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Geoscience (GEOS) Courses


GEOS 100 FUNDAMENTALS OF GEOLOGY (3-2-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN). An introduction to the principles of physical and historical geology. Topics include weathering, erosion, glaciation, volcanism, earthquakes, rocks, minerals, maps, and the origin of the earth and its physical and biological development. Open to all students except those with previous credit in geology, or earth science majors and those nonscience majors who plan an eight-hour sequence in geology. Field trips required. Lab fee required. PREREQ: MATH 108 or MATH 123.

GEOS 101 GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (3-2-4)(F/S)(DLN). Physical geographic approach to earth systems science. Overview of global climatology, hydrology, geomorphology, biogeography, and biogeochemical cycles. PREREQ: MATH 108 or MATH 123.

GEOS 102 HISTORICAL GEOLOGY (3-0-3)(F/S)(DLN). Geological, physical, chemical, and biological processes that have evolved and shaped our planet over billions of years. Reconstruction of geologic history using rock types, fossils, and other geologic evidence. Study of formative geological and biological events in Earth’s history.

GEOS 103 HISTORY OF THE EARTH (3-0-3)(S). Exploration of the dynamic history of our planet and evolution of life on Earth for the past three billion years. A nonlab course for nonmajors. Students may take either GEOS 102 or GEOS 103 for credit, but not both.

GEOS 110 INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY LAB (0-2-1)(Offered as justified). For transfer students who need a laboratory experience to gain Area III Core credit for a lecture-only geology course taken elsewhere. PREREQ: PERM/INST.

GEOS 200 EVOLUTION OF WESTERN NORTH AMERICA (3-V-4)(F). Advanced introduction to geologic sciences. Regional and global tectonics and their relationship to igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary processes, chemical differentiation, and landscape evolution. Emphasis on understanding the rock record by integrating field and analytical observations from various geologic disciplines. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101, MATH 143 and MATH 144, and declared major in Geoscience or Geophysics.

GEOS 201 INTRODUCTION TO OCEANOGRAPHY (3-0-3)(F/S)(DLN). Study of the world ocean within the context of the geological framework, ocean currents, chemical and physical properties, marine organisms, and ecosystem dynamics. Examines ecosystem services provided by the ocean and the influence of human activities on the ocean system.

GEOS 212 WATER IN THE WEST (3-V-4)(F). Introduction to hydrologic sciences. Topics include climate, surface and groundwater quality and quantity, surficial geology and the interaction of hydrologic and ecological processes. Emphasis on water issues of the Western United States. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101, MATH 143 and MATH 144, and declared major in Geoscience or Geophysics.

GEOS 220 SEEING THE UNSEEN: AN INTRODUCTION TO GEOPHYSICS (3-V-4)(S). Introduction to the fields of environmental, exploration and global Geophysics that allow us to investigate the Earth, from the first few meters below the surface to the whole Earth, without doing any digging. Labs will involve a combination of computer exercises, demonstrations, and lab and field experiments. PREREQ: MATH 143 and MATH 144 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 242 COMMUNICATION IN THE EARTH SCIENCES (3-0-3)(S)(CID). Development of effective written and oral communication skills necessary for professional careers in earth science related fields. Includes researching and evaluating existing literature and the iterative processes involved in evaluating, editing, and revising draft papers. PREREQ: ENGL 102 and GEOS 100 or 101 and GEOS 200 or GEOS 212 or GEOS 220 and declared major in Geoscience or Geophysics.

GEOS 280 FIELD GEOLOGY (1-6-3)(F). Techniques of field mapping using topographic maps, stereo-pair air photos, Brunton compass, GPS, and GIS to address a variety of geologic problems. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101, ENGL 102, and declared Geoscience, Geophysics, or Earth Science Education major.


