• Print

Courses

Note: This list of courses may not reflect recent changes. Please see the latest General Catalog for a complete list of current courses.

GEOS 43 - Environmental Science (offered every Fall)
Instructor: Prof Rademacher
Classroom: TR lectures and discussions
Field: Multiple 1-day (or partial day) field trips.
Units: 4 GE: III-C
Purpose: Investigative and interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of policy-relevant environmental problems in four themes: a) water resources; b) energy; c) climate; and d) land use with an emphasis on the interactions of humans with their environment. These four themes relate to issues for which there is active debate, both about our current understanding and about the possible policy solutions. The primary goal is to develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to analyzing environmental problems. A companion discussion will pursue similar topics and issues through more extensive analysis and class debates. Field work included.
Assessment: Participation in lecture, discussions and field trips, group project, class debates, exams.

GEOS 45 - Soil, Water, & War (Fall, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof Rademacher
Classroom: TR lecture
Field: Two 3-day field trips (overnight camping), one 1-day field trip
Units: 4 GE: III-C
Purpose: Investigate the link between natural resources and historic human conflict. Topics analyzed include: a) water disputes in California and the difficult balance between agriculture, population centers, and natural ecosystems; b) the limited water in the eastern Mediterranean region and its link to territorial disputes; c) the disintegration of agriculture in Mesopotamia and how we can avoid the same mistakes. We will evaluate the integration of society and natural resources by following the development of civilization as it exploited the natural resources of the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates river valleys, including topics ranging from military strategy to political agreements on natural resource usage.
Assessment: Participation in lecture, discussions, and field trips, individual and group case studies of examples, exams.

GEOS 51 - Physical Geology (every semester)
Instructor: Prof Fox
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: 1-2, one day field trips (8AM - 5PM)
Units: 4 GE: III A
Purpose: In a broad definition that encompasses aspects of physics, chemistry, & biology, Geology can be thought of as the study of the Earth, including its materials, the processes acting on these materials, and the evolution of Earth & its life forms. “Geology” also is concerned with discovering & managing natural resources, identifying geologically stable sites for development, & to provide foreknowledge of hazards associated with a dynamic Earth. Why should you care about geology? Most who take GEOS 51 are not Geology majors, but will be members of society. Our world needs forward-thinking, educated citizens that are capable of understanding global issues & making informed decisions regarding social, economic, & environmental policies. This course will help you develop this broader perspective in the context of the global "Earth system," which is an approach to the study of the Earth that examines how individual parts of the system affects others (e.g. atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, solid Earth). What is science? Earth Science underwent a revolution in the 1960’s that was as profound as Einstein’s relativity theory was to physics, or the theory of evolution was to biology. You will learn how scientific revolutions happen & how the scientific method works. Understanding how scientists “know” things is just as important as what they claim to know.
Assessment: Varies according to instructor - Exams (~60%), Homework/Field trips/Journals (~20%), Lab exercises (~20%)

GEOS 53 - Geologic Evolution of the Earth (every semester)
Instructor: Prof Pearson
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: 1-2, one day field trips (8AM - 5PM)
Units: 4 GE: III A
Purpose: Through lectures, field and laboratory study this course will aid the student: achieve an understanding of the current status of geologists interpretation of earth history; become familiar with the methods and assumptions on which it is based; achieve an understanding of the Theory of Plate Tectonics and the Theory of Natural Selection; gain an awareness of the TEMPORARY nature of current conditions, an appreciation of the history of life on earth and the vastness of geologic time.
Assessment: Quizzes and exams, short essays, group project, and laboratory exercises. Grades will be based on exams (60%), quizzes (15%), essays (15%), reflections, class assignments, readings, laboratory and laboratory projects (10%).

GEOS 57 – Earth System Science (Spring)
Instructor: Prof Fox
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: 1-2 one-day field trips (8AM-5 PM)
Units: 4 GE: IIIA
Purpose: to help you gain an understanding of the planet Earth as a system consisting of integrated subsystems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere). In this course we study the make up of these subsystems and the interactions among them. This systems approach help us to develop an understanding of the balance that exists in the global environment as a result of the interactions. This course will also explore the process of science itself: how science is done, where our scientific information comes from, etc.
Assessment: Exams (~55%). Laboratory exercises (~20%), reflective journal (~15%), group work/peer teaching (~10%).

