Geol 150: Methods in GeoloGY

Course INformation

General Course Overview and Objectives:


Geology is the study of the origin, structure, materials, and landforms of the Earth and the processes that have formed in over time. Topics of study in geology include water resources, river processes and flooding, waste disposal, soil and water pollution, groundwater, coastal processes and coastal erosion, mountain building, paleontology, plate tectonics, global climatic change, landslides, natural hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes, energy and mineral resources, and land use.  We will explore these topics as a class during our course meeting times and through independent studies.


The general objectives of this course are to gain an understanding of a) the Earth as a system, b) how science works and, c) how the Geology and science interact with society.  More specific objectives of this course are

1.   To understand the breadth and significance of the science of geology to the environment, to the Earth, to you, and to society.

2.   To become familiar with the methods used in solving geologic problems, including field observations, laboratory work, data analysis, hypothesis testing, and research.

<>3.   To understand the basic geologic processes responsible for the Earth's landscape and internal structure.

Course Nuts & Bolts:

Course Text:  Geology, 3rd edition by Chernicoff and Whitney, 2002


Class Attendance:

I expect you to attend all classes AND LABS unless you have an excused absence, although I will not directly count attendance in your grade. Your presence, your preparedness, and your participation in all classes are critical to your success in the course as well as the success of the class.  Exams may be made up only if you have a valid excuse with written documentation.


Classroom Etiquette:

Please be in the classroom on time. Show courtesy and respect to fellow students by being quiet and attentive when someone is speaking.  Being late to class and non-course related talking during class are not just bad manners, but they diminish the educational value of the course to the class as a whole.

      Cells phones: Turn them off and put them in your backpack—they should neither be seen nor heard during class. 

      Simply, any behavior disruptive to the education of the class will not be tolerated.

  <>Course Expectations and Study Suggestions:

      I have high expectations for each of you.  I expect you to attend all classes and I expect your active participation in class--by listening, thinking, asking questions, and relating ideas and topics we discuss to other courses and your past experiences.  The primary purpose of lecture is not to provide you with a "good set of notes" ready for publication (nor is it to provide you with a set of notes to memorize to regurgitate for an exam).  Contribute to and engage yourself in the course--the quality of your experience in the course and the quality of the class depend on it.

      I expect you to dedicate at least 6-9 hours per week to our class outside of scheduled class meetings—whether or not there is an exam or an assignment pending.  I do not expect you to do well in this course without this work effort.

      I expect you to take all assignments seriously whether they are to be turned in or not.  I expect you to have lightly read appropriate chapters in your text prior to class time. I expect you to understand the topics we discuss.  Understanding is not being able recite definitions of various terms (although I do expect you to know appropriate terminology).  Understanding means comprehension; it means you understand relationships between facts; it means you can explain relationships and make predictions; it means you see connections between observations that someone without the understanding does not. For example, with respect to geology, understanding is being able to explain why the dams on the Mississippi River have increased rates of coastal erosion along the Gulf of Mexico, or why clear cutting on a hill top may cause a decrease in fish abundance in a stream in a nearby valley.

      To study for this course. . . First the obvious--do all assignments, come to all classes, read your text before coming to class, and study regularly rather than just prior to exams.  Reread (or better--rewrite) your class notes and add your own notes from the text.  Consider setting up study times with others to review and quiz each other.  Importantly, I encourage you to meet with me outside of class times to assist you with course-related stuff or your education in general.  It is best to try to see me during my office hours, but you are welcome to try to catch me anytime—I am around a lot.  Also, email is a great resource for certain types of questions.  I am anxious to get to know each of you past our time in class and work with you to improve your understanding and experience in the course.


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