Geology Courses

A modest lab fee may be charged in some courses.

101 Introductory Geology (1)
A survey course designed for liberal arts students covering many aspects of physical geology, the study of active earth processes. Labs illustrate lecture materials and the techniques used by geologists. One field trip. Complements the material covered in Geology 103; either course can serve as an introductory course in geology. Staff.

103 Introduction to Earth History (1)
A survey course designed for liberal arts students and covering many aspects of historical geology, the study of evolving environments and life forms on earth. Labs utilize fossils, rock samples, maps and field trips to illustrate techniques used by historical geologists. Complements the material covered in Geology 101; either course can serve as an introductory course in geology. Staff.

104 Earth Resources and the Environment (1)
Without earth resources, civilization would not exist. Gold, diamonds, water, oil, building materials—all of our material resources ultimately are derived from the earth. This course examines the origin and geologic occurrence of these materials and the environmental implications of their utilization. No laboratory. Staff.

106 Natural Disasters (1)
A review of the natural disasters that affect humans and the environment. Emphasizes the causes and prediction of natural hazards, assessment of hazard vulnerability, and disaster mitigation and recovery through case studies of historical and recent natural disasters. Topics include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, extreme weather, climate change and floods. No laboratory. Staff.

111 Geography and Geographic Information Systems (1)
An introduction to the elementary principles, techniques and utility of geographic information systems (GIS) toward the study of world geography, as well as related concepts and techniques involved in creating and using digital maps. Shows how maps (particularly computer-generated maps) can help in displaying and analyzing geographic and other spatial data, and the use of these analyses in modeling cultural and natural systems. Lecture and laboratory. Some prior computer experience is helpful, but is not required. McRivette.

115 Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate (1)
Describes the world's oceans and atmosphere and considers how they interact with one another, and with humans. Topics include the geological evolution of the ocean basins, ocean-atmosphere circulation patterns, ocean currents, climate and weather patterns, storms and weather fronts, paleo-oceanography and the history of climate, and the chemical composition of the oceans. Emphasizes the role of the oceans in mediating global climate, global change, global dispersal of pollution and other environmental concerns. No laboratory. Offered in alternate years. T. Lincoln, Wilch.

187, 188, 189 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

201 Structural Geology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
Study of stress-strain relationships and behavior of materials, with particular reference to recognition and interpretation of rock structures. Laboratory work includes methods of solving structural problems and the use of geologic maps and cross-sections to interpret sequences of events in complex structural regions. Offered in alternate years. B. Lincoln.

202 Ground Water (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
A description of the hydrologic cycle with emphasis on quantifying water budgets and water flow in the shallow earth. Field techniques include stream gauging and well installation, surveying and slug testing. Analytical and numerical models are used to interpret pump test data and to understand water flow to pumping wells and the dispersal and remediation of contamination. Offered in alternate years. T. Lincoln.

203 Mineralogy (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
Crystallography, crystal chemistry, optical and physical properties, and the occurrence of rock-forming minerals, with particular emphasis on the silicate minerals. Laboratory emphasizes hand-specimen and optical identification of minerals using petrologic microscopes. Offered in alternate years. Menold.

204 Introductory Petrology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 203.
Hand-specimen and microscopic identification of minerals and rocks. Recognition and classification of all varieties of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, with emphasis on rock-forming processes. Laboratory emphasizes hand-specimen and optical identification of rocks using petrologic microscopes. Offered in alternate years. Menold.

205 Sedimentation and Stratigraphy (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
An examination of the processes and principles that control the accumulation and lithification of sediments, based on examples of recent environments and ancient rock sections in many parts of the world. Laboratory emphasizes map-reading skills and methods for studying recent and ancient sediments and rocks. Offered in alternate years. Bartels.

208 Geomorphology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
Geologic processes operating at the earth's surface and the landforms they produce. Includes the study of soil formation, river processes, glaciers, wave action, wind, groundwater and their related landforms. Field trips. Laboratory includes analysis of aerial photographs, topographic maps and experiments with flume and wave tank. Offered in alternate years. Wilch.

