2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog

2008-2009 Catalog


Students may complete a major or minor in Geology. Within the major, students may complete concentrations in environmental studies, geoarchaeology or geochemistry.


Donald C. Barber, Associate Professor
Lynne Elkins, Instructor
Christopher Oze, Assistant Professor
W. Bruce Saunders, Professor (on leave semester II)
Arlo B. Weil, Associate Professor and Chair

The department seeks to make students more aware of the physical world around them and of its development through time. The subject includes a study of the materials of which the Earth is made; of the physical processes which have formed the Earth, especially near the surface; of the history of the Earth and its organisms; and of the various techniques necessary to investigate Earth processes and history.

Each introductory course is designed to cover a broad group of topics from a different perspective. Students may elect any of the 100-level courses. Fieldwork is an essential part of geologic training and is part of all introductory courses, most other classes and most independent research projects.

Major Requirements

Thirteen courses are required for the major: GEOL 101 and 102 or 103; 202, 203, 204, and 205; MATH 101 and 102, or alternates approved by the adviser; a two-semester sequence of CHEM (103-104) or PHYS (101-102 or 121-122); GEOL 399; and either two advanced geology courses or one advanced geology course and an additional upper-level course in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, or computer science.

Additional courses in the allied sciences are strongly recommended and are required by most graduate schools. A student who wishes to follow a career in geology should plan to attend a summer field course, usually following the completion of the 200-level courses.

All geology majors undertake a research project (GEOL 399) and write a thesis in the senior year.


Honors are awarded to students who have outstanding academic records in geology and allied fields, and whose research is judged by the faculty of the department to be of the highest quality.

Minor Requirements

A minor in geology consists of two of the 100-level geology courses, and any four of the 200- or 300-level courses offered by the department.

Concentration in Environmental Studies

The environmental studies concentration allows students to explore interactions of the geosphere, biosphere and human societies. The concentration represents interdisciplinary cooperation among the Departments of Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English, Geology, Mathematics, Political Science, Sociology and Growth and Structure of Cities, and is open to students majoring in any of these departments.

The environmental concentration in geology consists of GEOL 101 and 103, 202 and two other 200-level geology courses, 302 or 328 (both are recommended), 397, one other 300-level geology course and 399; BIOL 220; CHEM 101 or 103, and 104; and two semesters of math, statistics or computational methods. Students starting the concentration in Fall 2006 must take CITY 175 Environment and Society. Two additional environmental courses outside of the natural sciences also are required: one addressing issues of planning and policy, and one that addresses issues of humans in the environment. The environmental studies Web site (http://www.brynmawr.edu/es/core.htm) lists approved courses in these categories. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. Students also should carefully consider their options with regard to study abroad in the junior year. Early consultation with Don Barber and the current director of environmental studies is advised in the planning of courses.

Concentration in Geoarchaeology

The geoarchaeology concentration allows students majoring in anthropology, archaeology or geology to explore the connections among these fields with respect to how our human ancestors interacted with past environments, and how traces of human behavior are preserved in the physical environment. In geology, the geoarchaeology concentration consists of 13 courses: GEOL 101 or 102 or 103, 202, 205, 270, 328, another 200- or 300-level geology course, and 399: CHEM 101 or 103, and 104; two semesters of math, statistics or computational methods; either ARCH 101 or ANTH 101; and one 200- or 300-level elective from among current offerings in Anthropology or Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For course planning advice, consult with Don Barber (Geology), Rick Davis (Anthropology) or Peter Magee (Archaeology).

Concentration in Geochemistry

The geochemistry concentration encourages students majoring either in geology or in chemistry to design a course of study that emphasizes earth chemistry. In geology this concentration includes at least: GEOL 101, 103, 202, 205; one of 301 or 302 or 305; CHEM 101 or 103, 104 and 231 (Inorganic Chemistry). Additional chemistry courses might include 211 (Organic Chemistry) or 222 (Physical Chemistry). Other courses that complement this concentration are: calculus, linear algebra, computer programming and computer modeling. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For course planning advice, contact Christopher Oze (Geology) or Sharon Burgmayer (Chemistry).

