Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Geoffrey Collins

Geoffrey Collins

Professor of Geology

Ph.D., Brown University
B.A., Carleton College

Main Interests

I am a planetary scientist, using the tools of geology, geophysics, and remote sensing to learn about the other planets in our solar system. Studying the evolution and current behavior of other planets gives us perspective on how the Earth works, and in what ways the Earth is a unique place.

Research Interests

I am primarily interested in geological processes on the icy satellites of the outer solar system, and I have been involved with various NASA projects such as the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. I am trying to figure out what caused the deformation that we see in the grooved terrain on Ganymede, the chaotic terrain on Europa, and the fractures on Enceladus and Dione. Titan has also become a research focus for me, with the new revelations of icy terrain dominated by dunes and river channels. I have also investigated geological and geophysical problems on Venus, Triton, and Pluto.

Teaching Interests

I love to introduce students to the wonders of the solar system and the deep history of our own Earth. I strive to teach science as a creative process, rather than as a static set of "facts," by showing students how we know what we think we know, and how to figure out the answers on their own. I teach a diverse set of courses, including Geology, The Solar System, Remote Sensing, Astrobiology, and Geophysics.

Other Interests

Canoeing, cooking, cross-country skiing, euro-style board gaming, hiking, and woodworking


G. Collins, G. W. Patterson, J. Head, R. Pappalardo, L. Prockter, B. Lucchitta, and J. Kay, Global geologic map of Ganymede, USGS Scientific Investigations Map Series, in press, 2012.

Sogin, M. L., G. Collins, A. Baker, J. Baross, A. Barr, W. Boynton, C. Cockell, M. Daly, J. Fragola, R. Lopes, K. Nealson, D. Stetson, and M. Thiemens, Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies, National Academies Press, 2012.

G. Collins, W. McKinnon, J. Moore, F. Nimmo, R. Pappalardo, L. Prockter, and P. Schenk, Tectonics of the outer planet satellites, in Planetary Tectonics, 264-350, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

G. Collins and F. Nimmo, Chaotic terrain on Europa, in Europa, 259-281, University of Arizona Press, 2009.

G. Collins and J. Goodman, Enceladus' south polar sea, Icarus, 189, 72-82, 2007.

G. Collins and T. Johnson, Ganymede and Callisto, in Encyclopedia of the Solar System (2nd ed.), 449-466, Academic Press, 2007.

G. Collins, Relative rates of fluvial bedrock incision on Titan and Earth, Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L22202, 2005.

R. Pappalardo and G. Collins, Strained craters on Ganymede, Journal of Structural Geology, 27, 827-838, 2005.

G. Collins, J. Head, R. Pappalardo, and N. Spaun, Evaluation of models for the formation of chaotic terrain of Europa, Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 1709-1716, 2000.

G. Collins, J. Head, A. Basilevsky, and M. Ivanov, Evidence for rapid regional plains emplacement on Venus from the population of volcanically embayed impact craters, Journal of Geophysical Research, 104, 24,121-24,139, 1999.

G. Collins, J. Head, and R. Pappalardo, The role of extensional instability in creating Ganymede grooved terrain: Insights from Galileo high-resolution stereo imaging, Geophysical Research Letters, 25, 233-236, 1998.

G. Collins, J. Head, and R. Pappalardo, Formation of Ganymede grooved terrain by sequential extensional episodes: Implications of Galileo observations for regional stratigraphy, Icarus, 135, 345-359, 1998.


Student Projects

Scott Tarlow '12: Strain measurement and displacement-length relationships of faults on Dione

Noemie Goff-Pochat '10: Mapping and analysis of fractures on the cratered plains of Enceladus and Dione

Dan Hill-Moses '10: Fusion of Galileo spectrometer and imaging data in GIS

Hannah di Cicco '09: Mapping and analysis of impact crater geometry on Enceladus

Louie Michaud '08: Pit chains on Enceladus; Development of strain analysis methods using Galileo data

Jon Kay '08: Rainfall and runoff on Titan; Crater classification schemes for Ganymede global geological map

Emily Martin '06: Classification of grooved terrain on Ganymede

Jennifer Savage '06: Geological mapping of Ganymede

Rachel Fontaine '04: Reconstructing the geometry of ancient impact basins on Ganymede and Callisto

Jon McBee '04 and Dan Hartmann '04: New techniques for measuring strain across ridges on Europa

Dan Hartmann '04 and Matt Blake '04: Morphology and mapping of chaotic terrain on Europa

Jon McBee '04: Time sequence analysis of groove formation in Sippar Sulcus and the leading hemisphere of Ganymede

Karrie-Sue Farrar '03: GIS database of craters and impact basins on Ganymede