Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies Courses
Geology Course Descriptions
GEOLOGY OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Overview of the formation of the sun, planets and their satellites (moons) within the context of stellar evolution. Examination of the geological processes that have shaped the surfaces and interiors of planets and their satellites. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory each week.
Application of physical and chemical principles to interpretation of Earth processes; nature and origin of Earth materials; surface features and internal structure of Earth. May be used to prepare for further work in geology, to supplement a major program in another science, or to fulfill the science lab requirement. Three one-hour lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: high school chemistry.
Fundamental concepts and principles of geological, physical and biological systems of oceans and human impact on these systems. Marine exploration, ocean floor structure, ocean sediments and volcanism, ocean circulation, wave and tide dynamics, geochemical evolution, coastal and open-ocean ecosystems, marine resources and pollution problems.
THE DYNAMIC EARTH
Introductory examination of materials that make up the Earth, the rocks and how they form, as well as the processes that build up or wear down Earth's landscape. Topics include fossils, geological time and history of life; plate tectonics; internal structure of the Earth; minerals and rocks; volcanoes and igneous rocks; rock weathering, sediments and sedimentary rocks; landform development, streams and glaciers; ocean basins and continents. Three lectures per week.
THE EARTH'S DYNAMIC INTERIOR
Introductory examination of the physical processes of the Earth, its origin, composition, structure and properties. Emphasis on dynamic aspects of Earth's interior, such as its shape and rotation, the geomagnetic field and its origin, radioactive decay and Earth's thermal budget, mantle convection and plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes. Three lectures and one discussion/laboratory per week. No prerequisites beyond high school science.
GLOBAL CHANGE: A GEOLOGIC PERSPECTIVE spring
Examines important, global-scale changes in the atmosphere and hydrosphere from geological, astronomical, and other perspectives. Formation and early state of the solar system; the early greenhouse atmosphere and its tectonic origin; geologic controls on Earth's hothouse and ice house climates; solar and orbital influences on climate; ice ages; the role of the oceans. Rise of civilization and its dependence on environmental factors. Study of recent phenomena including ozone depletion, El Ni±o, acid rain and possible global warming reinforces the modern theme of global human interdependency. The use of unresolved scientific issues in setting public policy is also discussed. Prerequisite: high school chemistry.
GEOL 121 (also ENVI 121)
POLLUTION: NATURAL AND UNNATURAL
How pollution affects the daily lives of people on regional and global scales, from physical science and policy perspectives. Topics include sources, extent and characteristics of natural and unnatural pollution; processes affecting the fate and transport of contaminants; monitoring and remediation of pollution; and the fundamentals of risk assessment and risk management. Prerequisite: none beyond high school science.
WATER AND WATERSHEDS
Examination of the role water plays in the natural environment and in societies. áThe course will include an introduction to the science of hydrology. áCase studies will be used to examine water's impact on society; examples may include water scarcity and cross-border tensions in the Middle East and between Mexico and the U.S.A.; flooding and drought; availability of clean water for drinking and sanitation in the third world. Prerequisite: none.
EARTHQUAKES AND VOLCANOES
Earthquakes and volcanic explosions: their effects on human lives; historical descriptions and consequences of major volcanic eruptions; and earthquakes and methods for prediction and hazard reduction. The physical and/or chemical mechanisms of earthquake generation and transport, and volcanic eruption, and their relationship to plate tectonics and the heat engine inside Earth. Quantitative skills and current research methods applicable to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Prerequisite: one four-credit 100-level geology course, or consent of instructor.
NON-RENEWABLE MINERAL RESOURCES
Natural deposits of both metallic and non-metallic industrial materials, including energy resources. Varieties of deposits, exploration strategies, and mining and other recovery methods. Evaluation of mineral resources. U.S. national needs and uses of raw materials. U.S. dependence on foreign sources of diverse mineral commodities. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: an introductory course in geology is helpful, but is not required.
GEOL 211 (also GEOG 321)
EARTH'S SURFACE PROCESSES
Overview of processes acting on the surface of Earth and how they control the landscape and deposition of sediments. Processes on hill slopes, surface and subsurface hydrology, aeolian and glacial processes, and sedimentary processes on coasts, continental shelves, slopes and the deep ocean. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory or field trip per week. Prerequisite: one four-credit 100-level geology course or GEOG 121, or consent of instructor.
