At Bryn Mawr: Geology, 2011-2012
Students may complete a major or minor in Geology. Within the major, students may complete concentrations in geoarchaeology or geochemistry.
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 from which the Earth is made; of the physical processes that have formed the Earth; of the history of the Earth and its organisms; and of the various techniques necessary to investigate Earth processes and the geologic record.
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.
Associate Professor of Geology and Harold Alderfer Chair in Environmental Studies Donald C. Barber
Assistant Professor of Geology Selby Cull
Lecturer Lynne Jessica Elkins
Assistant Professor Pedro Jose Marenco
Associate Professor and Chair Arlo Brandon Weil
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 spring semester of her senior year.
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.
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.
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; 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).
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; 302 or 305; and CHEM 101 or 103, 104 and 221, or 222. Additional chemistry courses might include 211 (Organic 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 Pedro Marenco, Lynne Elkins (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.
GEOL B102 Earth History
P. Marenco, L. Elkins
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.
GEOL B103 Earth Systems and the Environment (Cross-listed as CITY-B103)
D. Barber, L. Elkins
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 one-day field trip is taken in April. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B115 Living with Volcanoes
This course explores how people have long lived alongside, in the shadow of and, at times, directly on top of active volcanoes. Volcanic centers are hosts to sporadic and difficult-to-predict destructive and explosive activity, persistent and damaging passive degassing, vibrant ecosystems and important geothermal energy systems. The goals of this class are to examine the scientific basis for understanding volcanoes and predicting their behavior; to study the role of volcanoes in history and lore across human societies; and to examine our complicated relationship with them in the modern world. Prerequisite: Freshman standing. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B120 Origin and Early Evolution of Life
Where and how did life originate on Earth? What are the minimum conditions for life to arise, and persist, on any planet? Scientists are closer now than ever before to answering these intriguing questions. In this course, we will explore the fundamental requirements for life; critically examine many of the hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the origin of life on Earth; survey the fossil, geochemical and molecular evidence for early life, from the earliest-known examples through the “Cambrian Explosion;" and propose means of identifying life and its effects elsewhere in the universe. Two lectures per week, plus a one-day fieldtrip. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B125 Geology in Film
Geologic processes make for great film storylines, but filmmakers take great liberty with how they depict scientific Ÿfactsˆ 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. Prerequisite: Freshman standing.
GEOL B130 Life in the Hothouse: Earth’s Future Climate
An overview of Earth’s climate in the 22nd century (year 2100 and beyond) based on the current scientific consensus. In addition to describing the forecast conditions, we discuss the scientific basis for these predictions and their associated uncertainties, and how climate forecasts have been communicated to the public to date. Prerequisite: Freshman standing.
GEOL B202 Mineralogy and Crystal Chemistry
The crystal chemistry of representative minerals, descriptive and determinative mineralogy, as well as the relationship 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. One required field trip on a weekend. Prerequisite: introductory course in geology or chemistry (both recommended).
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 culminating in a scientific manuscript will be based on material collected on a two-day trip to the Tertiary deposits of the Chesapeake Bay.
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.
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor.
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 toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B209 Natural Hazards (Cross-listed as CITY-B210)
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B236 Evolution (Cross-listed as BIOL-B236 and ANTH-B236)
S. Gardiner, P. Marenco
A lecture/discussion course on the development of evolutionary thought, generally regarded as the most profound scientific event of the 19th century; its foundations in biology and geology; and the extent of its implications to many disciplines. Emphasis is placed on the nature of evolution in terms of process, product, patterns, historical development of the theory and its applications to interpretations of organic history. Lecture three hours a week.
GEOL B250 Computational Methods in the Sciences (Cross-listed as BIOL-B250 and CMSC-B250)
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B270 Geoarchaeology (Cross-listed as ARCH-B270 and ANTH-B270)
D. Barber, P. Magee
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. Not offered in 2011-12.
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. One required field trip on a weekend. Prerequisites: CHEM 103, 104 and GEOL 202 or two 200-level chemistry courses, or permission of instructor. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor.
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. Not offered in 2011-12.
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. Not offered in 2011-12.
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 and 102. Not offered in 2011-12.
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 102, or 103 and 205, or permission of instructor. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor.
GEOL B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data Using GIS (Cross-listed as CITY0B328, ARCH-B328 and BIOL-B328)
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies minor. Not offered in 2011-12.
GEOL B350 Advanced Topics in Geology
The geologic histories of the solid bodies in the Solar System: rocky planets, icy moons, asteroids and comets. How and why these bodies vary in volcanism, tectonics, atmospheric dynamics, aqueous environments and other planetary processes. Students will read and discuss primary literature, and examine data from on-going NASA planetary missions. Prerequisites: advanced standing in geology, astronomy or physics, or permission of the instructor.
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.
GEOL B403 Independent Research