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College of Natural Sciences

BS in Geology

Overview

Geology is the study of processes occurring in or on the earth. The BS in Geology prepares students for careers or graduate education in fields such as resource exploration, hydrogeology, or environmental geology. Disciplines within the geological sciences are directed towards understanding the terrestrial system from the core of the Earth to beyond our solar system. Students will conduct applied and basic research in an effort to understand physical processes on and within the earth, and human influences that affect the environment.

Mission

The Geology Program seeks to provide our students with the highest quality undergraduate education in geology, employing a hands-on real-world problem solving approach in our courses, incorporating field work and other practical applications of theory and mentoring students in original research. As a joint geological and environmental sciences department, students have ample opportunities to expand, integrate and apply their geologic knowledge toward environmental issues.

Goals & Objectives

  1. Determine the physical and chemical composition of earth materials and the processes that produced them.
  2. Analyze the three-dimensional geometry of rock units and discern the geologic processes that formed that geometry.
  3. Synthesize the geologic history of Earth as evidenced by the rock record.
  4. Work individually and in groups to access and reference scientific information and communicate scientific information both orally and in writing.
  5. Synthesize varied types of field information and apply these to developing conceptual and mathematical models. Use analytical skills to process observational and numerical data in order to test hypotheses and reach sound conclusions.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Determine the physical and chemical composition of earth materials and the processes that produced them.

    1. Identify and fully describe rocks, minerals or fossils in the field, in hand sample or under the microscope.
    2. Use the textural characteristics, and the mineralogical and chemical compositions, of igneous and metamorphic rocks to interpret the processes that formed those rocks and the environments in which they formed.
    3. Use fossils, sedimentary structures, or other physical characteristics of sedimentary rocks to interpret their ages and depositional environments.

  2. Analyze the three-dimensional geometry of rock units and interpret the geologic process that formed that geometry.

    1. Accurately portray and quantitatively analyze the present and past geometry of rock bodies with appropriate technical diagrams.
    2. Use geophysical data such as measurements of Earth’s gravitational and magnetic fields, radar, and seismic refraction and reflection profiles to discern the geometry of rock bodies at depth.
    3. Perform kinematic and dynamic analysis of geologic structures.
    4. Analyze sedimentary basins.

  3. Synthesize data to interpret geologic history.

    1. Reconstruct the evolutionary history of life on earth using the fossil record.
    2. Use a wide variety of geologic data to interpret the timing and geometry of major tectonic events such as continental collisions, obductions of volcanic arcs, continental rifting, and bolide impacts.
    3. Use a wide variety of geologic data to interpret the timing and nature of major climatic events such as glaciations, global warm periods, and world-wide sea level changes.
    4. Synthesize and integrate interpretations of biological, tectonic, and climatic evolution into a comprehensive understanding of Earth’s history.

  4. Communicate scientific information both orally and in writing.

    1. Communicate clearly orally and in writing.
    2. Design effective illustrations.
    3. Participate in group situations to accomplish common goals.
    4. Access and reference previous published scientific information.

  5. Compile and analyze data to develop and test hypotheses and reach sound conclusions.

    1. Students will demonstrate that they can observe the various types of rocks and transcribe those observations into proper field-note descriptions.
    2. Students will demonstrate that they can correctly use the Brunton compass to measure strikes and dips and place that data on a geologic map.
    3. Student will demonstrate that they can identify contacts between lithologic units on the ground and accurately and precisely plot those contacts on a map.
    4. Students will demonstrate that they can make field observations, describe those observations accurately in field notes, and be able to interpret the data and synthesize it into a proper field report.
    5. Students will demonstrate that they can construct and interpret a proper geologic map based on their field observations.
    6. Students will demonstrate that they can construct and interpret geologic cross-sections and geologic columns.