Geology

Learning Goals

The following list is not comprehensive, but gives a good overview of what we, as a department, expect of our majors.
  • Examine complex systems over the wide range of temporal and spatial scales encompassed by the earth sciences
  • Develop scientific methods of data collection and analysis and of formulating and testing hypotheses.  Conduct investigations with modern analytical methods and instruments
  • Understand and apply the technical literature; use geological literature to expand understanding, to find relevant information, to participate in the growth of knowledge and to know its limits
  • Apply quantitative reasoning and logic to problem solving; become proficient in spatial reasoning through, among other means, use of geologic maps and cross-sections
  • Work directly with earth materials: minerals, rocks, fossils and water, and have hands-on experience with the earth in the field and laboratory
  • Be exposed to the importance of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Participate in collaborative problem solving
  • Develop the oral, written, and graphical skills necessary for the effective presentation of scientific studies
 
Many of these foundational cognitive skills are utilized in all geology courses and will be practiced by all geology majors.  The Geology Department recommends, nevertheless, that Geology majors strive to construct a sequence of courses that includes:
  • at least one writing and/or presentation attentive course such as Senior Departmental Honors (Geol 498, 498D, 499, and 499D), Seminar in Biogeochemistry (GEOL 451), Plate Tectonics and Continental Dynamics (GEOL 401);
  • one or more quantitative and/or symbolic reasoning courses such as Geochemistry (GEOL 431), Environmental and Solid Earth Geophysics (GEOL 341), and Hydrogeology (GEOL 301), or any course in Mathematics, Computer Science, or Physics;
  • spatial reasoning courses such as Mineralogy (GEOL 271) and Structural Geology (GEOL 291);
  • interdisciplinary courses such as Paleontology and Geobiology (GEOL 251), Seminar in Biogeochemistry (GEOL 451), Geochemistry (GEOL 431), and Environmental and Solid Earth Geophysics (GEOL 341)
  • at least one research-based course that engages the geologic literature and/or modern analytical equipment such as Senior Departmental Honors (Geol 498, 498D, 499, and 499D), Biogeochemistry (GEOL 451), Plate Tectonics and Continental Dynamics (GEOL 401) or Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (GEOL 321).
 

Plate tectonics - 600 mya to present