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Geology

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Geology Website

Professors H. FRICKE, P. MYROW, S. SCHANZ, C. SIDDOWAY (Chair), ROSARIO ESPOSITO, SOLOMON SEYUM (Riley Scholar)

Major Requirements

GEOLOGY COURSES -- All majors must pass courses listed in categories A through F below with a grade of C–/S or above:

A. Entry-level (1 unit):

GY130 Introductory Geology or GY140 Physical Geology

B. 200-level (2 units):

GY211 Earth as a Chemical System and

GY212 Investigating Earth as a Physical System

C. 300-level (6 units):

  • GY305 Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
  • GY320 Surface Processes and Geomorphology
  • GY335 Geochemistry of the Rock Cycle
  • GY310 Igneous Petrology or GY313 Metamorphic Petrology
  • GY308 Introductory Geophysics
  • GY315 Structural Geology

D. Elective in Geology (1 unit): Courses must be at the 200 or 300 level; GY207 and GY307 excluded. GY 400 or 445 may count toward this requirement if another class is used to satisfy the Capstone Requirement (E). EV211, EV311, or EV431 may be used to fulfill this requirement.

E. Capstone (1 unit): One of: GY400, GY445 Regional Studies, or GY405 (senior project or senior thesis) [Note: a single course may not be used to satisfy both D and E.]

11 GEOLOGY UNITS TOTAL

Other Required Courses:

All majors must also pass the following with a grade of C–/S or above:

  • PC 141– Introductory Physics I or PC 241 – Introductory Classical Physics I
  • CH 107 – General Chemistry I
  • MA 117 or BY 220 or EV228 – Probability and Statistics
  • MA 126 – Calculus I

15 UNITS TOTAL

Geology majors, and especially those intending to go on to graduate school in geology, are strongly urged to take additional courses in geology, environmental science, mathematics and computer science, chemistry, physics, and biology; to take GY400 Senior Seminar in Geology, and to attend a summer geology field camp offered by a university.

AP credit may not be counted towards the supporting science requirement. Students with AP credit or who have tested out of any of the above courses in PC, CH, or MA must take the next higher course in the department's sequence.

 

Courses

Geology

Geological topics, such as environmental hazards, plate tectonics, and mineral resources and society, offered in different years. No prior knowledge of geology is assumed. May not be taken for credit after 130. (Only one Geology 100 course unit may be applied toward divisional credit in the natural sciences.) (May meet the laboratory/field requirement for natural sciences.)

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An examination of the nature and causes of earthquakes, volcanos, and floods through in-depth study of several seminal hazardous events and regions. Unique and occasionally conflicting perspectives from historic/pre-historic records, modern science and present/future economics and politics underscore the slow progress in our understanding of these catastrophes. The events will also be examined within the global framework of plate tectonic theory to enhance understanding of dynamic earth processes. .5 or 1.0 unit. The 1.0 unit course provides one block toward the Critical Perspective: Scientific Inquiry requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Basic principles of physical and chemical oceanography. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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The materials of the earth, earth processes and interrelationships between these domains. History of the earth, with emphasis on how geologists accomplish their historical inquiries. (Meets the laboratory/field requirement for natural sciences.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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GY 135 is an introductory physical geology course with a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding of the geologic sciences though mainly outdoor observation and inquiry. During this course students learn to identify minerals and rocks in outcrops, to make observations and interpretations of the history of the rocks, to understand the processes that cause folding, faulting and erosion of the rocks, and to solidify this knowledge through lab work and field observation. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their ability to observe, analyze and interpret geologic phenomena, as well as with a traditional test on classroom-based material. The course is designed build practical skills in practice of the scientific method, critical thinking, and quantitative analysis. Schedule: Several field trips Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. (Summer only 2020-21).

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The fundamentals of physical geology: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks; basic mineralogy; structural geology; mapping; and examination of local stratigraphic units. (Meets the laboratory/field requirement for the natural sciences.) Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement.

