Geology 150 Methods in Geology

Steven P. Yurkovich, Natural Sciences Bldg., Room 119A
    Phone: 227-3813 (Office voice mail)
    Office Hours: MWF 10 - Noon; or by appointment,
or drop in at other times.
    Textbook: Geology – An Introduction to Physical Geology , Chernicoff, S. and Whitney, S., 2002, Houghton                                      Mifflin, 4th  Edition
Class Meeting Time: 905 - 955 MWF in Stillwell 244
    Lab Meeting Times: 125 - 315  or 330 - 515 Thursdays in Stillwell 355

Course Objectives and Rationale: Methods in geology is designed (1) to discuss the geological principles related to earth processes including solid earth studies (e.g., plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, earth deformation, etc.), mineral and rock formation, surficial processes (e.g., landslides, stream erosion, etc.), and natural resources and (2) to begin learning how geologists do science using basic field, mapping, laboratory, and computer skills to interpret geologic problems.

In addition, this course partially satisfies the C5 science requirement of the WCU liberal studies program and contains a laboratory component. 
Laboratory work will be central to theoretical discussions as an experience in the character of scientific work, and will provide an opportunity to experience the environment in which scientific study is conducted.
Specific Learning Objectives
: By the end of this course, students should have a better understanding of science and scientific principles, the Earth, the materials that make up the Earth, and how these materials come to be where they are. We will focus on the systems, processes and cycles on Earth, and begin to learn about the nature of evolution of our planet.  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 10% 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.  Please read your Catamount email account daily. Note: I do not check my university email account on weekends or in the evenings.


Hour Exams (2)


Final Exam


Assignments & Participation


Laboratory Grade


My grading scale follows:  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.

Tentative Course Outline




Jan. 14-18

Introduction to Geology

pp. 2-18

Jan. 21

M. L. King - Holiday


Jan. 23

Early History of the Planet

pp. 2-18

Jan. 25-28


pp. 38-46; 54-68

Jan. 30–Feb. 1

Igneous Rocks

pp. 70-94

Feb 4 - 6

Sedimentary Rock

pp. 170-200

Feb. 8 - 11

Metamorphic Rocks

pp. 204-227

Feb.  13


Above Readings

Feb.  15-20

Geologic Time

Ch. 8

Feb. 22-29

Plate Tectonics

pp. 21-36; Ch. 12

Mar. 3-7

Spring Break


Mar. 10-14


Ch. 10

Mar. 17


Above Readings

Mar. 19-21

Easter Holiday


Mar. 24-28


Ch. 4

Mar. 31

Folds, Faults, and Mountain Building

Ch. 9

Apr.   2

Last Day to withdraw with a “W”


Apr. 2-7

Folds, Faults, and Mountain Building

Ch. 9

Apr.  9-14

Erosion and Weathering

Ch. 5

April 11

GSA Charlotte


Apr. 16-21

Surface Water

Ch. 15

Apr. 23-28

Ground Water

Ch. 16

Apr. 30-May 2

Mass Wasting

Ch. 14

May 6

Final Exam – 830am

Methods in Geology Laboratory Schedule



Reading Assignment*

Jan. 15

Introduction and reading assignment


Jan. 24
Properties of Minerals Ch. 2; Appendix D; Handouts

Jan.  31

Properties of Minerals

Ch. 2; Appendix D; Handouts

Feb. 7

Properties of Rocks

pp. 76-85, 172-191; 210-222; Handouts

Feb. 14

Properties of Rocks

pp. 76-85, 172-191; 210-222; Handouts

Feb. 21

Topographic maps

Handouts; Appendix C

Feb. 28

Topographic maps

Handouts; Appendix C

Mar. 6
Holiday – Spring Break

Mar.  13

Field Activities


Mar.  20

Holiday - Easter

Mar. 27

Lab Project


Apr. 3

Lab Project


Apr. 10

Lab Project


Apr. 17

Class Presentation of Projects


Apr.  24

Geologic maps

 Appendix C; Ch. 9

May 1

Geologic maps

 Appendix C; Ch. 9

* The reading assignments are taken from your class textbook.  Please bring the book to both the and class and laboratory meetings.