GEOS 300 EARTH MATERIALS (3-3-4)(F). Minerals and rocks, focusing on their chemical properties, atomic structures and environments of origin. Labs include identification of minerals and rocks in hand specimens and thin sections. Field trip required. PREREQ: GEOS 200. COREQ: CHEM 111 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 305 EARTH’S CLIMATE: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE (3-0-3)(F). Examination of how and why the Earth’s climate changes, and the major driving forces that control the climate on Earth. Concepts include feedback systems and how they influence climate, how climate change in the past is used to understand recent climate changes, and climate change in the future. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101 or GEOG 100.

GEOS 313 GEOMORPHOLOGY (3-V-4)(S). Study of surface processes (physical, chemical, and biological) and landforms. Includes weathering, erosion, fluvial, glacial, coastal and aeolian processes and landforms, history of landform evolution, and climatic and tectonic controls. Field trips and overnight trip required. PREREQ: GEOS 200. PRE/COREQ: GEOS 242.

GEOS 314 STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY (3-3-4)(S). Fundamentals of descriptive, kinematic, and dynamic analysis of structures within the Earth’s crust, and a theoretical treatment of stress and strain. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 200, MATH 143 and MATH 144.

GEOS 315 SEDIMENTATION AND STRATIGRAPHY (3-V-4)(F). The study of the transportation and deposition of sediments and their depositional environments. Emphasis is placed on the identification and correlation of sedimentary facies and on basin analysis. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 313. COREQ: GEOS 300 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 316 (CE 316) HYDROLOGY (3-0-3)(F). Interdisciplinary earth science concerned with movement and occurrence of water. Watershed based hydrologic phenomena including hydrologic water-cycle analysis, precipitation, evapotranspiration, snow/snowmelt, streamflow, floods, routing and surface runoff events. Application of analytical techniques to solve water resource problems. May be taken for GEOS or CE credit, but not in more than one department. PREREQ: GEOS 212 and MATH 175, or PERM/INST.

GEOS 324 PETROGRAPHY (0-3-1)(S). Principles of optical mineralogy and a study of igneous and metamorphic rocks in thin section utilizing the polarizing microscope. The origins and histories of rocks are interpreted by examining their mineral assemblages, textures, fabrics, and alteration. PREREQ: GEOS 300. COREQ: GEOS 345.

GEOS 330 QUATERNARY GEOCHRONOLOGY (3-0-3)(F/S). Examine the methods used to establish the timing, duration and rates of geological and geoarchaeological events and processes within the last approximately two million years of Earth history, historically referred to as the Quaternary system or period. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101; COREQ: GEOS 200 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 343 APPLIED GEOPHYSICS (3-0-3)(S). Geophysical methods applied to the investigation of the subsurface, including instrumentation, data acquisition and reduction, survey design, and interpretation of data. Includes applications of seismic, gravimetric, magnetic, thermal, electrical, and electromagnetic techniques. Applications to energy and mineral exploration, as well as engineering design and construction. PREREQ: MATH 275, PHYS 212 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 345 IGNEOUS AND METAMORPHIC PETROLOGY (2-2-3)(S). Igneous and metamorphic rocks, emphasizing the physical and chemical processes that control their formation. PREREQ: CHEM 112. COREQ: GEOS 324.

GEOS 350 (GEOG 350) GEOLOGY AND GEOGRAPHY OF NATIONAL PARKS (3-0-3)(F)(Even years). Systematic examination of the distinguishing physical environments and issues that define and face national parks. Learning goals include improved skills in scientific literature research, and written and oral communication. PREREQ: GEOG 100 or GEOS 100 or GEOS 101 or GEOS 102.

GEOS 351 INVERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY (2-3-3)(Offered as justified). The study of the invertebrate phyla represented in the fossil record. Special emphasis is placed on hardpart morphology, ontogeny, phylogeny, and taxonomy of geologically important groups. Laboratory work based on standard collections. Special project. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 102.

GEOS 365 YELLOWSTONE GEOPHYSICS (2-2-3)(F)(Even years). Focus on seismology, gravity, deformation, and heat flow of the Yellowstone System and Snake River Plain. Tectonism and volcanism of the dynamic Intermountain West. A four-day long weekend field trip to Yellowstone in September is required. Labs include computer-based modeling exercises and will focus on geophysical problems related to Yellowstone and Idaho. PREREQ: GEOS 200, GEOS 220, and MATH 175.

