Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > GEOL 1001 Physical Geology

GEOL 1001 Physical Geology

Gary Byerly


Physical Geology examines the physical and chemical processes that operate within Earth's dynamic systems, including the tectonic system responsible for earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain-building, as well as the climate system responsible for many important aspects of Earth's surface and life on it.

Course Type:
Entry Level:Physical Geology Entry Level

Course Size:
greater than 150

Course Format:
Students enroll in separate lecture and lab components. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites. It serves as a prerequisite for other courses for geology majors and minors, but is mainly populated by non-science students using it to satisfy general education requirements. The course has an optional lab. Students who decide to major in geology must take a subsequent course in historical geology.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? no

If students take a "non-majors" course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course? no

Course Content:

The Physical Geology course focuses on six broad themes: 1) Planetary Science, 2) Earth Materials, 3) Tectonics, 4) Time, 5) Resources, and 6) Surface Processes and Hazards.

Course Goals:

Goals for course include developing content knowledge that will allow for the critical examination of the impact of science on social and political issues. In Louisiana this will focus on climate change, land loss, and probably the controversy of creationism.

Course Features:

My intent at the moment is to use the modules in the text (Marshak, Portrait of a Planet) to do Geotours using Google Earth.

Course Philosophy:

It was recommended by a colleague that has successfully used it.


Exam questions will build upon prior content and analysis throughout the semester.

Teaching Materials:

I am just starting to develop materials for Spring – have nothing ready now.

References and Notes:

Text: Marshak (Earth, 3e)

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