Keenan Lee

Professor Emeritus, Geology and Geological Engineering

Keenan LeeDr. Lee taught geology and remote sensing at the Colorado School of Mines for 37 years before his retirement in 2006. Courses included earth and environmental systems, physical geology, historical geology, field geology, hydrogeology, photogeology, and remote sensing. Research emphasized applications of remote sensing to exploration for mineral and water resources.


Fax: 303-273-3859


  • Ph.D., Stanford University, Geology, 1969
  • B.Sc., M.Sc., Louisiana State University, Geology, 1960, 1963

Research Areas

  • Tunguska, the mysterious explosion that flattened millions of trees in Siberia in 1908, remains an unsolved mystery 100 years later that warrants continued study.
  • The Popigai impact structure , one of the largest and best-preserved impact craters in the world, is especially interesting because the impact instantaneously transformed large amounts of graphite into diamonds.
  • The Bonneville Flood reached discharges of about a million cubic meters per second [twice the discharge of all of the world’s rivers combined] below the outlet from Lake Bonneville at the Utah/Idaho border.
  • The Missoula Flood, now generally accepted as the largest flood on Earth, was an order of magnitude greater and it devastated large parts of four states on its rush to the Pacific Ocean.
  • The Altai Flood in Siberia presents good evidence for an even larger flood and, significantly, suggests that such megafloods may not have been all that rare.
  • Smaller outburst floods, like the Three Glaciers Flood in Colorado, were more numerous, but catastrophic nonetheless.

Extraterrestrial Impacts

Big Floods

Selected Publications

  • Lee, Keenan, 1969, Infrared exploration for shoreline springs at Mono Lake, California, test site, in International Symposium Remote Sensing of Environment, 6th, Proceedings: Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, p. 1075-1100.
  • Lyon, R. J. P., and Lee, Keenan, 1970, Remote sensing in exploration for mineral resources: Economic Geology, v. 65, p. 785-800.
  • Lee, Keenan, ed., 1975, Ground investigations in support of remote sensing, in Manual of Remote Sensing: American Society of Photogrammetry, v. 1, p. 804-856.
  • Lee, Keenan, 1977, Application of remote sensing to geologic mapping in Taiwan: Taipei, Mining Research Service Organization, Industrial Technology Research Institute Report, 51 p., 10 pl.
  • Briceno, H.O., and Lee, Keenan, 1982, Application of Landsat data to geologic mapping in a tropical jungle environment – Caroni River Basin, Venezuela: International Symposium Remote Sensing of Environment, 17th, Buenos Aires, Proceedings: Ann Arbor, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, p. 123-133.
  • Lee, Keenan, 1986, Limonitic hydrothermal alteration in the Lake City Caldera area, western San Juan Mountains, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-1868, 1:48,000.
  • Lee, Keenan, ed., 1989, Remote sensing in exploration geology: 28th International Geological Congress Field Trip Guidebook T182, 53 pages.
  • Lee, Keenan, and Fetter, C.W., 1994, Hydrogeology laboratory manual: New York, Macmillan, 135 pages.
  • Lee, Keenan, Fetter, C.W., and McCray, J.E., 2003, Hydrogeology laboratory manual, 2nd edition: Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall, 151 p.
  • Lee, Keenan, 2010 Catastrophic glacial outburst floods on the Arkansas River, Colorado: The Mountain Geologist, v. 47, no. 2 p. 35-57.
  • Young, N.E., Briner, J.P. Leonard, E.M., Licciardi, J.M., and Lee, Keenan, 2011, Assessing climatic and nonclimatic forcing of Pinedale glaciation and deglaciation in the western United States: Geology, v. 39, no. 2, p. 171-174.
  • Brugger, K.A., Leonard, E.M., Lee, Keenan, and Bush, M.A., 2011, Discharge estimates for a glacial outburst paleoflood on the Upper Arkansas River, Colorado, from an ice-dam failure model: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 43, no. 4., p. 10.


  • Cuban Stanolind Oil Company, Havana, Cuba
  • Union Oil Company of California, Midland, Texas
  • Mobil Oil Libya, Ltd., Tripoli, Libya
  • Mining Research and Service Organization, Taipei, Taiwan
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Geophysics, Denver
  • Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Remote Sensing Research Contracts and Grants

  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • NASA – Houston
  • U.S. Army Research Office
  • National Science Foundation