Academics: Earth Science Courses

Geology and Environment (EARTH 1)


Introduction to geology and environment including: human population and sustainability; physical geologic processes; use, pollution and management of water, mineral, and soil resources; process and mitigation of natural hazards; global climate change; waste management; environmental health; and environmental planning.

Principles of Physical Geology (EARTH 2)

Introduction to the science of the Earth; properties and processes of its surface and interior, including plate tectonics, volacanism, earthquakes, glaciation, mountain building, formation of rocks, minerals, and the structural basis of landforms.

Principles of Historical Geology (EARTH 3)

Awramik. Prerequisite: Geology 2 or 4 or 7 or 20.

Antiquity and history of the Earth from an Earth system history approach. Focus is on processes and changes over time of the Earth’s lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere.

Introduction to Oceanography (EARTH 4)

Valentine. Not open for credit to students who have taken Geology 4S or 4W. Course materials fee required.

An introduction to oceanography covering the major physical, chemical, and geological features of the oceans, their role in earth history, and potential use as a natural resource.

Mountains, Boots, and Backpacks: Field Study of the High Sierra (EARTH 6)

Hacker, Burbank. Prerequisites: Not open to freshmen. Minimum 3.0 GPA requirement. Need ability to hike 1-2 hours/day. Fee charged.

Ten-day, off-campus, field-based investigation of faults, volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, and related geologic processes in the Sierra Nevada and nearby mountains. Emphasis on observations; analysis of geologic and environmental field data. Class takes place in September prior to Fall quarter.

Antarctica: The Last Place on Earth (EARTH 10)

Luyendyk. Course materials fee charged. Prerequisites; Geology 2 or 4.

The interrelations of the physical and biological environments on the continent Antarctica; Antarctica as an earth system. Included are studies of tectonic history, global warming, ozone depletion, mineral resources, and the history of scientific exploration of the continent.

Geological Catastrophes (EARTH 20)

Archuleta, Busby. Course materials fee required.

Course deals with geologic catastrophes, e.g., earthquakes, vocanic eruptions, tsunamis, and landslides. Students will learn the basic physicalcauses of these naturally occurring events and discuss the consequences.

The History of Life (EARTH 30)


Examination of the geological and biological processes affecting the evolution of life on Earth from 3.8 billion years ago to the present. Strong emphasis on the nature of the “scientific method” as a way of understanding natural history.

Earth’s Climate: Past and Present (EARTH 105)

Lea and Lisiecki. Prerequisite: Earth/Geology 1 or 2 or 3 or 4. Concurrently offered with GEOL 205.

Description and quantitative analysis of climate processes and paleoclimate proxies. Processes include radiation and the Earth’s energy budget, the influence of orbital cycles, ocean circulation, monsoons, ENSO, and ice sheets. Paleoclimate reconstructions from tectonic-scale to the last millennium, with emphasis on glacial cycles and Plio-Pleistocene climate evolution.

Engineering Geology (EARTH 113)

Keller. Prerequisite: Mathematics 3A-B or 34A-B; and, Physics 1 or 6A or 21; upper-division standing.

Course fee charged.

Application of geologic principles to civil engineering problems. Includes: rock and soil mechanics; landslides; hydrology; earthquakes; and professional practice.

Earth Surface Processes and Landforms (EARTH 117)

Keller. Prerequisites: Geology 1 or 2 or Geography 3B. Additional fieldwork (10 hours) required. Meets writing requirement.

Introduction to the theory of landscape evolution and the study of the processes that create and modify landforms.

Global Warming – Science and Society (EARTH 130)


A beginning life of physical sciences course such as Geography 3A or Geology 4. Introduction to the scientific and societal issues surrounding global climate change. Includes introduction to physical climatology, greenhouse effect, climate history, anthropogenic changes, and future predictions. Student discussion and debate on the potential societal scenarios available to mitigate future climate change.

Petroleum Geology (EARTH 150)

Staff. Prerequisite: Geology 2; and, Geology 14 or 114 or 114A-B. Concurrently offered with Geology 250. Field/Lab, 1 hour. Course material fee required.

Study of petroleum systems including origin, generation, migration, and trapping of hydrocarbons. Guest speakers from industry. Lab includes use of basin analysis software from oil company. Field trip to active petroleum basin in California. Required written report.

Earth System Ocean-Atmosphere (EARTH 164B)

Lea and Valentine. Prerequisite: Chemistry 1C. Geology 4 or equivalent.

An introduction to the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere. Topics include composition of seawater, biogeochemical cycling, sediment chemistry, chemical tracers of circulation, ocean-atmosphere exchange, atmospheric photochemistry and pollution, and the impact of earth system chemical changes on climate.

Earth System History (EARTH 164C)

Staff. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Examination of the evolution of the Earth’s environmental system from Cretaceous to present day; interactions between plate tectonics and orogeny (lithosphere) and changes in ocean circulation (hydrosphere), climate (atmosphere), ice sheets (cryosphere), and life (biosphere). Globalchange theories.

Aqueous Transport of Pollutants (EARTH 168)

Clark. Prerequisite: Mathematics 3B and Chemistry 1A-B-C. Same course as Environmental Studies 168. Geology 113 or 173-173L or Geography 116-116L, or 144 or Environmental Studies 144.

Focus on the behavior of dissolved species in rivers. Examination of the basic advection-diffusion model. Particular emphasis on field data.