GEOS 370 (GEOG 370) VOLCANOES AND SOCIETY (3-0-3)(F)(Odd years). Impact of volcanic eruptions on human societies in the past and ways that potentially dangerous volcanoes are being studied and monitored today. Aimed at teachers and others interested in the topic; no background in geology is required. This course may be taken for GEOG or GEOS credit, but not both.

GEOS 410 OPTICAL MINERALOGY (1-3-2)(F)(Offered as justified). A study of the behavior of light in crystals and the use of the polarizing microscope in the examination and identification of minerals in immersion media and thin sections. PREREQ: GEOS 324.

GEOS 411 HYDROLOGY: LAND-ATMOSPHERE INTERACTION (3-0-3)(F). Introduction to the hydrologic cycle and connections between the land surface and atmosphere. Atmospheric circulation, global hydrologic budget, atmospheric radiation, meteorology and climatology of rainfall, snow processes, surface energy and moisture balance, turbulent fluxes, and modeling and remote sensing. PREREQ: PHYS 111 or PHYS 211, MATH 175 and GEOS 212.

GEOS 412 (CE 412) HYDROLOGY: FLOW IN GEOLOGIC SYSTEMS (3-0-3)(S). Introduction to the hydrologic cycle focusing on subsurface water and its relationship to surface water. Physics of flow through porous media, physical properties of aquifer systems, methods to determine aquifer characteristics, groundwater modeling and relationships between groundwater and streamflow. May be taken for either CE or GEOS credit, but not both. PREREQ: PHYS 111 or PHYS 211, MATH 175 and GEOS 212 or CE 330 or ME 330.

GEOS 414 ADVANCED STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY (2-3-3)(F)(Alternate years). A study of the geometric properties of deformed rocks, their measurement, and analysis. Course will emphasize structural analysis of folded and faulted terrains and metamorphic tectonics, mapping procedures, map interpretation, and data analysis. Study will include review and comparison of tectonic styles of deformation of different geologic provinces throughout North America. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 314.

GEOS 415 ADVANCED STRATIGRAPHY (3-0-3)(Offered as justified). Study of the formation and evolution of sedimentary basins; emphasis on the concepts and qualitative and quantitative tools necessary to understand how sedimentary basins are formed, their specific stratigraphic architectures, and on modern approaches to correlation. PREREQ: GEOS 315. COREQ: GEOS 314.

GEOS 419 BOREHOLE GEOPHYSICS (2-3-3)(Offered as justified). Principles of geophysical, geological, and hydrological measurements in boreholes with emphasis on applications to hydrogeology and petroleum geology. Geological interpretation and formation evaluation of conventional petroleum industry well logs. Integration of borehole geophysics, seismic reflection data, and geology for water resource studies and petroleum exploration. PRE/COREQ: GEOS 343.

GEOS 420 GEOPHYSICAL APPLICATIONS OF DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING (2-3-3)(F). Review of digital linear system theory. Digital representation of geophysical data. Geophysical applications of convolution, fast-Fourier transform (FFT), correlations, least squares filters, deconvolution, multi-channel, and two-dimensional operations. Emphasis is on processing of seismic reflection data, potential field maps, and earthquake seismograms. Computer laboratory exercises. PREREQ: GEOS 343, MATH 333.

GEOS 421 ORE DEPOSITS (1-3 credits)(Offered as justified). Modern theories of ore deposition, the origin and migration of ore-bearing fluids, the processes of alteration and secondary enrichment, the controls of ore occurrence, and the economics of exploration, development and use of ores. Labs consist of detailed studies of ore and alteration suites using hand specimens and transmitted and reflected-light microscopy. Field trips required. PREREQ: GEOS 300.

