Undergraduate Courses

To find courses offered in an upcoming term: go to The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences course database and select Geology from the Arts & Sciences menu.

Key

CG: core course for geology major
CEG: core course for environmental geology major
CES: core course for environmental studies major
EG: elective course for geology major
EEG: elective course for environmental geology major
EES: elective course for environmental studies major
This lab provides a hands-on survey of the fundamentals of physical geology. We introduce the identification and interpretation of rocks and minerals. We use topographic maps, air photos, and satellite images to analyze and understand a variety of dynamic systems, including rivers, groundwater, glaciers, sea coasts, and deserts. Finally, we examine geologic time, structural geology, geologic maps... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Corequisites: GEOL 0800 or GEOL 0820 or GEOL 0860. [CG CEG CES]
Historical geology focuses on the long-term evolution of the Earth. The course begins with the formation of the Earth, traces the origin and growth of the continents, and looks at the interaction between life, the Earth's atmosphere, and global climate. It continues with a strong focus on the many forces and geologic events that have shaped North America. Finally, major episodes in the history of... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055. [CG CEG EES]
Geology is the study of how the Earth works. This class covers the classification and origin of basic rocks and minerals; examines the role of plate tectonics in shaping the Earth and producing such hazards as earthquakes and volcanoes; and examines the forces that shape beaches and rivers and sometimes threaten our lives and property. We also survey the evidence for changing climate and the... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Many of the U.S. and Canadian National Parks are showcases of geology. The student will learn to interpret regional geological history by examining the rock layers exposed within various park areas. The geological development of the North American continent will be developed in the framework of plate tectonic theory and of the physical geological processes that have shaped the landscape into the... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
The geologic, hydrologic and atmospheric processes that impact the human environment in catastrophic ways are examined in this course. Natural Disasters focuses on how normal Earth processes can concentrate energy to deal devastating blows to humans and their structures. Topics covered include, energy cycles, plate tectonics, and focused studies of the following hazards: earthquakes, volcanic... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
This class is an interdisciplinary introduction to the science underlying environmental issues.  Focusing on the principles of geology, biology, and chemistry and in their application to human impacts on the environment, strategies for sustainable management of environment and natural resources, and global change.
Number of Credits: 3
This course takes an integrated Earth systems approach to understanding our planet and its resources. We will investigate geologic processes and hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, weather hazards), geologic resources (water, soil, minerals, energy) and the local and global ramifications of human interaction with the Earth (e.g., air, soil and water pollution, ozone depletion, and... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
A survey of our solar system designed for students without technical or mathematical backgrounds. This course examines the historical development of knowledge of our place in the universe, the various bodies that make up the planetary system, including planets, satellites, asteroids and comets, how they were formed, and the factors that control the nature of their surfaces and atmospheres. Of... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
"Either we are alone or we are not; either way is mind-boggling" (Dubridge). The purpose of this course is to give students a sufficient scientific background for an informed discussion of whether intelligent creatures are likely to exist elsewhere in the Universe, where such creatures might be found, what they might be like, and how we might contact them. Like the newly created field of... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
The world’s oceans play a central role in the Earth’s climate system and in supporting a stunning diversity of life.  We will survey the oceans and sea floor, examine the important chemical properties of sea water, and then consider the forces that drive the vast circulation cells of the world's oceans.  We will then see what factors control the overall biological productivity of the oceans and... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Physics and chemistry of minerals. Includes physical properties, crystal chemistry, crystal structure and symmetry, mineral identification using a petrographic microscope, and the processes of mineral formation and breakdown. A required course for Geology and Environmental Geology majors.Offered every fall term. Lecture 2 hours; laboratory 3 hours.
