Structural Geology and Tectonics

Stephen Hurst

Univ. of Illinois
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


Junior -senior level course introduction to structural geology and tectonics

Course URL:
Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Tectonics, Structural Geology
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Upper (15-16)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Plate Tectonics, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Structural Geology
Course Size:


Course Context:

Upper division required (for majors) course with prerequisites of introductory geology. Has a required 3 hour lab and required 3 day field trip.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to interpret unfamiliar geologic maps and construct cross sections.
Students should be able to write an outcrop description including all relevant structural features.
Students should be able to visualize planes and lines in 3-D, as well as use tools such as steronets to make simple calculations.
Students should be able to recognize in the field all major tectonic structures such as faults, folds, foliations, lineations and make use of them to interpret the geologic history.
Students should understand the concepts of stress and strain and be able to use them in the field to understand the deformation of rocks as shown in the field area.

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

Labs and a field trip to a significantly deformed area are the principle tools for meeting the goals. Lab exercises include interpreting geologic maps, constructing cross-sections, learning how to use stereonets and 3-D visualization aids. Students are tested with open ended essay questions on lecture and book chapters. Lab tests include a map interpretation exercise. Writing skills are tested via Calibrated Peer Review exercises.


Mainly open ended essay questions on mid-term and final exams, occasional quizzes and a Calibrated peer review writing exercise on outcrop descriptions. Lab exam is an open ended map interpretation exercise and weekly graded labs.


Syllabus for Structural Geology course (Microsoft Word 31kB Jun29 12)