Course Descriptions

Geology

GEOL 100 - Oceanography

This course provides an introduction to the global marine environment, and covers such topics as the heat balance of the seas, oceanic circulation, the composition, configuration and origin of the sea floors, geochemical cycles, history of sea water, and marine ecology. The role of the oceans as sources of food and raw materials is also investigated.

Frequency: Spring semester.

GEOL 101 - Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs dominated Earth's landscapes for nearly 200 million years, and then they vanished in one of the "big-five" mass extinctions in the history of life. This course explores the evolution of dinosaurs, and examines their biology and behavior. Students are introduced to the various groups of dinosaurs as they study the reasons behind their dramatic diversification and ecological success. Theories that pertain to their abrupt disappearance 65 million years ago are also explored. The class includes a field trip to the dinosaur hall at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Frequency: Fall semester.

GEOL 102 - Exploring the Solar System

Recent planetary missions have provided a wealth of new and exciting information about our solar system and beyond. This course examines the science behind these recent discoveries. Readings and discussions focus on a variety of topics, including: (1) processes of planetary formation, (2) the geology of the Earth, Moon, Sun, and other planets, (3) planetary interiors and atmospheres, (4) asteroids, meteorites, comets, and the newly appreciated role of impacts, (5) the seemingly unique status of the Earth as a habitable planet, and (6) the potential for extraterrestrial life. Course projects make extensive use of internet resources, computer software, satellite imagery, and solar system materials (rocks from the Moon, Mars, and asteroids).

Frequency: Spring semester.

GEOL 103 - Geocinema

Lights, camera, ACTION! Geologists think planet Earth is incredibly exciting, but nowhere is the story of the behavior of our planet more dramatized and misrepresented than in movies! Whether they are big-budget thrillers like The Core, Volcano, or The Day After Tomorrow, or low-brown science fiction like Boa, movies tend to stretch the reality of natural hazards and earth processes to great dramatic effect. In this course, we will have the opportunity to watch a variety of movie clips that focus on geologic hazards (such as volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches, floods, and tsunamis) and other earth processes (origins of life, evolution, mass extinction, climate change, and glaciers). We will examine the scientific features and processes depicted in films, learn about their scientific basis, and critique the film's portrayal of earth process. Students will work in groups to examine a film centered on a geological process, and critique the way science is depicted. The final project gives you the opportunity to develop your own script for a movie that does the geology correctly. This course will cover quantitative concepts relevant to earth processes, such as describing the world quantitatively, understanding uncertainty and risk, and evaluating quality and sources of data. Format: three-hour blocks per week of movie clips, lectures, discussions, and laboratory and group exercises. Evaluation will be based on attendance and participation, homework/classroom assignments, a group project, an 8-10 page movie script (including drafts and peer review), and two one-hour exams.

GEOL 120 - Environmental Geology

The physical environment has begun to show signs of our earth's expanding population and the increasing need for natural resources. Geologic materials such as soil, water, and bedrock, and geologic processes such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and running water often pose constraints on land use. This course is designed to introduce students to the relationship between humans and their geologic environment: the earth. We will focus on the understanding the processes that shape the surface of the earth, and how these processes affect human activity. We will use current scientific methods to collect and analyze data. Topics include surface-water dynamics and flooding, groundwater and groundwater contamination, pollution and waste management, landslides, volcanic and earthquake hazards, and global climate change. Format: three hour block per week of local field excursions, lectures, and/or laboratory exercises; evaluation will be based on project reports and homework/classroom assignments, and one exam (final).

Frequency: Fall semester.

GEOL 160 - Dynamic Earth and Global Change

This course provides an introduction to the materials and structure of the Earth and to the processes acting on and in the Earth to produce change. Emphasis is placed on the evolution of landforms and the formation of Earth resources. Discussions focus on the important role of geologic processes in the solution of environmental problems. Required for geology majors. Local field trips. Three hours lecture and two hours lab per week.

Frequency: Every fall.

