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Introduction to Earth Systems

The fundamentals of physical geology: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks; and basic mineralogy and examination of local stratigraphic units. Plate tectonic framework, mountain building, and earth structures, as they relate to resources and to geological events of concern to society. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement.

Degree requirement — Critical Learning: SA, Critical Perspectives: Lab

1 unit — Gevedon, Li, Schanz, Siddoway

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Physical Geology will make use of the local Rocky Mountain settings as a natural laboratory in order to investigate Earth history preserved in rocks. Students will learn to observe earth materials by collecting and interpreting geochemical & geophysical data. The course will involve a considerable amount of time in the field.
photo of field books and compass
Photos of Jennifer Coombes
What can rocks tell us about the earth's history?
GY 140 is a one-block course that introduces the fundamentals of geoscience using the Rocky Mountain and Colorado Plateau settings as a natural laboratory. We will investigate the record of the Earth’s history preserved in the rocks and the dynamic geologic processes active in the mountain and desert environments. We will also focus on how human activities are affected by and affect these processes.

We will (weather cooperating) spend more than half of our class time in the field, on trips ranging from a half-day to five-days length. The field trips will be project oriented and are probably the most important part of the class. We will be camping out all of the third week of the block, so you will need to be prepared, physically and psychologically, for the vagaries of Colorado weather (this holds for our other trips as well).

Our goal is that by the end of the class you will be able to “read the landscape” in the Rocky Mountain West and elsewhere. Whether this class is a first step towards a Geology major or your only venture into the earth sciences, we hope that you will carry away from it an appreciation of how this region has been shaped by geological processes and how those processes influence its human inhabitants.


Term Block Title Instructor Location Student Limit/Available Updated
Fall 2021 Block 2 Introduction to Earth Systems Christine Siddoway Palmer Hall 16 25 / 2 11/28/2021
Fall 2021 Block 4 Introduction to Earth Systems Topic Details Sarah Schanz Palmer Hall 16 25 / 3 11/28/2021
Spring 2022 Block 7 Introduction to Earth Systems Topic Details Zhiyang Li TBA 25 / 25 11/28/2021
Report an issue - Last updated: 11/28/2021