2023-2024 Catalog


The mission of the Geology major is to foster in students an understanding of the Earth: the processes that affect its surface and interior; its formation and evolution through time; and its functioning as the physical environment for the living world. The major accomplishes this goal by offering to students a set of coordinated experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and field. Geology is an intrinsically interdisciplinary science, drawing upon the tools of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, and environmental science to examine problems that range in scale from a single mineral grain to the entire solar system. Geology majors learn to work together on inquiry-based laboratory and field projects, and each produces a Senior Thesis describing independent research they have undertaken with a faculty mentor. There is a special emphasis on articulating ideas orally, graphically, and in writing, skills that are valuable not only in science but also in the many other careers where geology majors from Occidental have found success. Geology is a global science, and so students who have made progress in the major as sophomores are encouraged to study abroad for a semester during their junior year. The Geology major expresses the Department's commitment to prepare students to excel in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world.

GEO 105 is open to first-year and second-year students only; 200-level courses are open to any student who has completed GEO 105; 300-level courses are intended for junior and senior geology majors and minors; 400-level seminars are for senior majors.