Thomas Biggs

Lecture Professor

Prior to retirement in May 2018, my primary teaching interests were physical geology, landscape evolution, petrology, economic ore deposits, and environmental geology. I am also interested in the geology of Virginia and the tectonic evolution of the state and mid-Atlantic region, as well as the geology and ecology of US National Parks. At the present time, my on-going research includes bedrock and surficial geologic mapping of the Massanutten Mountains and adjacent Shenandoah Valley and bedrock and surficial mapping of the Charlottesville areas in Virginia with the Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources. Both research projects are an important aspect of land management efforts, hazards assessment, and resource evaluation in the state. Previous research included studies of the effects of fire frequency on soil nutrient concentrations and distributions, plant diversity, and isotopic signatures in the semiarid grasslands of southeastern Arizona.


  • Bailey, C.M., Flansburg, M.E., Lang, K.E. and Biggs, T.H., 2017, The Geology of Jefferson’s Country: A Blue Ridge Traverse Across Albemarle County, Virginia: Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources, Virginia Geology Field Conference Guidebook, October 13 & 14, 2017, Charlottesville, VA, 52p.
  • Butler, M., Sheaffer, C., Bruchman, C., Mann, M., Biggs, T., and Whitmeyer, S., 2014, A New Bedrock Geological Map of the Rileyville Quadrangle in Page and Shenandoah Counties, Virginia: Geological Society of America, Southeastern Section Meeting, April 10-11, 2014 Blacksburg, VA, Abstracts with Programs, V. 46, No. 3, p. 14 (poster).
  • Tuite, M.L., Frazier, J.D., and Biggs, T.H., 2013, “Biogeochemical Responses to the Initiation of the Taconic Orogeny on the Laurentian Margin”, Poster, presented at the 5th Annual Virginia Geological Symposium in Charlottesville, VA, April 11, 2013.
  • Whitmeyer, S.J, Fichter, L.S., Diecchio, R., Heller, M.J., Eaton, L.S., Cross, A., Coiner, L., Biggs, T.H., and Patterson, C.R., 2012, Geology of Page Valley: Stratigraphy, Structure, and Landscape Evolution: Guidebook for the 42nd Annual Virginia Geological Field Conference, September 28-29, 2012, 61 pages.
  • Biggs, T.H., Pearthree, P.A., Florkowski, L.N., Shaner, P-J. L., 2006, Surficial Geology and Fire in Southeastern Arizona Grasslands – Effects on Soil Geochemistry in Semiarid Ecosystems, Fort Huachuca Military Reservation, Arizona: Arizona Geological Survey, Open-File Report 06-02, 50 pages
  • Biggs, T.H. and Wenger, J.S., 2006, Geology and Geomorphology of the Hamburg, VA 7.5-minute Quadrangle: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, in revision.
  • Biggs, T.H., Pearthree, P.A., Florkowski, L.N., Shaner, P-J. L., The effects of fire on soil geochemistry in native, non-native, and mixed grass ecosystems on geomorphic surfaces of different ages, Fort Huachuca Military Reservation, Arizona. Report for joint venture agreement 01-JV-11221615-288. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.: Arizona Geological Survey, Open-file report,2005.
  • Biggs, T.H. and Bishop, A., 2004, Orphaned Lands Program: Practical Experience, Public Benefit: Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, Denver, Colo., Poster, Abstracts with Program, November, 2004, p. 444.
  • Biggs, T.H., Quade, J. and Webb, R.H., 2002, 13C Values of Soil Organic Matter in Semiarid Grassland with Mesquite (Prosopis) Encroachment in Southeastern Arizona: Geoderma, Vol. 110, no. 1-2, 109-130.
  • Biggs, T.H., Demsey, K.A., and Pearthree, P.A., 2002, Surficial geology and geomorphology of the Tinajas Altas Area, Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range, Yuma County, Southwestern Arizona: Arizona Geological Survey, Open-file Report 02-02, 21 p., 1 sheet, 1:24,000 scale.
  • Pearthree, P.A., and Biggs, T.H., 1999, Surficial geology and geologic hazards of the Tucson Mountains, Pima County, Arizona: Avra, Brown Mountain, Cat Mountain, and Jaynes 7.5’ quadrangles: Arizona Geological Survey, Open-file Report 99-22, 19 p., 2 sheets 1:24,000 scale.
  • Biggs, T.H., Leighty, R.S., Skotnicki, S.J., and Pearthree, P.A., 1999, Geology and geomorphology of the San Bernardino Valley, southeastern Arizona: Arizona Geological Survey, Open-file Report 99-19, 20 p., 3 sheets 1:32,000 scale.
  • Virginia Publications
  • Bartlett, C.S., Jr., and Biggs, T.H., 1980, Geology of the Abingdon, Shady Valley, Wyndale and Holston Valley, Virginia 7.5-minute quadrangles: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Publication 16.
  • Rader, E.K., and Biggs, T.H., 1976, Geology of the Strasburg and Toms Brook, Virginia 7.5-minute quadrangles: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Report of Investigations #45.
  • Rader, E.K., and Biggs, T.H., 1975, Geology of the Front Royal, Virginia 7.5-minute quadrangle: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Report of Investigations #40.
  • Biggs, T.H., 1974, Geographic and Cultural Names in Virginia: Virginia Division of Mineral Resources, Information Circular #20, 374p.


Virginia's Environments (EVSC 1040)

A general survey of the basic foundation, concepts, and dynamics of the total Earth system with natural Virginia as the unifying concept. Understanding is built on the foundation of geological and geomorphological processes that form and modify the landscape of Virginia, including basic geology, processes of mountain building, flooding, and erosion. Also examined are various ecosystems in the state, especially the Chesapeake Bay, and the human impact of these varied landscapes, particularly through exploitation of mineral and water resources, waste disposal and pollution, and land use issues.

Fundamentals of Geology (EVSC 2800)

Studies the composition, structure, and internal processes of earth; the classification, origin, and distribution of earth materials; earth's interior; and the interpretation of geological data for the solution of problems of the natural environment.

Geology and Ecology of U.S. National Parks (EVSC 4082)

The seminar will involve a close reading of the text with additional outside readings from peer-reviewed journals and books. Students will lead discussions on geological and ecological topics specific to the parks. The impacts of humans on the ecosystems of the specific parks will also be a major topic of investigation and analysis.

Geology and Ecology of U.S. Ore Deposits (EVSC 4820)

The seminar will primarily be an interdisciplinary study group to examine the interrelationships of geology, ecology and land-use issues during the exploration for, the exploitation of, and the environmental legacy of the mineral resources of the United States. Additional outside readings specific to the deposits will be utilized for environmental issues and concern.

Geological Field Methods in Environmental Sciences (EVSC 4830)

This course will integrate lectures, field exercises and trips, and computational techniques to develop solid skills important for Geosciences. Specific projects may include surveying, geologic mapping, soils descriptions, stream and groundwater monitoring, flooding hazards, use of tracers, sampling techniques and various other tools of the trade.

Geology of Virginia (EVGE 7810)

An examination of the geological evolution of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region in the context of plate tectonics, including stratigraphy, mountain building, metamorphism and deformation, and geomorphic processes. The human impact on this landscape through exploitation of mineral resources is considered.