U-Th-Pb geochronology to studies of sedimentary provenance, maximum depositional age, and source terrane characterization. The first part of the course will present an overview of the theoretical basis and best practices for all aspects of a detrital zircon study, from sample collection, through imaging and analysis, to data reporting. For each step, the important assumptions, strengths, and weaknesses will be discussed. The second half will focus on opportunities to improve the information available from detrital zircon geochronologic studies. We will focus on (1) improved methods for large-n geochronology, (2) using spatial resolution to deal with complex zircons, (3) application of complementary geochemical and isotopic systems (e.g., Hf and O isotopes, trace and REE abundances), (4) analysis of other minerals (e.g., monazite, titanite, apatite, rutile, baddeleyite), and (5) development of new software systems that allow researchers to view/analyze U-Th-Pb data real-time, compare age distributions quantitatively, and integrate information from imaging and complementary geochemical/isotopic/thermochronologic analyses. The course will be geared toward faculty/professional researchers and students who are involved in detrital zircon geochronologic research, and operators of labs that plan to conduct geochronologic analyses of detrital minerals.

Abstract: The need to understand past, present, and future climate variability, along with the renewed search for energy and increased interest in understanding the impact of humans on the environment has led to new insights in limnogeology. Through the use of new proxies and improvements in analytical tools, knowledge of the field has expanded rapidly. The purpose of this course is to provide a broad understanding of limnogeology and to provide information as to how best to design a multi-proxy study in an environment of decreasing funding opportunities. This short course is directed primarily toward students and early career scientists.

Abstract: Structure from Motion (SfM), a photogrammetric technique that uses overlapping images to construct 3D surface models, is quickly emerging as a valuable research and education tool in geodesy, geomorphology, structural geology, and related disciplines. Images can be collected with a standard consumer-grade camera, making SfM a low-cost tool that compliments other 3D imaging technologies, such as terrestrial and airborne laser scanning (lidar). SfM can be collected from a hand-held camera or an airborne platform such as an aircraft, tethered balloon, kite, or UAS (unmanned aerial system), enabling 3D imaging of features ranging in size from decimeters to several kilometers. This one-day course will provide faculty, students, and professionals with an introduction to SfM technology, data collection and processing, and examples of science and educational applications. A combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations of SfM equipment and data processing will be used. This course can be taken alone, or together with "High Resolution Topography and 3D Imaging I: Introduction to Terrestrial Laser Scanning" (course #501) for an introduction to 3D imaging technology that compliments SfM.

Abstract: This short course is designed for any inexperienced or novice users of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS; "drones")—students, faculty, or professionals. No prior experience with drones is required. Although topics covered may be insufficiently advanced for intermediate- to expert-sUAS users, such users are nevertheless highly encouraged to participate and share their knowledge and experience during group work. Topics covered will include sUAS hardware and software basics, current U.S. national and state rules/regulations, and case studies in state-of-the-art applications including orthomosaic and structure-from-motion (SfM) techniques. Working groups will be used throughout the workshop.

Abstract: This workshop offers strategies for attracting students to the geosciences and for helping them thrive, particularly those from groups underrepresented in the geosciences. We will explore a range of approaches to broaden participation and foster inclusion and a model for holistic programs that support the whole student. We will demonstrate examples of using course outcomes data on participation and success to investigate questions related to student population demographics. Workshop participants will leave with specific practical strategies to implement in their classes and programs, as well as with examples of discussion points to bring back to their programs.

Abstract: Almost all geoscientists working in an academic setting are required to teach and increasingly, to do so online. Passive learning approaches are often imported into the digital environment resulting in worse outcomes for students, especially disadvantaged ones. However, research and development over the past few decades have identified effective active learning methodologies for use in the digital classroom. This course will review the research, explore tools for active digital teaching, and provide training in these tools. We will also explore how to build place-based and culturally relevant content to reach a wider variety of learners than typical online content.

Abstract: Dynamic and interactive visualizations are critical to the effective communication of your complex data, but where to start? This short course offers an introduction to some simple and accessible ways to display your data, with a discussion of more advanced techniques. The conveners will also seek the input of attendees on what an ideal publication should offer authors so they can best explain and disseminate their ideas.

Abstract: Bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, microaggressions. If you've ever witnessed any of these behaviors among colleagues, you know the negative consequences. We'll discuss how these behaviors manifest and develop, how they impact underrepresented groups in the workforce, and what it means to be an active bystander and ally to promote a positive and supportive workforce. At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to identify (1) different ways in which sexual harassment, bullying, and microaggressions can manifest in workplace environments; (2) strategies for bystander intervention; and (3) resources to share with their institutions or companies for promoting cultural change.