Overview of the principles of crystallography, atomic arrangement, chemistry and physical properties of minerals that make up common Earth materials. Introduction to techniques of optical mineralogy. Classification and genesis of the principal igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Three lectures and one laboratory per week. Prerequisites: CHEM 107 (or equivalent) and one four-credit 100-level geology course, or consent of instructor.
THE ROCK RECORD AND EARTH HISTORY
Overview of the major processes and events that shaped the lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere of Earth. Origin of Earth, its oceans and atmosphere. Emphasis on origin of life, expansion of the biosphere and the results of biosphere expansion on the oceans and atmosphere. Periodic collapse of the biosphere during mass extinctions considered in light of geologic and extraterrestrial processes. Types of evidence used by Earth scientists to understand these events. Three lectures and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: one four-credit 100-level geology course, or consent of instructor.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
Overview of the geological processes in the interior of Earth. Mapping and measuring the deformation of shallow parts of Earth, plate tectonics, the imaging of the crust, mantle and core, and interpretations of these observations in terms of physical and chemical processes in Earth that produce these structures. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Laboratory study and field trips complement the lectures. Prerequisite: one four-credit 100-level geology course, or consent of instructor.
IGNEOUS AND METAMORPHIC PETROLOGY
Introduction to the classification, global distribution and origin of igneous and metamorphic rocks in the context of plate tectonics. Identification of pressure, temperature and compositional variables involved in petrogenesis. Examination of mineral textures and rock fabric in hand samples and thin sections. Three one-hour lectures, one three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: GEOL 212 and 214, or consent of instructor.
SEDIMENTOLOGY AND STRATIGRAPHY
Characteristics and origin of sediment grains; physical, chemical and biological processes of sedimentation; diagenesis and rock classification; definition and spatial correlation of stratigraphic units; sedimentary environments and their deposits. Three hours of lectures and one three-hour laboratory or field trip per week. Prerequisites: GEOL 211, 212, and 213, or consent of instructor.
GEOL 342 (also ENVI 342)
SURFACE AND SUBSURFACE HYDROLOGY
Introduction to environmental hydrology. Topics include global and local hydrologic budgets; the process by which water moves through the environment; an introduction to the chemistry of natural and polluted waters; and field-based studies of surface and subsurface water. Prerequisites: One four-credit 100-level Geology course.
Basic rock structures at all scales: description, analysis, origin, development and interrelationships. Includes rock fabrics, macrofolds, major fault systems. Continental and oceanic structures. Plate tectonics and its relationships to rock structure; other tectonic theories. Field trip(s) for collecting and analyzing structural data. Lectures and laboratory, including some computer exercises. Prerequisites: an introductory course in geology.
GEOL 366(also BIOL 372)
Concepts and methods in paleobiological interpretation of evolution, adaptation and ancient environments. Characteristics of plant and animal groups; fossil representatives. Three one-hour lectures and one laboratory or field trip per week. Prerequisites: GEOL 211 and 213, or BIOL 117, or consent of instructor.
GEOL 370 (also ENVI 370)
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY: THE CHANGING EARTH
Examination of important environmental issues through geochemical investigation of Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Discussion of past and present control on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, freshwater, oceans and groundwaters. Prerequisites: CHEM 107 or consent of instructor and one four-credit 100-level geology course or ENVI 201.
Field training in geological, hydrogeological and/or geophysical settings, including field measurements, mapping techniques, data analysis and interpretation. Accredited summer course, six to nine weeks long. Offered as transfer credit from another university; check with adviser.
RIVERS AND FLOODPLAINS
Overview of the origin, nature and evolution of rivers and floodplains (including alluvial fans and deltas) and their deposits. Also human interaction with rivers and associated environmental and engineering concerns, and economic aspects of fluvial deposits. Prerequisite: GEOL 211 or consent of instructor.
Detailed examination of the processes and landforms developed by water, glaciers and air on Earth's surface. Interactions of humans with and effects on the landscape. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory or discussion per week. Prerequisites: GEOL 211 and 212.
Overview of geologic processes in the Quaternary. Emphasis on causes of climatic changes in the last two million years and the triggering of the Ice Ages; glacial and cold-climate processes; age-dating of Quaternary deposits; techniques for study of paleoclimates on land and in oceans; Quaternary history of North America and elsewhere. Prerequisites: GEOL 211 or 336 or equivalent, and 212.
Examination of the hydrologic cycle, the physical characteristics of aquifers, fluid flow through porous media, groundwater flow to wells, the geology of groundwater occurrence, groundwater chemistry and contamination. Prerequisites: calculus and GEOL 211.