209 Chronostratigraphy and Invertebrate Paleontology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103, or Biology 195.
A comprehensive examination of invertebrate fossils and measurements of time in geology. Emphasizes study of fossils and their identification, biology, evolutionary history and use in geology. Includes magnetostratigraphy, global event stratigraphy, and radiometric dating methods. Laboratory emphasizes fossil identification, morphology, and functional morphology, and geochronologic exercises using fossils and other geologic data. Two field trips. Offered in alternate years. Bartels.

210 Regional Field Geology (1/2)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103, or permission of instructor.
An in-depth investigation of selected geologic provinces consisting of a seminar course and an 8-14 day field trip. The field trip itself typically begins in early May following commencement. Staff.

211 Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 111 recommended.
An introduction to the elementary principles, techniques and utility of remotely sensed imagery and image interpretation, especially when used in conjunction with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Shows how digital maps created from, or utilizing, digital imagery from airplanes, space shuttles and satellites can help in displaying and analyzing spatial data, modeling processes and making decisions. Laboratory emphasizes the use of remote sensing and GIS in a variety of environmental applications. Lecture and laboratory. Offered in alternate years. McRivette.

212 Volcanology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103, or permission of instructor.
Study of volcanic processes, eruptive products and their mechanism of formation, monitoring of active volcanoes, volcanic hazards, and the environmental impact of volcanism. Focuses on historical and modern case studies. Lecture and laboratory. Offered in alternate years. Wilch.

287, 288, 289 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

306 Glaciers and Climate Change (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or 103.
Covers the dynamics of glacier flow, origin of glacial features, events of the Pleistocene Epoch with emphasis on the Great Lakes area, Earth's climate history, causes of ice ages, recent and future climate change. Lecture, laboratory and field trips. Offered in alternate years. Wilch.

307 Geochemistry (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 203 or Chemistry 121.
The application of chemical principles to the study of the earth with emphasis on environmental geochemistry. Topics include the distribution of chemical elements within the earth, rock weathering, the chemistry of natural solutions, surface chemistry and the behavior of contaminants in the environment. Laboratories involve both field and laboratory techniques and rely heavily on state-of-the-art instrumentation, including optical emission and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and ion chromatography. Offered as needed. T. Lincoln.

309 Vertebrate Paleontology (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 103 or Biology 195.
The fossil record, evolution, morphology, adaptation and paleobiogeography of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The interactions of vertebrates with ancient floras, climates and plate configurations will be emphasized. Lecture and laboratory. Offered in alternate years.  Same as Biology 309. Bartels.

310 Igneous and Metamorphic Geochemistry (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 204 or permission of instructor.
Petrogenesis and occurrence of igneous and metamorphic rocks with emphasis on using geochemical tools to understand the behavior of magmas, origin of crystalline rock and the physiochemical theories of metamorphism. Includes interpretation of phase diagrams, use and interpretation of geochemical data and modeling, and isotope geochemistry. Offered in alternate years. Menold.

311 Advanced Geographic Information Systems (1)
Prerequisite: Geology 111 or permission of instructor.
The study of the more advanced capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Emphasizes spatial modeling and analysis using GIS software such as ArcView GIS. Topics include map algebra, point pattern analysis, network analysis, grid analysis and 3-D surface analysis. Students learn how to use these and other GIS tools for decision-making, model building and the effective use of maps. Lecture and laboratory. Offered in alternate years. McRivette.

387, 388, 389 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

391, 392 Internship (1/2, 1)
Offered on a credit/no credit basis. Staff.

401, 402 Seminar (1/2, 1)
Prerequisite: Geology 101 or permission of instructor.
Critical evaluation of current topics in geology as determined by student and staff interest. Recent topics have been regional geology, engineering geology, paleoecology and volcanology. Staff.

411, 412 Directed Study (1/2, 1)
Staff.

Summer Session
The following course is offered in the summer session in South Dakota and Wyoming.

