Geological Sciences

Geological sciences’ faculty members are engaged in research on the geology and paleontology of the Appalachian and Rocky mountains, Asia and elsewhere. They collaborate with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and other international organizations.  Research scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, environmental firms, the Smithsonian Institution and other agencies in the Washington, D.C., area augment the full-time faculty, providing a broad capability for education and hands-on training.

Committee on Geological Sciences  R.P. Tollo, H. Teng, J.M. Clark, C.A. Forster, C.E. Brown, G. Mattietti, E. Pauli, J. Kravitz

Explanation of Course Numbers

  • Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
  • Those in the 2000–4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that can also be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work
  • Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
  • The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office

GEOL 1001. Physical Geology. 3 Credits.

Lecture, laboratory. An introduction to the principal features of the composition and structure of the earth. Topics include the nature of minerals and rocks, surface and deep earth processes, mineral and energy resources, and plate tectonics. Laboratory fee. Credit will not be given for both GEOL 1001 and GEOL 1005.

GEOL 1002. Historical Geology. 3 Credits.

Lecture, laboratory. An introduction to the history of the earth. Topics include sedimentary environments, plate tectonics, origin of life, and evolution. Laboratory fee. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005.

GEOL 1005. Environmental Geology. 3 Credits.

Lecture, laboratory. An introduction to the impact of geology on the environment, with emphasis on the relation of people and society to natural environments; population evolution, natural hazards, and mineral resources. Laboratory fee. Credit will not be given for both GEOL 1001 and GEOL 1005.

GEOL 1006. Science & the Environment. 3 Credits.

The large-scale processes operating within the atmosphere, oceans, and solid Earth. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005.

GEOL 2106. Oceanography. 3 Credits.

The ocean with its many environments represents the last largely unexplored frontier on earth. Origin of the ocean systems and plate tectonics, ocean habitats and their biota, marine hydrology and ocean currents; air–sea interaction and climate control; ocean mapping techniques; environmental regulations covering marine resources. Laboratory fee. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005.

GEOL 2111. Mineralogy. 4 Credits.

Lecture and laboratory. Introduction to the crystallography and chemical systematics of rock-forming and ore minerals. Exercises emphasize the analysis of mineralogic data and the paragenesis of mineral assemblages. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005 or permission of instructor. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 2112. Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. 4 Credits.

Lecture and laboratory. Introduction to basic light theory and the identification and characterization of minerals through optical properties. Laboratory exercises provide an introduction to petrologic analysis of igneous and metamorphic mineral systems. Prerequisite: GEOL 2111 or permission of the instructor. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 2122. Structural Geology. 3 Credits.

Lecture and laboratory. Study of natural and experimental rock deformation and the relationships between stress and strain as recorded by geologic structures. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 2151. History of Life. 3 Credits.

A review of the origin of life, the geologic record, and the evolutionary history of the major groups of organisms, including the origin of life and evolution of invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1002 or BISC 1111BISC 1112. Laboratory fee. Same as BISC 2451.

GEOL 2159. Geobotanical Ecology of the Central Appalachians. 4 Credits.

A multidisciplinary approach to Appalachian ecology involving application of scientific principles from both geology and botany, stressing interrelationships between geological, geochemical, and biological processes. Field trips. Laboratory fee. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005 and BISC 1111BISC 1112; with permission of instructor.

GEOL 2190. Special Topics in Geology. 1-3 Credits.

Topic announced in the Schedule of Classes. May be repeated for credit provided the topic differs.

GEOL 2333. Evol.&Extinction of Dinosaurs. 3 Credits.

GEOL 3118. Volcanology. 3 Credits.

Fundamental principles and geologic processes associated with volcanism. Eruptive styles, processes leading to magma production and transport, triggering mechanisms, plate tectonic settings, volcanic hazards, and disaster mitigation. Case histories of selected volcanic eruptions examined in detail. Prerequisite: GEOL 2111 or permission of instructor. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 3119. Field Experience in Volcanology. 1 Credit.

Week-long field exercise at a major volcanic center in the western United States. Field-based interpretation and analysis of volcanic and related rocks. The geology of each site and the processes responsible for volcanism discussed in detail. Corequisite: GEOL 3118. Deposit for expenses is required.

GEOL 3123. Crustal Dynamics. 0-3 Credits.

Basic plate tectonic processes and features; the plate tectonic paradigm in historical evolutionary framework. Students present an original research project orally and in writing. Prerequisite: GEOL 2122. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 3126. Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. 4 Credits.

Lecture and laboratory. Introduction to sedimentation and stratigraphy; origin and classification of sediments and sedimentary rocks; introduction to clastic and carbonate depositional environments and stratigraphic principles. Prerequisite: GEOL 1002, GEOL 2111. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 3131. Global Climate Change. 3 Credits.

Fundamental causes and patterns of climate change. Methods of reconstruction of past climates; modeling and predicting climate change.

GEOL 3138. Hydrogeology. 3 Credits.

Principles and theory of basic and applied hydrology: surface water hydrology, geology of groundwater systems, groundwater flow, surface water–groundwater interactions, contamination and remediation technologies, conservation, management, and regulations. Prerequisite: GEOL 2111, GEOL 2122; MATH 1221 or MATH 1231; or permission of instructor. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 3140. Geochemistry. 3 Credits.

Chemical systems and processes on the planet Earth; origins and interactions among and within the Earth’s lithosphere, oceans, and atmosphere; origin, distribution, and behavior of the elements; radioactive and stable isotope systems. Aqueous geochemistry; geochemical cycles. Same as CHEM 3140. Prerequisite: GEOL 1001 or GEOL 1005; CHEM 1111CHEM 1112 .

GEOL 3189. Geophysics. 3 Credits.

Principles of magnetic, gravity, seismic and electrical methods applied to geological problem-solving. Prerequisite: GEOL 2122 or permission of instructor.

GEOL 3191. Geology of Energy Resources. 3 Credits.

Principles of geology applied in energy exploration, exploitation, and production; the geology of energy resources in ocean basins; borehole and surface geophysical applications and reconnaissance mapping techniques; management and regulation of energy resources; sustainability, efficiency, and conservation issues. Prerequisite: GEOL 2122 or permission of instructor. Laboratory fee.

GEOL 4195. Geological Field Methods. 4 Credits.

Weekend field trips. Methods of outcrop analysis, geologic mapping, and data interpretation. The geological evolution of the central Appalachian mountains and the plate tectonic processes responsible for their formation emphasized. Prerequisite: GEOL 2111, GEOL 2122. Field trip fee.

GEOL 4195W. Geological Field Methods. 4 Credits.

GEOL 4199. Undergraduate Research or Reading. 1-12 Credits.

Problems approved by the staff. May be repeated for credit.

GEOL 5099. Variable Topics. 1-99 Credits.