Geology

Applicable for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Geology Website

Professors H. FRICKE, M. GEVEDON, P. MYROW, S. SCHANZ, C. SIDDOWAY (Chair), Visiting Professor Z. LI

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):

GY140 Introduction to Earth Systems or GY150 Environmental Geology

B. 200-level (2 units):

GY211 Earth as a Chemical System and

GY212 Investigating Earth as a Physical System

C. 300-level (5 units):

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

D. Electives in Geology (2 units):

One course may be at the 200 or 300 level, and one course at the 300-level; GY207 and GY307 excluded. GY 400 or 445 may count toward this requirement if a class other than GY400 or GY445 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. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement.

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In this course we will be taking advantage of our fabulous and geologically intricate surroundings to explore some major geologic concepts. Geology is a science that draws on many other sciences – chemistry, physics, and biology – and the range of topics covered in this course are similarly diverse. The overall goal here is to give you an introduction to the geosciences, and more importantly, to set you up with the tools needed to make observations and interpretations in a scientifically valid manner. (Summer only 2022-23).

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An interdisciplinary study of the physical, chemical, biological and geological aspects of the marine environment, from shorelines to the deep sea. The course explores waves, tides, and currents; Earth’s wind patterns and atmospheric events; complex biological systems; the chemistry of oceans; and links between these phenomena. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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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 2022-23).

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Examination of active systems and processes that link the solid Earth to the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, achieved through laboratory and field activities. Entails a survey of the chemical and physical makeup of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, and processes of rock formation within the context of the plate tectonic framework. Acquaints students with local stratigraphic units and their paleoenvironments of formation, as a means to comprehend Earth time. Explores mountain building, and earth structures, as they relate to earth resources and to geological events that impact society. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World lab or field requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement.

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Examination of environmental issues within the context of earth system processes through laboratory and field activities. Characteristics of river & coastal flooding, mass movements, volcanic & earthquake hazards are investigated, as are the factors that control their distribution over time & space and their possible impacts on human groups. Processes of mineral & energy resource formation, factors determining their distribution over space, and impacts of their extraction & use are also considered. Emphasis is placed on putting the present-day in a ‘deep time’ context by using the rock record to infer the occurrence of hazard and resource-forming processes in the past. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement.

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Laboratory and field investigations of natural hazards including the causes and consequences of landslides, flooding, and volcanoes. Examination of geologic forces that drive natural hazards and disparate impacts of hazards on human groups through regional case studies and research projects.

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Historical development of the Earth and life history emphasizing the major tectonic, stratigraphic, climatic and evolutionary patterns and the feedbacks between physical & biological processes that produced them. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA 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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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 metamorphic 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. Meets the Critical Learning: SA requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SA 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. Meets the Critical Learning: SA 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 2022-23).

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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 2022-23).

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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.)

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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 2022-23).

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Investigation of Earth systems as represented by diffusion and advection equations. Includes training in Python coding language, derivation of heat and mass conservation equations, and applications to earth science, for example: groundwater contamination, glacier flow, geochemistry of volcanic rocks, and soil erosion.

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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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A lecture and laboratory course focused on the genesis, composition, and petrology of Earth’s crust and mantle. Topics include mass transfer from the mantle, differentiation of silicate melts and their eventual emplacement or eruption, as well as the response of the crust to parameters of pressure and temperature (i.e., metamorphism).

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Classification, modes of occurrence and origin of metamorphic rocks. Emphasis is on field relations and thin section work. (Not offered 2022-23).

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The course investigates the origin, geometry, and field expression of Rocky Mountain structures, then examines material properties of rocks, crustal deformation, and mountain building, using the theoretical frameworks of stress and strain.

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Techniques of field and laboratory analysis of deformed rocks. Geological mapping in metamorphic and sedimentary terrains. (Not offered 2022-23).

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The study of landforms and processes shaping Earth’s surface. Investigates characteristic processes and landforms associated with rivers, glaciers, and active tectonics. Introduces methods such as topographic surveying, GIS, and numerical models. Course involves significant components of laboratory and field work. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Scientific Investigation of the Natural World requirement.

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Introduction to Earth systems processes resulting from chemical reactions, and how distributions of major & trace elements, and isotopes of elements, are used to study mass transfers between system components and conditions under which transfers takes place. General concepts are applied to study of soils, waters & climate, and their change in response to anthropogenic/non-anthropogenic forcings.

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An interdisciplinary study of a geological region that requires students to apply fundamental knowledge and investigative skills acquired from core courses and electives. Involves in-depth study of primary rock relationships in a field setting outside Colorado, data acquisition and/or analysis, critical reading of published geological literature, and interpretation and synthesis in oral/written formats.

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Introduction to the geochemical principles, analytical methods, and applications of mass spectrometry used to constrain the timing and rates of geologic processes. Topics may include: radioactive decay, isotope fractionation, diffusion, necessary assumptions, and data collection as applied to ages and rates of past and modern-day processes of Earth’s interior and surface. (Not offered 2022-23).

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Geologic occurrence, origins, distribution, and societal uses of ores and minerals, with emphasis on the geochemistry and petrology of critical mineral resources important to the green energy transition that is Geologic occurrence, origins, distribution, and societal uses of ores and minerals, with emphasis on the geochemistry and petrology of critical mineral resources important to the green energy transition that is underway, and for a future with a lower carbon reliance. Additional themes may include intersections of environmental justice, energy and policy, the carbon cycle, and global mineral reserves. (Not offered 2022-23).

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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. (Not offered 2022-23).

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Thematic capstone seminar designed to integrate aspects of various geologic disciplines. Emphasis will be placed on emerging issues and hypotheses in the Earth sciences, and will emphasize primary investigations using modern techniques. Topics will vary year-to-year. Prerequisite: Geology. (Not offered 2022-23).

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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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