Geology 140 - Investigations in Environmental Geology

MWF  125 - 215;   Natural Sciences Bldg, Room 1

Steven P. Yurkovich, Natural Sciences Bldg., Room  119A
    Phone: 227-3813 (Voice Mail)
    Office Hours: 
MWF 1000 - Noon; or by appointment
Textbook: Earth Science and the Environment, Thompson, G. R. and Turk, J., 2005, 3rd. Edition.


Investigations in Environmental Geology satisfies a portion of the Liberal Studies Category C5 – Physical and Biological Sciences. The class will conduct a holistic investigation of a problem in environmental geology using basic principles and methods of science and geology.

Course Objectives:
Environmental Geology is the application of geological principles and knowledge to issues generated by interactions between people and the earth. This course will focus on a series of environmental topics that directly affect us and discuss ways that we can begin to mitigate any adverse damage or problems associated with these geologic conditions.

Specific Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will develop an appreciation for Earth Systems Science.  That is by perturbing one portion of an earth system we humans are likely to affect other systems on the earth. Class and homework problems will be designed to illustrate how geologists use a variety of tools to interpret scientific data.

Faculty Expectations of Students/Course Policies

Academic Honesty Policy

Western Carolina University, as a community of scholarship, is also a community of honor. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students work together to achieve the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is a serious offense at Western Carolina University because it threatens the quality of scholarship and defrauds those who depend on knowledge and integrity. Academic dishonesty includes:

a. Cheating—Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.

b. Fabrication—Intentional falsification of information or citation in an academic exercise.

c. Plagiarism—Intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of someone else as one’s own in an academic exercise.

d. Facilitation of Academic DishonestyIntentionally or knowingly helping

or attempting to help someone else to commit an act of academic dishonesty, such as knowingly allowing another to copy information during an examination or other academic exercise.

For specific information on procedures for cases involving allegations of academic dishonesty, see relevant sections in the Student Handbook.

You are responsible for all assigned readings and material covered in class as well as other assignments outside of class.  Material will be discussed in class that is not covered in the readings and exam questions will be taken from both sources.  Therefore, attendance and participation in class are necessary for course success.

Make up Policy:
Quizzes and exams may be made up only if you have a valid excuse (e.g., illness, death in the immediate family, university activity) and written documentation is provided (e.g., note from a physician).  Please talk with me about potential absences prior to the exam, if possible.  Daily in-class assignments cannot be made up.  Assignments turned in after they are due will be penalized.  For each day the assignment is late 25% will be deducted from the grade.

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. Talking and disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Cell phones, pagers, and any other electronic equipment must be turned off and kept out of sight.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
Western Carolina University is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students with documented disabilities.  Students who require disability services or reasonable accommodations must identify themselves as having a disability and provide current diagnostic documentation to Disability Services.  All information is confidential.  Please contact Carol Mellen for more information. Phone: (828) 227-7127;

Course Web Pages and Email:
The web site for this course located at <>.  Please check the web site. Internet links to related course material is posted in the syllabus.  Also, email will be used regularly to keep you informed regarding class assignments and to any changes in course meeting times.  I encourage you to read your email daily. Note: I do not check my university email account on weekends or in the evenings.

Tentative Course Outline




Jan. 14-18

Introduction to Environmental Geology

Ch. 1

Jan. 21

ML King Holiday



Earth Materials - Minerals

Ch. 2

Jan. 28-30

Earth Materials - Rocks

Ch. 3

Feb. 1-8

Earth’s Interior and Plate Tectonics

 Ch. 6

Feb 11

Quiz 1

Above material

Feb 13-20


Ch. 8

Feb. 22-29


 Ch. 7

Mar. 3-5

Spring Break


Mar. 10-12


 Ch. 7

Mar. 14



Mar. 17

Quiz 2

Above Material

Mar. 19-21

Easter Holiday


Mar. 24- Apr. 4


Ch. 11

Apr. 2

Last Day for “W”


Apr. 7-11


Ch. 10

Apr. 14

Quiz 3

Above Material

Apr. 16-May 2

Global Climate Change

Ch. 18, 21

May 7

Final Exam 3pm




Quizzes - 3

225 points

Final Exam

100 points

In-Class Activities' Homework

300 points


75 points


700 points

Grading Scale: 100-93%:A, 92-90%:A-, 89-88%:B+, 87-83%:B, 82-80%:B-, 79-78%:C+, 77-73%:C, 72-70%:C-, 69-68%D+, 67-63%D, 62-60%:D-, <60%:F.