2020-2021 Catalog

GEO 390 Special Topics in Geology

Two- or four-credit advanced courses on specialized topics in Geology. May be taken more than once with department approval as topics vary. 

Paleontology: The Record of Life, Landscapes, and Changing Climate

This course will use the fossil record as a tool to explore the geologic controls on the evolution and extinction of life on earth. From Snowball Earth to the Great American Biotic Interchange, plate tectonics and climate change drive the distribution of life through time. We will examine paleontological and modern ecosystems through classes, labs, and field trips.  Students should have completed GEO105 and at least one 200-level course in biology or geology.


This course will explore the geochemical principles controlling fundamental geologic systems, from the "weathering engine," to the igneous-metamorphic-hydrothermal systems that form and shape planets. This overview of Geochemistry will focus on thermodynamics and kinetics, which allow us to assess these systems with regards to temperature, pressure, and time. Quantitative evaluation of earth processes through geochemical modeling will be conducted using the programs SUPCRT, Visual Minteq, and Geochemist's Workbench (industry standards). Laboratories, workshops, and fieldtrip(s) will reinforce and expand on many of the topics covered in class.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Mathematics/Science