Spring 2022

Geology of the National Parks

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-104


Victor E. Guevara (Section 01)


Iconic and diverse landscapes characterize the National Parks of the United States, including snow-capped mountain ranges, deep canyons, volcanoes, geyser fields, and vast plateaus. North America is a dynamic, at times cataclysmic, continent that preserves a record of how Earth has evolved over four billion years. In this course, we will focus our attention on reading the geologic record of the rocks exposed in Glacier, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks. By doing so, we will investigate the dynamic processes that have shaped the dramatic landscapes of these National Parks, and, ultimately, the processes that drive the evolution of Earth through time.

No prior study of geology is necessary. Participants in this course will be introduced to fundamental concepts in earth science: energy transfer in the earth system; rock types and their origins; plate tectonics and crustal dynamics; weathering, glaciation and the carving of landscapes; sea level rise and fall; measuring geologic time; and reading geologic maps. We will also join the debate surrounding unresolved geologic questions about these National Parks by critically assessing cutting-edge data and interpretations. The course will also develop scientific communication skills, and will culminate in the production of a guidebook for the general public to understand the geologic processes that have shaped these National Parks.

Not open to students who have completed Geology 111. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Guevara.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on readings, written work, in-class quizzes & exams Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, Spring 2022