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Johnny MacLean - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Johnny MacLean Johnny MacLean

Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs | Southern Utah University


Specializing in the tectonics and geology of the national parks and southern Utah


Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs at Southern Utah University, Dr. Johnny MacLean enjoys taking students outdoors to study in the region’s diverse landscape. With backyard access to Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, Dr. MacLean’s students learn about geology in a remarkable real-world setting. He teaches upper-division courses in structural and environmental geology, tectonics, and field geology.

At SUU, Dr. MacLean serves as chair of the university’s general education committee, director of the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and is a provost faculty fellow. He has also served as academic coordinator for SUU’s Semester in the Parks initiative, an outdoor study program that takes students into the National Parks to live and learn.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in geology at Furman University, Dr. MacLean earned a master’s degree in earth science at Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in geosciences at University of Montana. Before joining SUU in 2002, he worked in the oil and gas industry in Texas, and in the environmental consulting industry in Montana.







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Major Decisions: Geology Introduction of CAST and Allies with Jayci Bash  & Johnny Maclean


Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (12)

Environmenal Geology

Field Geology Investigation


Geological Mapping

Geology of National Parks

Geology of Southern Utah

National Parks

Physical Geology

Structural Geology


Tetonics of National Parks

Utah National Parks

Education (3)

Furman University: B.S., Geology

Syracuse University: M.S., Earth Science

University of Montana: Ph.D., Geosciences

Accomplishments (6)

Provost Faculty Fellow


SUU Faculty Award for Distinguished Service


Outstanding Contributor to the SUU Honors Program


Mental Health First Aid Certification


Thunderbird Award for SUU Faculty of the Year


SUU Gerald R. Sherratt Library Information Literacy Award


Affiliations (5)

  • Geological Society of America : member.
  • National Association for Geoscience Teachers : member.
  • National Collegiate Honors Council : member.
  • Utah Geological Association : member.
  • Partners in the Parks : member.

Media Appearances (4)

Dominion Energy offers grant to Southern Utah University geology program

Cedar City News  online


Southern Utah University’s Geology Program was selected to receive $25,000 from Dominion Energy’s 2018 Environmental Grant Awards for the SUU Geology Field Trip Program. “SUU’s Geology Field Trip Program is a six-credit course that occurs almost entirely in the field,” Johnny MacLean, associate professor of geology, said in a press release from the university.

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In a Time When 'It's So Dangerous to Live' SUU Memorializes Victims of Las Vegas Shooting

Salt Lake Tribune  online


“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” That’s the quote Johnny MacLean read to 350 students, faculty and staffers Wednesday evening at Southern Utah University in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting and in support of their friends and family.

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Recreation: New Southern Utah, Utah State programs prepare students for outdoor careers

The Salt Lake Tribune  


The semester will also include weekend trips to Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, the Grand Canyon and Great Basin National Park, academic coordinator Johnny MacLean said. He stressed the program isn't about "vacation and sightseeing," but is meant to give students with interest in a future in Utah's outdoor industry a chance to take advantage of the state's geography in an unprecedented way...

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SUU students will have the opportunity to study in Bryce Canyon National Park this fall

USA Today Network  online


SUU assistant geology professor Johnny MacLean, who will be teaching a course entitled "Geology of National Parks," said the program was designed with a greater intent than just meeting course requirements. “We’re mostly hoping the students see how complex systems are and national parks provide this great venue to see that complexity,” MacLean said. “We’re hoping this immersive experience really allows for deep and integrative learning. I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about problems and questions within the real world.”

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Research Grants (1)


National Science Foundation $580,000

Through this S-STEM project, Southern Utah University (SUU) is recruiting and sustaining a cohort of financially needy and academically talented students in the STEM disciplines.

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Articles (5)

Proterozoic Supercontinental Restorations: Constraints from Provenance Studies of Mesoproterozoic to Cambrian Clastic Rocks, Eastern Siberian Craton

Precambrian Research

The Mesoproterozoic–Neoproterozoic sedimentary succession of the eastern part of the Siberian Craton consists of several unconformity-bounded, kilometer-scale siliciclastic-carbonate cycles. The overlying Lower Cambrian rocks are often compositionally similar to the uppermost units of the Neoproterozoic succession.

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Insights into the Late Quaternary Paleoenvironment of Northwestern Arizona

The Southwestern Naturalist

2015 Because of the nature and process of precipitation, tufa deposits offer the potential to serve as sedimentary signatures of hydrology, climate, ecology, and biodiversity in areas otherwise lacking such historic archives. This study investigated a previously undocumented tufa site located in northwestern Arizona. Field mapping, X-ray diffraction, and thin-section analyses revealed a wedge-shaped deposit ...

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Strain Accomodation in the Footwall of the Rubys Inn Thrust Fault, Hillsdale Canyon, Southern Utah

The Compass: Earth Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon

2014 The Rubys Inn thrust fault in southern Utah has produced several styles of deformation in its footwall. This project describes four exceptionally well exposed examples of strain accommodation, including a mountain-scale, ductile footwall drag fold, cataclastic flexural slip between bedding surfaces of differing competencies, plastically deformed petrified wood within the zone of flexural slip, and ...

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Five Tectonic Settings in Five National Parks and Forests: A Field Camp Experience

The Compass: Earth Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon

2014 In summer 2014, Southern Utah University’s field camp visited five national parks and forests to study five different tectonic settings in five weeks. These included: thick-skinned contraction of the Laramide Orogeny at Capitol Reef National Park; normal faulting due to salt tectonics of the Paradox Formation at Arches National Park; thin skinned folding and thrusting of the Sevier Orogeny at Fish Lake ...

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Evidence of Large Scale Tectonic Processes on the Tharsis Rise, Mars

The Compass: Earth Science Journal of Sigma Gamma Epsilon

2014 Past observations of Mars have led scientists to believe that tectonic kinematics stopped early in its planetary development. Recent exploration of Mars has led to new theories that support an active tectonic regime on the Tharsis rise. With the advancement of new satellite imagery and technologies such as Thermal Emission Imaging System, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment satellite ...

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Courses (8)

GEO 1030 Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Natural Hazards

A general education course for non-science majors. The basic principles of geology are introduced here by examining geologic hazards including earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides.

GEO 1050 Geology of National Parks

A general education course for both non-science and science majors, geared to the needs of elementary and secondary teachers. Course includes descriptions and explanations of the unique geology of America’s western national parks with an emphasis on landscape interpretation and process understanding. Includes detailed information on Utah’s parks.

GEO 1110 Physical Geology

An introduction to earth systems (external and internal) and materials and first course for geology majors. The interrelated nature of these systems is an integral part of the curriculum.

GEO 2210 Geology of Southern Utah

A general education course of both non-science and science majors, geared to the needs of elementary and secondary teachers. Emphasis is placed on the geologic evolution and stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin.

GEO 3010 Environmental Geology

An introduction to the role and scope of geological processes in light of contemporary environmental issues. Three lectures per week.

GEO 3120 Tectonics

A global study of plate tectonics as a unifying solid-earth theory emphasizing the definition of plate boundaries, motions, and driving forces and the analysis of ancient and current plate motions.

GEO 3510 Structural Geology

Fundamentals of descriptive, kinematic and dynamic analysis of structures within the Earth’s crust and a theoretical treatment of stress and strain.

GEO 4960 Field Geology

A five-week intensive course in geologic mapping and field investigation.