Spring 2021

Planet Earth: Introduction to Geology

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-111

Formerly listed as: GEOL-11


The Department (Section 01)


How well do you know the planet on which we live? In this course we will explore Earth from its core to its surface, from the mountains to the deep ocean basins, from the past and present to the future. The earth is an evolving and dynamic system, changing on time scales that range from seconds, to millennia, to eons: volcanos erupt, earthquakes vibrate the globe, continents separate and collide, and mountains rise only to be worn away and rise again. What physical processes drive this dynamism? How does the restless nature of Earth impact our residency? Studying active geologic processes will provide us with a means to decode the history of Earth as written in rocks; analyzing the rock record allows us to test hypotheses about the formation and continual modification of the planet. New England’s complex and varied geologic history — which includes continental collision and mountain building, the birth of an ocean, massive volcanic eruptions, and erosional sculpting of the landscape — provides a unique natural laboratory that the class will access on field trips. With a geologic understanding of your home planet, students will emerge from the course with an expanded notion of what it is to be human. This is a science course designed for all Amherst students.

Three hours of class and two hours of lab in which the student gains direct experience in the science through field trips (within walking distance of Amherst College), demonstrations, examination of earth materials, and projects. For remote learners, classes will be synchronous with in-person instruction. A separate lab section (time TBD) will be organized for remote learners that will parallel the in-person labs using lab material that are mailed to the remote students.

Limited to 60 students with 20 students per lab. Fall semester: Professor Crowley and Spring semester: Professor Harms, Assistant Professor Guevara and  Visiting Assistant Professor Bernard.


Lab Science Course, Science & Math for Non-majors


2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020