The Geology/Paleontology faculty are exploring processes recorded in the rock record, including sedimentary, structural, igneous, marine, planetary and glacial geology; paleontology and geobiology. Research is process-oriented and interdisciplinary, with a strong field component. Active areas of research include faulting and crustal deformation within the lithopshere and along tectonic plate boundaries, the sedimentary record of climate and sea-level change, tectonic drivers of magmatism, volcanic systems, the evolution of the crust and mantle in the context of seafloor spreading, subduction zone processes, arc magmatism and ocean island volcanoes, glacial and landslide geomorphology, the structure and evolution of deeply exhumed rocks, and the evolution of life. Many of these topics include both terrestrial and marine approaches. The faculty has developed strong collaborations with scientists at the American Museum of Natural History.
Two laws were passed in 1989 that have greatly enhanced the North Dakota Geological Survey's ability to manage the State's paleontological resources. The first of these laws, North Dakota's Paleontological Resource Protection Act (Section 54-, .) , gives the North Dakota Industrial Commission, acting through the office of the State Geologist, the responsibility to protect paleontological resources located on land owned by the State or its political subdivisions. Also in 1989, the North Dakota Geological Survey was given statutory responsibility to operate and maintain a public repository for North Dakota fossils ( Section 54-, . ). The North Dakota State Fossil Collection is housed at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck. (location map)