Dr. Sarah DeanAssistant Professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences
Sarah Dean has been teaching at Hope College since 2020. She joined the faculty after six years in the oil and gas industry as a production geologist and exploration geologist. She worked in the unconventional (fracking) fields in the west Texas Permian Basin, as well as deep water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. She has experience in numerical DEM and structural restorations, as well as physical modeling.
Her courses include Planet Earth, How the Earth Works, Intro to Environmental Science, Regional Geology, and Structural Geology. She also teaches a First Year Seminar on Science and Christianity: are they in conflict or accord with one another?
Dr. Dean got into geology due to her love of field work, then ironically spent 10+ years studying the subsurface in a lab and on a computer. At Hope, she’s enjoyed stepping back into field work: her lab students visit dunes near campus with her regularly, and her Regional Geology class does field work with her in Utah.
AREAS OF INTEREST AND EXPERTISE
Dr. Dean’s current research focus is salt and shale tectonics, focusing on the Gulf of Mexico.
Her research investigates shale tectonics of passive margins using physical models. In other words, they have fun making a mess by creating deltas out of clay to simulate real geologic processes — looking at the implications for both geologic hazards and opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico’s oil and gas province. Her student researchers make clay slurries, help run experiments, and analyze the results through section analysis and video analysis using MATLAB and PIV.
Previous Research Projects
- Created computer models to study the formation of structures in fold and thrust belts in the Canadian Cordillera
- Created computer and physical (sand and clay) models to study the shale tectonics of the Niger Delta
- Collected and analyzed seismic data (on board the R/V Marcus G. Langseth) off the coast of Spain to study the rifting of the Atlantic margin in a sediment and magma poor location.
- Ph.D., Earth science, Rice University, 2014
- B.S., geology, Hope College, 2009
HONORS, GRANTS AND AWARDS
- Julia Van Raalte Reimold Faculty Study Award (Nyenhuis program), Hope College, 2022
- Wichers Fund for Faculty Development grant (Nyenhuis program), Hope College, 2021
- “Influence of Mobile Shale on Thrust Faults: Insights from Discrete Element Simulations” (with J. Morgan and J. P. Brandenburg), AAPG Bulletin, 2015
- “Galicia Bank Ocean–Continent Transition Zone: New Seismic Reflection Constraints” (with D. S. Sawyer and J. K. Morgan), Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2015
- “Geometries of Frontal Fold and Thrust Belts:Insights from Discrete Element Simulations” (with J. K. Morgan and T. Fournier), Journal of Structural Geology, 2013
- “Investigating Gravity-driven Shale Tectonics: Results from Clay Models,” presentation with C. Soucy at Geological Society of America conference, 2021
- “Influence of Mobile Shale on Thrust Faults: Insights from Discrete Element Simulations” (with J. K. Morgan), presentation at American Geophysical Union conference, 2013
- “Effects of Syntectonic Sedimentation on Cordilleran Triangle Zones: Insights from DEM Simulations” (with T. Fournier and J. K. Morgan), presentation at American Geophysical Union conference, 2011
- “The Formation and Evolution of Triangle Zones in Fold-and-thrust-belts: Insights from DEM Simulations” (with T. Fournier and J. K. Morgan), presentation at = Geological Society of America conference, 2011
- “Deformation and Migmatization in the Stensjostrands Naturreservat, Halland Province SW Sweden” (with A. Pinan-Llamas et al.), presentation at Geological Society of America conference, 2008
- Dean, S., Hansen, E., Fisher, T., DeVries-Zimmerman, S. 2007. “Geomorphic History of Coastal Dunes North of Saugatuck Michigan: The Role of Sand Supply” (with E. Hansen et al.), presentation at International Association for Great Lakes Research Conference, 2007
- “Geomorphic History of the Saugatuck Dunes: Clues from an Inland Dune Lake, presentation at Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters annual conference, 2007
OUTSIDE THE COLLEGE
Dr. Dean enjoys reading, crafts and hiking (does this count as geology when you do it to look at rocks?). Her vacations are usually devoted to chasing her niece and nephews around and trying to tempt them into science experiments. Every fall she can be found hunched over her sewing machine with a hot glue gun in one hand and a crochet needle in the other, making them Halloween costumes. Some projects are more successful than others!