Michael Stapleton,
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania


This course will provide a general overview of geochemical systems and their interactions among atmospheric, aqueous, and near surface environments. Complex subjects will be developed gradually beginning with the basics and building. The idea is to give you an understanding of the importance of chemistry in geological and environmental interactions.

Course URL: Restricted
Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

Upper division major (environmental science major required, geology major optional) class. Students must complete one year of General Chemistry, Physical Geology, Historical Geology and Earth Materials. In addition they may have taken one semester of Organic Chemistry and Calc I. Computer lab included in class. Field lab optional.

Course Content:

Low temperature aqueous geochemistry with a focus on chemical equilibrium.

Course Goals:

Discipline-related goals.
Students should be able to;
-understand the importance of pH and Eh in a natural system
-understand the impact of pH and Eh changes on speciation and be able to predict speciation changes
-understand weak acid equilibrium and buffering

Skills goals
-quantitative abilities to set up and solve problems (they are required to use an engineering format for homework assignments
-spreadsheet computer skills to calculate and graph answers
-being confident in ability to answering questions in class
-being confident ask a question about material both in and outside of class

Changes in attitude
-building students' confidence in the application of general chemical principles to environmental systems
-building respectful skepticism in students
-building their confidence that they have the ability solve environmental problems

Course Features:

Weekly homework assignments. Given on Monday, due at the start of class the following Monday (solution set posted at due date and time) and student corrections due at the end of week. Initial and corrected homework are graded and returned the following Monday. Two weeks from assigned to returned. No late homework accepted, but half credit is given for corrections. The focus in on problem solving directly related to lecture content. I ask a lot of questions during the lecture.

Course Philosophy:

It seems to fit my personality and is a very good way to connect with the students while attempting to keep them up-to-date on reading material.


Final Exam, it is cumulative. There are some very basic questions included to judge their understanding of the class over a wide level.


Course Information - Geochemistry (Acrobat (PDF) 131kB Apr25 13)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Eby, G.N. (2004) Principles of Environmental Geochemistry. Thomson Brooks/Cole ISBN 0-122-29061-5, 514 p.
After using several book over the past 16 yrs, this seem to be the best fit for the class.

I have been starting to use articles from Elements Magazine