Geology

Program Director: Larry Davis

Faculty: Larry Davis

We live in a time of expanding population and increasing demands on finite resources. Consequently, there is an ever-increasing need to understand and appreciate the complex interrelationships among the Earth’s physical and biological systems. We believe that every liberally educated student should have at least an elementary understanding of geological systems and processes, and how these affect human activity. To this end, the Geology Department offers entry-level courses in Physical Geology and Historical Geology. These courses provide an introduction to the scientific principles and techniques used to understand the Earth and to inform students about the composition and materials of the Earth, major processes which shape the Earth’s surface, and the evolution of the Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.

The Geology Department maintains a collection of minerals, rocks, and fossils for student study and research. Research equipment includes petrographic and binocular microscopes, stream table, and groundwater simulation models. Laboratory space is available for student research. A large geology reference library is located in the geology classroom/lab.

Major (None)

Minor (None)

Courses (GEOL)

211 Physical Geology. (4)
Geology is the study of the composition of the Earth and its dynamic systems. One system, using solar and gravitational energy, involves the processes of weathering, erosion and deposition of sediments by the atmosphere, wind, rivers, ground water and glaciers. The other system, using internal energy of the Earth, is tectonic. This involves movement of material in the Earth’s interior resulting in plate movement which creates and destroys the crust and results in volcanism, earthquakes and mountain-building. Laboratory is required. Fall.

212 Evolution of the Earth. (4)
A study of the interpretation of the geological evolution of the Earth, with emphasis on the North American continent, in light of plate motion and sea-floor spreading. The rock record and fossil record are closely examined. Both provide clues to the evolutionary changes in the Earth’s crust and in life. Laboratory is required. Prerequisite: 211. Spring.

214 Paleobiology of Dinosauria. (4)
A study of paleobiology and evolution of Dinosauria. Dinosaurs will be studied within the context of geological, biological, and anatomical considerations, and will include an examination of controversial issues; ideas about established facts and reasonable inferences; and separation of truth from fiction and misinformation. Prerequisites: BIOL 115. Laboratory is required. Fall.

340 Invertebrate Paleontology. (4)
Study of the evolution, paleoecology, and paleogeography of the first four billion years of life on Earth. The focus will be on invertebrate paleontology, with reference to vertebrate and plant fossils. Field trip and laboratory required. Prerequisites: 212 or BIOL 222. Fall.

380 Special Topics in Geology. (1-4)
Readings and discussions in either broad or specific areas of geology not covered in departmental courses OR extensive field research experience under the direction of a staff member. May be repeated for credit when topics vary. Prerequisites: 211, 212; or 214.