Geology

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

Faculty

Don Barber, Associate Professor of Geology on the Harold Alderfer Chair in Environmental Studies
Selby Cull, Assistant Professor of Geology (on leave semesters I and II)
Lynne J. Elkins, Lecturer in Geology and Director of the Undergraduate Summer Science Research Program (on leave semester II)
Katherine Marenco, Lecturer
Pedro J. Marenco, Assistant Professor of Geology on the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Change Master Fund
Arlo Brandon Weil, Chair and Professor of Geology (on leave semester II)

The department seeks to give students a well-rounded earth science education that balances fundamental knowledge of geology with broadly applicable problem-solving and communication skills. The integrated science of geology combines biology, chemistry and physics as they apply to the workings of Earth and other planets. Well-trained geoscientists are increasingly in demand to address the environmental challenges and natural resource limitations of the modern world. A central tenet for understanding and predicting Earth processes and environmental change is the ability to decipher past Earth history from geologic records. Thus the major in Geology includes study of the physics and chemistry of Earth materials and processes; the history of the Earth and its organisms; and the range of techniques used to investigate the past and present workings of the Earth system. Field and lab experiences are essential parts of geology training, and at Bryn Mawr field trips and lab work are 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; at least two semesters of quantitative or computational coursework, e.g., 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.

The writing requirement for the major in Geology is fulfilled in GEOL 203. This course includes a semester-long research project culminating in a scientific manuscript based on material collected in the field by enrolled students.

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 participate in a senior capstone experience (GEOL 399), which is structured into a two-semester seminar that meets weekly for 1.5 hours for a total of 1.0 credit (0.5 credits per semester). The focus of the capstone seminar is to reinforce students’ ability to address geoscience questions and to communicate their findings in writing and orally. The team-taught senior seminar integrates the student’s major curriculum with weekly speakers or peer-led discussions on cutting edge research, and the impact and relevance of geology to modern society.

Thesis

At the discretion of the department faculty, rising seniors may undertake an independent thesis project (GEOL 403) in addition to mandatory full participation in the senior capstone seminar (GEOL 399). Student thesis projects must be supervised by a faculty advisor. The senior thesis is modeled after a Master’s thesis project, but is scaled down for the different time frame (one year versus two years) and educational level of a senior undergraduate student. The thesis project plan is initially developed and agreed upon through consultation between the supervising faculty member(s) and the student. Most of the research is conducted independently by the student. The advisor serves as a source of ideas concerning scientific literature, methodologies and project support. The advisor may visit and inspect the research sites, laboratory or model, and offer advice on how the research should be conducted or modified.

If approved to undertake a senior thesis, a student will enroll in GEOL 403 each of her final two semesters for a total of 1.0 credit (0.5 credits per semester). The thesis option adds the equivalent of one course to the standard Geology major requirements. The first semester will focus on thesis topic formulation, background research and initiation of appropriate data acquisition. At the end of the first semester, the student must submit a formal written project proposal to department faculty members. This research proposal must demonstrate the student’s ability to successfully complete her thesis during the following semester. Following review of submitted proposals, students or faculty members may choose or recommend, respectively, not to complete the independent thesis, in which case the student would not enroll for the second semester of GEOL 403.

Honors

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 100-level geology courses, and any four of the 200- or 300-level courses offered by the department. Two 0.5 credit courses may be combined to count toward one of the 100-level courses. Alternatively, an additional 200- or 300-level course may be substituted for one of the 100-level courses to meet the minor requirements.

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, 203, 204, 205, 270, and 399; two semesters of chemistry; two semesters of math, statistics or computational methods; ARCH 101, ANTH 101, or ARCH 135 (a half-credit laboratory course in archaeological fieldwork methods); 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. Paperwork for the concentration should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. For a Geology Major with a concentration in Geochemistry, the following are required in addition to Geology Major requirements: CHEM 103 (General Chemistry) and CHEM 104 (General Chemistry II), CHEM 211(Organic Chemistry) or CHEM 231 (Inorganic Chemistry), GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires major advisor approval), one additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL course or one additional advanced CHEM course. For a Chemistry Major with a concentration in Geochemistry, the following are required in addition to Chemistry major requirements (see Chemistry major advisor): GEOL 101 (How the Earth Works), GEOL 202 (Mineralogy/Crystal Chemistry), two additional 300-level geochemistry-themed GEOL courses including GEOL 302 (Low Temperature Geochemistry) or GEOL 305 (Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology) or GEOL 350 (requires Geology major advisor approval). For course planning advice, contact Pedro Marenco, Lynne Elkins (Geology) or Sharon Burgmayer (Chemistry).