GEOL 165 - History/Evolution of Earth

This course provides an overview of the Earth for the past 4.6 billion years. Students explore the concept of geologic time as they delve into the vast past of our evolving planet. Major emphasis is placed on tracking the evolution of life, from the simplest single-celled organisms of the ancient Earth to today's diverse floras and faunas. Another major focus is the linkage among abiotic and biotic systems, the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere did not and do not evolve independently. The laboratory component of this course is designed to familiarize students with the rocks and fossils that archive the history of Earth. The class includes a fossil-collecting field trip. Required for geology majors. Three hours lecture and two hours lab per week.

Frequency: Every spring.

GEOL 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GEOL 200 - Field Excursion Seminar

The geology and geography of a region will be studied during a geologic field excursion to a selected destination. The excursion will be preceded by a seminar course that includes readings and oral presentations. A student may take the seminar more than once for credit.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 160 or GEOL 165 or permission of instructor.

GEOL 201 - Geological Excursions

This course focuses on the geology of a foreign country or a region of the U.S. It also includes a study of the geography and culture of the region. It is designed as a January course. Participants meet prior to departure in order to learn necessary background information. The field excursion generally spans two to three weeks. The region to be studied will be different each year and a student may take the course more than once for credit. This course is offered as S/N grading.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor(s).

GEOL 240 - Field Methods

This course is designed to train students in observation, spatial thinking, integrative problem-solving, and critical thinking in the field. Students will keep a detailed field notebook, complete three field projects, and use software to prepare professional quality maps and reports, all of which are important skills needed for careers in the biological, environmental, and geological sciences. Tools used include brunton compass, Jacob staff, GPS, aerial photographs, topographic maps, and computer software. Includes a weekend mapping project and weekly field trips during class. Occasional fourth hour meetings. Offered alternate fall semesters.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 160, GEOL 165, or permission of instructor.

GEOL 250 - Mineralogy

This course examines the relationships between symmetry, chemistry, physical and optical properties, and occurrence of minerals. General cosmochemistry, geochemistry and crystal growth will also be discussed. Laboratory projects include crystal morphology and symmetry, optical mineralogy, x-ray diffraction, wet chemistry, and the identification of common rock-forming minerals. Three hours lecture and three hours lab per week. Field trips.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 160 and one course in chemistry or permission of instructor.

GEOL 255 - Structural Geology

This course focuses on the primary and secondary structures of rocks, the mechanics of rock deformation, and global tectonics. Discussions focus on the origins and interpretations of major rock features using hand samples and thin sections. Problem sets use graphical techniques to solve structural problems. This course also provides an introduction to map interpretation and mapping techniques. Three hours lecture and three hours lab per week. Field trips.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 160 and GEOL 165.

GEOL 260 - Geomorphology

Geomorphology is the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur on the surface of a planetary body. We will be examining the processes that turn solid rock into transportable material, the transport mechanisms themselves (whether beneath glaciers, down hillslopes, or in rivers), and the patterns of deposition, many of which are unique to the processes that created them. These processes range from the very large (volcanism and mountain-building) to the microscopic (frost cracking of rock, soil creep, and chemical weathering along mineralogic grain boundaries). Some processes occur frequently across geographic boundaries and throughout geologic time (like rainsplash), while others are stochastic in nature and dramatic in their geomorphic signature (like glacial outburst floods). We will focus on the roles of rivers, glaciers, and mass movements in shaping landscapes, but will examine wide-ranging landscapes such as arid environments and coastal regions. The study of current surface processes on the Earth will be examined with an eye toward understanding the evolution of landscapes over geologic timescales.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 160 or GEOL 165 or permission of instructor.

GEOL 265 - Sedimentology/Stratigraphy

This course focuses on sedimentary rocks and the stratigraphic record. Topics covered include the origin and classification of sediments and sedimentary rocks (siliciclatic and carbonate), sedimentary structures (physical and biogenic), diagenesis, facies models, and basin analysis. Students are introduced to the principles and practice of stratigraphy. Emphasis is placed on the interpretation of ancient sedimentary environments. Three hours lecture and three hours lab per week. Field trips.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 165 or permission of the instructor.

GEOL 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GEOL 300 - Paleobiology

This course surveys the long history of life, as recorded by the fossil record. Students are introduced to the morphology and paleoecology of the major fossil groups (invertebrates and vertebrates) through discussions, labs, and readings. Students also learn the methods used to study the paleobiology and evolution of extinct organisms. Three lectures and one three-hour lab per week. Local field trips.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 165 or permission of the instructor.

