Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Kurt Katzenstein
Understanding Earth’s Dynamic Processes
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Teaching synopsis

I place a great deal of importance on my teaching and I derive a great deal of pleasure from the give and take that occurs with students in the classroom and in the field. I strive to provide current and stimulating course content that will prepare our graduates for successful careers in their chosen field. Specific courses that I teach include:
  • GEOE/MEM 110L - Introduction to Geological and Mining Engineering, 1 cr. (0-1) An introductory course for incoming freshmen in geological and mining engineering covering fundamental engineering practices in both disciplines. The course includes short field exercises, hands-on practical exercises, group projects, problem solving (using spreadsheets and other current methods), and engineering ethics. When applicable, industry experts will be invited as guest lecturers to discuss current trends and practices in the industry.

  • GEOE 221 - Geology for Engineers, 3 cr. (2-1) Basic concepts of the study of the earth, with emphasis on geological processes acting on the earth?s surface. Topics include rock forming processes and identification, mass wasting, groundwater, surface water, glaciers, coastal processes, and earthquakes. Emphasis is given to engineering significance of processes and their resulting deposits.

  • GEOE 466/566 - Environmental and Engineering Geology, 3 cr. (2-1) The application of geology to engineering, including topics such as landslides, earthquakes, fluvial processes, land subsidence, and their global context. Field trips and laboratory exercises illustrate the influence of geology on the environment. Computer applications are required for problem assignments and a final comprehensive report (oral and written) involving the design of engineering works in complex geological terrain.

  • GEOE 467/567 - Introduction to Geomechanics, 3 cr. (3-0) An introduction to topics relevant to rock fracture as it pertains to geological engineering. This includes discussion of stress and strain, properties and classification of continuous and discontinuous rock masses, and discussion of rock fracture mechanisms.

  • GEOE 711 - Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry, 3 cr. (3-0) Application of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) as a tool used to measure ground surface displacements resulting from both natural and anthropogenic sources. The course will cover the history of radar imagery acquisition, InSAR theory and limitations, InSAR processing methodology, and post-processing techniques.

  • GEOE 410 - Engineering Field Geology, 6 cr. (0-6) Instruction and practice for both team and independent work involving field techniques for geological engineering. Field work is conducted for five weeks at numerous sites throughout the Black Hills. The field mapping section teaches construction of engineering stratigraphic columns, geologic maps, and structural cross-sections. Field techniques are taught for rock strength assessment, hydrologic analysis of surface and groundwater, and performing engineering site characterizations. Slope stability computer models are used to analyze field data and design engineering slopes in rock and soil. Written or oral engineering reports accompany all projects.

  • Other courses taught (both past and present) Between 2013 and 2022 I led and taught the Geology Rocks high school youth camp. This one-week summer camp exposes young, budding geologists to the rich geology of the Black Hills. IN the summer of 2024, I will offer a new summer camp called Geoengineering Our Planet. Come and find out what geological engineering is all about! In the past I have also taught GEOE 324 - Engineering Geophysics, GEOL 331 - Stratigraphy and Sedimentology, GEOL 341 - Mineralogy and Petrology for Mining Engineers, GEOL 403 - Regional Field Geology, GEOL 420 - Remote Sensing, GEOE 468 - Geohazards and GEOL/GEOE 790 - Ethics and Professionalism.

contact: Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., SDSMT, Rapid City, SD 57701
phone: (605)394-2346 / email: