Course Catalog and Descriptions
FS = offered fall semester, SS = offered spring semester, US = offered summer semester, Occ = occasionally offered
UG cr. = undergraduate credit, G cr. = graduate credit
GEOL 1001C. Freshmen Seminar I: Geology and Paleontology. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Carl Brett. This course, the first of a two-part sequence of freshmen seminars, is designed to give introductory students a broad understanding of basic geological principles and to introduce processes in Earth and life history that occur on the scale of millions of years. In particular, it emphasizes the geologic history -- a mixture of geological and biological concepts -- of eastern North America, a world-famous area for Paleozoic rocks and fossils. This seminar provides an overview of the tools by which Earth scientists interpret physical and life history, the depth of geologic time, and the forces that shape our planet's surface. This course incorporates a mixture of class and lab experiences designed to introduce students to the broad concepts of geology largely through field observations and laboratory exploration of data and specimens. Students do not need special background for these classes, but should have a natural curiosity, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to work in outdoor field situations on day-long trips. Students completing this course will be well prepared to pursue further studies in geology, paleontology, or other natural sciences. This course is required for geology majors and minors. An alternative course may be taken upon approval.
GEOL 1002C. Freshman Seminar II: Earth Surface Processes and Environmental Issues. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Dan Sturmer. The Earth's surface is continuously changing as tectonic, climatic, geomorphic, hydrologic and biological processes constantly operate. These changes affect the way we utilize and survive on our planet. This course will examine the nature of these processes from a geologic perspective to show how an understanding of their dynamics is relevant to the well being of humankind. Specifically, we will examine: 1) the management of geological resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, water and land space; 2) the effects of natural hazards on humans and how we can mitigate the hazards; 3) how geology can be used to help in the effective design and implementation of engineering projects; and 4) waste disposal and minimizing effects of pollution. This course is required for geology majors and minors. An alternative course may be taken upon approval.
GEOL 1003. Physical Geology. 3 UG cr. FS, SS. Dr. Attila Kilinc. An introductory physical geology course that includes a comprehensive study of the earth's physical processes and properties, with an emphasis on understanding the scientific theories behind the geological principles. Topics are explored within the general context of plate tectonic theory and include: minerals and rocks, weathering and erosion, geological time, earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building, oceans, landforms, and natural resources.
GEOL 1003L. Physical Geology Laboratory. 3 UG cr. FS, SS. Various instructors. In this laboratory course students will utilize the basic materials and tools of physical geology to identify common rocks and minerals. Students will also analyze and interpret geologic and topographic maps as well as aerial photographs. Specific topic areas to be studied include faults and folds, mass wasting, stream, eolian, glacial, coastal and slope processes, earthquake hazards and plate tectonics. Emphasis is placed on interactions between plate tectonics and the rock cycle, and how these interactions drive igneous rock formation, metamorphic rock formation, and the formation of sedimentary basins and landforms. There will be three field trips. This course is required for geology majors and minors. This course is required for geology majors and minors.
GEOL 1004. Historical Geology. 3 UG cr. FS or SS. Dr. Yurena Yanes. An introductory historical geology course designed to provide the student with the necessary tools to interpret and understand the processes leading to the complex history of the Earth and its contained biota. An additional goal is to provide an overview of the major events in Earth's history that have had a profound effect on Earth's physical, chemical, and biologic environment. The course encompasses the causes and effects of mass extinction on the history of life, and the role of plate tectonics on the geologic and biologic evolution of the Earth.
GEOL 1008. Age of Dinosaurs. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Josh Miller. This course provides an introduction to one of the most unique and fascinating groups of animals ever to inhabit the Earth, the dinosaurs. Anyone with some background in geology or biology will benefit from the class. Topics covered include: placement of dinosaurs in the framework of geologic time; evolutionary origin of dinosaurs and their relationship to other vertebrate animals; major groups of dinosaurs, their characteristics, classification, life habits and geologic time range; life history of dinosaurs; paleogeography and paleoenvironments in which dinosaurs lived; physiology of dinosaurs (cold- or warm-blooded); how dinosaur fossils were preserved (taphonomy); dinosaur tracks and their implications about dinosaur life; life in the sea and air during the Age of Dinosaurs; hypotheses about dinosaur extinction; the evolutionary relationship of dinosaurs and birds; history of discovery and study of dinosaurs.
GEOL 1009. Natural Hazards. 3 UG cr. SS, US. Krista Smilek, Dr. Dan Sturmer. This class will provide an introduction to geologic hazards and natural disasters, their effects on society, and the attempts at preparation and mitigation for these events. Hazards to be covered include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, hurricanes, tsunamis, and others. Central to the course is the understanding of the technical cooperation required for hazard and vulnerability assessments, including the use of geographic information systems for mapping and analysis and urban watershed planning for hazard and resource management.
GEOL 1014. Geology Through Film. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Aaron Diefendorf. In this course, geological topics and concepts are introduced by watching popular earth science-based films. Students are required to watch assigned films and to answer questions or write synopses based on the scientific topics presented in the films. Lectures will be presented on the scientific topics addressed. Topics will include: the Earth's structure, tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, meteor impacts, marine science, climate change, and weather. This course provides students with a unique method of learning about earth sciences and distinguishing scientific fact from fiction in film.
GEOL 1016. Exploring Life in the Universe. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Andy Czaja. Astrobiology seeks to answer the questions 'Where did we come from?' and 'Are we alone?'. These are fundamental questions of life that have been asked for millennia and are still unanswered. Because these are such broad scientific questions, astrobiology is necessarily an interdisciplinary field that encompasses many fields of science, including geology, biology, chemistry, planetary science, and astronomy. This course will introduce students to astrobiology and all of the subfields within, but will emphasize the geological and chemical properties of planetary bodies that make them habitable, and the properties of life that make it able to flourish in a wide variety of environments. We will also discuss current and past astrobiology missions undertaken by NASA and other space agencies that seek to answer the fundamental questions.
GEOL 1021. Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Society. 3 UG cr. 2nd half semester FS, SS. Dr. Craig Detsch. This course focuses on the principles and underlying geology of volcanic eruption and earthquake hazards, methods used to study these hazards, and their effect on society and the environment. After an introduction to the geological mechanisms that cause volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, the science behind studying, predicting, and planning as well as the societal, financial, and environmental consequences of these hazardous events will be discussed.
GEOL 1027. Global Water Issues. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Reza Soltanian. This course serves as an introduction to issues affecting the world's fresh water supply with an emphasis on water use, resource management, and sustainability. Overarching topics include access to water, how it is used, environmental degradation, and the potential for conservation. Students will complete reading and writing assignments, view films, and participate in class discussions and virtual local site visits where water research is being conducted. Students will also complete case studies related to water governance and will examine sanitation services, the role of water in natural ecosystems, the impact of climate change on water systems, how water relates to food and energy, and how shared water resources are a source of conflict and cooperation. The class will be instructor-moderated and frequently student-led.
GEOL 1037. Global Warming - Its Place in Earth History. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Tom Lowell. Global Warming is an often used term, but what is it? What causes it, how does it differ from naturally occurring climate events, and what are the ramifications of it? Our discussion of the role of energy and its distribution across the planet and its relationship to temperature and other climate changes will address these questions and lead us to delve into the geological past, where we will study past climate events such as the Ice Age. We will examine how scientists date and document the past climate events, and how they seek to explain the underlying causes. This framework will provide context for considering how human activities and energy use patterns are modifying natural patterns today.
GEOL 2004C. Sedimentary Geology and Earth History. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Carl Brett. This course will review the principles by which Earth and life history are reconstructed. It will cover general concepts of sedimentary geology, geochronology and tectonics as applied in interpreting the dynamic history of the Earth and its life. The class will also provide a broad overview of the interrelated history of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. It will apply general concepts of stratigraphy, sedimentology, geochronology, paleontology, tectonics, and paleogeography in interpreting the dynamic history of the Earth and its life. Labs and field trips will illustrate general concepts with regional examples and also will give an overview of the geology of North America. Classes will provide a review of concepts and principles of sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, geochronology, tectonics, and basin analysis; later classes will give a chronological summary of Earth history. Lab exercises focus on interpretation of suites of rocks and fossils associated with particular depositional and tectonic settings and ages. In addition, we will review geologic maps and charts to illustrate stratigraphic and structural features.
GEOL 2005C. Geomorphology. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Dylan Ward. In this course, students will learn about the processes shaping Earth's surface by using observations, databases, principles of mechanics and chemistry, and by reading geomorphic literature. Topics covered in detail include landforms related to streams, rivers, and groundwater; soils and soil formation; the physics of glaciers and features of glacial erosion; transport of sediment by wind, water, and ice; landsliding and other processes of mass wasting; development of volcanic landscapes; and the interrelations between climate, tectonics, and the landscape. This course includes a rigorous laboratory component that will provide practice in using datasets, maps, and physical relationships to solve quantitative problems related to the landforms and hazards of Earth’s surface.
GEOL 2008C. Mineralogy. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Craig Dietsch. Minerals make up rocks and rocks are one of Earth's primary geologic materials. Minerals underlie the physical and chemical properties of rocks and exert a primary control on many essential geologic processes, including plate tectonics, melting and crystallization, deformation, the formation of ores, weathering and erosion, fluid-rock interaction, and dissolution and precipitation. In this combined lecture and laboratory course, the fundamental aspects of the following topics will be discussed in lecture and further explored through lab exercises: atomic bonding, crystallography, crystal chemistry, and structure of important rock-forming minerals; classification of minerals and mineral groups; phase diagrams describing mineral stability in a variety of pressure-temperature-composition environments; and mineral associations/assemblages that occur in a variety of common geological settings. Throughout the semester, the physical properties of minerals and mineral identification will be determined in the lab. Students will also develop an understanding of the fundamentals of optical mineralogy and will learn to identify important rock-forming minerals using the petrographic microscope.
GEOL/EVST 2012. The Earth System. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Aaron Diefendorf. This course focuses on developing a strong understanding of each of Earth's spheres (geo-, bio-, hydro-, cryo-, and anthro-) including the chemical, physical, and energetic interactions among these spheres. Integral to this course will be recognizing how Earth surface processes function to regulate climate, the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere, and the biogeochemical cycling of elements. An important component of this course will be assessing how interactions between spheres are responsible for global climate change and appreciating how the geologic past is the key to the present and the future. This course will build on information learned in prior 2000-level courses by analyzing and synthesizing foundational information to develop an integrated understanding of the Earth System.
GEOL 2100. Careers in the Geosciences. 1 UG cr. FS online. Dr. Dan Sturmer. The goal of this course is to prepare students for successful transition from the university to a career in the geosciences. Students will learn to craft effective and targeted resumes and cover letters, maintain an effective online presence, build a network of alumni and geoscience professionals, and practice interview skills. Participation in the geoscience career days seminar is required and will introduce students to the variety of potential careers in the geosciences. Students will also practice written and verbal communication skills, especially focused on communicating to non-geoscience audiences. This course fulfills the Mid-Collegiate Career Education Touchpoint requirement.
GEOL 3000C. Paleontology and Geobiology. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Carl Brett. This course will provide a broad overview of the principles of paleontology and its applications in understanding life history, reconstructing paleoenvironments, paleogeography and paleoclimates, and interpreting large-scale evolutionary patterns, including mass extinctions and changes through time in global biodiversity. Students will learn to identify and interpret major fossil and trace fossil groups and to recognize taphonomic (preservational) and morphological features of fossils. Classes will cover general concepts of systematic paleontology, classification of organisms, evolution, taphonomy, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, and biostratigraphy. This course will also emphasize how these concepts can be applied in interpreting the dynamic history of life on Earth and to present-day problems of societal concern brought about by anthropogenic change.
GEOL/EVST 3002. Geochemistry. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Andy Czaja. Geochemistry is a fundamental aspect of the geosciences that seeks to understand the distribution and interactions of chemical elements and isotopes in the Earth system through the study of chemical reactions and geochemical cycles. Knowledge of the modern Earth system is applied to explain signals of geochemical evolution in the rock record and to predict future change. This course will build upon previous knowledge of introductory chemistry and will emphasize fundamental geochemical concepts including oxidation-reduction reactions, thermodynamics, elemental cycling, acid-base reactions, mineral saturation, and isotopic systems. These concepts are fundamental to the geosciences because they facilitate understanding of ancient and modern interactions between the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, and the solid earth. This course will provide a foundation for subsequent courses on aqueous geochemistry, environmental geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, geochronology, organic geochemistry, and high temperature geochemistry. Students will learn the principles of common analytical equipment used in the field of Geochemistry through lecture and hands-on experiments.
GEOL 3003C. Petrology. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Craig Dietsch. Rocks are one of Earth's primary geologic materials. Rocks record the Earth's physical and chemical processes, including mountain building, melting and crystallization, deformation, the formation of ores, weathering and erosion, fluid-rock interaction, and metamorphism. In this combined lecture and laboratory course, the composition, mineralogy, and processes of formation of common rocks of the upper mantle, oceanic crust, and continental crust will be will be discussed in lecture and further explored through lab exercises. Throughout the semester, the common rocks will be identified in hand sample and in thin section. Understanding and formation of rocks in the context of plate tectonics will be a major focus of the course. Major rock-forming processes at divergent and convergent plate boundaries will be emphasized.
GEOL 3004C. Structural Geology. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Daniel Sturmer. This course introduces to students the fields of structural geology and tectonics through a combination of lectures and labs. Fundamental tools used to recognize and measure geological structures, present them in map view, cross sections, and stereographic projection, and quantify them, are taught through exercises in the lab. The lectures of this class cover the basic models of plate tectonics and rock deformation. Using case studies, the main deformation patterns occurring at divergent, convergent, and transform plate boundaries are discussed, ranging from continental scale to microscopic scale observations.
GEOL/EVST 3005C. Foundations of Groundwater. 3 UG cr. FS. Dr. Reza Soltanian. This course covers fundamentals of groundwater flow and transport, emphasizing the role of groundwater in the hydrologic cycle, the management of contaminated groundwater, and the relation of groundwater flow to geologic structure. The important topics covered in the course are: Darcy’s law, groundwater flow, mass conservation, the aquifer flow equation, heterogeneity and anisotropy, storage properties, unsaturated flow, recharge, river-groundwater interactions, aquifer tests, groundwater quality, contaminant transport processes such as advection, dispersion, and sorption. The course contains interactive computer-based programs for solving basic groundwater flow processes.
GEOL/EVST 3006. Climate Through Time. 3 UG cr. SS. Dr. Tom Lowell. The course will introduce students to the climate system and how it interacts with other systems on the earth’s surface. It will examine the difference between weather and climate and convey the components of the climate system. These components are tied together via energy fluxes which define the present climate state. These linkages and feedbacks among these processes vary over time, thus participants in the course will consider and relate the present climate state to past times when climate conditions or state were different. Since these exact relationships are not fully established, especially with regard to past abrupt climate change, the past record and how it is determined, will allow for synthesis and evaluation of future climate change. The impacts of climate variations on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and cryosphere provide a framework to debate predicted changes of the present ice age world.
GEOL 3074. Geology for Engineers, Architects, and Planners. 3 UG cr. FS, SS. Dr. Thomas Algeo. This course is for Engineering majors. This is course is an introduction to physical geology focusing on those aspects of particular interest and concern to engineers, planners, and architects who must understand the nature of geologic materials, geologic hazards, and geologic processes for planning and designing projects that work within the geologic framework rather than just on it. The course uses an analytical and quantitative approach and employs numerous geologic case studies demonstrating the impact of geology on structures and construction projects.
GEOL 4001C/6001C. Paleontology I (Invertebrate). 4 UG/G cr. Occ SS. Various professors. Even spring. Introduction to the study of ancient life as recorded by fossils. Lectures emphasize principles of paleontology including nature and quality of the fossil record, sources of variation among fossils, factors influencing morphology, classification and systematics, species and speciation, as well as a survey of macroinvertebrate phyla in the fossil record, including body plans, functional morphology, evolutionary relationships, and geological significance. Laboratories emphasize recognition of fossil groups, their morphology, paleobiologic interpretation, and stratigraphic range. At least two weekend field trips are required.
GEOL 4002C/6002C. Vertebrate Paleontology. 3 UG/G cr. Occ SS. Dr. Carl Brett, Dr. Brooke Crowley, Dr. Josh Miller. In this course, we explore vertebrate evolution with an emphasis on key ecological and evolutionary challenges and innovations. The course provides an overview of the morphology, classification, ecology, and evolutionary histories of vertebrate animals from their origins to the proliferation of major groups including jawless and jawed fishes, amphibians, turtles, lizards and snakes, crocodilians, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals (including humans).
GEOL 4003/6003. Sedimentology. 3 UG/G cr. SS. Dr. Tom Algeo. This course is an introduction to sediments & sedimentary facies, the processes that control sediment production, transport, and deposition, and the stratigraphic patterns that result from sediment deposition. The course will examine sediment deposition in marine, lacustrine, and continental systems, examining such characteristics as mineralogic composition, grain size, organic content, and other quantitative parameters.
GEOL 4004/6004. Glacial Geology. 3 UG/G cr. Odd SS. Dr. Tom Lowell. This course introduces students to the physical controls on the spatial/temporal distribution of glaciers and to the dynamics of glacial movement and the resulting erosion, transport and deposition of materials. The nature of the glacial geological record will be interpreted via sediments and landforms and climate change. Records of past glacial events will constitute a framework for realizing the role of glaciation and the Ice Age in shaping our present Earth surface. Field observational and reporting skills are required and will be improved.
GEOL 4007/6007. Marine Paleoenvironments and Paleoecology. 3 UG/G cr. Odd SS. Dr. Carl Brett. The primary theme of this course is characterization of the processes and parameters of modern and ancient marine environments, including physical (circulation, climate, waves, tides, currents, depth, and temperature), chemical (salinity, oxygen, pH, trace elements,and nutrients) and biological (e.g., organism interactions, alteration of substrates by bioturbation and skeletal accumulation) factors and their interpretation from the geological record. In addition, the class will explore interactions among Earth systems and the long-term changes in marine environments that result from cyclic and secular variations in climates and biosphere evolution. Field-based studies will examine aspects of one or more ancient marine environments.
GEOL 4010C/6010C. Igneous Processes and Petrogenesis. 4 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Attila Kilinc. This course covers the mineralogical, petrological and chemical character of the source regions of magmas, processes controlling partial melting of source rocks and differentiation and crystallization of magmas.
GEOL 4012C/6012C. Modeling Landscapes. 3 UG/G cr. Odd SS. Dr. Dylan Ward. This course will empower students to use computational tools in their own research endeavors and to better understand numerical models as described in the literature. Through weekly hands-on programming exercises in Python, students will develop their own numerical models to explore the mechanics relevant to the study of Earth surface processes, including glacier and stream flow, thermal conduction, cinder cone construction, sediment transport, coral reef growth, and more. Exercises begin simply, introducing the students to writing code, then become progressively more complex. While the course will draw its examples from surface processes, the core skillset learned is quantitative analysis of a scientific problem and expression as computer code. These skills translate to many disciplines within Earth Sciences and other science fields. Prior programming experience is not required.
GEOL 4013/6013. Organic Geochemistry. 3 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Aaron Diefendorf. This course will provide an introduction to organic geochemistry by studying the origins and fates of organic compounds in the geosphere. We will study the production, preservation, degradation, and long-term fate of organic matter in the geosphere. An important component of this course will be the use of biomarkers and stable isotopes to understand ancient climates and life, but also to understand modern systems including anthropogenic effects. We will discuss some of the common and recent advances in analytical techniques used in organic geochemistry (e.g., gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry, and lipid separation techniques).
GEOL 4018C/6018C. Stratigraphy and Facies Models. 3 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Carl Brett. This course will provide a summary of the principles, concepts, and applications of sedimentary facies and stratigraphy, the central discipline of Earth history and petroleum geology. Classes will emphasize facies models and environmental interpretation, methods of correlation in surface and subsurface, (bio-, litho-, chemo-, magneto-, cyclo-, event, seismic and sequence stratigraphy) and interpretation of regional patterns of stratigraphy. It will also illustrate general concepts with regional examples. There will be several major field trips to examine regional patterns of stratigraphy and interactions of sedimentary environments with sea level, climate and tectonic change.
GEOL 4019/6019. Quaternary Seminar. 3 UG/G cr. FS. Dr. Tom Lowell. This course will examine the Quaternary time from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. The seminar format will provide the opportunity to read and critique literature from disciplines both within and outside of the students primary field of study. We will examine factors common to all fields, such as climate change, to investigate how possible interconnections are developed and expressed.
GEOL 4020C/6020C. Volcanology Seminar. 4 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Attila Kilinc
In this seminar geological, geochemical and geophysical characteristics of volcanoes at different tectonic settings will be discussed and pertinent papers will be read by the entire class. There will be class discussion of these papers and when necessary students will test the conclusions reached by the authors by using appropriate computer codes. Students will watch videos of active volcanoes and will discuss what they learn from them.
GEOL 4022C/6022C. High Latitudes Field Trip. 3 UG/G cr. Even US. Dr. Tom Lowell. This extended field trip will visit high latitude landscapes (Alaska or Iceland) with the objective of directly observing the geological processes acting at high latitudes. Mini-projects at key field locations will afford the student the chance to improve observational skills, interpret relationships between processes and product, and synthesize key geological relationships. Field work is strenuous but will provide students with direct observation of high latitude environments.
GEOL 4023/6023. Ocean Margins Field Trip. 3 UG/G cr. Odd US. Krista Smilek. This is a two-week, field-based course intended to expose students to modern and ancient temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical marine environments and associated organisms. Emphasis is placed on the study of modern marine environments that serve as analogs to the geologic record. Students will be expected to complete necessary coursework before departing for the trip and to keep a detailed field journal and actively participate in discussions while in the field.
GEOL 4024/6024, EVST 4024, ENVE 5024/6024. Groundwater Modeling. 3 UG/G cr. The course is intended to familiarize students with drainage-basin-level circulation of water, with particular emphasis on the movement of water into, through, and out of aquifers. Equations for steady-state and transient ground-water flow in isotropic/anisotropic and homogeneous/heterogeneous aquifers are derived and thoroughly examined. Simple ground-water flow models are built 'from the ground up'. Students learn about the utility and shortcomings of ground-water models. By the end of the course, students have sufficient knowledge to calculate a water budget and to construct moderately complex models of ground-water systems.
GEOL 4025C/6025C. Thermodynamics. 4 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Attila Kilinc. In this course on the thermodynamics of geological processes, basic laws of thermodynamics are presented and their application to the solution of geological problems is discussed. Students will use SUPCRT and MELTS computer codes to solve low and high temperature geochemical problems. This course covers application of thermodynamics to wide range of geological problems, including, but not limited to, low-temperature, low-pressure solution geochemistry, and high-temperature, high-pressure geochemistry problems. Oxidation-reduction in magmas, stability of aqueous species in ore-forming solutions, and environmental problems, such as injection of toxic substances into the ground, are discussed and evaluated by students.
GEOL 4028/6028. Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry. 4 UG/G cr. Even FS. Dr. Aaron Diefendorf. This course will provide a detailed survey of the field of stable isotope biogeochemistry. The course will focus on the fundamental chemical and physical processes affecting stable isotope distributions in the natural world. The first part of the course will focus on stable isotope theory, notation, history of stable isotopes, methodological techniques including compound-specific isotope analyses, and systematic treatment of stable isotopic data. The second part of the course will provide a survey of important applications in traditional (C, H, N, O, S) low-temperature biogeochemistry in the areas of modern and ancient hydrology, climate, ecology, environmental science, and petrology. Other novel applications of stable isotopes will briefly be covered, such as forensics applications. Students will explore a topic of their choice during the course and orally present a summary of this research and provide a research paper that explores this topic in further depth. This course is intended as a graduate and advanced undergraduate level course. A basic understanding of chemistry and math is required and students are encouraged to contact the instructor if they have any questions prior to enrolling.
GEOL/ANTH 4029/6029. Stable Isotope Ecology. 3 UG/4 G cr. Even FS. Dr. Brooke Crowley. This course reviews isotopic patterns in naturally occurring carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, and strontium in biological systems. Students will synthesize weekly readings and lead discussions focused on different systems. Discussions will focus on modern terrestrial plants and vertebrates, but some readings may be geared towards marine or aquatic settings. Discussion leaders are encouraged to modify readings and incorporate material that is of interest to them. Students will also complete authentic small group research projects that utilize the Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory. Groups will design projects, collect, process, and analyze samples, interpret the generated data, and present their results to the rest of the class.
GEOL 4032/6032. Quaternary Limnology. 2 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Tom Lowell. This course will consider the geological history recorded in small lake basins. Data acquisition by geophysical techniques will provide a framework for the recovery and interpretation of the sedimentary sequence of a representative lake. This will provide the material to analyze these sediments and reconstruct the evolution of the lake basin and any external driving factors such as climate change.
GEOL 4033C/6033C. Earth History Field Trip. 1-3 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Carl Brett. This is a week-long field trip course that will explore the integrated tectonic, sedimentological, and paleoenvironmental/paleoecological history of a particular region. Trip will be preceded by discussions and overview of regional geologic history. Focus will be on the integration of tectonics, climate and sea-level change in interpreting the dynamic history of depositional basins. The field trip will serve as a review and synthesis of principles of sedimentary geology, structure/tectonics, paleontology, and Earth history, as related to a specific example. Trip venues will include the northern (Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania) and southern (Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee) Appalachian basin regions and the Cordilleran foreland successions of Colorado and Utah. Field trips will typically take place during summer.
GEOL/EVST 4036/6036. Holocene Environmental and Cultural History. 3 UG/G cr. Even FS. Dr. Yurena Yanes. The Holocene epoch (spanning the last 11,500 years) has been a critical environmental and cultural period in Earth's history. Civilization and life as we know it came to be during the Holocene. Landscapes have fluctuated significantly through the Holocene because of natural climate change and human activities. Extensive scientific research is elucidating how natural and anthropogenic factors have combined to shape Holocene ecosystems and organisms. We will critically evaluate the interplay between paleoenvironmental transitions and major cultural events throughout the Holocene by discussing a selection of relevant book chapters, and seminal and recent scientific papers. This course is designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students.
GEOL 4037/6037. Earth's Early Biosphere: Biological and Geochemical Evolution in the Precambrian. 3 UG/G cr. Odd SS. Dr. Andy Czaja. The earliest periods of Earth history are shrouded in mystery, especially the biological record during this time. But this was a critical time when microbial life originated and began to flourish, and when the chemical compositions of our atmosphere and ocean were changing dramatically. Because of this incomplete record, the details of how early life and Earth's surface environments evolved are hotly debated. In this course we will explore the known record of life through the Precambrian, with emphasis on the record of life in the Archean Eon, namely fossil microorganisms and stromatolites, as well as isotopic and other geochemical evidence. We will also discuss the geochemical evolution of Earth's surface environment and how it was influenced by both biological and abiological factors, with special focus on major environmental transitions/perturbations such as the Great Oxidation Event and Snowball Earth periods. The course will also cover recent advances in microscopic and analytical geochemical techniques that have provided much of the evidence for the evolution of early life and surface environments, as well as how the early Earth is an analog for potentially habitable planets and moons in our solar system and beyond.
GEOL/BIOL 4038/6038. Analytical Methods and Scripting R. 3 UG/G cr. Odd FS. Dr. Josh Miller. This course will give students the skills to analyze their own research data using the R scripting language. Students will achieve a working knowledge of R syntax (the R language) and an understanding of the best-practices for scripting analyses and communicating that work with others. Students will also gain proficiency in manipulating and analyzing data using graphical and statistical (including multivariate) methods. The course culminates with a final project in which students will produce an original research manuscript (using personal or publically available datasets) with imbedded R-scripts. A working knowledge of basic statistics is recommended.
GEOL 4040/6060. Taphonomy. 3 UG/G cr. Odd SS. Dr. Josh Miller. Taphonomy, the study of how biological materials and indicators are integrated into fossil records, is central to critically evaluating the history of life. Detailed taphomomic study provides important biological and geologic contexts for understanding fossil accumulations and their source ecosystems. In this class, students will take a deep dive into the processes that lead to fossil formation, the biases produced by those processes, and the biological data that are ultimately preserved. We will explore marine and non-marine systems, including processes impacting the fossil records of invertebrates, vertebrates, plants, and microbes.
GEOL 4042/6042. Regional Geology and Tectonics. 3 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Craig Dietsch. This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of tectonics, a branch of geology dealing with large-scale Earth structures and their deformation. The regional geology of keylocations constituting divergent, convergent, and transform plate boundaries are investigated to understand the dynamics of lithospheric deformation and interaction with the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Processes operating at time scales ranging from decades to hundreds of millionyears will be investigated in various case studies. Students will learn to integrate information derived from various geophysical and geological datasets, field observations and numerical modeling. A basic understanding of Earth's structure, mineralogy, petrology, and structural geology is expected.
GEOL 4044/6044. Basin Dynamics. 3 UG/G cr. Odd FS. Dr. Daniel Sturmer, Dr. Paul Potter. Sediments cover the Earth's surface and are deposited in basins large or small, recent and ancient. In this course the student will gain an understanding of the dynamic processes that lead to basin formation, burial, and deformation. Topics covered will include the study of the Earth's surface and interior from the work of Arthur Holmes to current areas of research, how processes that occur deep within the Earth are linked to major tectonic forces, how sedimentation on the continents changes with the movement of continents, and the classification and characteristics of sandstone, shale, carbonate, and chemical basins deposited from the Precambrian to the Pleistocene. Students will be exposed to geophysical logs, structure and isopach maps, cross sections, eustatic sea level curves, depth subsidence curves, petroleum systems, and sequence stratigraphy. The student will complete a project analyzing at least one type of basin utilizing primary literature sources. This course is applicable to geology students from a variety of disciplines, including paleontology, geochemistry, stratigraphy, geomorphology, and tectonics, and is particularly beneficial to those students interested in petroleum geology.
GEOL 4046/6046. Museum Curating. 1-3 UG/G cr. Dr. Brenda Hunda. At the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History students will learn procedures for proper collections, care and the duties of a curator, including organization of a collection, preparation and identification of specimens, and utilizing electronic databases for cataloging. Permission must be given by Dr. Hunda to participate in this course.
GEOL/ANTH 4048C/6048C. Zooarchaeology. 3 UG/4 G cr. Odd FS. Dr. Brooke Crowley. This course provides an overview of basic mammalian skeletal anatomy, preservation and taphonomic processes, types of human modification, techniques used to determine age, sex, and seasonality, methods for quantifying faunal assemblages, and inferring human behavior and ecological information from animal remains.
GEOL 4049C/6049C. Raman Spectroscopy for the Geosciences. 3 UG/G cr. Even SS. Dr. Andy Czaja. In situ analytical techniques allow us to push the boundaries of knowledge in the geosciences. Microscopy and spectroscopy are two such techniques that have numerous applications to geological and geochemical investigations, including producing 3-D morphological models of microscopic objects, studying thermal alteration of organic matter, identifying minerals, and measuring physical and chemical alteration of minerals. This course will introduce students to optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy and how they apply to the geosciences. The application of these techniques to paleontological samples will be particularly emphasized, but other applications will be covered. The course will include lectures and readings on the various techniques and their theories of operation, but will be strongly based on practical experience with laboratory instruments in the UC Geology PASTBIO (Paleontology and ASTroBIOlogy) lab.
GEOL 4050C/6050C. Teaching Geoscience. 3 UG/G cr. FS. Dr. Brooke Crowley and Dr. Chris Atchison. This course is designed to assist students in transforming their understandings of geoscience subject matter and scientific reasoning into challenging, dynamic and inclusive classroom, lab, or field-based experiences. Students who take this course will increase their understanding of educational theory and research as well as pedagogical content knowledge through course discussions and activities. They will expand their repertoire of instructional practices in a variety of areas, including assessment and evaluation, record keeping, and lesson design, and learn to integrate strategies that evaluate skills or knowledge (recall) and the use of that knowledge (application). Students will work in a collaborative community of learning on the design and implementation of activity-based lessons that can be replicated in many instructional settings, including field and laboratory courses, and will also gain practice designing effective exercises, assignments, and assessments that include students of all abilities.
GEOL/EVST 4051C/6051C. Applied Geophysics. 3 UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Dan Sturmer. Geophysical techniques are used to give us information about and images of rock properties in the subsurface. These data are collected using basic physics principles of rocks, including elastic, electric, magnetic, and density properties of rocks in the subsurface. Collection and interpretation of these data are used in a wide variety of fields, including (but not limited to) water resources, petroleum exploration and production, mining, geothermal, construction, geotechnical engineering, hazard analysis/emergency response, landfill construction, archaeology, land-use planning, and law enforcement. This course introduces students to the various geophysical methods commonly used in industry today. The first half focuses on seismic methods and ground-penetrating radar. The second half focuses on resistivity, gravity, and magnetics methods. The students will be introduced to each method, including background, survey design, data collection, data processing, and data modeling and interpretation. You will gain understanding of how to approach geophysical experiments, which methods may be applicable to solve a particular problem, and how to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the data you collect and analyze. - Prerequisite Definition: To take this course you must: Have taken the following Courses MATH1044 min grade C-, or MATH1061 min grade C-.
GEOL 4052. Geology Colloquium. 1 UG cr. FS, SS. Dr. Yurena Yanes. Weekly lecture series featuring local and visiting speakers from academia, government, and industry. Lecture topics will vary from speaker to speaker.
GEOL 4053C/6053C. Optical Mineralogy. 2 UG/G cr. Even SS. Dr. Craig Dietsch. This is a half-semester course paired with GEOL4054C/6054C. Minerals and rocks are two of Earth’s primary geologic materials. Examining them at the microscopic scale using the petrographic microscope is fundamental to identify them correctly, decipher their physical and chemical evolution, and prepare them for a wide range of instrumental analysis. Understanding the theory and developing the practical skills of optical mineralogy are necessary before minerals can be identified unambiguously and before rocks can be examined in thin section with the petrographic microscope. In addition, optical mineralogy is central to solving problems in geotechnical and engineering geology, and material science related to the use of rocks and minerals and a wide range of man-made materials. In this combined lecture and laboratory course, students will learn the theory that underlies the optical properties of common rock-forming (non-opaque) minerals, learn how to use a transmitted light petrographic microscope, and through hands-on practice, learn how to identify minerals in thin section. Individual minerals as well as assemblages of minerals in rocks will be observed and identified. Silicate minerals will be emphasized.
GEOL 4054C/6054C. Thin Section Petrography. 2 UG/G cr. Even SS. Dr. Craig Dietsch. This is a half-semester course paired with GEOL4053C/6053C. Rocks are one of Earth’s primary geologic materials. Examining rocks in thin section with the petrographic microscope is fundamental to identify them, decipher their physical and chemical evolution, understand the tectonic setting of their formation, and prepare them for a wide range of instrumental analysis. In this combined lecture and laboratory course, students will learn how to examine rocks in thin section, what can be observed at the microscopic scale, and how “looking small” can lead to “thinking big” about the evolution of rocks. A variety of rocks will be examined, but the emphasis will be on igneous and metamorphic rocks, particularly those from convergent margins.
GEOL/EVST 4056C/6056C. Ecology and Paleoecology of the Canary Islands. 3UG/G cr. Occ. Dr. Yurena Yanes. This course is designed to train advanced undergraduate science majors on all aspects of the scientific method, including (1) establishing and articulating a scientifically sound research hypothesis/question, (2) designing and conducting fieldwork, (3) processing samples and collecting data, (4) data interpretation and analysis, and (5) writing up results in the form of an abstract for a scientific conference. To gain these skills students will investigate ecology and paleoecology from the Canary Islands along environmental gradients and through geologic time. The course will include literature review on the Geology, Biology and Environments of the Canary Islands, biotic/abiotic factors impacting organisms’ communities, field sampling strategies, species identification, basic statistical treatments and data interpretation, and scientific writing and oral presentations. The course will include an optional international field trip to the Canary Islands during Spring Break to complete the field component of the research project and learn about Canary Islands culture and nature.
GEOL 4058/6058. Geomechanics. 3 UG/G cr. Odd FS. Dr. Dylan Ward. This course gives upper-level geology and environmental science students the mathematical and physical framework to engage in advanced work in geophysics, geomorphology, geodynamics, and hydrology. Students will exercise the fundamentals of Newtonian physics and principles of conservation to analyze Earth system processes. From the first principles of mechanics and the properties of Earth materials, students will derive the differential equations that describe many Earth processes, from mantle convection to glacier advance and retreat. Includes components of fluid dynamics that are applicable to hydrologic, atmosphere and ocean modeling, as well as the solid Earth.
MATH 1045 or MATH1062 (integrals) required; can be taken simultaneously with permission. Prior coursework in one or more of introductory Physics, Structural Geology, and/or Geomorphology is also strongly suggested.
GEOL 4059/6059. Exploring Mars. 3 UG/G cr. Even SS. Dr. Andy Czaja. This course will introduce students to one of our closest solar system neighbors, Mars. Mars is a rocky planet like Earth and thus has many similarities, but it’s smaller size and greater distance from the Sun have caused it to have a rather different geologic history compared to Earth. In this course, we will discuss the current geologic and environmental state of Mars and how it has evolved over time from a (possibly) warm, wet oasis to a cold, dry desert. We will explore data from telescopes, orbital imagers and spectrometers, landers and rovers (including the ongoing Curiosity and Perseverance rovers), as well as climate models to get the most complete picture of Mars and its evolution. The course will also evaluate the possibility that the conditions on early Mars would have allowed for the origin and evolution of life. Students will discover that studying Mars is accomplished using the same disciplines as those used to study the Earth, for example, geologic mapping, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geomorphology, geochemistry (hard rock, aqueous, environmental), geochronology, geophysics, atmospheric science, remote sensing, and (hopefully) paleontology and/or geomicrobiology. The course will also cover what is not yet known about Mars and what we hope to learn in the future with sample return missions and possibly with human exploration.
GEOL 5001. Individual Work in Geology. 1-15 UG cr. Various Professors
In this course, the student has the opportunity to conduct a project or research under the supervision of a faculty member. This allows undergraduate students to participate in research as a supplement to their geology coursework. The student will learn field and/or laboratory techniques and may have the opportunity to publish the research or present research results at a regional or national geology meeting. The student may also have the opportunity to aid a faculty member in the classroom and gain teaching experience.
GEOL 5002. Directed Undergraduate Research. 1-5 UG cr. Various Professors. In this course, the student has the opportunity to conduct a project or research under the supervision of a faculty member. This allows undergraduate students to participate in research as a supplement to their geology coursework. The student will learn field and/or laboratory techniques and may have the opportunity to publish the research or present research results at a regional or national geology meeting.
GEOL 5003. Directed Undergraduate Teaching Experience. 1-5 UG cr.Various Professors. In this individualized experiential course, a student helps assist with teaching an introductory or core geology course. The student will work closely with the course professor in carrying out regular course responsibilities such as managing groups of students, leading discussions, logistics and leading of field trips, creating, preparing and carrying out tutorial exercises, writing and proctoring exams, and providing feedback on assignments.
GEOL 5004. Senior Thesis. 1-5 UG cr. Various Professors. This course will provide a student with the opportunity to conduct an independent research project during his/her final year in the program. The student will work one-on-one with a faculty member to develop and carry out a field- or lab-based project. The student will gain experience in all aspects of conducting a research project including applying for internal and external funding, sample collection, analyzing and interpreting data, and writing a formal paper. The student will present their results at the University of Cincinnati’s undergraduate research conference (URSC + PRaISE Conference) spring term. The student will also be encouraged to present at a regional or national conference.
GEOL 5005. Geoscience Outreach. 1-3 UG cr. Various Professors. This is a self-paced independent study course intended to aid in the development of skills related to geoscience teaching and outreach activities for a variety of educational levels. Students are expected to work with a local organization, such as a zoo, museum center, or school to create learning experiences that promote geoscience education.
GEOL 5010. Geology Capstone. 3-6 UG cr. Dr. Carl Brett. This course is used if necessary if a student needs to register through UC for Capstone credit.
GEOL 7002. Tectonics Seminar. 3 G cr. Occ. Dr. Craig Dietsch.
This is a reading- and discussion-based course centered on one or more topics relevant to tectonics, typically including aspects of the tectonic and thermal evolution of mountain belts, thermochronology, tectonic geomorphology, and various specific topics related to how tectonic processes and surface processes are linked (for example, fluvial incision and its relation to rock uplift, surface uplift, and exhumation). Participants will typically include faculty as well as students, and the topic(s) chosen for will usual reflect the current research of one or more of the participants. Weekly discussions are based on weekly readings with a rotating discussion leader. The course may include the opportunity for students to make and present a poster as part of their participation in the course.
GEOL 7003. Biomarkers Seminar. 3 G cr. Occ. Dr. Aaron Diefendorf
This seminar course will cover fundamentals, analytical approaches, and scientific applications of the use of lipid (molecular) biomarkers to answer biogeochemical questions for both modern and ancient systems. The use of biomarkers-especially coupled with stable isotopes-is a rapidly evolving field with applications in biochemistry, geochemistry, ecosystem studies, climate, hydrology, environmental chemistry, and soil science. We will explore topics and papers that will expose students to both the fundamentals of biomarker systems as well as biogeochemical applications. Topics covered in this course will change each semester and will be in part directed by student interests and by new advances in the scientific community. Students will be expected to participate actively in discussions. A final paper on a student-chosen research area in biomarkers will provide greater detail on a subject area.
GEOL 7004. Geoscience Outreach. 1-3 G cr. Various Professors.
This is a self-paced independent study course intended to aid in the development of skills related to geoscience teaching and outreach activities for a variety of educational levels. Students are expected to work with a local organization, such as a zoo, museum center, or school to create learning experiences that promote geoscience education.
GEOL 7005. Graduate Research. 1 G cr. FS. Dr. Brooke Crowley.
In this course, new graduate students will learn about the department and the University, and will work on establishing their thesis research projects. Weekly meetings will be devoted to topics including how to start a research project, efficient literature searches, building networks, finding funding opportunities, writing proposals, and speaking about one’s research in both scientific and laymen’s terms. Students will be expected to write one funding proposal during the course and will gain practice providing and receiving feedback on their proposal drafts towards the end of the term. Some time will also be devoted to teaching tips, including managing groups of students, leading effective discussions, and grading strategies.
GEOL 7006. Paleontology Seminar. 3 G cr. Occ.
A discussion-oriented course focused on a unique topic and set of readings chosen and assembled for a given semester. Discussion participants generally include several faculty, in addition to student participants. The topic chosen for a given semester may include a current, cutting-edge area of focus in paleontology, or a set of papers tracing the research trajectory or career of a prominent paleontologist. Weekly discussions, each synthesized and led by a student participant, are centered on the readings for that week.
GEOL 7008. Glacial Seminar. 3 G cr. Occ. Dr. Tom Lowell
This seminar will introduce and review the current literature on glacial processes and Quaternary stratigraphy. Students will be expected to become proficient in the ability to review, analyze, and discuss the primary literature on processes and stratigraphy in climate change.
GEOL7012C. Basaltic Volcanism. 4 G cr. Occ. Dr. Attila Kilinc
The most common geologic process in our universe is basaltic volcanism. Therefore, understanding basaltic volcanism is the key to understanding how planetary bodies in the universe formed and evolved. This course deals with the distribution of basaltic rocks in different tectonic environments, and their mineralogical, textural, and chemical compositions. This course then focuses on specific problems of basaltic volcanism including testing of hypotheses about their origin. A considerable part of the course involves using various computer programs, including the MELTS software package. Students are expected to be familiar with programs such as Excel.
GEOL7025. Geology Colloquium. 1 G cr. FS, SS. Dr. Yurena Yanes
Weekly lecture series featuring local and visiting speakers from academia, government, and industry. Lecture topics will vary from speaker to speaker. The current term's schedule of talks is here.
GEOL7030. Autumn Field Trip. 1 G cr. FS Krista Smilek
All geology graduate students are expected to participate in the annual autumn field trip during each fall semester in residency. The purpose of this trip is to expose geology graduate students to the geology of Ohio and surrounding regions. Students may be asked to work individually or in groups to prepare material that will be presented in the field. A different destination will be chosen each year. The trip lasts for three or four days and runs over a weekend.
GEOL8001. Special Problems in Geology. 1-15 G cr. Various Professors
This course is intended to allow students to study independently on an approved research topic in geology other than that related to their thesis or dissertation.
GEOL8005. Masters Thesis Research. 1-15 G cr. Various Professors
This course will allow the student to perform independent research under the supervision of their thesis advisor and thesis advisory committee. The work is in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Masters degree in Geology.
GEOL9001. PhD Dissertation Research. 1-15 G cr. Various Professors
This course will allow the student to perform independent research under the supervision of their dissertation advisor and thesis advisory committee. The work is in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geology.