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055 and CHEM 0110. [CG CEG EES]
A lecture and laboratory course concerned with a study of the origin, occurrence, identification, and classification of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The primary purpose of the course is to familiarize the student with the physical and chemical processes that control the formation of the main rock types. The main lecture topics are the distribution of igneous and metamorphic rocks, the... Read More
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 1001. [CG EEG]
Geology colloquium is open to undergraduate students in geology and planetary science. It is a formalization of the seminar series with weekly guest speakers from industry, academia and government. Each seminar will focus on a different research topic in earth sciences describing on-going projects of interest to students. The course may be taken multiple times.Offered every fall and spring term.... Read More
Number of Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Sedimentology is the study of the erosion, transport, and deposition of sediment in rivers, deltas, beaches, and many other sedimentary environments.  Our understanding of modern deposits is used to recognize their ancient equivalents in the sedimentary record.  Near the end of the semester we will use the principles of sequence stratigraphy to understand how long-term changes in sea level and... Read More
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055. Cross-listed with ANTH 1520. [CG CEG EES]
Warming of the climate system is now evident from observations of increases in surface air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of glaciers and ice caps, and shrinking Arctic sea ice extent. Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures is very likely due to the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations associated with human activities (e.g., agriculture, industry... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
A statistics course geared toward environmental science and geology majors with an emphasis on applying data analysis and statistical techniques to environmental data. Topics will include: visualizing data, summary statistics, correlation, selected parametric statistics (t-tests, general linear models), selected non-parametric methods, statistical inference, and experimental design.
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: MATH 0120 or 0125 or 0220
This course shall provide an Earth systems science overview of the processes that govern the hydrologic cycle including precipitation, evapotranspiration, runoff and discharge, infiltration, and groundwater. The course shall emphasize the movement of water through the atmosphere, over the land surface, and within the unsaturated and saturated zones.
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: (GEOL 0800 or 0820 or 0840) and (MATH 0120 or 0220)
This course serves as an introduction to physical and chemical processes controlling movement and composition of groundwater. The course will emphasize both theoretical (e.g., derivation of governing equations from first principals) and practical aspects (e.g., tools for characterizing groundwater contamination) of groundwater. Most of the class will be devoted toward physical process in geologic... Read More
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055 and CHEM 0110 and MATH 0220 or consent of instructor. [CEG EG EES]
The goal of this course is to present an overview of the methods used to reconstruct the earth's climate history and the techniques used to determine the timing of environmental changes. Paleoclimate data from proxy records, such as ice cores or tree rings, provides a longer perspective on climatic variability than is possible from instrumental or historical records. Particular emphasis will be... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: GEOL 0800, 0820, or 0860. [EG EEG EES]
This course examines the interrelationships among environmental science, ethics, and policy. It covers such topics as origin and development of the environmental movement, environmental values and attitudes, enactment and mechanics of environmental regulations and statutes, environmental economics and politics, and future environmental scenarios. The various socio-economic, legal, and political... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
This course examines the interrelationships among environmental science, ethics, and policy. It covers such topics as origin and development of the environmental movement, environmental values and attitudes, enactment and mechanics of environmental regulations and statutes, environmental economics and politics, and future environmental scenarios. The various socio-economic, legal, and political... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: MIN CUM GPS 3.25 . [CES]
A lecture and laboratory course involving examination of terrestrial landforms and the surficial processes which shape them. Fluvial, Coastal, Aeolian, Glacial and Volcanic settings will be examined with emphasis on landforms that have developed in the last 10,000 years of earth history. This course is of particular interest to those majoring in geology, anthropology and engineering. Offered... Read More
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055. [EG EEG EES]
An introduction to basic geologic structures, including the development of folds, faults, joints, and foliation. The use of these structures in geologic mapping, and their interpretation in terms of structural geometry will be covered. The concepts of stress and strain will also be introduced. These basic concepts will be integrated into a study of the evolution of mountain belts.Offered every... Read More
