Charles E. Jones

Senior Lecturer, Geology Advisor


Charles E. Jones
503 SRCC
4107 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Dr. Jones received his D.Phil. in geology at Oxford University in 1992.  He was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan from 1992 to 1996, taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1996 to 2000, and came to the University of Pittsburgh in 2000.  He is both lecturer and advisor to the geology bachelor of science program.

  • Research
  • Publications
  • Teaching

Dr. Jones’ past research has focused on seawater strontium isotopes in the Jurassic and Cretaceous, the causal relationships between negative excursions in the strontium-isotope curve and the so-called oceanic anoxic events, eolian inputs of rare earth elements and lead into the North Pacific, and the radiometric dating of carbonates.  More broadly, Dr. Jones is interested in many facets of sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, evolution, extinction, paleoceanography, paleoclimate, and geochemistry.  The world is, after all, an interesting place.

Jones, C.E., and Jones, N.W., 2013, Laboratory Manual for Physical Geology, 8th edition, McGraw-Hill, 352pp.

Jones, C.E. and Jenkyns, H.C., 2001, Seawater Sr isotopes, oceanic anoxic events, and sea-floor hydrothermal activity in the Jurassic and Cretaceous, American Journal of Science v. 301, p. 112-149.

Jones, C.E., Halliday, A.N., Rea, D.K., and Owen, R.M., 2000, Eolian inputs of Pb to the North Pacific, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 64, p. 1405-1416.

Jones, C.E., Halliday, A. N., and Lohmann, K. C., 1995, The impact of diagenesis on high-precision U-Pb dating of ancient carbonates; an example from the Late Permian of New Mexico: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 134, no. 3-4, p. 409-423.

Jones, C.E.., Halliday, A. N., Rea, D. K., and Owen, R. M., 1994, Neodymium isotopic variations in North Pacific modern silicate sediment and the insignificance of detrital REE contributions to seawater: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 127, no. 1-4, p. 55-66.

Jones, C.E., Jenkyns, H. C., Coe, A. L., and Hesselbo, S. P., 1994, Strontium isotopic variations in Jurassic and Cretaceous seawater: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 58, no. 14, p. 3061-3074.

Jones, C.E., Jenkyns, H. C., and Hesselbo, S. P., 1994, Strontium isotopes in Early Jurassic seawater: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 58, no. 4, p. 1285-1301.

Jones, C.E., 1991, Characteristics and origin of rock varnish from the hyperarid coastal deserts of northern Peru: Quaternary Research, v. 35, no. 1, p. 116-129.


GEOL 0055 Geology Laboratory

This lab provides a hands-on survey of the fundamentals of physical geology. We introduce the identification and interpretation of rocks and minerals. We use topographic maps, air photos, and satellite images to analyze and understand a variety of dynamic systems, including rivers, groundwater, glaciers, sea coasts, and deserts. Finally, we examine geologic time, structural geology, geologic maps, and plate tectonics. Connections are drawn whenever possible between people, resources, and the natural Earth systems. There is a required day-long Sunday field trip to examine local geological and environmental features.

Offered every fall and spring term. Combined lecture and lab 2 hours.

GEOL 0060 History of the Earth

Historical geology focuses on the long-term evolution of the Earth. The course begins with the formation of the Earth, traces the origin and growth of the continents, and looks at the interaction between life, the Earth's atmosphere, and global climate. It continues with a strong focus on the many forces and geologic events that have shaped North America. Finally, major episodes in the history of life are summarized. The associated lab and homework exercises emphasize a variety of techniques geologists use to unravel the mysteries of the past.

Offered every spring term. Lecture 3 hours; lab 2 hours.

GEOL 0802 Geology of the National Parks

Many of the U.S. and Canadian National Parks are showcases of geology. The student will learn to interpret regional geological history by examining the rock layers exposed within various park areas. The geological development of the North American continent will be developed in the framework of plate tectonic theory and of the physical geological processes that have shaped the landscape into the spectacular scenery of the parks.

Offered in the summer. Lecture 3 hours.

GEOL 0890 Oceanography

The world’s oceans play a central role in the Earth’s climate system and in supporting a stunning diversity of life.  We will survey the oceans and sea floor, examine the important chemical properties of seawater, and then consider the forces that drive the vast circulation cells of the world's oceans.  We will then see what factors control the overall biological productivity of the oceans and how biological productivity and oceanic circulation each help regulate global climate.  The final part of the class looks at the major invertebrate and vertebrate groups that populate the world’s oceans and investigate how dramatically humans have affected ocean life over the past few centuries.  Finally, we will look at efforts to protect and restore ocean ecosystems.

Offered in the summer. Lecture 3 hours.

GEOL 1020 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Sedimentology is the study of the erosion, transport, and deposition of sediment in rivers, deltas, beaches, and many other sedimentary environments.  Our understanding of modern deposits is used to recognize their ancient equivalents in the sedimentary record.  Near the end of the semester we will use the principles of sequence stratigraphy to understand how long-term changes in sea level and sediment supply act to shape regional-scale sedimentary systems.  The labs will reinforce the lectures with a focus on identifying and interpreting sedimentary rocks and structures and on applying the basic methods of stratigraphy to particular problems.  There are several required field trips.  This course is required for geology majors and is useful for archaeologists, geographers, environmental scientists, land planners, and civil and petroleum engineers.

Offered every fall term. Lecture 3 hours; laboratory 2 hours.

GEOL 1240 Vertebrate Paleontology

This class first examines the processes of evolution and extinction and how they are reflected in the fossil record.  To gain insights into the limits of the fossil record, we will next look at the relatively recent evolution of living mammal groups and the patterns and causes of mammalian evolution and extinction in North America.  We finally will dive into the deep past to look at the origin of the vertebrates and the evolution and major extinctions of the fishes, amphibians, mammal-like reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and early mammals.  We will focus throughout on transitional fossils and the processes driving evolution and extinction.

Offered occasionally. Lecture 3 hours.

GEOL 1904:  Communication in the Geosciences

The ability to communicate clearly is central to your future success because good oral and written presentations convey the impression that you are intelligent and competent.  This class will introduce students to the main geoscience journals, how to read and assimilate the scientific literature, how to give good oral presentations, and how to write clear scientific papers.  You will explore topics that you either propose or pick from a provided list.  You can use these topics to help refine your interests within the geosciences, to compare the research of potential graduate school advisors, or simply to satisfy your own curiosity.  To ensure that you have the proper background to assess the geologic literature, students must have taken at least one of the following core classes:  GEOL 0060, GEOL 1003, GEOL 1020, and GEOL 1100.  This class fulfills a W.