Geology addresses both the materials that form the Earth and the processes of Earth formation and evolution. Subdisciplines include but are not limited to: study of life and evolution as preserved in the rock record; study of resources upon which our industrial society is based; study of environmental problems and remedial solutions; study of geologic hazards and hazard mitigation. The interdisciplinary study of geology relies upon mastery of geological principles and oral and written communication skills as well as the application of fundamental principles of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics to complex Earth systems.
Major in Geology
(30 credits): 101 or 105, 201, 301, 309, 325, 340, 403, 450 and 451, plus 3 additional geology credits.
Required supporting courses (15 credits): Chemistry 121-122, Mathematics 219, and either (a) two from Physics 101-102-103- 105 or 201-202-203 or (b) one Physics course and Geography 373.
Recommended supporting courses for students planning graduate study: summer field work, computer science, biology, geographic information systems, and additional chemistry, mathematics, physics and geology courses.
Major for Teaching Earth and Space Science
The approved program may be obtained from the department chair. See also the Director of Secondary Education.
Minor in Geology
16 credits, including 9 at 200- to 400-level.
Geology Degree with Distinction
Students can earn a departmental distinction upon successful completion of both a superior senior research thesis, GEOL 451, and the geology degree with a GPA ≥ 3.5 for all geology courses and the supporting courses that are required for the major.
101 (PN,I) Physical Geology (3)
Introduction to Earth materials (minerals and rocks), structures, composition and dynamic processes (e.g., volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, weathering, erosion) of the Earth. Includes one two-hour lab per week and optional field trips. Not for credit after 105.
105 (PN,I) Summer Field Course: Physical Geology in the Rocky Mountains (3)
Introduction to earth materials and processes during a rigorous 2 1/2-week August field study in Wyoming and South Dakota. Priority given to incoming first-year students. Prerequisite for currently enrolled students: first-year standing and consent of the instructors. Not for credit after 101.
112 (PN,I) Dinosaurs and Extinction (3)
The role of dinosaurs in earth history. Dinosaur evolution, the environments to which they adapted, and theories that attempt to explain their mass extinction. Includes one twohour lab per week. Lab study will involve specimens in the Fryxell Geology Museum collection.
115 (PN,I) Environmental Geology (3)
Introduction to the application of geological concepts to the study of environmentally related issues. Variable format: course may emphasize topics such as geological hazards (earthquakes, volcanic activity, floods, mass movement), earth resources (mineral, energy, soil, water) and pollution (waste disposal and other health hazards). Includes one twohour lab per week and optional field trips.
116 (PN,I) Energy Resources and the Environment (3)
Environmental geology course focusing on the formation, exploration, extraction and uses of non-renewable energy resources (coal, petroleum and uranium). These energy issues directly inﬂuence many areas of our lives (health, housing, transportation, economy, politics, safety, environment, international relations, ethics, etc.) which will be discussed in light of impending world energy and global warming problems. Includes one two-hour lab per week and required field trips.
172 (PN,I) Summer Field Course: Fossil Mammals of the Badlands (3)
Ten-day summer field study in the Nebraska/South Dakota Badlands. Study of the geologic setting of the Badlands followed by search for Oligocene (30-million-year-old) fossil mammals. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
201 Historical Stratigraphy (3)
The study of stratigraphic principles used to study the physical and biological history of the Earth, followed by an overview of Earth history. Prerequisite: 101 or 105. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
301 Mineralogy (3)
Introduction to the building blocks of solid Earth-minerals. The fundamentals of crystallography (2-D and 3-D symmetry of crystal structures), crystal and mineral chemistry and the stabilities and occurrences of silicate minerals. Practical identification of silicate minerals in hand samples and in thinsections and grain mounts using polarizing light microscopy. Prerequisites: 101 or 105 and Chemistry 122; Chemistry 122 may be taken concurrently. Includes one three-hour lab per week.
309 Geomorphology (3)
Quantitative analyses of the surficial geological processes and the landforms which they produce. Prerequisite: 101 or 105. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
325 Paleontology (3)
Study of the principles of paleobiology, including methods of classification and interpretation of the fossil record. Also, systematic study of the major groups of invertebrate and vertebrate animals that have evolved since the beginning of the Cambrian. Prerequisite: 201 or Biology 200. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
330 Hydrogeology (3)
Study of physicochemical aspects of water and contaminant flow at the Earth's surface and through subsurface materials. Includes case studies of environmental groundwater problems. Prerequisites: 101 or 105 and Mathematics 219. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
340 Structural Geology and Tectonics (3)
Quantitative study of rock structures (e.g. folds, faults and fabrics) and the forces that cause them. Also study of largescale plate tectonic processes and regional geology. Prerequisite: 101 or 105. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
370 Special Topics (1-3+)
Intensive study of geologic topics, usually in connection with forthcoming departmental field trips. Prerequisite: 101 or 105. Variable format.
372 Summer Field Course: Fossil Mammals of the Badlands (3)
Ten-day summer field study in the Nebraska/South Dakota Badlands. Study of the stratigraphy and depositional environments of the Badlands followed by search for Oligocene (30- million-year-old) fossil mammals. Prerequisite: prior coursework in geology and consent of the instructor.
403 Petrology (3)
Quantitative analysis of the geologic processes and phase relationships of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, with emphasis on igneous systems. Prerequisites: 201 and 301. Includes one two-hour lab per week.
450 Research Methods (3)
Planning and development of a research proposal involving literature searches, group discussions and analytical instrumentation instruction in preparation for the required Senior Research project (GEOL 451). Prerequisite: consent of instructor and department chair.
451 Senior Research (1-3+)
A required research project, performed under the direction of a faculty advisor, culminating in both a written thesis and a public oral presentation. Prerequisites: 450 and consent of department chair.
Individual Studies and Internships
199, 299, 399, 499 Directed Study (1+)
Study of a particular subject under a faculty member's direction. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and department chair.
GEOL-INTR-Sxx/Lxx/Axx Senior Inquiry/Service Learning/ Academic Internship (1-9)
Analysis of the background, structure and policy issues in the sponsoring organization. Prerequisite: a declared major or minor in geology. Departmental internships must be approved by the department. See Internships for more information and for other internship options.
GEOL-INTR-Exx/Vxx Experiential/Volunteer (0-9)
Departmental internships must be approved by department. See Internships for more information and other internship options.