Geology Department


Courses of Study

[GE111]    Geology of National Parks U.S. national parks and monuments will provide the focus for an introduction to basic geologic processes, including plate tectonics, geologic time, weathering and erosion, volcanism, earthquakes, caverns, shorelines, and the rock cycle. After an introduction to the regional geology of the United States, the focus will shift to the parks and monuments within these regions. Students will become aware of aspects of physical and historical geology, regional geography, environmental issues, the aesthetics of nature, and the interactive processes that have shaped the country. A field trip to Acadia National Park is included. Lecture only. Three credit hours. N.
GE141fs    Earth and Environment The geosciences encompass the study of the Earth, its formation, its history, the processes that continue to shape it today, and our interaction with it. Students learn (1) how Earth processes operate, how they shape the environment we live in, and how they can affect people; (2) where Earth resources come from, the impacts of using these resources, and how we can reduce these impacts; and (3) the methods we use to understand these processes and impacts. Additionally, the course improves students' critical-thinking and data-analysis skills. Four credit hours. N, Lb. Dunn, Rueger
GE142s    Deep Time Planet Earth Focuses on the conceptual foundations for understanding Earth systems—lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere—over the past 4.6 billion years. An appreciation will be gained for deep time, sedimentary systems, fossils, and evolutionary theory as manifested on a planet that has witnessed dramatic changes over Earth's history. Case studies include primary literature to gain insight into the interrelated nature of Earth systems and how these have shaped our current state. Includes both theoretical and practical experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and field, culminating in a required weekend field trip designed to apply components of all experiences. Credit cannot be earned for both this course and Geology 146. Prerequisite: Geology 141. Four credit hours. N, Lb. Gastaldo
[GE151]    Introduction to Volcanoes and Volcanology Volcanoes have been critical in the formation of the Earth, our atmosphere, and oceans and remain integral factors in the lives of billions around the globe. Students learn (1) how Earth processes operate, how volcanic processes shaped local, regional, and global environments, and how they affected human history and will affect humankind in the future; (2) methods scientists use to understand these processes and impacts; and (3) that despite potential destruction of human infrastructure, volcanic eruptions produce benefits too. Students who have already received credit for GE141 cannot subsequently receive credit for GE151; students taking GE151 in January, however, are not barred from subsequently taking GE141 for credit. Three credit hours. N.
GE225f    Mineralogy Introduces students to the methods geologists use to identify minerals and the geologic environments in which they form. Students will gain experience using the petrographic microscope, powder X-ray diffractometer, and scanning electron microscope to identify major rock-forming minerals. Students will develop interpersonal, critical-thinking, and communication skills that enable them to discuss the chemical and physical processes controlling mineral formation. Concepts learned serve as the foundation for subsequent upper-level geology courses. Prerequisite: Geology 141, 142, or 146, and Chemistry 131, 141, or 147 (may be taken concurrently). Four credit hours. Dunn
GE231s    Structural Geology Structural geologists study the geometry of geologic structures such as faults and folds, how these structures form, their significance to the geologic history of an area, and their relationship to plate-tectonic motions. Enables students to (1) evaluate a suite of geologic structures to draw conclusions about their formation and significance, (2) apply basic structural-analysis techniques to solve problems in a variety of geoscience disciplines, and (3) develop the three-dimensional thinking skills needed to evaluate subsurface geology using two-dimensional, surficial data sets. Aims to improve students' graphical and written-communication, data-collection, and recording skills. Prerequisite: Geology 141, 142, or 146. Four credit hours. N. Sullivan
[GE242]    Hydrogeology Examines the fundamental principles of hydrogeology and introduces geophysical techniques (surface and borehole) used to investigate flow through the subsurface. Designed to provide the tools necessary to understand and characterize groundwater systems. Topics include the hydraulic properties of rocks, aquifer storage and subsidence, flow potential, analysis of pumping tests conducted in water wells, and interpretation of geophysical field data. Includes lecture, homework from textbook, oral presentation, and analysis of a variety of geophysical logs. Previously listed as Geology 297 (Jan Plan 2014 and 2015). Prerequisite: Geology 141 or 146, and Mathematics 121, 122, or 161. Three credit hours.