Number of Credits: 4
Prerequisites: GEOL 0055. Corequisites: GEOL 1020 and GEOL 1003. [CG CEG]
"Nothing endures but change." We cannot understand the world we live in, nor any of a host of predicted future trends, without exploring the past. That's where paleontology comes in - the fossil record provides a wealth of insight into the evolution (and revolution) of life on earth. In this class we will explore both the methods and the limitations of using fossils to interpret past environments... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: MIN CUM GPS 3.25
Dramatic extinction events, shifts in atmospheric and marine chemistry, paleoclimatic upheavals, competition for resources, and other factors have shaped marine life over 3.5 billion years of evolution, and without this context it is impossible to fully understand the oceans today. In this course we will examine the origins of life on earth, important patterns of evolution, paleoecology, and... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
The study of dinosaurs is an inherently interdisciplinary science, incorporating a variety of elements from the fields of geology and biology. Through the lens of these disciplines we will tackle the traditional questions about dinosaurs: what are they? How did they evolve? How diverse were they? What are their evolutionary relationships? Why are they extinct? Additionally, we will explore... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
This course will examine the physical, chemical, and geological aspects of inland waters (lakes, reservoirs, rivers, springs, and wetlands). Specifically, the course will examine the origin and evolution of lakes, the physicochemical properties of fresh and saline waters, watershed hydrology, and the biogeochemical cycling of major elements and nutrients. The course will also explore long-term... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: CHEM 0110 and either GEOL 0055 or GEOL 0800 or instructor's consent. [EG EEG EES]
This course serves as a W-course for environmental studies. We will sample various tools and methods (typical "professional" tasks such as memos and letters, building into comprehensive assignments such as case studies), all while concentrating on how audience and purpose affect communication.Offered every fall and spring term. Lecture 3 hours. Fulfills the "W" requirement for environmental... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Any ENGCMP Course and ENVGEO or ENVSTD or GEOL. [CES]
This class is perfect preparation for undergraduate research or graduate school. It will introduce students to the main scientific journals, how to read and assimilate the scientific literature, discuss how to give oral presentations, and address how to write clear scientific papers. Students will also explore topics of potential interest that they either propose or select from a provided list.
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: GEOL 0060 or 1003 or 1020 or 1030 or 1051 or 1060 or 1515 or 1100 or 1641
HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) is a 40-hour course that promotes awareness of safety and response plans for those who may work with chemical and other hazards in the work-site. Students will learn how hazardous materials are handled and identified; human responses to exposure; learn what to do in case of site emergencies; use appropriate safety methods and work... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
It's true that a little enthusiasm goes a long way in the nonprofit world, but those who get involved need to have real skills if they're going to make a lasting impact. The goal of this course is to introduce students to nonprofit environmental organizations & issues, & to provide them with the tools to effectively participate in & organize environmental campaigns. The course covers... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Sustainability is a term that has many meanings, and we will cover most them in this class, from green rooftops to "green-washing". The class will feature guest speakers from the academic, governmental, nonprofit and business sectors to offer as many perspectives as possible on sustainability topics. The real focus of the class, though, is the development of new and the continuation of existing... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Focus on environmental ethics and its application in real-world context, including the regulatory and policy interface in the public arena. Discusses ethics surrounding national and global environmental issues, consumer choices, and ongoing public debate.Offered once a year. Lecture 3 hours.
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Pittsburgh has had a checkered past when it comes to air quality issues, and faces an uncertain future. Once known as "hell with the lid off" due to industrial emissions, Pittsburgh and its environs once had some of the worst air in the nation. In 1948, a noxious cloud killed 22 in nearby Donora and sickened thousands. But Pittsburgh also became one of the first American cities to pass... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
This is the same as GEOL 1335, but it fulfills the University Writing Requirement.  Pittsburgh has had a checkered past when it comes to air quality issues, and faces an uncertain future. Once known as "hell with the lid off" due to industrial emissions, Pittsburgh and its environs once had some of the worst air in the nation. In 1948, a noxious cloud killed 22 in nearby Donora and sickened... Read More
Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

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