GEOS 61 - Geology of California (Fall)
Instructor: Prof Burmeister
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: One four-day field trip (overnight camping)
Units: 4 GE: III A
Purpose: Do you like camping and the outdoors? If the answer is YES - then this is the class for you! This course seeks to develop your understanding of the basic principles of physical geology while exploring either the geology of California or the geology of our nations National Parks. This unique introductory course is truly "hands on" - students will have opportunities to see and touch the geologic features and relationships they learn about in the classroom and lab. Students will learn how to "read" geologic contexts from the rocks they encounter, how to interpret geologic features (such as faults, folds, landslides and earth flows) from maps, and how to combine information to construct regional-scale understandings of geologic relationships. In addition to geology, this course will help students develop a better understanding of California’s physical geography, climate regimes, agriculture, and environmental issues.
Assessment: T/F, multiple choice, and short answer exams (~70%), Field trips & Journals (~15%), Lab exercises (~15%)

GEOS 65 - Regional Geology
Instructor: TBA
Classroom: MWF lecture, 2 weekly labs
Field: week-long field trip during spring break or in early summer, immediately following commencement
Units: 4 units
A field intensive study of a geologically relevant area including investigations of plate tectonics, the formation of rocks and minerals, the hydrologic cycle, formation of landforms, geologic time, and climate change. Possible study regions include the Chilean Patagonia, Hawaii, the Colorado Plateau, Costa Rica, and Alaska. This course includes laboratory work and a week-long field trip during spring break or in early summer, immediately following commencement.

GEOS 100 – Mineralogy (Fall, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof. Fox
Classroom: MWF lecture, 2 weekly labs
Field: one-day fields trips
Units: 5
Purpose: This course examines minerals through the study of physical properties, crystallography/crystal structure, crystal chemistry, and optics. By the end of the course, students will understand what minerals are, how they are classified, how minerals are formed and be able to identify minerals in a variety of ways.
Assessment: Exams, lab reports, optical notebook, term project.

GEOS 105 - Field Studies (every semester)
Instructor: TBA (enrollment by instructor approval)
Classroom: n/a
Field: Minimum of 3 continuous days on a department-supervised field trip.
Units: One unit per trip, can be repeated for up to 4 units of credit
Purpose: This course is designed to foster interest in exploring geologic phenomena beyond those encountered in ones required coursework. This course provides students with an opportunity to earn credit for participating in department-sponsored field experiences.
Many of the experiences available are 3+ day field trips associated with non-major and major courses offered by the department of Geosciences. These field trips routinely take students to places throughout the Sierra Nevada (Yosemite, Feather River Canyon, Kings Canyon, Carson Pass/Donner Summit, etc.), Owens Valley and Mammoth Lakes regions, the Coast Ranges of northwestern California, Death Valley, and the Mojave Desert (Mojave National Preserve/Joshua Tree National Park/Salton Sea regions).
Additional field experiences that might qualify for GEOS 105 credit include selected non-course related field excursions that are led by Geosciences faculty and field trips offered through regional and national organizations (e.g. Geological Society of America , National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Northern California Geological Society, American Geophysical Union, etc.)
Assessment: Pass/fail - must actively participate in field activities and write a reflective paper based on the field experience.

GEOS 106 - Earth Materials & The Environment (Fall, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof Fox
Classroom: lecture, weekly lab
Field: One four-day field trip (overnight camping), one one-day local field trip
Units: 4
Purpose: This course is an integrated lecture and lab study of the origin, occurrence, identification, economic and environmental significance of earth materials (minerals, rocks, soils). There is no clear distinction between "lecture" and "lab" in this course. Activities will include the study of minerals and rocks in hand sample, as well as in thin section and with X-ray diffraction analysis. Environmental aspects such as the health effects of minerals, engineering properties of soil, acid mine drainage, etc. will also be addressed.
Assessment: Midterm and final exams (40%), Lab work/Homework (40%), Research and Field Projects (20%)

GEOS 110 – Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology (Spring, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof. Fox
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: two multi-day (4-day and 2-day) field trips (overnight camping)
Units: 4
Purpose: This course focuses on the occurrence, origin, and evolution of igneous & metamorphic rocks.
Assessment: Exams (~60%), Lab reports/Problem sets (~20%), Term project (~15%), Field Presentations (~5%).

