Geology (BS)

Summary

Geology is the study of the Earth, its materials, and its processes. Geologists use this knowledge to solve scientific problems for the benefit of society. Topics of interest include but are not limited to soil preservation, water production and quality, hazards mitigation, resource exploration and production, engineering of structures large and small, climate change, the history of life on Earth, and the search for life on other planets.

Training in Geology requires knowledge of fundamental sciences (chemistry, math, and physics) combined with Geology coursework that applies these sciences to the study of Earth’s composition, processes, and structure. Geology training emphasizes the characterization of earth materials (minerals, rocks, sediment, soil, and water) with techniques ranging from visual description to cutting-edge laboratory analysis. Geology students may also take mapping coursework such as Geographic Information Systems to better understand spatial relationships and earth processes. Upper-division Geology coursework focuses on applying a wide range of approaches to scientific and societally-important problems in the complex and dynamic environments that characterize our planet.

Students are prepared for entry-level employment in the environmental consulting sector, or in positions related to natural resource protection. Entry-level employment in the energy- and mineral-resource job sectors is also attainable with a Geology degree.

A student is eligible to pursue a Professional Geologist (PG) license, which provides additional opportunities for career advancement and enhanced earning potential, particularly in the environmental consulting job sector. Students interested in obtaining a PG are strongly encouraged to take the Fundamentals of Geology (FG) exam near the time they compete their degree. Completion of the Geology B.S. in combination with passing of the FG exam advances an individual to Geologist in Training (GIT) status. Following 5-years of Geology-related work experience, the GIT is qualified to take the Practice of Geology exam and become a fully licensed PG.

Professional Geology licensure in Minnesota is administered by its Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience, and Interior Design (AELSLAGID) at http://mn.gov/aelslagid/geology.html. For info on licensure procedures in other states, please see the American Institute of Professional Geologists webpage: http://www.aipg.org/certificationboards

Graduate study in Geology or closely related discipline (e.g., Environmental Science, Water Resources) may be pursued following completion of a B.S. degree. Students who wish to pursue graduate study in Geology should consult with an advisor. 

Catalog Year

2023-2024

Degree

Bachelor of Science

Major Credits

53

Total Credits

120

Locations

Mankato

Program Requirements

Required General Education

Introductory Geoscience - Choose 3 - 4 Credit(s).

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding are three examples of naturally recurring events on the Earth that ultimately influence all of our lives. This course introduces the physical features and processes of the Earth that control these events. The course has a laboratory component.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

From mineral formation to mountain building, this course introduces all the main areas of geologic study and places them in the context of environmental justice. We will consider the social and political backdrop of geological processes, practices, and resources, and consider how ignoring the word┬┐s complicated history has resulted in the repetition and perpetuation of practices that have disproportionately harmed diverse peoples. Lecture discussions and laboratory exercises are designed for general education and students seeking a major or minor in one of the natural sciences.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Diverse Cultures: Purple

Physical geology is the study of how the earth works. From mountain building to soil erosion, this course provides an introduction to all the main areas of geologic study. Lecture discussions and laboratory exercises are designed for students seeking a major or minor in one of the natural sciences.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Quantitative Reasoning - Choose 4 Credit(s).

This course provides conceptual and logical tools for students planning to major in a computing-based major. Programming in a high-level language such as C++, Python, or Java, and the development of skills in abstraction, problem-solving, and algorithmic thinking are emphasized.

Prerequisites: MATH 112 or MATH 113 or MATH 115 or MATH 121

Limits, continuity, the derivative and applications, transcendental functions, L'Hopital's Rule, and development of the Riemann integral.

Prerequisites: Satisfy Placement Table in this section, MATH 115 or both MATH 112 and MATH 113 with "C" (2.0) or better.

Goal Areas: GE-04

An introduction to statistical concepts and methods that is applicable to all disciplines. Topics include descriptive measures of data, probability and probability distributions, statistical inference, tests of hypotheses, confidence intervals, correlation, linear regression, and analysis of variance. The use of statistical software will be emphasized. Prereq: ACT Math sub-score of 19 or higher, successful completion of MATH 098 or appropriate placement scores (see Placement Information under Statistics) Fall, Spring, Summer GE-4

Prerequisites: Satisfy Placement Table in this section, or MATH 098 with grade of P.