GEOS 422 DATA ANALYSIS AND GEOSTATISTICS (3-0-3)(F). Review of basic statistics to cover traditional and recent data analysis techniques, with a focus on spatial datasets. Parametric and non-parametric probability density functions, monte-carlo and bootstrap resampling, and principal component analysis. GIS software with focus on using quantitative geostatistical techniques for spatial interpolation and analysis, such as variogram modeling, kriging, and co-kriging. Some experience with programming recommended. PREREQ: MATH 175.

GEOS 423 ADVANCED GEOMORPHOLOGY(3-0-3)(F/S). Advanced study of Quaternary dating methods, applications of geomorphology to environmental problems, mapping and landscape analysis using GIS, soils, geomorphic response to Quaternary climate change, and climatic, tectonic and autocyclic controls on geomorphic processes. Field trips and a field-based research project required. PREREQ: GEOS 313 and GEOG 360.

GEOS 425 WHOLE EARTH GEOCHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(F). Basic tools and topics of modern geochemistry with an emphasis on solid-earth applications. Essentials of thermodynamics, kinetics, radiogenic and stable isotopes, and trace element chemistry necessary to study Earth processes in the crust, mantle, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Completion of or co-enrollment in MATH 175 is recommended. PREREQ: GEOS 300, CHEM 112, MATH 170.

GEOS 426 (CE 426) AQUEOUS GEOCHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(F). Basic tools and topics of aqueous geochemistry with an emphasis on low temperature process in natural waters Essentials of thermodynamics, kinetics, aqueous speciation, mineral-water interaction, and elemental cycling in the context of surficial earth processes and environmental challenges. Completion of or co-enrollment in Math 175 is recommended May be taken for CE or GEOS credit, but not both PREREQ: CHEM 112, MATH 170.

GEOS 429 FIELD HYDROGEOLOGY (0-3-2)(Offered as justified). Field observations and data collection at applied projects in the area. Water-well design and construction, geologic data collection from drill holes, borehole geophysics, well testing, operation of municipal water systems, water rights, and water quality considerations. PRE/COREQ: GEOS 412 or PERM/INST.

GEOS 431 PETROLEUM GEOLOGY (2-3-3)(F)(Offered as justified). A study of the nature and origin of petroleum, the geologic conditions that determine its migration, accumulation and distribution, and methods and techniques for prospecting and developing.

GEOS 441 PLATE TECTONICS (3-0-3)(F/S)(Offered as justified). Reviews and identifies geologic and geophysical foundations of plate tectonic theory and characteristics of modern tectonic environments and their use in interpreting Earth’s geologic history. PREREQ: GEOS 314.

GEOS 451 PRINCIPLES OF SOIL SCIENCE (3-0-3)(F/S)(Offered as justified). Physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of soils, the factors that govern soil formation, soils as a tool for interpreting landscape evolution and climatic change, and the feedbacks among geologic, hydrologic, and ecologic systems that influence pedogenesis. Demonstration laboratory exercises and field trips will be required. Background in geology and chemistry encouraged. PREREQ: GEOS 300 and GEOS 313, or PERM/INST.

GEOS 455 GRAVIMETRIC AND MAGNETIC METHODS (2-2-3)(F/S). Comprehensive discussion of modern gravimetric and magnetic methods of subsurface investigation. Applications to exploration geology (mining and petroleum), engineering geology, hydrogeology, and crustal geology. PREREQ: GEOS 343. PRE/COREQ: MATH 333.

GEOS 460 VOLCANOLOGY (3-0-3)(F)(Offered as justified). A study of volcanic processes and the deposits of volcanic eruptions. Emphasis is on the origin and interpretation of the physical features observed in volcanic rocks. Field trip required. PREREQ: GEOS 345.

GEOS 462 ELECTRICAL AND ELECTROMAGNETIC METHODS (2-2-3)(F/S). Comprehensive discussion of modern electrical and electromagnetic methods of subsurface investigation, including ground penetrating radar. Applications to exploration geology (mining and petroleum), engineering geology, hydrogeology and crustal geology. PREREQ: GEOS 343. PRE/COREQ: MATH 333.