GEOL B101 How the Earth Works

An introduction to the study of planet Earth—the materials of which it is made, the forces that shape its surface and interior, the relationship of geological processes to people, and the application of geological knowledge to the search for useful materials. Laboratory and fieldwork focus on learning the tools for geological investigations and applying them to the local area and selected areas around the world. Three lectures and one afternoon of laboratory or fieldwork a week. One required one-day field trip on a weekend. (Weil, Division IIL)

GEOL B102 Earth History

The history of the Earth from its beginning and the evolution of the living forms that have populated it. Three lectures, one afternoon of laboratory a week. A required two-day (Fri.-Sat.) field trip is taken in April. (staff, Division IIL)

GEOL B103 Earth Systems and the Environment

This integrated approach to studying the Earth focuses on interactions among geology, oceanography, and biology. Also discussed are the consequences of population growth, industrial development, and human land use. Two lectures and one afternoon of laboratory or fieldwork per week. A required two-day (Fri.-Sat.) field trip is taken in April. (Barber, Division IIL; cross-listed as CITY B103)

GEOL B202 Mineralogy and Crystal Chemistry

The crystal chemistry of representative minerals. Descriptive and determinative mineralogy, as well as the relation between the physical properties of minerals and their structures and chemical compositions. The occurrence and petrography of typical mineral associations and rocks is also covered. Lecture three hours, laboratory at least three hours a week. Prerequisite: introductory course in geology or chemistry (both recommended). (Oze, Division IIL)

GEOL B203 Invertebrate Paleobiology

Biology, evolution, ecology, and morphology of the major marine invertebrate fossil groups. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory a week. A semester-long research project introducing computer-aided morphometric analysis will be based on material collected on a two-day trip to the Tertiary deposits of the Chesapeake Bay. (Saunders, Division IIL)

GEOL B204 Structural Geology

Three lectures and three hours of laboratory a week, plus weekend field trips. Recognition and description of deformed rocks, map reading, and an introduction to the mechanics and patterns of deformation. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and MATH 101. (Weil, Division IIL)

GEOL B205 Sedimentary Materials and Environments

An introduction to sediment transport, depositional processes, and stratigraphic analysis, with emphasis on interpretation of sedimentary sequences and the reconstruction of past environments. Three lectures and one lab a week, plus a weekend field trip. Prerequisite: GEOL 101, 102, 103 or instructor permission. Recommended: GEOL 202 and 203. (Barber, Division IIL)

GEOL B206 Energy Resources and Public Policy

An examination of issues concerning the supply of energy and raw materials required by humanity. This includes an investigation of requirements and supply of energy and of essential resources, of the geological framework that determines resource availability, and of the social, economic, and political considerations related to energy production and resource development. Two 90-minute lectures a week. Prerequisite: one year of college science. (Barber, Division II)

GEOL B209 Natural Hazards

A quantitative approach to understanding the earth processes that impact human societies. We consider the past, current, and future hazards presented by geologic processes, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, and hurricanes. The course includes discussion of the social, economic, and policy contexts within which natural geologic processes become hazards. Case studies are drawn from contemporary and ancient societies. Lecture three hours a week, with one day-long field trip. Prerequisite: one semester of college science or permission of instructor. (Weil, Division II and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as CITY B210)

GEOL B230 The Science of Soils

Physical, chemical, and biological processes within soil systems. Emphasis is on factors governing the physical properties, nutrient availability, and plant growth and production within soils. How to classify soils and to assess nutrient cycling and contaminant fate will be covered. Prerequisite: at least one introductory course in Geology, Biology or Chemistry. (Oze, Division II)

GEOL B236 Evolution

(Gardiner, Saunders; cross-listed as ANTH B236 and BIOL B236)

GEOL B250 Computational Methods in the Sciences

(staff, Division II and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as BIOL B250 and CMSC B250) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B255 Problem Solving in the Environmental Sciences

Provides basic quantitative and numerical modeling skills that can be applied to any of the natural sciences, including geology and environmental studies. Students will learn fundamental quantitative concepts while exploring issues such as global warming, sudden catastrophes, and the effects of steady flow of wind and water on Earth’s surface. Lecture/discussion three hours a week. (staff, Division II and Quantitative Skills) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B260 Biogeography

(staff, Division IIL and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as BIOL B260) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B270 Geoarchaeology

