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James Sears

Sears                                             , James

Phone: (406) 243-5251

Office: CHCB 362



Current Office Hours

MWF 3-4 pm, CHCB 362


I recieved my PhD from Queen's University, Canada, in 1979, and have taught at the University of Montana since 1982. I research the structure and tectonics of the Rocky Mountain region.


Northern Arizona University, 1967-1971 (BS Geology)

University of Wyoming, 1972-1973 (MS Geology)

Queen's University, 1975-1979 (PhD Geology)

Courses Taught

GEO 101

Teaching Experience

1990-present            Full Professor, University of Montana

1982-1990            Associate Professor, University of Montana, Tenured in 1988

1979-1982            Assistant Professor, Auburn University

1978                        Instructor, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

1975-1978            Teaching Assistant, Queen's University

1974-1975            Geologist, Wyoming Water Resources Research Inst.

1974                        Instructor, University of Wyoming

1972-1973            Research/Teaching Assistant, University of Wyoming

1970                        Field Assistant, Museum of Northern Arizona

1969-1971            Teaching Assistant, Northern Arizona University

Research Interests

Siberia-North America plate tectonic reconstruction.

Origin of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River basin.

Gold mineralization in the Montana Rockies.

Field of Study

Tectonics and structural geology

Selected Publications

Sears, J.W., 2011, Transforming the Siberian craton back to North America: Geology, in review.


Sears, J.W., 2011, Late Cretaceous syn-tectonic gold mineralization along the Lewis and Clark line shear zone of the Belt basin, central-western Montana: Economic Geology, in review.


Sears, J.W., MacDonald, C., and Lonn, J., 2010, Lewis and Clark Line, Montana: Tectonic evolution of a crustal-scale flower structure in the Rocky Mountains, in Morgan, L.A., and Quane, S.L., eds., Through the generations: Geologic and anthropogenic field excursions in the Rocky Mountains from modern to ancient: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 18, p. 1-20.


Sears, J.W., Link, P.K., Balgord, E.A., and Mahoney, J.B., 2010, Quartzite of Argenta, Beaverhead County, Montana, revisited: Definitive evidence of Precambrian age indicates edge of Belt basin: Northwest Geology, v. 39, p. 41-47.


Lonn, J.D., MacDonald, C., Sears, J.W.,  and Smith, L.N., 2010, Geologic map of the Missoula East 30’ X 60’ quadrangle, western Montana: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Open File  Report 593Map, scale 1:100,000.


Sears, J.W., 2009, Great elliptical basin, western United States: Evidence for top-down control of the Yellowstonee hotspot and Columbia River Basalt Group:



Sears, J.W., Hendrix, M.S., Thomas, R.C., and Fritz, W.J., 2009, Stratigraphic record of the Yellowstone hotspot track, Neogene Sixmile Creek Formation, SW Montana: Journal of Volcanological  and Geothermal Research.


MacLean, J., Sears, J. W., Chamberlain, K.C., Khudoley, A K, and Prokopiev, A. V., 2009, Detrital zircon geochronology of Proterozoic strata from southeastern Siberia and southwestern North America: Testing proposed paleogeographic connections, in Stone, D., ed., Geology and Tectonic Origins of Northeast Russia:  A Tribute to Leonid Parfenov: Stephan-Mueller series, European Geophysical Union.


Meere, P.A., Mulchrone, K.F., Sears, J.W., and Bradway, M.D., 2008, The effect of non-passive clast behaviour in the estimation of finite strain in sedimentary rocks: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 30, p. 1264-1271.


Sears, J.W., and Link, P.K., 2007, Quartzite of Argenta: Neihart Quartzite equivalent?, in Thomas, R.C., and Gibson R., eds., Geologic history of Southwest Montana: Northwest Geology, v. 36, p. 221-230.


Sears, J.W., 2007, Lithospheric control of Gondwana breakup: Implications of a trans-Gondwana icosahedral fracture system, in Foulger, G.M., and Jurdy, D.M., eds., Plates, Plumes, and Planetary Processes: GSA Special Paper 430, p. 593-601.


Sears, J.W., 2007, Belt-Purcell basin: Keystone of the Rocky Mountain fold-and-thrust belt, United States and Canada, in  Whence the Mountains? Inquiries into the Evolution of Orogenic Systems: A Volume in Honor of Raymond A. Price: GSA Special Paper 433, p. 147-166.


Burtis, E.W, Sears, J.W., and Chamberlain, K.R., 2007, Age and petrology of Neoproterozoic intrusions in the northern Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.: Correlation with the Gunbarrel Magmatic Event, in Proterozoic Geology of Western North America and Siberia, Link, P.K., and Lewis, R.S., eds.: SEPM Special Publication 86, p. 175-192.


Sears, J.W., 2007, Rift destabilization of a Proterozoic epicontinental pediment: A model for the Belt-Purcell basin, North America, in Proterozoic Geology of Western North America and Siberia, Link, P.K., and Lewis, R.S., eds.: SEPM Special Publication 86, p. 55-64.


Geological Society of America, Fellow

Tobacco Root Geological Society

Specialized Skills

Field geology since 1968.

Professional Experience

Geologic consulting

International Experience

2008-2009 UM Central Asian textbook project

2008, 2004  Siberian expeditions

2006 Exchange Professor, University College, Cork, Ireland

2002-03 Exchange Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

1998 Sabbatical at University of Wales

1993 Honorary Research Professor, Adelaide University, Aust.

1992-93 Honorary Visiting Professor, Auckland University, NZ

1984 Visiting Professor, Universite d'Avignon, France

1975-1979 PhD student, Queen's University, Canada


Hiking, travel.