Geology Courses



GEOL 107 Geology of the American West (4)
This class uses case studies in Western North America to introduce students to the field of geology. Through investigations of the Pacific Northwest, the Colorado Plateau, the Wyoming Craton, and the Wasatch Mountains, students will learn the theories and concepts that geologists use to understand our entire planet. Be warned: this class will change the way you see the world. (WCore: WCSAM, QE)
GEOL 111 National Parks Geology (4)
Many of America’s National Parks were designated because of their geologic beauty and history. This course will examine geologic principles and concepts through the lens of National Park Service units, as they often represent the most exquisite examples of geologic phenomena. Geology within national parks tells a story of the evolution of North America, from mountain building, to volcanism, to historic inland seas and giant beasts of an earlier geologic age. (WCore: WCSAM, QE)
GEOL 200/300 Special Topics in Geology (1-4)
Meets the special needs of students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in geology.
GEOL 201 Earth Materials I: Minerology (4)
In this course, students will learn how atoms combine to form minerals, the most basic elements of geology. Emphasis will be placed on the diagnostic physical properties of minerals and how those properties result from the microscopic arrangement of atoms in the crystal lattice. Labs will give students the opportunity to work in teams to use those diagnostic properties to identify and classify mineral samples. Includes a 2-hour weekly lab.
GEOL 205 Climate Science and Consequences (4)
A study of the earth as a dynamic system focusing on the human dimensions of global change. (WCore: EWRLD)
GEOL 214 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4)
This course takes an in-depth look at how geologists use sedimentary rocks to interpret the changing nature of the earth’s surficial environment. This class utilizes actualistic experiments and field studies in addition to traditional lectures and discussions. Topics include the physical nature of sediment and sedimentary environments (shelf, terrestrial, and carbonate); naming clastic and chemical sedimentary rocks; dating, correlation, and magnetostratigraphy; biostratigraphy and biogeography; and sequence stratigraphy. Includes a 2-hour weekly lab.
GEOL 230 Dinosaur Paleobiology (4)
They say you can’t get blood from a stone, but paleontologists often try to do exactly that. With nothing but a few fossilized fragments, paleontologists reconstruct not just the anatomy of extinct creatures, but also their physiology, behavior, ecology, and life histories. This class will use dinosaurs as an extended case study to explore how paleontologists make claims about the lives of long dead creatures, and about how understanding those creatures’ lives can lead to additional insights about the history of the earth and the dynamics of evolution. (WCore: WCSAM)
GEOL 260 Geoliteracy (2)
This course serves prospective geology majors and minors with an overview of the discipline from the perspective of working geologists. Topics to be covered will include, but not be limited to, an overview of geological subdisciplines, reading the scholarly literature, careers in geology, and communicating geological information to a variety of audiences.
GEOL 301 Earth Materials II: Petrology (4)
This class serves as an introduction to the processes that create igneous and metamorphic rocks. Emphasis will be placed not only on the classification of rocks from hand samples and thin sections, but also on the geological processes that lead to the formation of these rocks. Includes a 2-hour weekly lab.
GEOL 310 Structural Geology and Tectonics (4)
This course studies the fate and evolution of the earth’s lithosphere after initial rock formation has occurred. Students in this class will learn about the forces that bend, break and shape rock as well as the origin of those forces from tectonic processes. This course will also touch on aspects of tectonics such as driving mechanisms, relative motion of plates and wrapping tectonics around a globe. Includes a 2-hour weekly lab.
GEOL 315 Principles of Paleontology (4)
This course introduces the organisms that compose the fossil record as well as the methods that paleontologists use to reconstruct the life of the past. Topics include modes of preservation, classification and the species problem, biases of the fossil record, phylogenetic reconstructions, functional morphology, paleoecology, morphometric analyses, evolutionary developmental biology, evolutionary trends, and critical intervals in the history of life.
GEOL 320 Volcanology (3)
Volcanoes are one of Earth’s most powerful geologic phenomena, causing disruption on local and global scales, with potentially cataclysmic consequences. This course will survey different eruption styles, magma production and differentiation, associated hazards, mitigation techniques, and volcanoes throughout our Solar System. Modern and historical case studies will be used to demonstrate successes and failures associated with geologic hazards.
GEOL 325 Oil and Water (4)
This course focuses on natural resources within the state of Utah, and how these resources affect people and places locally, regionally, and globally. Four principle resources will be examined: oil, water, coal, and mineable resources (primarily uranium, copper, and silver). Students will learn the geology behind each resource, extraction and refining methods, laws and policies pertaining to resource development, and impacts (both positive and negative) of the resources on people, places, and the world. (WCore: EWRLD)
GEOL 350 Geological Research Methods (1-4)
Geological research method courses combine abbreviated classroom time with extended day, weekend or semester break field excursions to allow students the opportunity to collect their own samples, make their own maps, or in other ways put into practice the concepts that they have learned in the classroom.
GEOL 360 Field Geology (6)
This course, which should preferably be taken in the summer before senior year, provides the opportunity for students to put their skills into practice. After an initial week of in-class instruction on field methods, students will get in the vans for the ultimate in experiential learning. At various field locales around Utah and Colorado, students will gain experience mapping, measuring sections, and creating stratigraphic columns. (WCore: SC)
GEOL 402 Senior Seminar (3)
This class will familiarize students with scholarly geological literature. Students will read and discuss contemporary geological research papers and will learn the process for writing research proposals and journal articles.
GEOL 405 Geochemistry (4)
This class will act as a capstone class for students with a particular interest in the chemical evolution of the earth. Topics to be covered may include the formation of the planet, oxygenation of the atmosphere, chemistry of the earth’s interior, ocean chemistry, and stable isotope geochemistry.
GEOL 415 History of Life on Earth (3)
This course examines a number of fundamental questions about the history of this planet’s biosphere. Questions include: how has the earth changed as an abode for life over the course of geologic time? How has life on earth changed over geologic time? Have there been significant interrelations between changes in the earth and changes in its biota? How can we scientifically study unique and unrepeatable events?
GEOL 425 Geophysics (4)
This class will act as a capstone class for students with a particular interest in the physical evolution of the earth. Topics may include the dynamics of the earth’s interior, the generation and evolution of the earth’s magnetic field, gravimetry as a tool for geologic exploration, rotation of the earth’s core, and the flow of heat in the mantle.
GEOL 430 Undergraduate Research (1-4)
Students undertake a portion of a research project and learn all aspects of scientific inquiry. One credit hour equates to three hours per week in the laboratory. This course may be taken one credit at a time.
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