David Marchetti

Western State College of Colorado
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


An upper level geology course on geomorphology and surficial processes and deposits.

Course URL:
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Course Context:

This is an upper level geology course required for the geology major. The class is also taken by environmental studies majors who have an emphasis in water resources. The class has prerequisites of a general chemistry class and introductory physical geology. There is a required three hour lab and multi-day field trip.

Course Goals:

  • Students should be able to interpret surficial geology from topographic maps, air photos, DEMs and satellite images.
  • Students should be able to collect meaningful geomorphic field data and interpret and present that data using spreadsheet programs like Excel and drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator.
  • Students should be able to suggest appropriate quaternary dating methods to different quaternary deposits.
  • Students should be able to devise and solve simple quantitative problems that give insight into rates and styles of surficial processes.

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

The labs focus on most of the above goals. Problem sets provide practice formulating and solving problems. Lectures give the academic background on various aspects of geomorphology (rivers, glaciers, mass movement, etc) that provide intellectual context to the listed goals.

Skills Goals

  • Oral communication - students give a short presentation on a geomorphology related topic based on researching several journal articles.
  • Critically reading the literature -- as a class we read and discuss several geomorphology related journal articles throughout the semester.

Attitudinal Goals

  • Improving quantitative skills
  • Developing a sense of the multi-discipline nature of geomorphology


  • Quality and completeness of lab assignments
  • Several exams on lecture materials
  • A lab final on map and air photo skills
  • Problem sets
  • Quality and effectiveness of a class presentation


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 139kB Apr29 08)