Abstract: This half-day class gives participants an overview of the evolution of oil and gas accumulations from the preservation of organic material in sediments to the eventual entrapment of hydrocarbons in the subsurface. The lectures focus on the elements of a petroleum system — source rock, reservoir, and seal; and the essential processes — trap formation and hydrocarbon generation, migration, accumulation, and preservation. This multidisciplinary petroleum systems approach is built upon the geologic and geochemical framework of sedimentary basins that aid exploration and development geologists in the prediction of hydrocarbon occurrence, quality, and quantity in all types of basins regardless of age, size, or hydrocarbon potential in both conventional and unconventional plays. No experience or prerequisite is required other than basic geological knowledge.

Abstract: This short workshop for students will cover how to promote your work at GSA 2018 and beyond. In these two hours, you will learn to better connect with your audience, be challenged to recognize and convey the societal relevance of geoscience research, develop an elevator speech you can use throughout the meeting, and learn some tips on how to leave a (positive) lasting impression. This short course will be almost completely hands on, so come ready to let down your guard, meet your peers, have fun, and walk out ready for GSA 2018.

Abstract: This short course will focus on developing geoscience students' spatial thinking skills through research-based curricular materials. We will focus on strategies and tools that support students with a range of spatial skills without imposing additional burdens on the instructor. We will highlight two spatial learning principles: spatial feedback and spatial accommodation. Spatial feedback is feedback in the form of spatial information that allows students to see and correct any errors they made due to an incorrect mental model. Spatial accommodation is the adjustment needed to revise mental models based on spatial feedback. This accommodation can be in the form of small adjustments to a mental model, significant reconstruction of an existing mental model, or development of an entirely new mental model. We will review the cognitive science research related to spatial feedback and spatial accommodation and will show examples of curricular materials that incorporate these principles. Curricular materials will be suitable for a range of class sizes and course levels. Participants should come prepared with assignments that students find challenging. The second half of the short course will be work time to develop materials for providing spatial feedback to students working on these problems, in consultation with the leaders.

Abstract: Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are a common means of delivering high-impact activities to a broader cross section of students. They can even be expanded into multi-semester, curriculum-based research experiences as we have done. However, assessing student learning in CUREs is complex since the impacts are often highly individualized. We will demonstrate how acquisition of qualitative and quantitative data — a mixed methods approach — can be utilized to explore nuances in student outcomes. The workshop will be useful for current faculty, Ph.D. students and postdocs pursuing teaching positions, and department chairs interested in implementing and assessing undergraduate research programs. Our work is supported by NSF IUSE.


Associated Society Courses

Click on title for abstract and details.

Paleontological Society

Pre-register for
This Course
Registration: We're asking participants to commit to attending by pre-registering and uploading a course syllabus related to paleontology and/or earth history by 15 October. Those who haven’t yet developed a syllabus are welcome to attend as well. Pre-registration is not required to attend the short course but highly encouraged.

Abstract: The Paleontological Society Short Course for 2018 will focus on undergraduate education in paleontology and earth history. The program includes a combination of lectures and breakout sessions with a focus on general teaching topics in the morning, and teaching with online databases (including the Paleobiology Database, Macrostrat, and Neotoma) in the afternoon. Topics to be presented include active learning strategies, flipped classrooms, incorporating research into teaching, kinesthetic learning, how students learn, diversity and inclusion in the classroom, and confronting prior conceptions.

The workshop will cater to both early career participants (including students and post-docs) and later career participants. Our target audience includes two and four year college faculty who teach (or are interested in teaching) introductory geology, historical geology, and/or paleontology courses. Sample teaching ideas and activities will be made freely available and short course presentations will be published as an online volume.

More information


Canceled Courses

Sorry, this course has been canceled.

NOTE: If you've already registered for the meeting and wish to add a course, please contact GSA Sales & Service, +1-888-443-4472.

Industry Tracks

GSA offers courses relevant to applied geoscientists. Look for these icons that identify sessions in the following areas:
Economic Geology
Engineering Geology
Hydrogeology & Environmental Geology

Courses will be held at either the Indiana Convention Center (ICC) or the JW Marriott Hotel.

See Map


Can I take a short course if I am not registered for the meeting?
YES! You’re welcome to—just add the meeting nonregistrant fee (US$40) by 1 Oct. to your course enrollment cost. Should you then decide to attend the meeting, your payment will be applied toward meeting registration.

GSA K–12 teacher members: You are welcome to take short courses without registering for the meeting or paying the nonregistrant fee.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs): Most professional development courses and workshops offer CEUs. One CEU comprises 10 hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction. [more]

Questions about short courses?

Jennifer Nocerino