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-04

Technical Communication - Choose 4 Credit(s).

Introduction to learning the written and oral communication of technical information. Assignments include writing and presenting proposals, reports, and documentation. Emphasis on use of rhetorical analysis, computer applications, collaborative writing, and usability testing to complete technical communication tasks in the workplace.

Prerequisites: ENG 101

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-13

Physical Science - Choose 9 Credit(s). CHEM 191 and GEOL 291 may be substituted for CHEM 201.

Introduction to the basic principles of chemistry including atomic and molecular structure, bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, thermodynamics and states of matter. Laboratory will reinforce lecture concepts. Prereq: C or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or C or higher in CHEM 104

Prerequisites: "C" (2.0) or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or "C" (2.0) or higher in CHEM 104.

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

General background in physical concepts for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Topics include mechanics, fluids, heat and thermodynamics. Lecture and laboratory.

Prerequisites: Either MATH 112 and MATH 113, or MATH 115

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

Major Common Core

An examination of the development and evolution of life on earth. In addition to reviewing the range of life forms and global climates existing on earth during various times in its geologic past, we will also look at how global industrialization could lead to the earth's next period of mass extinction. Weekly laboratory assignments help illustrate principles discussed in lectures.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

Examination of the elemental composition and crystal structure of various common minerals. Laboratory time is spent practicing techniques of identifying crystals and minerals. The importance and occurrence of many economic minerals is also covered thoroughly in this course.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107 or GEOL 121

Selection of geoscience topics relevant to regional applications and current research. Activities may include guest speakers, student research presentations, directed readings in peer-reviewed literature, career panels, and job application development.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Geology Foundation - Choose 8 Credit(s).

Study of the compositions and origins of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in a plate tectonic context. Topics include mineral optics and geochemistry. Lab portion of course emphasizes identification and study of rocks.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Focused studies of the origins and processes of transportation, deposition, burial, and diagenesis of sedimentary materials. Lab assignments focus on sedimentary material identification and analysis. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 107, and GEOL 100 or GEOL 121

Study of the processes and results of rock deformation at scales ranging from microscopic to plate tectonic, and at conditions ranging from the Earth's surface to the deep interior.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107or GEOL 121

Major Restricted Electives

Geology Electives - Choose 12 - 15 Credit(s). Choose courses not used to satisfy Geology Foundation requirement.

Study of the compositions and origins of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in a plate tectonic context. Topics include mineral optics and geochemistry. Lab portion of course emphasizes identification and study of rocks.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Focused studies of the origins and processes of transportation, deposition, burial, and diagenesis of sedimentary materials. Lab assignments focus on sedimentary material identification and analysis. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 107, and GEOL 100 or GEOL 121

Study of the processes and results of rock deformation at scales ranging from microscopic to plate tectonic, and at conditions ranging from the Earth's surface to the deep interior.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107or GEOL 121

This course is devoted to the study and practice of geological field investigations. Students will first learn basic field investigative methods. Students will then be appropriately versed in the geological history and importance of a region selected for in-depth study. Finally, students will participate in a field trip to a regional site of geologic importance over an extended weekend (4-6 days). Potential study sites may include Minnesota's North Shore and Iron Range, the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, the Ozarks, or the Rocky Mountains.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 121 and GEOL 122

Study of the origin, composition, texture, morphology, and stratigraphy of glacial deposits. Topics include the geologic record of glaciation, techniques used to reconstruct histories of glaciation, glacial depositional systems, provenance of glacial sediments, influence of glaciation on soil texture, and interpretation of glacial geologic maps. Emphasis will be placed on description and interpretation of glacial features in southern Minnesota. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107or GEOL 121

Comprehensive survey of ore deposit and petroleum geology, including exploration and production technologies. Course emphasizes projects using industry data.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121, GEOL 201, GEOL 122

The application of geologic data and principles to problems created by human occupancy and use of the physical environment. Lecture and laboratory topics include soil classification and conservation, hazardous waste site evaluation and remediation, and living with geologic hazards.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 GEOL 104 or GEOL 107 or GEOL 121