[GE254]    Principles of Geomorphology Geomorphology is the study of the Earth and all its surficial expression and the continuing evolution of the planet as climate-dictated surface processes seek to remold the underlying solid Earth. Students learn the processes at work in the breakdown of rocks into soils and how mountains, valleys, and all the other myriad landforms of the Earth originated. They will become familiar with the processes that result in mass-wasting events such as landslides, how streams constantly change the environment, and how wind is active in desert environments and elsewhere; they will come to appreciate the significance of glaciers in the geologic history of Maine and North America, and how coastal processes affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Through understanding of the processes at play in these systems, interpretations of the origin of extraterrestrial landforms also becomes possible as well. Prerequisite: Geology 141, 142, or 146. Four credit hours. N.
GE256f    Sedimentation and Stratigraphy A module-based course in which students learn how to apply sedimentary rocks to interpreting Earth's stratigraphic record and develop a fundamental understanding of sediments and resulting rock types found in Earth's sedimentary successions. Modules include (1) the analysis of drill cores from coastal deposits in the Carboniferous of Alabama, (2) field and laboratory analysis of Silurian-Devonian carbonate sequences in New York State, and (3) an exercise in which the principles of sequence stratigraphy will be modeled. Students will learn to evaluate the sedimentary rock record over space and time using currently accepted approaches and models. Previously listed as Geology 356. Prerequisite: Geology 141, 142, or 146. Four credit hours. W2. Gastaldo
GE262s    Earth's Climate: Past, Present, and Future Takes a systems approach to studying Earth's climate by linking the primary systems operating at Earth's surface, i.e., lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere. Explores the mechanisms that shape environmental evolution across a range of time scales, including the role of humans, and uses past (paleo) records of change to place modern climate change in geological context. Students will engage with material through problem sets, data analysis, interactive lectures, primary literature synthesis, and writing. Laboratory projects will provide hands-on opportunities to develop local records of past environmental change. Prerequisite: Geology 141. Four credit hours. N. Koffman
GE279j    Geology of Bermuda Students will learn how the island of Bermuda, subjected to a variety of geologic processes, has evolved over the past two million years. They will be exposed to the scientific method and how geologists study the Earth, its materials, and its processes. During field and laboratory observations, students will investigate how organisms, including humans, and sedimentary processes have shaped Bermuda; how sediment is formed, moved, consolidated, and lithified; and the interrelationships between geology and biology. They will gain an appreciation of the complexities of living on an island and the anthropogenic impacts on a fragile ecosystem. Cost in 2018: $2,700. Prerequisite: Geology 131, 141, 142, or 146. Three credit hours. Rueger
[GE331]    Plate Tectonics Primary-literature-synthesis course that guides students through the topic of plate tectonics from the development of the theory to some modern-day theories on crustal growth and plate-boundary processes. Students will be able to (1) piece together a broad-scale interpretation of the evolution of a plate boundary using data and interpretations gleaned from the primary scientific literature and (2) use basic thermochronologic, geophysical, geological, and geospatial data sets to interpret plate boundaries. Improving students' verbal and written communication skills while providing an experience in accessing, reading, and assimilating scientific literature. Prerequisite: Geology 231. Four credit hours.
[GE332]    Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Teaches students to identify igneous and metamorphic rocks and to understand the physical and chemical processes responsible for their formation. Students learn how to use and evaluate a variety of data sets, and they develop skills using a petrographic microscope and the scanning electron microscope (SEM). They also develop interpersonal, critical-thinking, and communication skills that enable them to discuss petrologic processes in the broader geologic context of tectonic setting. Prerequisite: Geology 225. Four credit hours.
