Department of Geological Sciences

The Department of Geological Sciences provides instruction in multidisciplinary geosciences, including a strong foundation in traditional geology. This includes the study of environmental geoscience, energy exploration, water resources, marine science, paleontology, earth processes and materials, planetary science, natural hazards, and all other major subdisciplines of geology and earth sciences. The department encourages student participation in research and internship experiences. Majors gain extensive hands-on field and laboratory experience unified around a goal to produce both a practical and theoretical understanding of geosciences, enabling them to seek careers in a variety of fields, such as environmental assessment and remediation, geotechnical consulting, and energy and resource exploration.

Visit Department Website

Programs

Faculty

Chair
  • Delores Robinson
Professors
  • Fred Andrus
  • Ibrahim Cemen
  • Rona Donahoe
  • Delores Robinson
  • Harold Stowell
  • Geoffrey Tick
Assistant professors
  • Julia Cartwright
  • Marcello Minzoni
  • Rebecca Minzoni
  • Grey Nearing
  • Alain Plattner
  • Thomas Tobin
  • Matthew Wielicki
  • Bo Zhang
Adjunct professors
  • Michelle Wielicki
  • Chunmiao Zheng
Professors emeriti
  • Paul Aharon
  • Richard Groshung
  • Ernest Mancini
  • Carl Stock
Associate professors
  • Natasha Dimova
  • Kimberly Genareau
  • Andrew Goodliffe
  • Samantha Hansen
  • Yuehan Lu
  • Alberto Perez-Huerta
  • Yong Zhang
Director, Sedimentary Basin Studies
  • Berry H. (Nick) Tew
Graduate Program Director
  • Kimberly Genareau

Courses

GEO
501
Hours
3
Paleoclimatology

Survey of the variability of global climate through geologic time and investigation of the mechanisms of change.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 126 or MATH 146; and PH 102
GEO
502
Hours
3
Communicating Geology

Evaluate and develop effective scientific communication skills including writing, oral presentations and poster presentations.

Prerequisite(s): None
GEO
503
Hours
3
Petroleum System Analysis

The course will cover the geologic events that lead to the formation of petroleum systems and plays. Geologic events form sedimentary basins by causing subsidence and delivery of sediments to a basin. This sedimentary fill is modified by compaction as well as the transport of heat and reactive fluids through the rock matrix during sedimentation and lithification. These processes determine the amount and nature of oil and/or gas accumulation and production in a basin. Petroleum system analysis requires the integration of geology, geophysics, petrophysics, geochemistry, and risk analysis. The generated basin models incorporate data obtained directly from outcrops via geologic mapping, petrographic thin section analysis, geochemical data, seismic reflection profiles and well log analysis if there are wells drilled for oil and gas exploration in a sedimentary basin.

Prerequisite(s): Department of Geological Sciences Graduate student standing or Instructor’s consent.
GEO
507
Hours
3
Seismology

This course provides an overview of earthquake seismology for both undergrad and graduate geoscience students. Topics include elastic wave propagation, seismic ray theory, travel time interpretation, surface wave dispersion and seismic tomography.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 126 or MATH 146
GEO
510
Hours
3
Soil & Groundwater Restoration

Methods for restoring contaminated soil and groundwater by examining the factors and processes influencing the efficacy of remediation systems. An emphasis will be placed on the scientific principles upon which soil and groundwater remediation is based.

GEO
511
Hours
3
Contaminant Transport in Porous Media

This course will cover topics related to the transport and fate of contaminants in subsurface systems. Specifically, this course will discuss the many factors and processes influencing contaminant transport such as the effects of dispersion, inter-phase mass transfer, transformation reactions, and porous-media heterogeneity. In addition, representative conceptual/mathematical models describing contaminant transport phenomena will be discussed.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 125, PH 102, CH 102, GEO 306 or equivalents; and/or with instructor’s permission.
GEO
515
Hours
3
Metamorphic Petrology

Study of metamorphic processes, types, textures, and petrogenesis and the use of metamorphic rocks for understanding tectonism. Offered on demand.

GEO
516
Hours
3
Volcanology

Rheologic properties of magmatic systems and application of these principles to the understanding of volcanic processes. Offered on demand.

GEO
522
Hours
3
Sedimentary Basin Analys

Examination of the evolution and development of sedimentary basins. Emphasis is on sedimentary, tectonic, and geochemical processes and their influence in petroleum generation, accumulation, and preservation. Offered on demand.

Prerequisite(s): GEO 365 and GEO 367 and GEO 210
GEO
525
Hours
1-6
Adv Topics In Geology

Advanced topics in the following areas: economic geology, geochemistry, geohydrology, geophysics, geomorphology, mineralogy, paleontology, petrology, sedimentation, stratigraphy, structural geology, and tectonics. Offered on demand.