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A survey of environmental issues from the geologist's perspective, including such topics as: hazards from volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods, bio-geochemical cycles and atmospheric change, and energy and mineral resources. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Historical development of the Earth and life history emphasizing the major tectonic and stratigraphic patterns and the feedback between the physical Earth and biological evolution. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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Independent research projects based on laboratory, field or library investigations. May be taught in extended format or regular course.

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Foundational methods in geology, taught through field studies that examine the regional geology and tectonic evolution of the Rocky Mountain Region. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Study of the earth as a chemical system where a limited number of elements react over a range of geologic conditions to form igneous, sedimentary and etamorphic rocks characterized by unique mineral assemblages. Topics covered include processes driving rock-forming reactions, where they take place, and why certain minerals are associated with each rock type. Also included is a study of the chemistry, crystallography and identification of silicate and other common minerals based on their physical, optical and diffractive properties. Field and lab projects enable students to build upon their knowledge of Rocky Mountain geology. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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Studies of rock deformation, landscape formation and earth structure are used as a framework for developing skills in hypothesis formation, project design, data analysis and scientific writing. These skills serve as a foundation for work in higher-level Geology courses and on independent research projects Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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Volcanic types, processes and products. Volcanic hazards and prediction. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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History of Plate Tectonics and its formulation, paleomagnetic record of ocean crust, geodynamics and tectonic theory, active tectonics, current frontiers. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Geological topics, such as Advanced Environmental Geology, Hydrology, Mineral Resources Problems and Policies, and Colorado Alpine Environments, offered in different years. (May meet the laboratory/field requirement for natural sciences.) (Not offered 2020-21).

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Microscopic and megascopic study of the significant fossil invertebrate phyla with emphasis on taxonomy, morphology, ecology and evolution. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Transport and deposition of sediment, modern and ancient depositional systems, basin analysis, and correlation of sedimentary rocks. Field work emphasizes analysis of sedimentary structures and facies models for paleoenvironmental interpretation.

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Independent research projects based on laboratory, field or library investigations. May be taught in extended format or regular course.

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Applications of physics to the study of Earth structure from crust to core. Seismology, magnetics, gravity, and geodesy. Explores history of Earth's formation, current geologic and tectonic problems, and uniqueness of interpretation issues. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Classification, modes of occurrence and origin of igneous rocks.

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Classification, modes of occurrence and origin of metamorphic rocks. Emphasis is on field relations and thin section work. (Not offered 2020-21).

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A study of the geometry and origin of rock structures from microscopic to continental scale. Mechanical behavior of rocks, stress and strain, plate tectonic context of rock deformation.

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Techniques of field and laboratory analysis of deformed rocks. Geological mapping in metamorphic and sedimentary terrains. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Mechanical and chemical processes involved in the development of landforms. Discussion of weathering and soils, mass movement, fluvial, and glacial/periglacial processes and landforms, tectonic geomorphology, and landscape evolution. Course involves significant components of laboratory and field work. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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An introduction to glaciology and glacial geomorphology. Course also examines the nature, history, and causes of Quaternary glaciation. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Atomic-scale to lithospheric-scale investigation of geologic processes that occur as a result of chemical reactions, and the evidence of these reactions in the rock record. Includes study of chemical behavior of common and rare elements in the earth, and of isotopes of these elements. Theoretical concepts are reinforced by collection and analysis of geochemical data by students, critical reading of journal articles, and by scientific writing summary papers and research proposals. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Advanced geological topics. These courses are aimed at students with considerable background in geology and will generally involve critical reading of current literature. Topics will vary year-to-year.

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Thematic capstone seminar designed to integrate aspects of several geologic disciplines. Emphasis will be placed on current topics in the geological literature, including their historical and philosophical contexts. Topics will vary year-to-year. Senior standing in geology is required. Class size limit is 15 students.

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Student participation in original research. The particular topic, chosen in conjunction with a faculty member, to be included in the course title whenever offered. (May be taken either as a block course or as an extended format course with 1/2 unit of credit per semester.)

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An in-depth study of a geological region that requires students to apply fundamental knowledge and skills acquired through the course of their college education. Involves in-depth study of primary rock relationships in a field setting, critical reading of published geological literature, and interpretation and synthesis in oral/written formats.

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Last updated: 01/15/2021