GEOL 4821: Environmental Geophysics

Samuel T. Peavy

Georgia Southwestern State University
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


An upper-level elective course in geophysics for geology majors with environmental applications.

Course URL:
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division, elective course for the Geology Major with prerequisites of Precalculus and Introductory Geosciences II. The course consists of 3 hours of lecture and one 2-hour lab per week, with a "working" field trip.

Course Goals:

  1. The student will be able to identify which geophysical methods are being used to solve environmental problems.
  2. The student will be able to associate different geophysical methods with the particular problems to which the methods are best suited.
  3. The student will be able to analyze and integrate the physical theory, field methodology, and interpretation of each method with geologic and engineering information to solve problems using real data sets.
  4. The students will learn to work with each other to solve a real world environmental problem in the field, and then present their results to the "client".
  5. The student will be able to summarize and critique recent publications in the fields of engineering and environmental geophysics.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The lecture presentations along with the lab exercises are designed to help the student understand the various methods employed to solve environmental and engineering problems, and to give them experience in data collection and analysis for some of those methods.

In addition, the students will have to work together in a group project, writing a response to an RFB for an environmental project and then going out on the "working field trip" to collect data. They will then have to write a report and make a presentation to the "client" (me!).

Finally, they will have to read 5 articles each and write summaries of these articles for a grade. The summaries are kept in a notebook and the students are asked about the papers on their next exam.

Skills Goals

Of the above, I would think that writing skills (lab reports and group project report), and learning to work effectively in a group (the group project) are two of the more important things (other than a basic knowledge of geophysics) they should get from the course.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The writing of formal lab reports with a style similar to reports they might have to write in a work environment helps to acheive the writing goal. The group work goal is acheived through the group project and its resulting report and presentation.

Attitudinal Goals

The main thing is to introduce the student to concepts and applications of geophysics to solving environmental and engineering problems.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

The course is designed to give them the background knowledge and practice using several methods in order to encourage them to think about the utility of geophysics in the solution to problems of an environmental nature.


I look at knowledge content through exam grades. I look at writing through the reading of lab reports. I use the lab reports to look at their analytical abilities and their summaries of pubications as a measure of their ability to critically evaluate information and summarize it. Finally, I look at their ability to interact and subdivide tasks in a group environment by giving them a group project where they have to write a work proposal, perform the work, analyze the data, write a report and make a presentation.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 48kB Jun19 07)

Other Materials (Microsoft Word PRIVATE FILE 36kB Jun19 07)

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