GEO
535
Hours
1
Graduate Seminar

Oral presentations on current geological topics. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GEO
536
Hours
1
Graduate Seminar

Oral presentations on current geological topics. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GEO
542
Hours
3
Geodynamics

Introduction to the structure of the Earth's interior and theory of plate tectonics. Quantitative analysis of the physical processes governing the formation of major tectonic and magmatic features on the Earth. Emphasis is on understanding geodynamic processes in orogenic belts, volcanic arcs, intraplate magmatism, sedimentary basins and continental extensional provinces. Offered spring semester.

Prerequisite(s): GEO 365 or GEO 314; and PH 102 and PH 104 and MATH 126 or MATH 146
GEO
550
C, W
Hours
3
Geostatistics

This course serves as an introduction to statistics for the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Topics include an introduction to probability theory, experimental design, statistical hypothesis testing, regression, clustering, Kriging and other forms of spatial analysis, time series analysis, and an introduction to machine learning. All material is covered theoretically and with practical implementation in Matlab. Computing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course. The course includes two lectures and one computer lab weekly.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 125 or MATH 145; and CS 101, CS 102, or CS 110
Computer Science, Writing
GEO
554
Hours
4
Electron Microscopy in the Earth Sciences

This course will involve operation and use of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) for applications relevant to the Earth, environmental, and planetary sciences. Topics will include sample preparation, secondary electron imaging, backscattered electron imaging, x-ray element mapping, and energy/wavelength dispersive spectroscopy. Laboratory exercises will provide hands-on experience in preparing geologic samples and obtaining data on those samples with the SEM.

GEO
565
Hours
3
Compartve Struct Geology

Analysis of the original literature on structural families and deformation-mechanism associations, emphasizing the low-temperature environment.

GEO
569
Hours
3
Light Stable Isotope Geochemistry

This course is an introduction to concepts of stable isotope fractionation, and the application of stable isotopic measurements to answering geological questions. This class specifically focuses on light elements, primarily H, C, O, S, and N, though other elements/systems may be explored if there is time/interest.

Prerequisite(s): CH 102 or 118 (C- or better, and, GEO 101 or 102 (C- or better), and MATH 112 or 115 (C- or better)
GEO
570
Hours
4
Introduction to Geochemistry

Introduction to the field of low-temperature geochemistry (elementary chemical equilibria and thermodynamics, solubility and redox equilibria, organic geochemistry), with an emphasis on solving geologic problems. Three lectures and one seminar per week. Offered in the Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s): GEO 314
GEO
571
Hours
3
Thermodynamics For Geologists

Semi-derivational approach to understanding the thermodynamic relations most useful to geologists. Emphasis is on using the derived relations to solve common geologic problems. Offered alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 126 or MATH 146
GEO
576
Hours
3
Environmental Field and Laboratory Methods

Theory, techniques, and application of methods for the environmental sampling and geochemical analysis of rocks, ores, and aqueous fluids. Offered in alternate Fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s): CH 101 and CH 102, or permission of instructor.
GEO
583
Hours
3
Global Tectonics

Study of tectonics, plate motions, and tectonic environments. Includes discussion of controlling factors, driving forces, and resulting structures with emphasis on island arcs, trenches, backarc basins, transform boundaries, and continental margins. Offered alternate spring semesters or on demand.

Prerequisite(s): GEO 365 and GEO 367
GEO
597
Hours
3
Geological Internships

Field and laboratory projects with government and industry.

GEO
598
Hours
1-6
Non-Thesis Research

Non-Thesis Research.

GEO
599
Hours
1-12
Thesis Research

This independent research course partially fulfills required master’s-level research thesis hours toward the master’s degree in Geology (Geological Sciences). The course is conducted under the guidance of the thesis advisor. Material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing master's students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion and advisor guidance will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology, with the aim of producing an original research contribution that represents a novel development in the field, or a novel perspective on a pre-existing topic in the field.

GEO
602
Hours
3
Communicating Geology

Evaluate and develop effective scientific communication skills including writing, oral presentations and poster presentations.

Prerequisite(s): None
GEO
626
Hours
1-6
Adv Topics In Geology

Advanced topics in the following areas: economic geology, geochemistry, geohydrology, geophysics, geomorphology, mineralogy, paleontology, petrology, sedimentation, stratigraphy, structural geology, and tectonics. Offered on demand.

GEO
635
Hours
1
Graduate Seminar

Oral presentations on current geological topics. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GEO
636
Hours
1
Graduate Seminar

Oral presentations on current geological topics. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GEO
698
Hours
1-12
Non-Dissertation Res

Non-Dissertation Res.

GEO
699
Hours
1-12
Dissertation Research

This independent research course partially fulfills required doctoral-level research dissertation hours toward the doctoral (Ph.D.) degree in Geology (Geological Sciences). The course is conducted under the guidance of the dissertation advisor. Material covered will be of an advanced nature aimed at providing doctoral students with an understanding of the latest research and current developments within the field. Discussion and advisor guidance will be directed towards readings of research articles and development of research methodology, with the aim of producing an original research contribution that represents a novel development in the field, or a novel perspective on a pre-existing topic in the field.