314 Field Methods (2)
Prerequisites: Geology 201, 204, 205 (or their equivalents) or permission of instructors.
Summer field camp course focused on geologic mapping in the northern Rocky Mountains. Field work is done in sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks. Offered in summer session, in alternate years. Staff.

Majors and Minors

Requirements for Major in Geology

The geology major is designed both for the student who plans to pursue graduate studies in some aspect of geology or become a professional geologist, and for the student who has professional aspirations outside of geology.

Nine units in geology, including; a field work experience; participation in all departmental colloquia during the junior and senior years; two cognate courses.

Core Geology Courses
Geol 101: Introductory Geology
Geol 103: Introduction to Earth History
Geol 201: Structural Geology
Geol 203: Mineralogy
Geol 205: Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
Geol 208: Geomorphology

At least three additional units of geology at the 200-level or higher, at least one of which must be at the 300-level (one unit from Geology 314 may be counted toward this requirement). A minimum of two cognate courses including Chemistry 121 and another chosen from Chemistry 123, Mathematics 141, 143, 210; Physics 115, 116, 167, 168; Biology 195. We encourage all students to take more cognate courses, and students intending to enter graduate school should be aware that many graduate programs require at least two units each of chemistry, calculus and physics. Students with specific interests in geology may want to pursue completing appropriate minors in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology. All majors are required to complete a departmentally-approved independent research project, and are encouraged to complete a senior college or departmental honors thesis.

Requirements for Major in Earth Science

The earth science major is intended for the student who begins the major in second semester of the sophomore year or later or is doing the major in addition to another major.

  • Eight units in geology, including: 101 and 103; either 201 or 203; either 205 or 208; one 300-level elective; and three other geology courses, two of which must be at the 200-level or higher. These may not include Geology 210, summer field camp or a directed study.
  • One cognate course in mathematics, chemistry, physics and/or biology; may include Physics 105 or 206 or one of the courses listed under the geology major requirements above.

Requirements for Major in Geology with Secondary Education Certification

  • Nine units in geology and the completion of all other requirements as listed under the geology major requirements above.
  • Physics 105.
  • Demonstrated mathematics proficiency at the Mathematics 125 level.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification in earth science.
  • Geology 104 and 115 (taken as electives outside the major).

Requirements for Major in Earth Science with Secondary Education Certification

  • Nine units in geology, including: 101, 103, 104, 115, and five other geology courses at the 200-level or higher (one must be at the 300-level), selected in consultation with, and approved by, the department. These may not include Geology 210, summer field camp, or a directed study.
  • Completion of all other requirements as outlined below in the section “Requirements for All Students Majoring in Geology or Earth Science.”
  • Two cognate courses including Physics 105 and one course selected from those listed under the geology major requirements above.
  • Demonstrated mathematics proficiency at the Mathematics 125 level.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

Requirements for All Students Majoring in Geology or Earth Science

  • All students completing a major in geology or earth science must satisfy a field work requirement equivalent to one unit of study. This requirement may be fulfilled by summer research, internship or work experiences, academic year directed studies, completion of Geology 210 or 314, other suitable field experiences approved by the faculty (such as field trips sponsored by GSA), or some combination of the above.
    • After completing three or four geology courses or at the end of their junior year, geology majors planning graduate study and/or a professional geology career are urged to attend either the Albion summer field camp in the Rocky Mountains or a similar summer geology field course offered by another college or university. This experience is required by most graduate schools before entering a graduate program and is required by many industries and institutions employing geologists.
  • A maximum of one geographic information systems course (Geology 111, 211 or 311) may be counted toward the major.
  • Departmental Colloquia: All geology and earth science majors are required to attend departmental colloquia regularly and to participate once each semester for four semesters.
  • The geology units and the required cognate courses must be taken for a numerical grade. Students considering a geology major are urged to complete the cognate units as early as possible in their Albion career.