This course introduces physical and chemical studies of hydrogeology. The main areas of discussion will include the physical and chemical attributes of aquifers, movement of ground-water and solute through soils and rocks, and reactions between earth materials and pollutants in ground-water systems. The class includes extensive use of MODFLOW and MT3D, the two most commonly usedgroundwater modeling programs currently available.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107or GEOL 121

Biogeochemical processes specific to soil and engineered sediments, including applications of solubility, adsorption/desorption, ion exchange, oxidation/reduction, acidity, alkalinity. Discussion of problems related to environmental degradation, plant nutrition, soil genesis, and element cycling (e.g. P, N, C). Structural chemistry, origin/identification of crystalline soil clay minerals, and soil organic matter will be covered in context with the mechanisms for reactivity in the soil environment. Prerequisites or instructor consent.

Prerequisites: GEOL 104, and CHEM 191 or CHEM 201

Technical Elective - Choose 3 - 4 Credit(s). Other 300-400 level science courses may be allowed with Department approval.

Introduction to the principles of chemical analysis, with emphasis on classical methods of analysis. Lectures will stress the theory of chemical measurements and sample handling. Laboratory exercises will provide students with opportunities to explore calibration methods, method development, and established procedures for volumetric and gravimetric analyses. Basic atomic spectroscopy is also presented.

Prerequisites: "C" (2.0) or higher in CHEM 202

This is a lecture course introducing students to major federal environmental laws and regulations. Discussions include the cause(s) that prompted the enactment of various environmental legislation as well as intent and implementation of the legislation. Both Federal and State of MN environmental statutes will be discussed.

Prerequisites: none

This course explores the scientific study of earth's surface, through investigating landscapes and landforms, their characteristics, origin and evolution, and the biologic, chemical, and physical processes that create these landscapes and landforms through time. Fundamental linkages between process and form and climate/climate change, earth materials, geologic structures, plate tectonics, and biological systems will be examined. Implications of anthropogenic influences on processes and modification of earth's surface will also be assessed. Laboratory exercises and field trips are required.

Prerequisites: none

The course will be an introduction to the analysis of spatial data using the concept of a geographic information system (GIS). Content of the course will be, to a great extent, based on the NCGIA core curriculum with assignments tailored to the data and software available within the department such as ArcGIS.

Prerequisites: none

This course examines the dynamic nature of soils including the processes that control formation and degradation, anthropogenic impacts, spatial distribution across landscapes, and links among soils and other components of the earth system. A combination of lectures and hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings are utilized to explore the complex interactions between soils and landscapes.

Prerequisites: none

This course examines the natural processes that operate on our planet and shape the landscape presently. This will be done through a focus on applied exercises, measurements and direct/indirect observations. Through applied projects students will have an understanding of how these processes interact within a variety of Earth Systems.

Prerequisites: none

An in-depth investigation into fluvial systems including sediment transport, sediment budget analysis, channel geometry/morphology, drainage basin analysis, geomorphic evolution of fluvial landscapes, hydrology (i.e., runoff generation and channel formation, storm hydrograph and flood analysis, discharge measurements) of fluvial systems, and effects of anthropogenic modification and use of fluvial systems. Registration with completed prereqs or instructor consent.

Prerequisites: Either Geog 101 or Geol 121 and Geog 315 or 415 are recommended. Or instructor consent.

This course covers the basic strategies for field mapping using data acquired from global positioning systems (GPS).

Prerequisites: GEOG 373 or equivalent

This is an introductory course on theories and techniques of remote sensing. Focus will be placed on providing students with a general overview of the application of remote sensing to practical problems, and hands-on experience for image processing and analysis.

Prerequisites: none

Other Graduation Requirements

Capstone - Choose 4 - 10 Credit(s). Choose one. Successful completion of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) can be substituted for GEOL 499 as the Capstone Experience subject to Department approval.