GEOS 465 SEISMIC METHODS (2-2-3)(F/S). Comprehensive discussion of modern seismic methods of subsurface investigation. Applications to exploration geology (mining and petroleum), engineering geology, hydrogeology, and crustal geology. PREREQ: GEOS 343. PRE/COREQ: MATH 333.

GEOS 466 SNOW AND ICE PHYSICS (3-0-3)(S)(Even years). Physics of water in its solid form at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Micro-scale processes including formation of solid precipitation, deposition, metamorphism, sublimation, melt, transition to firn, and ice deformation. Medium-scale processes including snow redistribution, energy balance, stratigraphy, slope stability, and avalanche dynamics. Large-scale processes including snowmelt, regional avalanche forecasting, glacier/ice sheet hydrology, dynamics, ice core studies, permafrost and sea ice. PREREQ: MATH 175.

GEOS 467 SNOW SCIENCE FIELD METHODS (0-3-2)(S). Introduction to traditional and cutting-edge methods for measuring snow properties for snow hydrology and avalanche applications. Weekly hands-on measurements in nearby Dry Creek and Reynolds Creek Experimental Watersheds to monitor snow conditions during the winter and spring. PREREQ: PERM/INST.

GEOS 470 (GEOG 470) EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE AND GLOBAL WARMING (3-0-3)(F/S). Survey of interactions among physical biogeochemical processes involved in climate and climate feed back. Explore global warming scenarios for the next century and their reliability. This course may be taken for GEOG or GEOS credit, but not both. PREREQ: GEOS 201 or GEOG 331.

GEOS 471 FIELD SEMINAR (1-3 credits)(F/S). Field trips and field exercises to study geology of selected localities in North America. Review of pertinent literature and maps, recording of geologic observations, and the preparation of a comprehensive report on the geology of the areas visited. May be repeated for credit. PREREQ: GEOS 200 and PERM/INST.

GEOS 472 ISOTOPE GEOCHEMISTRY AND GEOCHRONOLOGY (3-0-3)(F/S). Comprehensive overview of theory, methods, and applications of isotope geochemistry and geochronology to a wide range of earth science problems. PREREQ: GEOS 425.

GEOS 480 RESEARCH IN GEOSCIENCES (1-3 credits)(F/S). Individual research project carried out by the student in collaboration with and directed by a supervising member of the Geoscience faculty. May be repeated for up to 6 credits maximum. PREREQ: GEOS 100 or GEOS 101; COREQ: GEOS 200 or GEOS 212 and PERM/INST.

GEOS 482 GEOLOGY SUMMER FIELD CAMP (0-0-6)(SU). Study of geology in its natural environment – the field. Geologic mapping, collection, plotting and analysis of data and mapping on aerial photograph and topographic base to solve field problems. Student should expect to be in the field 8-10 hours per day, 6 days per week for 4 weeks. Final product is professional quality comprehensive geologic report, map, and cross-section. PREREQ: PERM/INST.

GEOS 486 GEOSCIENCES CAPSTONE (3-6 credits)(Offered as justified). Student-specific research or field project in the geosciences. Student initiated proposals for the course must be approved prior to initiation of work. PREREQ: PERM/INST.

GEOS 493 INTERNSHIP (4-6 credits)(F,S,SU).

GEOS 495 SENIOR THESIS (4-6 credits)(F,S,SU). Research study involving an original investigation in geoscience, carried out independently, but supervised by one or more faculty members. Problem must be well-stated and method of study designed to give a conclusive result. PREREQ: senior standing and PERM/INST.

GEOS 498 GEOSCIENCES SENIOR SEMINAR (2-0-2)(S)(FF). Culminating capstone experience to prepare for professional life in the geosciences. Practice evaluating, synthesizing, and presenting information from scientific literature through individual and group assignments. Assessment of achievement of programing learning goals. PREREQ: Geophysics, Geosciences, or Earth Science Education major with senior standing.

Geosciences Programs