Requirements for Minor in Geology

  • Five units in geology, including: Geology 101 or 103 plus four other geology courses, three of which are courses at the 200- or 300-level selected in consultation with and approved by the department chair.
  • Completion of an approved field experience (e.g.,research experience or internship with a significant field component or Geology 210 or Geology 314).
  • Departmental Colloquia: All geology minors are required to attend departmental colloquia regularly and to present once each semester for two semesters.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken for a numerical grade.
  • Note: This minor may not be elected by geology majors.

Requirements for Minor in Environmental Geology

  • Five units in geology, including: Geology 101, 202, 208; one unit selected from 306 or 307; one unit selected from 104, 106, 111, 115, 211, or ENVN 102, or a one-unit equivalent of approved independent research (Geology 412 or Geology 411 taken twice).
  • Completion of an approved field experience (e.g., a research experience or internship with a significant field component or Geology 210 or Geology 314).
  • Departmental Colloquia: All environmental geology minors are required to attend departmental colloquia regularly and to present once each semester for two semesters.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken for a numerical grade.
  • Note: This minor may not be elected by geology majors.

Requirements for Minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

  • Three units in GIS and remote sensing: Geology 111, 211, 311.
  • One unit in statistics, mathematics or computer science, selected from Mathematics 209, E&M 235, Mathematics 141 (or a higher level mathematics course), or CS 171.
  • One unit selected from Geology 202 or 208, or a pre-approved course with a significant GIS and/or remote sensing component.
  • A pre-approved experience focusing on the application of GIS or remote sensing in the student's field of study. This could be satisfied by a directed study, a summer research experience, or an internship/work experience.
  • Departmental Colloquia: All GIS minors are required to attend departmental colloquia regularly and to present once each semester for two semesters.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no credit basis.

Requirements for Minor in Paleontology (for Geology Majors)

  • Five units, including: Biology 195; two units from Biology 216, 225, 227, 237, 248, 310, or 314; Geology 209 and Geology/Biology 309; and an approved independent research experience selected in consultation with and approved by the department, which may be the same as the project carried out for the geology major.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken for a numerical grade.

Requirements for Minor in Paleontology (for Non-Geology Majors)

  • Five units, including: Geology 103, 209, Geology/Biology 309; Biology 195; and one unit from Geology 205, 208 or Geology 412 (or Geology 411 taken twice).
  • Completion of an approved field experience (e.g., a research experience or internship with a significant field component or Geology 210 or Geology 314).
  • Departmental Colloquia: All paleontology minors are required to attend departmental colloquia regularly and to present once each semester for two semesters.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken for a numerical grade.

Requirements for Minor in Earth Science with Secondary Education Certification

  • Six units in geology, including: Geology 101, 103, 104 and 115 and the completion of all other requirements as outlined above in the section "Requirements for Minor in Geology."
  • Physics 105.
  • Demonstrated mathematics proficiency at the Mathematics 125 level.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

Requirements for Interdisciplinary Major in Integrated Science with Elementary Education Certification

Students interested in pursuing elementary education certification may wish to consider an interdisciplinary major in integrated science. The integrated science major is primarily intended for students seeking a broad, cross-disciplinary understanding of the natural sciences. Students completing a major in integrated science are required to take courses in all the natural sciences and also to choose a minor in biology, chemistry, geology or physics. The detailed requirements for the major are provided in this catalog or are available from the Education Department.

Career Opportunities

Albion College geology graduates are successful in obtaining interesting and rewarding jobs. Currently, there are numerous well-paying jobs with petroleum and mineral exploration companies as well as in the area of water resource and environmental management. Other geology graduates have been employed by numerous consulting firms; by research institutes; by state geological surveys and the U.S. Geological Survey; by universities and colleges as geology professors and by secondary schools as earth science teachers.

Over one-half of our graduates have chosen to continue studying geology or other disciplines, including business, law, medicine, and public policy, at major universities and have obtained master's or doctoral degrees before beginning their careers.

Special Features

The department’s facilities include six instructional laboratories, a GIS lab, individual faculty offices and research labs, a student research lab, a map room, and a rock and fossils preparation shop.

