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Field studies, Central California

Becca Walker, Earth Sciences and Astronomy, Mt. San Antonio College
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Field studies of Central California is an introductory field geology course for community college students. Students meet for 3 hours per week of lecture, take one 4-day field trip to the Eastern Sierras to study volcanic and glacial processes, and take one 3-day field trip to Morro Bay to study coastal processes. Major topics include plate tectonics, rock identification, outcrop analysis, map interpretation, volcanic processes, glacial processes, marine taxonomy, and coastal geology, all with an emphasis on Central California.

Course Type:
Entry Level Physical Geology

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites and does not serve as a pre-requisite for other courses. Some science majors enroll, but most students are non-science majors. It is a 4-unit course, with 3 units of lecture and 1 unit of lab (field trips).

Course Goals:

Course Features:

This course has two field trips (7 total field days) during which students apply their knowledge of the geologic history of Central California to observe and interpret outcrops. They keep a field notebook and create a geologic photo journal and sample collection.


Rubrics are used to evaluate the field materials and include identification of geologic features; outcrop-scale observations; detailed and systematic rock descriptions; interpretations; detailed, labeled sketches; and answers to field questions.


syllabus for field studies of Central California (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 106kB May14 12)

References and Notes:

Hill, Geology of the Sierra Nevada. Griggs, Living with the changing California coast.

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