At Bryn Mawr: Geology, 2012-2013
Students may complete a major or minor in Geology. Within the major, students may complete concentrations in geoarchaeology or geochemistry.
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 work are an essential part of geology training at Bryn Mawr and are 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
Lecturer Katherine Marenco
Assistant Professor Pedro Marenco (on leave 2012-2013)
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 their 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. 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 I) 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), and 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 additional to Chemistry Major requirements (see Chemistry major advisor): GEOL 101 (How the Earth Works), GEOL 202 (Minerology/Crystal Chemistry) and 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).
GEOL B101 How the Earth Works
L. Elkins/A. Weil
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Offered in Fall 2012.
GEOL B102 Earth History
L. Elkins/K. Marenco
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. Offered in Spring 2013.
GEOL B103 Earth Systems and the Environment (Cross-listed as CITY-B103)
L. Elkins/D. Barber
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Offered in Spring 2013.
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, valuable nutrient-rich soils, 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. Three hours per week. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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? 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 and propose means of identifying life and its effects elsewhere in the universe. Three hours per week. Offered in Spring 2013.
GEOL B125 Geology in Film
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. This is a half-semester Focus course. Prerequisite: Freshman standing. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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. This is a half-semester Focus course. Prerequisite: Freshman standing. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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). Offered in Fall 2012.
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. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Not offered in Fall 2012.
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. Offered in Spring 2013.
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. Offered in Spring 2013.
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. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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. Prerequisite: one semester of college science or permission of instructor. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Not offered in 2012-2013.
GEOL B236 Evolution (Cross-listed as BIOL-B236 and ANTH-B236)
S. Gardiner/K. 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. Offered in Fall 2012.
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. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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. Offered in Spring 2013.
GEOL B302 Low-Temperature Geochemistry
S. Cull/P. Marenco
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 permission of instructor. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Not offered in 2012-2013.
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. Offered in Fall 2012.
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. Prerequisites: GEOL 202. Offered in Spring 2013.
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. Not offered in 2012-2013.
GEOL B314 Marine GeologyAn 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. Not offered in 2012-2013.
GEOL B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data Using GIS (Cross-listed as CITY0B328, ARCH-B328 and BIOL-B328)
Advanced seminar in the analysis of geospatial data, theory and the practice of geospatial reasoning. Counts toward Environmental Studies. Not offered in 2012-2013.
GEOL B336 Evolutionary Biology: Advanced topics (Cross-listed as BIOL-B336, ANTH-B336)
A seminar course on current issues in evolution. Discussion based on readings from the primary literature. Topics are determined by the students. One three-hour discussion a week. Prerequisite: BIOL 236 or permission of instructor. Not offered in 2012-2013.
GEOL B350 Advanced Topics in Geology
A. Weil/S. Cull
TThis is a topics course. Recent topics include Carbonate Petrology, Appalachian Geology, Advanced Evolution, The Snowball Controversy, and Climate Change. Current topic description (Fall 2012): Students will join with a citizen watch group to research environmental remediation of Acid Mine Drainage systems in the Schuylkill headwaters region. The field area is the source of most of the drinking water for the greater Philadelphia area and suffers from significant contamination due to local coal mines. This hands-on class will involve significant amounts of field and laboratory work. Current topic description (Spring 2013): This course will investigate the protracted formation of the Appalachians by examining primary literature across the disciplines of geology. Topics include tectonics, geophysics, sedimentology, geochemistry, paleontology and geomorphology, and span the geologic record from the Precambrian to the present. The course will be in a seminar style, based on lively discussions and structured oral presentations. A mandatory field trip will give student firsthand access to our regional geology. Prerequisites: Mineralogy, or permission of the instructor. Offered in 2012-2013.
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. Includes a seminar for senior students that meets for two hours per week to explore issues related to geoscience research. Offered in Spring 2013.
GEOL B403 Independent Research