Kurt Shoemaker

Kurt Shoemaker

Title: Professor of Geology
Subject Area: Geology
Office Location: MAS025A
Phone: (740) 351-3395


Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Ph.D. in Geology, 2004
DissertationThe Tectonomagmatic Evolution of the Late Cenozoic Owyhee Plateau, Northwestern United States

Mount Union College, Alliance, Ohio
B.S. in Geology, 1995


Dr. Shoemaker is a Professor of Geology in the Department of Natural Sciences at Shawnee State University. Originally a magmatic geochemist (his teaching responsibilities include Mineralogy and Petrology), fate and opportunity have shifted his research focus to the evolution of the upper Ohio Valley before and during the Pleistocene Epoch (“Ice Age”). Shoemaker is the SSU Campus Representative for the Geological Society of America.

Regular Course Offerings

  • GEOL 1202 Historical Geology
  • GEOL 2111 Introduction to Geologic Field Methods
  • GEOL 2203 Mineralogy
  • GEOL 3205 Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology
  • GEOL 4206 Structural Geology & Tectonics

Special Course Offerings

  • GEOL 3100 Field Studies in Regional Geology: Caves, Karst and Limestone at Mammoth Cave National Park(Spring 2015; team-taught with Dr. Erik Larson)
  • GEOL 3100 Field Studies in Regional Geology: The Southern Appalachians(Spring 2014; team-taught with Dr. Jeff Bauer)
  • GEOL 3390 Seminar in Geology: The Ice Age in the Ohio Valley (Fall 2013, Spring 2017)
  • GEOL 3100 Field Studies in Regional Geology: The Lower Mississippi River: Cairo, Illinois, to the Gulf of Mexico(Spring 2013; team-taught with Dr. Jeff Bauer)
  • GEOL 3100 Field Studies in Regional Geology: Southern Missouri and Oklahoma(Summer 2010; team-taught with Dr. Jeff Bauer)
  • GEOL 2999 Special Topics: Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Field Course (Spring 2009; team taught with Dr. Jeff Bauer)
  • GEOL 2999 Special Topics: Geology of the Great Lakes Field Course(Summer 2008; team-taught with Dr. Jeff Bauer)


Dr. Shoemaker research image

Two million years ago, the northwest-flowing Teays River system drained much of the western slope of the southern Appalachians—and the Ohio River did not yet exist. During the Pleistocene (“Ice Age”), glacial ice dammed the Teays River near Chillicothe, Ohio, leading to the impoundment of Lake Tight. With a surface area of almost 10,000 square miles and depths locally exceeding 250 feet, Lake Tight contained a volume of water comparable to Lake Erie and occupied the incipient Ohio Valley for thousands of years. Ultimately the failure of a secondary ice dam near Ripley, Ohio, caused Lake Tight to drain rapidly, spilling over ridgelines, breaching drainage divides, and capturing and reversing segments of preexisting streams. This event created the modern Ohio River.

While the broad outline of this history has been understood for over 100 years, the details of the Teays-Tight-Ohio transition have not been examined in a comprehensive regional and temporal context. Shoemaker’s research is focused on three major questions: (1) How did the Teays River system evolve in the few million years preceding glacial advance, during the so-called Deep Stage? (2) How did the system respond as the Teays drainage transitioned into the early stages of impoundment of Lake Tight? (3) What geomorphic features formed as the consequence of the impoundment and outflow of Lake Tight?

SSU provides an ideal “base of operations” for these studies, as Portsmouth is situated in the deepest part of Lake Tight’s basin; is 40 miles south of the locus of the ice dam at Chillicothe; and is adjacent to the breached divide that once separated the Teays River from its major western tributary, the ancient Portsmouth River. Students working with Shoemaker have presented their research at regional and national meetings of the Geological Society of America.


(SSU student co-authors are in bold)

Additional Information

Dr. Shoemaker takes his coffee black, plays ukulele, and has never wrestled an elephant seal.