GE335f    Geologic Field Methods Students will learn how to conduct and manage multi-day geologic mapping projects; use field observations and data to interpret the geologic history of different environments in Maine; produce detailed geologic reports based on surface geology; and hone their written, graphical, and interpersonal communication skills. Includes two required weekend-long field trips in September and October. Prerequisite: Geology 231. Four credit hours. W2. Sullivan
[GE351]    The Record of Life on Earth Using original research as an educational platform, students learn how to acquire and assess scientific data, to reference and synthesize primary literature, and to justify their arguments and conclusions in both written and oral forms. Provides a greater understanding of the processes responsible for a fossil record, its classification, the use of these data in evolutionary theory, the dynamics of individuals and populations or organisms over space and time, and the application of paleontological data to understanding ecological response to climate change, perturbation, and extinction mechanisms. Lecture only. Previously listed as Geology 251. Prerequisite: Geology 141, 142, 146, or one year of biology. Three credit hours. N.
[GE354]    Glacial and Quaternary Geology An understanding of the causes of glaciation, mechanics of glacier formation, flow and transport, the resulting sedimentary facies and landforms (both erosional and depositional), and the history of glaciation on a North American and global scale. In the latter half of the course, students delve into the professional literature to come to understand the broad outline of what is known of the glacial history of Maine; multiple field trips are taken to key localities where students can experience and study sites and features covered in readings and classroom discussions. Prerequisite: Geology 254. Four credit hours.
GE363f    Paleoceanography This primary literature synthesis course examines past global change through the lens of the marine sedimentary record. Students explore the major physical and geochemical proxies used in paleoceanographic research and focus on understanding the major scientific questions addressed, methods and instrumentation used, and advantages and limitations of each proxy tool. Students also develop critical thinking skills through the interpretation of primary datasets and literature, and improve their written and oral presentation skills through communicating scientific findings. Prerequisite: Chemistry 131 or 141 or 147; and Geology 141; and one of Chemistry 217, Environmental Studies 276, or Geology 225, 231, 254, or 256. Four credit hours. Koffman
[GE378]    Geologic Environments in the Marine Realm An understanding of marine depositional environments in a variety of settings from shallow shelf to abyssal plain and from near shore to open ocean. Also, an analysis of sediment production by weathering and erosion, marine invertebrates, and seawater to interpret depositional environment. Includes an understanding of the formation of ocean basins and marine topographic features and of the oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns on the transport of sediment in the marine realm. Anthropogenic impact on the ocean environment will also be considered. Prerequisite: Biology 163, Environmental Studies 118, Geology 141, 142, or 146. Three credit hours. N.
[GE381]    Planetary Geology Explores the geological evolution of the planets, satellites, and materials that make up our solar system. Using Earth as an analog, students will study geological processes, such as volcanism, tectonism, and impact cratering, on other planetary bodies. They will learn how to utilize a variety of remote-sensing data sets to interpret the geologic history of planetary bodies. Students will also develop problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. Prerequisite: Geology 225. Four credit hours.
GE391fs    Geology Seminar Paper discussions and presentations from invited guest lecturers on topics of current interest in all areas of the geosciences. Majors must complete three seminars during their course of study. Nongraded. One credit hour. Gastaldo, Sullivan
GE483j    Senior Honors Project A culminating, research-intensive experience in which students engage in an original project with the expectation that results will be of significantly high caliber to warrant publication after review by committee. The final written report will be in a selected journal format, and project results will be presented formally in a professional context. Students should consult with major advisors during their junior year to learn about on-campus and off-campus opportunities and experiences that can be used in preparation for undertaking an honors program. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Three or four credit hours. Faculty
GE491f, 492s    Independent Study Independent research experience supervised by a faculty member. Research projects earning three or more credit hours over one or more semesters require a final written report and a formal presentation in a professional setting. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. One to four credit hours. Faculty
[GE493]    Problems in Geosciences: Applied Research This directed-research course will engage students in evaluation of a significant geologic problem. Topics and prerequisites will vary depending on which instructor is offering the course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Four credit hours.
GE494s    Topics in Extraterrestrial Geology A capstone experience in which students explore a cutting-edge scientific topic in great depth. Students will hone skills introduced throughout the geology and geoscience majors including assimilating, analyzing, and interpreting the scientific literature and communicating in writing, orally, and graphically. Students will also gain experience communicating specialized scientific topics to a general audience. During spring 2018, student projects will focus on some aspect of solar system and/or planetary evolution. Prerequisite: Senior standing. Four credit hours. W3. Dunn