Michelle Markley likes to study mountains, specifically how they were formed. "I study how rocks get 'mushed,' " she says. "I look at rock deformation, at their folds and faults and how they get their texture or fabric." Her classes make full use of the region around Mount Holyoke, going out to see rock formations at the Quabbin Reservoir, on Skinner Mountain, and in Whately and Cummington. "This is a good area for field work at all levels," says Markley.
Currently, Markley's primary research focus is the Grenville mountain belt. As a structural geologist interested in the nature and timing of fabric development in both metamorphic and igneous rocks, Markley has packed her trusty rock hammer for field work in the Canadian Grenville, the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains, and overseas in the Southern Alps of New Zealand and the Western Alps of Switzerland.
Markley teaches Geology of Groundwater and Fossil Fuels, History of Earth, Structural Geology and Orogenesis, Plate Tectonics, and Uranium and has published numerous scholarly articles.