GEOS 112 – Sedimentary Petrology (Fall, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof. Pearson
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: one-day and multi-day field trips (overnight camping)
Units: 4

GEOS 114 - Structural Geology & Tectonics (Fall, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof. Burmeister
Classroom: MWF lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: One four-day field trip (overnight camping)
Units: 4
Purpose: The primary goal of this course is to develop your ability to recognize and interpret the development of deformation (kinematics), the forces responsible for deformation (dynamics), and how they operate according to a complex interplay of time, environment, and material. This knowledge will provide you the ability to: be conversant in terms of kinematics, strain, and stress; predict expected outcomes of materials deformed in various contexts and conditions; critically observe and describe deformed rocks in natural settings; and interpret tectonic relationships at all scales. We will also explore the broader aspects of structure & tectonics within the context of Earth systems, including: large-scale deformation of the crust and mantle; the relationships between mountain building and seismicity, climate, and surface processes; the co-evolution of the Earth, tectonics, and life.
Assessment: Midterm and final exams (~50%), Lab exercises (~35%), Field trips and participation (~15%)

GEOS 120 – Paleontology (Spring, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof. Pearson
Classroom: lecture MWF, 1 weekly lab
Field: 2-3 one-day field trips
Units: 4
Purpose: To aid students to gain an understanding of the basic concepts and methodologies used in paleontological studies; the “human side” of paleontological research and evolutionary thought; the important morphologic features of fossil invertebrate phyla; the classification, identification and temporal relationships of important groups of fossils; the importance of fossils in the analysis of sedimentary rock sequences; mass extinction and its role in the history of life; the Theory of Natural Selection (phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium); and the scientific, philosophical and social history of evolutionary thought.
Assessment: Exams, laboratory exercises, writing assignments, oral presentations.

GEOS 142 – Geochemistry (Spring, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof Rademacher
Classroom: lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: one-day and multiple-day field trips

GEOS 144 - Geomorphology
Instructor: Prof Pearson
Classroom: lecture MWF, 1 weekly lab
Field: Multiple-day field trip (overnight camping)
Units: 4
Purpose: It is expected that by the end of the semester a student will have a working knowledge of surface processes involved in the construction and sculpturing of land forms during the Late Cenozoic; characteristic landforms produced by these processes; the importance of rock type and structure, tectonic history and time in the development of landforms; interpretation of climates based on geomorphic features; origin and development of geomorphic provinces in the United States; interpretation of landforms using topographic maps and aerial photographs; and the use of land form analysis in land use planning.
Assessment: Exams, reading assignments, short papers, laboratory and class assignments, class presentations and class participation

GEOS 148 – Hydrogeology (Spring, alternate years)
Instructor: Prof Rademacher
Classroom: lecture, 1 weekly lab
Field: multiple-day and one-day field trips
Units: 4

GEOS 161 - Geologic Field Methods
Instructor: Prof Burmeister
Classroom: TR lecture
Field: Three field trips (2x one-day trips, 1x four-day trip to Mojave Desert with overnight camping)
Units: 4
Purpose: This course will introduce you to the study of rocks in their natural habitat. A central goal is to stimulate a method of thinking that will help you in applied situations. You will learn what questions to ask, where to look for answers, and how to report your findings.
Exposure to a wide variety of geologic relationships in the field will integrate knowledge from previous courses and increase your appreciation & understanding for subsequent classes. Finally, this course uses a series of written reports and oral presentations to teach you how to effectively communicate your observations, analyses, and interpretations.
Training will occur primarily in the field at various locations. You will learn the basic skills of a geoscientist through a series of projects designed to resemble those you will encounter during your professional and/or academic career. Lecture periods will be used to provide background that will enable you to make maximum use of the limited time actually spent in the field: to introduce specifics of upcoming field problems, to summarize what you saw or should have seen during previous exercises, and to help you develop effective skills as a technical writer.
Assessment: Exams & quizzes (~20%), Written and oral reports (~50%), Participation (~30%)