ADVANCED IGNEOUS PETROLOGY
Examination of igneous rocks. Emphasis on classification of igneous rock suites, theories for the origin of magmas, major and trace element trends in igneous suites, experimental studies of nucleation and crystallization in magmas, rheological properties of magmas, computer modeling of igneous differentiation, diffusion and mass transport of magmas. Prerequisite: GEOL 323.
PRESSURE-TEMPERATURE-COMPOSITION PHASE EQUILIBRIA
Principles underlying construction of phase equilibrium diagrams in pressure-temperature-composition (P-T-X) space as applicable to the geological sciences. Emphasis on developing skills both for interpreting phase diagrams and for constructing diagrams in a qualitative sense. Application to actual geological problems of magma generation, magma crystallization, rock metamorphism, etc. Prerequisites: CHEM 107 or 111 and GEOL 212, or consent of instructor.
ADVANCED PRINCIPLES OF TECTONICS
Plate tectonics, continental drift, ocean-floor spreading, rifting, subduction, crustal formation and deformation. Theory and basis in empirical observations; analytical methods. Lectures, laboratories, computer exercises, discussions. Prerequisite: GEOL 344 or equivalent.
GEOL 449 (also PHYS 449)
INTRODUCTION TO GLOBAL GEOPHYSICS
Application of physical concepts to understanding the solid earth. Topics: origin of Earth; gravitational and geomagnetic fields and effects; earthquakes and seismic waves; composition and structure of Earth's interior; radioactivity and its geothermal consequences; fluid flow; principles of geophysical exploration for natural resources. Applications to moon, sun and planets as appropriate. Three lectures, one two-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: PHYS 121 or 131, MATH 221 and one four-credit 100-level geology course.
GEOL 450 (also PHYS 450)
Foundations of seismology. Elasticity theory; wave equation; body and surface waves. Inferences concerning Earth's interior. Seismographs; field seismology; data processing. Earthquake occurrence. Three one-hour lectures, one-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: MATH 371, PHYS 331 and 341.
GEOL 451 (also PHYS 451)
Fundamental non-seismic aspects of solid earth geophysics: gravity, rotational dynamics, tides; equations of state of the interior; geothermal heat flow, Earth's thermal history; geomagnetic field. Observations and theory emphasized. Three one-hour lectures, one-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: MATH 371, PHYS 331 and 341.
Application of geophysical principles and techniques to exploration of interior of Earth, its crust and upper mantle. Seismological, gravity, magnetic and electrical methods introduced; main results discussed. Interactive microcomputer-based teaching programs in laboratory sessions illustrate theory and provide hands-on experience in data interpretation. Prerequisites: GEOL 211 and 214 and introductory physics, or consent of instructor.
Sampling methods, analysis and interpretation of results acquired from collection of environmental samples. Focus is on tracing inorganic pollutants in the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Integrated lecture and laboratory involving applied geochemistry principles and design, development and implementation of research projects. Prerequisite: GEOL 370/ENVI 370 or consent of instructor.
Chemical thermodynamics, mineral equilibria, stable isotopes, radioactive dating methods, aqueous geochemistry, reaction kinetics as applied to geological systems; principles governing distribution and transport of elements in Earth system. Three one-hour classes per week. Prerequisites: MATH 221, CHEM 107 or 111, and GEOL 211, or consent of instructor.
INTRODUCTION TO ORGANIC GEOCHEMISTRY
The goal of this course is primarily to investigate organic matter from its creation to its destruction and/or subsequent long-term storage. Topics covered include: analysis of the chemical composition of natural organic matter, its accumulation and preservation. As time permits, complementary analytical laboratory demonstrations and experiments will be conducted to familiarize course participants with modern analytical techniques for isolation of organic matter biomarkers.
Examines major types of chemically precipitated sediments. Modern environments in which chemical sediments form and phase equilibria in aqueous solutions guide interpretation of chemical and depositional settings of ancient deposits. Laboratories and field trips. Prerequisites: CHEM 107, GEOL 336 or equivalent and consent of instructor.
every other year
Specialized techniques useful in study of certain geological and geophysical problems, including x-ray diffraction powder methods, microprobe analysis, resistivity.
GEOL 483 (also BIOL 483 A-Z)
SPECIAL TOPICS IN EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY
Topics vary from semester to semester and are in specialized areas. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites vary.
Independent research under supervision of faculty member. Prior to registration, student must consult instructor and receive approval of problem to be investigated and amount of credit to be received. Prerequisite: consent of department.