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2022 Fall

Classes are free for members


Application of Geology
to Modern Environmental Issues

Instructor: Elizabeth Champeon

Mondays • 6 classes • 9/19-10/31 (No class 10/10) • 1:00-3:00 PM

Class size 5-100 students
78 seats remaining
Location: Zoom only

The first session of this 6-session course provides a brief review of the history of geology in Maine. Additional sessions will provide information on the relevance of the geologic setting to modern environmental issues. Alternatives to the use of fossil fuel are presented, and the mechanisms by which they operate are discussed.

Sessions by week —

or Why is my Yard Full of Rocks or Clay?

This session provides a brief summary of the forces that produced the  geology and geography of the State of Maine, commencing with the continent of Pangea and proceeding to the glaciation and the effects that  it had on the landscape. The purpose is to provide a background for the  remaining sessions, which deal with the relevance of the subsurface to  the development of new sources of clean power.


Geothermal heat is available throughout the crust of the earth, both  due to infiltration of heat from the sun and exfiltration of heat from the  interior of the earth. In cold regions like Maine, this heat can be  accessed from the subsurface. The type of material in the subsurface  affects both the transfer of heat and the amount available. Several  schools in Maine have now installed these systems, and no longer are  dependent upon fossil fuels.


Siting of buildings, landfills, power plants, dams, dikes and other facilities requires knowledge of the earthquake history of the surrounding area. Not only is it necessary to know what the seismic history of a site is, but regulations require that the anticipated seismicity be predicted. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, the oral history of those who  have lived here the longest has been ignored or destroyed, so other  means of rational prediction must be found. 


This session examines the potential for solar power in various regions  and explains how the power is generated from the solar panels that are  sprouting in the countryside. Reference is made to ancient uses by  other civilizations. 


Water has been used to create power since at least 3000 BCE, when the  Jawa Dam was constructed in Mesopotamia. Water power use exploded  in the industrial age. Even when rivers and streams were not available,  the power of the tides was tapped in places like Martha’s Vineyard. The  remains of a tidal dam can still be seen in Jonesboro, Maine. The  Quoddy project in Eastport was intended to provide power during the  Roosevelt administration, but its use was terminated by World War II. New technologies are now being proposed that would use the power of the  tides.


Schoolhouse geography teaches that the Dutch use windmills to control the water in their below sea level homeland. In recent years, windmills  have come to be used to create power worldwide. The mechanism of  making power from windmills is discussed, as is the relevance of the  local geology to the siting of the windmills.

Liz Champeon is a geologist registered to practice in the State of  Maine. She spent the majority of her working years in private practice  at S. W. Cole Engineering, Inc., where she was a Senior Geologist and a  member of the Board of Directors. Her more than 30 years of  experience also include work for both Federal and State agencies, and she has served as an adjunct faculty at Unity College. She has a BA in Geology  from the University of Maine and took graduate level courses at the  University of Indiana and the University of Maine.  She has loved  geology since studying dinosaurs in the fourth grade.