COURSES

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.
Approach: Quantitative Readiness Required (QR); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Elkins,L., Weil,A.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B102 Earth: Life of a Planet
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 (Sat-Sun) field trip is taken in April.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Marenco,K.
(Spring 2015)

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.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B103
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Marenco,K., Barber,D.
(Spring 2015)

GEOL B110 Focus: Exploring Topics in the Earth Sciences
This half-credit Focus course explores engaging topics in the Earth Sciences at a level appropriate for students with no prior coursework in geology. Course content varies. Recent topics include Living with Volcanoes, Origin of Life, Geology in Film, and Earth’s Future Climate.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 0.5
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B125 Focus: Geology in Film
This is a half semester Focus course. Geologic processes make for great film storylines, but filmmakers take great liberty with how they depict scientific “facts” and scientists. We will explore how and why filmmakers choose to deviate from science reality. We will study and view one film per week and discuss its issues from a geologist’s perspective.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 0.5
Instructor(s): Marenco,P.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B202 Mineralogy and Crystal Chemistry
The crystal chemistry of representative minerals as well as the relationship between the physical properties of minerals and their structures and chemical compositions. Emphasis is placed on mineral identification and interpretation. The occurrence and petrography of typical mineral associations and rocks is also covered. Lecture three hours, laboratory at least three hours a week. One required field trip on a weekend. Prerequisite: Introductory course in geology or chemistry (both recommended).
Approach: Quantitative Readiness Required (QR); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Elkins,L.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B203 Invertebrate Paleobiology
Biology, evolution, ecology, and morphology of the major marine invertebrate fossil groups. Lecture three hours and laboratory three hours a week. A semester-long research project culminating in a scientific manuscript will be based on material collected on a two-day trip to the Tertiary deposits of the Chesapeake Bay.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Marenco,K.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B204 Structural Geology
An introduction to the study of rock deformation in the Earth’s lithosphere viewed from all scales - from the microscopic (atomic scale) to the macroscopic (continental scale). This class focuses on building a foundation of knowledge and understanding that will allow students to broaden their appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the Earth system and the links between geologic structures at all scales and plate tectonics. Three lectures and three hours of laboratory a week, plus weekend field trips. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and MATH 101.
Approach: Quantitative Readiness Required (QR)
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

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.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Barber,D.
(Spring 2015)

GEOL B206 Energy Resources and Sustainability
An examination of issues concerning the supply of energy and raw materials required by humanity. This includes an investigation 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.
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

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. Prerequisite: One semester of college science or permission of instructor.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM); Quantitative Readiness Required (QR)
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B210
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B236 Evolution
A lecture/discussion course on the development of evolutionary biology. This course will cover the history of evolutionary theory, population genetics, molecular and developmental evolution, paleontology, and phylogenetic analysis. Lecture three hours a week.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Counts towards: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Crosslisting(s): BIOL-B236; ANTH-B236
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Marenco,P.
(Spring 2015)

GEOL B250 Computational Methods in the Sciences
A study of how and why modern computation methods are used in scientific inquiry. Students will learn basic principles of simulation-based programming through hands-on exercises. Content will focus on the development of population models, beginning with simple exponential growth and ending with spatially-explicit individual-based simulations. Students will design and implement a final project from their own disciplines. Six hours of combined lecture/lab per week.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM); Quantitative Readiness Required (QR); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Attentive
Counts towards: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Environmental Studies; Neuroscience
Crosslisting(s): BIOL-B250; CMSC-B250
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Record,S.
(Spring 2015)

