Arctic REU Greenland

Arctic REU Greenland: Earth and Environmental Processes from the Inland Ice to the Ocean along the Aasivissuit–Nipisat World Heritage Corridor

Research Topics:  Structural geology, earthquake geology, environmental change, ice sheet albedo

Location:  Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

On-Site Field and Lab Research:  ~June 19 to August 8, 2024

Applications Open: December 18, 2023. Application Deadline: February 12, 2024 (11:59 PM MST)

Note: REUs are competitive, so be sure to broadly apply to other REU opportunities. 


This NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) is focused on developing skills in arctic geoscience research. Our work will integrate studies of bedrock geology with records of environmental change in a remote, international setting. 

Research projects include: (1) geologic mapping and analysis of Proterozoic metamorphic bedrock and fault geometry to better understand earthquake rupture dynamics and landscape development; (2) lake coring to evaluate post-glacial environmental change and ecological succession during ice retreat; (3) evaluation of nutrient inputs to glacial and pro-glacial lakes; and (4) field calibration of ice albedo on a retreating ice sheet margin. Participants will present their research at a national scientific conference in the fall and prepare an ArcGIS StoryMap to explaining their research experience to the general public. 

REU Directors and Mentors

Dr. Joseph L. Allen, Director, Concord University (Athens, WV)

Dr. David McWethy, Co-Director, Montana State University (Bozeman, MT)

Additional Mentors*: Dr. Stephen Kuehn (Concord University), Dr. Tom Saladyga (Concord University), Dr. Melissa Chipman (Syracuse University), Dr.  Mark Skidmore (Montana State), Dr. Colin A. Shaw (Montana State), Dr. Jean Dixon (Montana State), Dr. Trista Vick-Majors (Michigan Tech), and Dr. Eric Sproles (Montana State). 

*All additional mentors will not participate every year. Once students are accepted, we will match mentors with student interests. 

Graduate Assistants: Shannon Hamp and Duilio Fonseca (both Montana State Optical Remote Sensor Laboratory, Dept. Computer and Electrical Engineering)

Photos: Students measuring the orientation of a reverse fault lined with pseudotachlyte and offsetting a pegmatite dike. Below: Field work on the Ikertooq Fjord by student-skippered zodiac in 2015. 

Student Support and Logistics

Support includes a $4800 stipend plus an additional $1000 to obtain your own cool-weather field clothing, a sleeping bag, a passport, and an iPad for geologic mapping. Travel, including travel to/from your home, lodging, and about 95% of meals are provided (airline travel days are student responsibility). 

The expedition will depart from Scotia, New York for Sisimiut, Greenland, via Kangerlusuaq. We will camp 5-6 days/week on a remote island and spend 2 days/week in dormitory- or hostel-style housing in Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq. While camping, tents, meals, and cooking gear, will be provided.  


April-June 2024: Weekly online meetings and logistical planning. 

~June ~19-26: Lab work and orientation, Concord University and Montana State University. Professional development activities. 

~June 27-July 18: Field work based in Sisimuit and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. 

~July 19-Aug 8: Campus-based lab research at Concord University and Montana State University. Professional development activities. 

September: Three weekly online meetings and final review of research posters; additional career and graduate school mentoring

October or December: Presentation of your research results at a professional conference such as the Geological Society of America or American Geophysical Union with additional career and graduate school mentoring (optional; funding provided)

Am I Qualified?

Applicants should be undergraduates who are rising sophomore, junior, or senior geology/geoscience or Earth science majors. We can consider some related disciplines such as ecology and environmental sciences, especially if you are at an institution without a geology major and as long as you have coursework in geology, chemistry, and physics.

Ideally, applicants will have completed or be enrolled in a course in mineralogy, petrology, or Earth materials although this is not required, especially for rising sophomores or two-year college applicants. Coursework in structural geology and/or field geology or field methods is useful. 

NSF requires REU participants to be US citizens or permanent residents

Participants must have a planned date of graduation no earlier than December, 2024. Because of the late start time, students completing a geology field camp early in the summer might be able to attend this REU. 

We encourage applications from first-generation college students, veterans, and members of underrepresented groups including women, minorities, and native Alaskans.  We also encourage applications from students at community colleges and  from institutions with limited research opportunities. 

Photographs of pseudotachylyte generated by frictional melting during earthquake slip. The pseudotachylyte appears as black glassy veins incorporating fragmented clasts of the host gneiss that survived melting. REU participants will conduct field work and mapping on these unusual rocks to better understand how earthquake ruptures behave in the deep crust. Top/left photo shows an example of a pair of veins between the orange notebook and pen. These formed during a single earthquake rupture and can be mapped for 10s of meters along strike.