James Clark

James Clark Faculty Headshot

James Clark, Ph.D.

Professor of Geology Emeritus

On Faculty since 2000

Dr. Jim Clark has done field work on Spitsbergen Island, 500 miles from the north pole, the Colorado Rockies and Brazil. His recent work has been in Sub-Sahara Africa and Central America. He spent three years at Sandia National Laboratory during the early '80s, working for the Department of Energy on alternative energy-related technologies, especially massive hydraulic fracturing research. He then taught at Calvin College for seventeen years before coming to Wheaton College. Dr. Clark and his wife Sue have three children whom they have home-schooled. They spent one year in Moscow, Russia and one year in the scrub jungle of Paraguay on missionary adventures. They now are actively involved in a Russian-speaking church in the Chicago suburbs. Dr. Clark enjoys outdoor activities (backpacking, rock climbing, and kayaking) and watercolor painting.

University of Colorado
Ph.D., Geology, 1977

University of Colorado
M.A., Geography, 1974

Grinnell College
B.A., General Science Major, 1972

  • Quantitative Methods in Geology
  • Fracture Mechanics
  • Global Warming
  • Alpine Geomorphic Processes
  • Glacial Geology and the Ice Age
  • Earth Viscosity and Structure
  • Groundwater Modeling
  • Physical Geology
  • Process Geomorphology
  • Global Climate Change
  • Earth Resources and the Environment
  • Introduction to Soil Science
  • Introduction to Geographical Information Systems
  • Geographical Information Systems Practicum
  • Hydrogeology
  • Quantitative Methods in the Environmental Sciences
  • Geophysics

Dr. Clark’s research includes computer modeling of the paleohydrology and the changing levels of the Great Lakes resulting from earth deformation still continuing after melting of the ice sheets of the last ice age. He uses a computer model of the whole earth to simulate the changing levels of the global oceans as recorded by ancient shorelines, modern tide gauges and satellite altimetry. This research provides an assessment of the possible sea level consequences of global warming. Student assistants have helped in all aspects of this work and have presented papers at meetings of the Geological Society of America and were co-authors on recent publications. The work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA. He is also inventing inexpensive geophysical equipment.

Dr. Clark’s personal research

  • Alpine geomorphic processes
  • Glacial geology and the Ice Age
  • Global warming
  • Earth viscosity structure
  • Fracture mechanics and stress in rocks
  • Groundwater modeling
  • Quantitative methods in geology
  • Inventing inexpensive geophysical equipment

Details of Dr. Clark’s Research Experience 

  • 1999-1982 Professor of Geology, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
    • Principal Investigator of NSF Grant EAR-0414012 "Paleohydrology of the Great Lakes Region since the most recent glaciation"
    • Principal Investigator of NASA Grant NAG5-10348 “Simulation of global glacio-isostasy, earth deformation and sea level changes”
    • Principal Investigator of NSF Grant EAR-9515322 ”Reconstruction of global ice-age ice sheets from global sea-level and deformation data”
    • Recipient of NSF Research Instrumentation Award EAR-8916941 for ”Acquisition of a workstation”
    • Recipient of NSF Research Opportunity Award (ROA) ”Analysis of gravity data from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet” administered as a supplement to ”Further continuation of glacio-geophysical survey of the interior Ross Embayment” awarded to University of Wisconsin-Madison (PI: Charles Bentley; NSF grant DPP86-14011).
    • Principal Investigator of NSF Grant EAR-8804201 ”Reconstruction of the Laurentide Ice Sheet over the Great Lakes region from tilt data of glacial lake shorelines.”
    • Principal Investigator of NSF Grant EAR-8607330 ”Evaluation of the hinge line hypothesis and crustal stability in the southern Lake Michigan basin.”
    • Principal Investigator of NSF Grant EAR-8407660 ”The theoretical prediction of proglacial lake shoreline tilting.”
  • 1982-1979 Member of the Technical Staff, Geotechnology Research Division, Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM
    • Research Involved:
      • hydraulic fracturing stimulation of ”tight” gas sands.
      • fracture mechanics at a bi-material interface.
      • finite element modeling of geological materials and earth stresses.
      • rock mechanics laboratory studies.
      • interpretation of natural fracturing in sandstone and shale.
      • geologist for Department of Energy research natural gas well. (Work funded by the Department of Energy)
  • 1979-1977 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geological Sciences, Cornell University: Used inversion theory to calculate past ice sheet histories from global sea-level data (NSF Grant EAR77-13662; Co-Principal Investigator on NSF Grant EAR78-12977).
  • 1977-1974 Graduate Research Assistant, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES): Computer simulation of ice/ocean/earth interactions during the past 18,000 years.
    • Required understanding of:
      • physics of viscous deformation of the Earth from surface loads
      • worldwide glacial changes since 18,000 yrs. B.P.
      • worldwide sea-level changes since 18,000 yrs. B.P.
      • extensive computer programming (NSF Grants GA-43191, DES74-13047-A01, EAR74-13047-A02, and NOAA Contract 03-5022-94)
  • 1974-1971 Graduate Research Assistant, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR): Effects of cloud seeding upon erosion rates in alpine basins.
    • Required:
      • experimental design and implementation of field projects in an alpine basin
      • analysis of results using numerous multivariate statistical methods and clustering techniques (Bureau of Reclamation Contract 14-06-D-7052)

Numerical simulation of the paleohydrology of glacial Lake Oshkosh, eastern Wisconsin, USA, Quaternary Research
Clark, J.A., Befus, K.M., Hooyer, T.S., Stewart, P.W., Shipman, T.D., Gregory, C.T., and Zylstra, D.J., 2008

Effects of Great Lakes Water Loading upon Glacial Isostatic Adjustment and Lake History, Journal of Great Lakes Research
Clark, J.A., Zylstra, D.J. and Befus, K.M., 2007

Environmental Stewardship: What are the roles for science and faith?, Not Just Science
Van Dragt, R. and Clark, J.A., 2005

Exercise 16: Land-use classification and species conservation, A workbook in conservation biology: solving practical problems in conservation
Clark, J.A. and Van Dyke, F., 2003

Exercise 17: Using GIS to classify habitat types and identify habitat conservation areas, A workbook in conservation biology: solving practical problems in conservation
Clark, J.A. and Van Dyke, F, 2003