Spring 2024

Geology of the American West

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-104


Tekla A. Harms (Section 01)


Iconic and dramatically diverse landscapes characterize the western United States, including snow-capped mountain ranges, deep canyons, volcanoes, monuments of stone, geyser fields, and vast lava-capped plateaus - in marked contrast to the more subdued lands of the east. North America is a dynamic, at times cataclysmic, continent with a deep geologic past. In this course, we will focus our attention on the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain and Glacier National Parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Columbia Plateau. By placing these parks in their geologic context, students will gain a framework within which the geology of many additional western landscapes can be understood. No prior study of geology is necessary. Participants in this course will be introduced to fundamental concepts in earth science: 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 some 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 joint production of a geologic guidebook for the general public to understand the nature and origin of select parts of the west. This course will meet for two two-hour sessions each week. Not open to students who have completed Geology 111 and cannot be taken concurrently with 111.

Spring semester. Professor Harms

How to handle overenrollment: null

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

GEOL 104 - LEC

Section 01
M 2:00 PM - 3:50 PM BEBU 107
W 2:00 PM - 3:50 PM BEBU 107