Three National Science Foundation grants to the department have established sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS), inductively coupled argon plasma (ICP) spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry laboratories. Another NSF grant has provided electronic mapping tools, including global positioning receivers and base stations, laser ranging equipment and an electronic total station for precise fieldwork.

The Dow Analytical Science Laboratory houses a JY ICP spectrometer with a Cetac 5000AT ultrasonic nebulizer, a Rigaku 2100 wavelength dispersive XRF spectrometer, a Fluxy automatic fluxer, a Sedigraph 5100 particle size analyzer, a Rigaku miniflex X-ray diffractometer, and a CEM Mars 5 microwave digestion system. This equipment supports analysis of a wide range of materials, including rocks and natural solutions, for most elements from trace (parts per billion) to major (%) levels. The Geology Shop includes rock crushing and grinding equipment, rock saws and polishing equipment and a Buehler petrographic thin section machine. Students in both introductory and advanced courses use the equipment, and it supports advanced environmental and geological research projects.

Our other laboratories are also well-equipped and include: an Olympus research-grade petrographic microscope with heating/freezing stage and digital imaging systems; a Franz magnetic separator; new binocular and petrographic student microscopes (along with color digital video and photographic microscopy units and image analysis software); three stream tables; a 3-meter flume, wave tank, current velocity meters and data-logging water analysis sondes; exploration seismograph; resistivity apparatus; and a magnetometer. Department collections include over 6,000 rock and mineral specimens, over 10,000 fossil specimens and more than 2,000 specialized maps.

Many departmental maps, minerals, rocks and fossils are displayed throughout the science complex. The Mitchell Museum and the science complex atrium include the wave tank and additional fossil, rock and mineral displays. The hallways of the department also have exhibits of current faculty and student research as well as additional maps and specimens.

The computer laboratory for GIS and digital image analysis includes 16 workstations, two color scanners: a large format map and poster scanner and a desktop flatbed scanner, a color inkjet printer, a laser printer, and a link to the E-size printer/plotter in the nearby Dow Analytical Laboratory. Software for creating, manipulating and analyzing spatial data and images (maps, aerial photos and satellite imagery) includes the most recent versions of ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced, ArcPad, and ENVI.

Field study is important in geology, so the department maintains an active field program. Each spring students and faculty participate in a regional geology seminar and subsequent eight- to 14-day field trip; trips have been to the Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin, California, Louisiana, Great Britain, Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona and New Mexico, New England, the Ozarks, the Northern Appalachians and the Smoky Mountains. Local field trips are sponsored by the student-run Geology Club. In addition, the Geology Department operates a biennial six-week summer field program in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Students from Albion and many other colleges and universities attend this camp for training in geologic mapping and field research.

Research opportunities are available to all majors in their junior and senior years. Students may work on an individual laboratory or field problem within the scope of their background and present their results at professional meetings. Outstanding seniors are encouraged to complete honors theses. The Lawrence D. Taylor Undergraduate Geology Research Fund supports student research and travel to present at regional and national meetings. A local chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, a national earth science honorary, is active on the Albion campus.

Departmental Policy on Advanced Placement Credit

Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam will receive one unit of credit from the Department of Geological Sciences. Students who receive AP credit for calculus, chemistry, computer science, and/or physics from the respective department may use the AP credit to replace equivalent requirements for majors and minors offered by the department. In most cases, these courses might replace a cognate course requirement. Students should consult with the department chair to verify how AP credit may be awarded.

Introduction

Geology is the study of the earth, the processes that shape it and the materials of which it is composed. Geology gives students an understanding of the world around them, an appreciation for the length and events of earth history, and the knowledge to help them make informed decisions about environmental concerns.

The Department of Geological Sciences provides undergraduate students intellectually engaging and challenging learning opportunities in geology through integrated classroom, laboratory, field, and research experiences. Our students learn to deal with transdisciplinary problems involving complicated systems with complex variables, a wide range of scales of both time and space, and often incomplete or ambiguous data sets. This is excellent preparation for many careers, including geology, environmental science, law, business, and medicine, as well as for informed citizenship.

Geological Sciences Department Website

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