GEOL 301 - Geophysics

Lecture and reading topics will include comparative planetary evolution, earth's physical fields (gravitational, magnetic, electrical), seismology, seismic interpretation, the geoid, rock magnetism and paleomagnetics, heat flow, earth structure and a discussion of exploration geophysical methods. Lab and lab project.

Frequency: Fall semester.

GEOL 302 - Petrology and Geochemistry

This course focuses on the classification, occurrence, and origin of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Emphasis will be placed on the relationships between lithology, geochemistry, and tectonic setting. Laboratory exercises include hand specimen identification, thin-section interpretation, textural analysis, major and trace element modeling, SEM/EDS and XRF analysis. Students participate in a semester-long research project on a local geological feature. Three hours lecture and three hours lab per week. Field trips.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

GEOL 250

GEOL 303 - Surface/Groundwater Hydrology

Hydrology is the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur as water interacts with the earth. In this course we will focus on the near-surface cycling of water and the physical processes that drive this motion. We will discuss the dynamics of water as it flows across the surface of the landscape, moves through channels, and passes into the shallow subsurface. Open channel flow, hydrographs, floods, and arid region water scarcity will be the focus of the first portion of the course. The bulk of the course will look at the flow of water through permeable, saturated media, heterogeneity of flow, and several equations used to describe flow dynamics in aquifers. Flow through fractured and karst systems will be discussed. Importantly, we will spend time on the methods used by scientists and engineers (and consultants!) to understand the details and timescales of groundwater flow: wells, slug tests, pump tests, and geochemistry. Contaminant transport via groundwater flow will be examined in case studies. The use of quantitative tools such as calculations, numerical modeling, and estimation will be used to better understand the dynamics of water transport on our planet. $75 trip/materials fee will be charged for this course.

Prerequisite(s)

Any 100-level geology lab course.

GEOL 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GEOL 400 - Capstone Research Methods

Geology majors and minors conducting research in the geosciences frequently utilize a variety of analytic and other laboratory equipment. This course provides students with guidance, mentorship and hands-on experience using the equipment and analytic tools they require to conduct their capstone and independent research projects. Students may take this course during any semester they are conducting research. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every semester.

GEOL 450 - Senior Seminar

Senior geology majors will participate with faculty and staff in readings, presentations, and discussions of pertinent geological topics (e.g. plate tectonics, global change, mass extinction). The historical and philosophical roots of geology will be examined. Potential field trips.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

senior standing in geology or permission of instructor.

GEOL 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

GEOL 601 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study with a faculty member. A student may explore, by way of readings, short writings, etc., an area of study not available through the regular catalog offerings. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 602 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study with a faculty member. A student may explore, by way of readings, short writings, etc., an area of study not available through the regular catalog offerings. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 603 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study with a faculty member. A student may explore, by way of readings, short writings, etc., an area of study not available through the regular catalog offerings. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 604 - Tutorial

Closely supervised individual or small group study with a faculty member. A student may explore, by way of readings, short writings, etc., an area of study not available through the regular catalog offerings. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 611 - Independent Project

Independent study of geologic problems or preparation of senior research thesis. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor.

GEOL 612 - Independent Project

Independent study of geologic problems or preparation of senior research thesis. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor.

GEOL 613 - Independent Project

Independent study of geologic problems or preparation of senior research thesis. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor.

GEOL 614 - Independent Project

Independent study of geologic problems or preparation of senior research thesis. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or senior standing and permission of the instructor.

GEOL 621 - Internship

Work that involves the student in practical off-campus experience. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

GEOL 622 - Internship

Work that involves the student in practical off-campus experience. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

GEOL 623 - Internship

Work that involves the student in practical off-campus experience. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

GEOL 624 - Internship

Work that involves the student in practical off-campus experience. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

GEOL 631 - Preceptorship

A student works with a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

GEOL 632 - Preceptorship

A student works with a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

GEOL 633 - Preceptorship

A student works with a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

GEOL 634 - Preceptorship

A student works with a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course. The department chair will determine if this course may be applied toward the major.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

GEOL 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

GEOL 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.