Course Offerings

Fall 2018

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100 - STAFF / Greer, Mary L. (Lisa)

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100 - Knapp, Elizabeth P.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100 - Greer, Mary L. (Lisa)

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100 - Harbor, David J.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

Geomorphology

GEOL 247 - Harbor, David J.

Investigation of landforms from maps, aerial photographs, digital data, and the analysis of the surficial processes by which they are formed. Laboratory activities include identification and interpretation of topography, field measurements of landscape form and process, and a required weekend field trip. Laboratory course.

Introductory Geophysics

GEOL 275 - Connors, Christopher D. (Chris)

A review of the geophysical methods used to study the interior of the Earth, the magnetic field, isostasy, and earthquake seismology. Attention is given to the methods used in geophysics to collect and analyze data. A gravimeter, a magnetometer, seismic refraction and electrical resistivity equipment are used to collect field data. The data, corrections, and interpretations are incorporated into a technical report for each of the four surveys. Laboratory course.

Earth and Environmental Geochemistry

GEOL 311 - Hinkle, Margaret A.

A laboratory course emphasizing the principles and tools of the chemical composition of Earth materials to interpret petrogenesis. The course focuses on processes occurring below and at the Earth's surface. Topics include: crystal chemistry, magmatic and metamorphic processes, trace element and isotope geochemistry, oxidation and reduction, and water-rock interactions. The laboratory includes both a local field and laboratory component and focuses on using analytical techniques to evaluate chemical composition including electron microscopy, ion chromatography, X-ray diffraction, and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry.

Tectonics and Thermochronology

GEOL 360 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

An introduction to mountain belts and thermochronologic techniques used to quantify tectonic processes. Topics include: orogenic wedges, metamorphic core complexes, rifting, strike-slip systems, orogenic plateaus, the relationship between tectonics and climate, and the use of bedrock and detrital thermochronology to measure rates of faulting, erosion, and exhumation. Concepts are discussed in the context of natural examples, including the Appalachians, the European Alps, the Himalaya, the Andes, and the Basin and Range Province of the southwestern United States.

Directed Individual Study

GEOL 401 - Greer, Mary L. (Lisa)

Advanced work and reading in topics selected by the instructor and meeting the special needs of advanced students. This course may be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Honors Thesis

GEOL 493 - Hinkle, Margaret A.

Honors Thesis.

Honors Thesis

GEOL 493 - Harbor, David J.

Honors Thesis.

Spring 2018

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Harbor, David J.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements. Lab fee required.

Spring 2018, GEOL 105-01: FS: Earth Lab: Sand (4). First-Year seminar. A Jockey John Robinson Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. Sand is everywhere. It is between our toes at the beach, sweeping beneath us in rivers, and blown against us in stinging desert storms. And yet, this ubiquitous, ordinary substance tells incredible stories of plate tectonic upheavals, vast seas covering now-dry continents, and journeys through rivers, into inland deserts, and along ocean shores. This field-based seminar explores the origin and nature of sand, its journeys, and how geologists use observations in modern environments along with detailed microscopic and field descriptions of rocks to define the conditions of landscapes long past. Participation requires camping on eastern barrier islands, travel to the Colorado Plateau of Utah, and a healthy imagination. Most expenses are covered by the Jockey John Robinson Fund. (SL) Harbor.

Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Greer, Mary L. (Lisa)

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements. Lab fee required.

Spring 2018, GEOL 105-02: Earth Lab: Is the Earth Worth Saving (4). Can we 'save the earth'? What does that really mean? This course explores both the humbling existence of humans in deep time (4.6 billion years), and the potentially profound impacts of humans on the earth environment. Students consider whether it is the earth or only ourselves that we wish to 'save'. We study how rocks reveal a deep and rich history of changing climate and environment with time, and then compare this record with what we know about human-influenced climate and environmental change in the last few hundred years. We reflect on what, if anything, we should do with this information. We evaluate the effectiveness of efforts to 'protect' the environment, specifically with regards to marine-protected areas. Extensive field exploration of the geology of Rockbridge County and a week-long trip to Belize, to visit protected and unprotected coral reefs. (SL) Greer.

Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements. Lab fee required.

Spring 2018, GEOL 105-03: Earth Lab:  The Geology of Virginia (4). No prerequisites. Suitable for all students. From the billion-year-old rocks of the Blue Ridge to the sediments actively accumulating at the modern shore, the geology of Virginia preserves a rich and fascinating record of Earth history. Students explore the geology of Virginia, with emphasis on the physical processes responsible for rock formation and landscape evolution. Topics include: plate tectonics and mountain building, volcanism, metamorphism, erosion, sedimentation, and coastal processes. The course takes full advantage of our local setting and features many field trips, including at least one overnight trip to the coastal plain. (SL) Rahl .

Regional Geology

GEOL 373 - Connors, Christopher D. (Chris) / Ball, Stephen M.

The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside fieldwork with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. Information about the course is available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements.