Geologic field mapping and interpretation in diverse settings. Course is offered by universities throughout the U.S. and elsewhere.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121, GEOL 122, GEOL 201, GEOL 320W, GEOL 330

Internships allow students to apply knowledge and skills learned through undergraduate geoscience classes to real-world problems. Students will work with faculty to secure suitable employment and when finished, students will develop a written report of professional practicum that explores the relationships that exist among collegiate lessons and workplace tasks. Evaluation will be based on the content and presentation of the report as well as consultations with the internship supervisor.

Prerequisites: none

4-Year Plan

The 4-Year Plan is a model for completing your degree in a timely manner. Your individual 4-Year plan may change based on a number of variables including transfer courses and the semester/year you start your major. Carefully work with your academic advisors to devise your own unique plan.
* Please meet with your advisor on appropriate course selection to meet your educational and degree goals.

First Year

Fall - 16 Credits

This course will cover topics of precalculus mathematics. Topics covered will include functions, graphs of functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, conic sections, systems of equations and inequalities, matrices, trigonometric functions, circular functions, vectors and complex numbers, induction, series and probability.

Prerequisites: Satisfy Math Placement Table in this section, or grade of P in MATH 098.

Goal Areas: GE-04

Physical geology is the study of how the earth works. From mountain building to soil erosion, this course provides an introduction to all the main areas of geologic study. Lecture discussions and laboratory exercises are designed for students seeking a major or minor in one of the natural sciences.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Introduction to the basic principles of chemistry including atomic and molecular structure, bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, thermodynamics and states of matter. Laboratory will reinforce lecture concepts. Prereq: C or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or C or higher in CHEM 104

Prerequisites: "C" (2.0) or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or "C" (2.0) or higher in CHEM 104.

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

General Education Course * 3 credits

Spring - 15 Credits

Students in this course approach writing as a subject of study by investigating how writing works across a variety of contexts.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-1A

An examination of the development and evolution of life on earth. In addition to reviewing the range of life forms and global climates existing on earth during various times in its geologic past, we will also look at how global industrialization could lead to the earth's next period of mass extinction. Weekly laboratory assignments help illustrate principles discussed in lectures.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

General background in physical concepts for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Topics include mechanics, fluids, heat and thermodynamics. Lecture and laboratory.

Prerequisites: Either MATH 112 and MATH 113, or MATH 115

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

General Education Course * 3 credits

Second Year

Fall - 16 Credits

Examination of the elemental composition and crystal structure of various common minerals. Laboratory time is spent practicing techniques of identifying crystals and minerals. The importance and occurrence of many economic minerals is also covered thoroughly in this course.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107 or GEOL 121

Introduction to learning the written and oral communication of technical information. Assignments include writing and presenting proposals, reports, and documentation. Emphasis on use of rhetorical analysis, computer applications, collaborative writing, and usability testing to complete technical communication tasks in the workplace.

Prerequisites: ENG 101

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-13

Required General Education Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 4 credits

Spring - 15 Credits

Study of the compositions and origins of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in a plate tectonic context. Topics include mineral optics and geochemistry. Lab portion of course emphasizes identification and study of rocks.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Elective Course in Major * 4 credits

General Education Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 3 credits

Third Year

Fall - 15 Credits

Focused studies of the origins and processes of transportation, deposition, burial, and diagenesis of sedimentary materials. Lab assignments focus on sedimentary material identification and analysis. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 107, and GEOL 100 or GEOL 121

General Elective Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 3 credits

Spring - 15 Credits

Study of the processes and results of rock deformation at scales ranging from microscopic to plate tectonic, and at conditions ranging from the Earth's surface to the deep interior.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 107or GEOL 121

Elective Course in Major * 4 credits

General Elective Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 3 credits

Fourth Year

Fall - 15 Credits

The course will be an introduction to the analysis of spatial data using the concept of a geographic information system (GIS). Content of the course will be, to a great extent, based on the NCGIA core curriculum with assignments tailored to the data and software available within the department such as ArcGIS.

Prerequisites: none

Geologic field mapping and interpretation in diverse settings. Course is offered by universities throughout the U.S. and elsewhere.

Prerequisites: none

General Elective Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 3 credits

Spring - 13 Credits

Elective Course in Major * 3 credits

General Elective Course * 4 credits

General Education Course * 4 credits