Fall 2022

Planet Earth: Introduction to Geology

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-111


Tekla A. Harms (Sections 01, 01L and 02L)


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. 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 examination of earth materials, field trips, and projects.

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

How to handle overenrollment: contact Professor(s)

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: lectures (both synchronous and asynchronous); lab work in a collaborative, group setting; field trips that involve observation of rock outcrops in the out-of-doors, with some hiking; in-class quizzes and/or exams; modest quantitative analysis; and a collaborative, integrated final project that includes independent analysis of a novel problem. Each of these modes of learning relies heavily on visual analysis. Attendance is a critical element of success. The course does not assume any prior knowledge of earth science.

GEOL 111 - LEC

Section 01
M 12:00 PM - 12:50 PM BEBU 107
W 12:00 PM - 12:50 PM BEBU 107
F 12:00 PM - 12:50 PM BEBU 107

GEOL 111 - LAB

Section 01L
W 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM BEBU 100

Section 02L
Th 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM BEBU 100

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

Section(s) ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
All Earth: Portrait of a Planet W.W. Norton and Company Marshak TBD


Other years: Offered in 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, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024