GEOL B270 Geoarchaeology
Societies in the past depended on our human ancestors’ ability to interact with their environment. Geoarchaeology analyzes these interactions by combining archaeological and geological techniques to document human behavior while also reconstructing the past environment. Course meets twice weekly for lecture, discussion of readings and hands on exercises. Prerequisite: One course in anthropology, archaeology or geology.
Approach: Inquiry into the Past (IP); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Crosslisting(s): ARCH-B270; ANTH-B270
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B298 Applied Environmental Science Seminar
This project-oriented seminar aims to foster student skills in research, analysis and synthesis of information in the interdisciplinary field of applied environmental science, with a specific focus on renewable energy. Students will conduct research on alternative energy options that could potentially be implemented at Bryn Mawr. Prerequisites: Advanced standing (Junior/Seniors) and co-enrollment in CHEM B206.
Approach: Quantitative Readiness Required (QR)
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B299 Geology Field Short Course
Geology majors choosing to participate in the annual Fall- or Spring-Break Geology Department Field Trip must enroll in GEOL B299. Enrollment in this class does not guarantee a spot on the field trip. Several pre-trip class meetings help maximize student engagement on the trip by providing a forum for discussing the assigned readings. During the weeklong field trip, students are exposed to geologic field methods while visiting sites that exemplify different geology from that at sites near campus. Geologic methods introduced include proper field note-taking, mapping and measuring geologic structures, and interpreting geologic history. Culminating work introduces students to geologic illustration and report writing. A passing grade requires full participation and engagement by the student before, during and after the field trip. At least one post-trip meeting is held on campus to synthesize the material covered, and to go over students’ final reports. Prerequisites: GEOL B101, B102 or B103; and GEOL B202, B203, B204 or B205.
Approach: Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 0.5
Instructor(s): Marenco,P.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B301 High-Temperature Geochemistry
Principles and theory of various aspects of geochemistry in rock systems, focusing on applications of chemistry to the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Three hours of lecture per week. Prerequisites: GEOL B202, CHEM B103 and B104 or consent of the instructor.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B302 Low-Temperature Geochemistry
Stable isotope geochemistry is one of the most important subfields of the Earth sciences for understanding environmental and climatic change. In this course, we will explore stable isotopic fundamentals and applications including a number of important case studies from the recent and deep time dealing with important biotic events in the fossil record and major climate changes. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 or GEOL 102, and at least one semester of chemistry or physics, or professor approval.
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Marenco,P.
(Spring 2015)

GEOL B304 Tectonics
Plate tectonics and continental orogeny are reviewed in light of the geologic record in selected mountain ranges and certain geophysical data. Three hours of lecture and a problem session a week. Prerequisite: GEOL 204 or permission of instructor.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

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 lecture hours weekly. Occasional weekend field trips. Prerequisite: GEOL 202.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

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.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B314 Marine Geology
An introduction to oceanography, coastal processes, and the geomorphology of temperate and tropical shorelines. Includes an overview of the many parameters, including sea level change, that shape coastal environments. Meets twice weekly for a combination of lecture, discussion and hands-on exercises, including a mandatory multiday field trip to investigate developed and pristine sections of the Mid-Atlantic US coast. Prerequisites: One 200-level GEOL course OR one GEOL course AND one BIOL course (any level), OR advanced BIOL major standing (junior or senior).
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Barber,D.
(Fall 2014)

GEOL B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data Using GIS
Analysis of geospatial data, theory, and the practice of geospatial reasoning.
Counts towards: Environmental Studies
Crosslisting(s): CITY-B328; BIOL-B328; ARCH-B328
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2014-2015)

GEOL B350 Advanced Topics in Geology
This is a topics course. Course content varies. Recent topics include Carbonate Petrology, Appalachian Geology, Advanced Evolution, The Snowball Controversy, and Climate Change.
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Weil,A.
Fall 2014: Current topic description: This seminar style course explores the geologic record of the Appalachian Orogen-from development of the eastern Laurentia Precambrian margin to opening of the Atlantic Ocean and development of the modern physiography. Students delve into the evidence for the opening and closing of several major oceans, and the implications of major tectonic events on the Earth surface system. Readings are from primary literature with student discussion leaders responsible for assigned text.

GEOL B399 Senior Capstone Seminar
A capstone seminar course required for all Geology majors. All Geology seniors will be required to participate in this two-semester seminar that meets weekly for 1.5 hours for a total of 1.0 credit (0.5 credits per semester). Enrollment required in two half-credit courses, one in the fall and one in the spring semester of the senior year. The focus of the seminar will be to integrate the student’s major curriculum into open peer-led discussions on cutting edge research in the many diverse fields of Geology, to discuss the impact and relevance of Geology to modern society, and to work on oral and written communication skills.
Units: 0.5
Instructor(s): Cull,S.
(Fall 2014, Spring 2015)

GEOL B403 Supervised Research
At the discretion of the department faculty, rising seniors may undertake an independent thesis project in addition to mandatory full participation in the senior capstone seminar. This student thesis is conducted under the supervision of a faculty advisor(s). The undertaking of a thesis is modeled after a Master’s thesis project, which is scaled down for the different time frame (one year versus two years) and educational level of a senior undergraduate student. The thesis project plan is initially developed, and agreed upon by conference between the supervising faculty member(s) and the student. Most of the research is conducted independently by the student. The advisor serves as a source of ideas concerning scientific literature, methodologies, and financial support. The advisor may visit and inspect the research sites, laboratory or model, and offer advice on how the research should be conducted or modified.
Units: 0.5
(Fall 2014, Spring 2015)