Spring 2018, GEOL 373-01: Regional Geology of New Zealand (4). Prerequisites: Open to geology majors only. Instructor consent, two geology courses numbered 200 or above, and GEOL 395. A study of the regional geology of New Zealand. This remarkably geologically diverse land allows students to learn about coastal and neotectonic geomorphology, structural geology and tectonics, glacial geology, glaciology, volcanology, metamorphic petrology, and stratigraphy, through hands-on direct exposure to beautiful examples available at the surface in New Zealand. Connors.

Winter 2018

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

General Geology

GEOL 101 - Farris, David W.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 100. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

General Geology

GEOL 101 - Hinkle, Margaret A.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 100. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

Water Resources

GEOL 150 - Hinkle, Margaret A.

An examination of the quality and quantity of water resources as a limiting factor for life on earth. Issues include resource depletion, pollution, historical use and over-use, remediation, habitat maintenance, and water supply mechanisms. Resource constraints are analyzed from a scientific perspective in order to understand water resource problems and envision solutions.

Selected Topics

GEOL 197 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Selected topical coverage of various timely or general interest subject areas in geology. The topic selected varies from year to year and is announced in advance of the registration period. Topics have included impact and extinction of the dinosaurs; volcanoes and tectonics; geologic consideration in land-use planning; and the geology of national parks. May be repeated for a maximum of four credits if the topic is different.

Winter 2018, GEOL 197-01: Special Topic: Are We Alone? (3). Despite estimates that there are billions of stars in the Universe (likely trillions of billions), Earth remains the only planetary body that we know has life (so far). This apparent paradox led the physicist Enrico Fermi to wonder: "where is everybody?" In this course, we explore modern thinking about the potential for extraterrestrial life, with particular focus on the concept of planetary habitability. What are the essential ingredients for the evolution of life like we know it? Our investigation focuses on relevant aspects of the planet we know best, Earth, including its formation, composition, climate, and tectonics. We also discuss the origin, history, and potential future of life on our planet. (SC) Rahl.

History and Evolution of the Earth

GEOL 205 - Greer, Mary L. (Lisa)

An introductory examination of the origin and physical evolution of the Earth as inferred from the rock record. Areas of particular emphasis include: (1) the origin of the solar system and differentiation of the planets; (2) the evolution of the terrestrial atmosphere and hydrosphere; (3) explanations for the development of life; (4) organic evolution and interpretations of "mass extinctions;" (5) the changing configuration of continental blocks and ocean basins by continental drift, seafloor spreading, and plate tectonics; and (6) the growth of continental blocks and their mountain systems.

Earth Materials I: Rocks and Minerals

GEOL 211 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

A laboratory course introducing Earth materials, including minerals and rocks, with an emphasis on a hands-on approach to identifying and interpreting minerals and their associations in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Students learn the techniques and principles of hand sample identification, optical mineralogy and petrography, X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy.

GIS and Remote Sensing

GEOL 260 - Harbor, David J.

A laboratory course introducing the use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing in geological/environmental analyses and decision making. Students use state-of-the-art software with a wide variety of spatial geologic, environmental, economic and topographic data derived from satellites; remote databases and published maps to evaluate geologic conditions; local landscape processes; environmental conditions; and hypothetical land-use cases.

Petroleum Geology and Geophysics

GEOL 335 - Connors, Christopher D. (Chris)

A survey of the theory and practice of petroleum geology and geophysics. Topics covered include the nature and origin of petroleum, a study of where oil and gas accumulate from the perspective of basin analysis, and the basic principles of reflection seismology and petrophysics. The key petroleum system elements of source, charge, seal, reservoir and trap are studied within the context of how a geologist or geophysicist goes about exploring for and developing petroleum accumulations. Emphasis is placed on the Geology use of industry software and data to analyze geologic features, deposits, and basins that are relevant to petroleum exploration and production. Laboratory course.

Seminar

GEOL 395 - Connors, Christopher D. (Chris)

Topics vary by term.

Winter 2018, GEOL 395-01: Seminar: Geology of New Zealand (1). Prerequisites: Open to geology majors only or by instructor consent. This seminar prepares students for the spring term course, GEOL 373: Regional Geology of New Zealand, through reading and discussing the geology of New Zealand. Connors.

Directed Individual Study

GEOL 401 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Advanced work and reading in topics selected by the instructor and meeting the special needs of advanced students. This course may be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Senior Research Thesis

GEOL 472 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Candidates for the Bachelor of Science degree in geology are urged to undertake research on a field or laboratory problem which can lead to the presentation of a senior thesis. Work on this project should be started in the spring term of the junior year. Interested students should consult members of the faculty who will help define the problem and provide guidance during research.

Honors Thesis

GEOL 493 - Connors, Christopher D. (Chris)

Honors Thesis.

Honors Thesis

GEOL 493 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Honors Thesis.

Honors Thesis

GEOL 493 - Harbor, David J.

Honors Thesis.