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Processes and Concepts of Geology

Course Page by Robert J. Varga - Starting Point Page by Rebecca Teed
Robert J. Varga
Robert J. Varga

Course URL: http://geol200.voices.wooster.edu/
Course Type:

Course Size:


This is an example of a physical-historical geology course, an excellent vehicle for teaching plate tectonics. From the syllabus: This course begins with an introduction to basic Earth materials and analyses of their origins and distributions. A considerable portion of the course covers "Geological Time", stratigraphic principles and how geologists develop chronologies of Earth history from the rock and fossil record. The remainder of the course is devoted to the history of the Earth from its origin through the Pleistocene "Ice Age". This course lays the groundwork for more advanced geology courses.

Course Context:

This course is intended to follow an introductory course and to prepare students for the rest of the geology curriculum.

Course Goals:

This course brings together:
  • Geological techniques, stressing the Scientific Method
  • Geological concepts and principles, such as plate tectonics and stratigraphic principles
and is intended to serve as a foundation for later courses in geology.

Course Content:

Topics covered in lecture include:

  • Earth materials
  • Plate tectonics
  • Processes like volcanism and sedimentation
  • Stratigraphy
  • Geochronology
  • Crustal Evolution one era at a time

In lab, students work with:

  • Mineral Identification with various major groups
  • Stratigraphy
  • Fossils
  • Map interpretation
  • Cross sections

Teaching Materials:

This web site is mostly a syllabus including:
  • An introduction to the course
  • Lecture and lab schedules
  • Information about the field trip, including a liability release form
  • A list of web sites


The grade is determined by exams, quizzes, homework, lab (30%!), and some participation.

References and Notes:

The Changing Earth: Exploring Geology and Evolution (3rd Ed.) by by James S. Monroe and Reed Wicander is a Earth history text that is especially strong on physical geology. Like many modern Earth history texts, it comes with an interactive CD, and is moderately expensive (about $100 for a paperback version). ISBN: 0534375502.