(Barber, Magee; cross-listed as ANTH B270 and ARCH B270) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B302 Low-Temperature Geochemistry

The geochemistry of Earth surface processes. Emphasis is on the chemistry of surface waters, atmosphere-water environmental chemistry, chemical evolution of natural waters, and pollution issues. Fundamental principles are applied to natural systems with particular focus on environmental chemistry. Prerequisites: CHEM 103, 104 and GEOL 202 or two 200-level chemistry courses, or permission of instructor. (Oze)

GEOL B303 Advanced Paleobiology/Advanced Evolution Seminar

Principles, theory, and application of various aspects of paleobiology such as evolution. Seminar-based, with a semester-long research project or paper. Three hours of seminar a week and a weekend fieldtrip. Prerequisite: GEOL 203 or permission of instructor. (Saunders) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B304 Tectonics

Three hours of lecture and a problem session a week. Plate tectonics and continental orogeny are reviewed in light of the geologic record in selected mountain ranges and certain geophysical data. Prerequisite: GEOL 204 or permission of instructor. (Weil)

GEOL B305 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

The origin, mode of occurrence, and distribution of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The focus is on the experimental and field evidence for interpreting rock associations and the interplay between igneous and metamorphic rock genesis and tectonics. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory or equivalent field work a week. Occasional weekend field trips. Prerequisites: GEOL 202 and CHEM 101 or 103, and 104. (Oze) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B310 Introduction to Geophysics

An overview covering how geophysical observations of the Earth’s magnetic field, gravity field, heat flow, radioactivity, and seismic waves provide a means to study plate tectonics. Also covered are the geophysical techniques used in mineral and energy resources exploration, and in the monitoring of groundwater, earthquakes and volcanoes. Three class hours a week. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and PHYS 101, 102. (Weil) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B312 Quaternary Geology

The Quaternary Period comprises the last 1.8 million years of Earth history, an interval dominated by climate fluctuations and the waxing and waning of large northern hemisphere ice sheets. This course covers the many types of geological evidence used to reconstruct Quaternary climate variability. Three class hours a week, including hands-on data analysis exercises. Prerequisite: GEOL 103 or 205, or permission of instructor. (Barber)

GEOL B314 Marine Geology

An introduction to the structure of ocean basins, and the marine sedimentary record. Includes an overview of physical, biological, and chemical oceanography, and modern coastal processes such as shoreline erosion. Meets twice weekly for a combination of lecture, discussion and hands-on exercises, including one day-long field trip. Prerequisite: GEOL 101, 102 or 103, and 205, or permission of instructor. (Barber) Not offered in 2008-09.

GEOL B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data Using GIS

An introduction to analysis of geospatial data, theory, and the practice of geospatial reasoning. As part of this introduction students will gain experience in using one or more GIS software packages and be introduced to data gathering in the field by remote sensing. Each student is expected to undertake an independent project that uses the approaches and tools presented. (staff; cross-listed as ARCH B328, BIOL B328 and CITY B328)

GEOL B350 Advanced Topics in Geology: Volcanology

A seminar course offered occasionally covering topics on areas of geology not otherwise offered in the curriculum. Prerequisites: advanced standing in geology and consent of the instructor. (Oze)

GEOL B397 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies

A seminar course that encourages and facilitates environmental problem solving by interdisciplinary teams of ES concentrators. Coursework may take the form of service-learning (Praxis) projects. Students hone their research, collaboration, and leadership abilities by working on real problems facing our community and the broader world. Students will provide oral and written progress reports and submit written summaries of their findings. Collaborative research projects also are possible. Three hours per week. (Oze, Stroud; cross-listed as ANTH B397, BIOL B397 and CITY B397)

GEOL B399 Senior Thesis

An independent project in the field, laboratory, or library culminating in a written report and oral presentation. Required for all geology majors in the spring semester of the senior year. (Barber, Oze, Weil)

GEOL B403 Independent Research


GEOL B425 Praxis III

Independent or group projects with a significant emphasis on community outreach and service. Projects usually focus on addressing environmental issues through collaborative work with off-campus practitioners. Prerequisites: advanced standing in the environmental studies concentration or permission of the instructor. (Barber)

Updated August 25, 2008 by Tracy Kellmer