Department of Geology and Geophysics

Geology

The field of geology includes the scientific study of all aspects of the solid Earth and the fluids within it, including the fundamental processes that shape it and the stewardship of its resources that benefits society. The undergraduate curricula in geology foster critical thinking, and the application of scientific skills to the study of Earth materials (rocks, minerals, fossils, structures, landforms and subsurface fluids) and geologic processes. Courses provide a broad background in geology, emphasize knowledge transfer from other sciences to geologic problems and emphasize hands-on application of knowledge through laboratories and field trips and promote application to practical problems in petroleum exploration, environmental management and civil engineering.

The Department of Geology and Geophysics offers two undergraduate programs in geology, the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. The BS program is appropriate for students seeking careers as geologists or preparing for graduate school in geology, whereas the BA program is designed for students wishing to combine geology with other disciplines. Details of the two programs are given below.

To remain in satisfactory academic standing, students must maintain a 2.0 or better GPA in all technical courses (geology, geophysics, chemistry, math and physics).

Geophysics

Geophysics includes all areas of scientific inquiry that deal with the physical state of Earth and other planets and the dynamic processes that act on and within planetary bodies. The Bachelor of Science in Geophysics is for students who wish to combine a proficiency in mathematics with an interest in Earth. The objective of this program is to develop a physically-motivated approach to the study of Earth phenomena, with an emphasis on collection and analysis of geophysical data for probing and imaging the Earth’s interior. Graduates will be well-prepared for careers in the energy and environmental industries, and for advanced study at top-ranked graduate programs.

To remain in satisfactory academic standing, students must maintain a 2.0 or better GPA in all technical courses (geology, geophysics, chemistry, math and physics).

Minors in Geology and Geophysics

The Department of Geology and Geophysics offers minors in two separate programs: Geology, Geophysics. Minors provide opportunities for broadening a student’s background and tailoring the curriculum to specific career goals. A minor in Geology or Geophysics may be especially beneficial to students majoring in fields that deal directly or indirectly with geological processes, such as agriculture, anthropology, archaeology, architecture, business, education, engineering, and soil science, to name a few.

GEOL 101 Principles of Geology

Credits 3. 3 Lecture Hours.

(GEOL 1303, GEOL 1403*) Principles of Geology. Physical and chemical nature of the Earth and dynamic processes that shape it; plate tectonics, Earth's interior, materials it is made of, age and evolution, earthquakes, volcanism, erosion and deposition; introduces physical and chemical principles applied to the Earth; also taught at Galveston campus. Not open to students who have taken GEOL 103 or GEOL 104.

GEOL 102 Principles of Geology Laboratory

Credit 1. 2 Lab Hours.

(GEOL 1103, GEOL 1403*) Principles of Geology Laboratory. Laboratory exercise-based introduction to the physical and chemical nature of the Earth and dynamic process that shape it; rock and mineral types; topographic and geologic maps; complements GEOL 101 but can be taken independently; also taught at Galveston campus.

GEOL 104 Physical Geology

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Earth materials, structures, external and internal characteristics; physical processes at work upon or within the planet. A working knowledge of high school chemistry and mathematics is required; also taught at Qatar campus.

GEOL 106 Historical Geology

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

(GEOL 1104 and 1304, 1404) Historical Geology. Hypotheses of Earth's origin; age dating of geologic materials; development and history of life; plate tectonic reconstructions, geologic history, and paleogeography, with emphasis on the North American plate.
Prerequisite: GEOL 101 or equivalent; also taught at Galveston campus.

GEOL 150 Introduction to the Solid Earth

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Introduction to the dynamic earth for careers in geosciences; origin and structure of the earth; earth materials and processes, particularly as they relate to plate tectonics; maps as a basic tool of geologists; not open to students who have taken GEOL 101 or GEOL 104.

GEOL 152 History of the Earth

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Evolution of life, plate tectonics processes, geography and climate through earth's history; the timing of major events in earth history; sedimentary environments and stratigraphy; fossils; biostratigraphic and radiometric dating of rocks; not open to students who have taken GEOL 106.
Prerequisites: GEOL 150, GEOL 101 and GEOL 102, or GEOL 104 or equivalent.

GEOL 180 Introduction to Geology and Geophysics

Credit 1. 1 Lecture Hour.

Introduction to careers in geology and geophysics; campus resources for academic and personal success; tools for developing study skills and navigating the university; use of reflection to assess personal strengths, weaknesses and responsibilities and to devise strategies for improvement.
Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.

GEOL 203 Mineralogy

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Crystallography, crystal chemistry, mineral chemistry, optical crystallography, physical properties, and geologic occurrence of rock-forming and economic minerals.
Prerequisites: MATH 151 or MATH 142; CHEM 119, or CHEM 101 and CHEM 111, or CHEM 107 and CHEM 117; GEOL 150 or equivalent.

GEOL 207 Dinosaur World

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Survey of dinosaur paleobiology and paleoecology; terrestrial paleoclimate and paleoenvironments of the Mesozoic; dinosaur ancestors; appearance and radiation of dinosaurs; paleoecology and paleobiology of major dinosaur groups; extinction of large dinosaurs and the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction; the appearance and ancestry of birds.

GEOL 208 Life on a Dynamic Planet

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Critical events in the Earth’s 4.6 billion-year history that shaped life as we know it and the tools to investigate them; interactions between global environments, the evolution of life and the geologically recent development of human societies.

GEOL 210 Geological Communication

Credits 3. 3 Lecture Hours.

Introduction to communicating as a scientist particularly in geological settings; using precise language, illuminating graphs and correct mathematical and chemical symbols to describe geological observations and concepts in writing; using basic statistics to describe geological data and uncertainty; recognizing scientific ethical dilemmas and plagiarism and interpretation.
Prerequisites: MATH 151 or MATH 142; ENGL 104; GEOL 150 or equivalent.

GEOL 250 Geological Field Methods

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Fundamental aspects of geologic mapping; field observation, data gathering and recording, use of a Brunton compass, pace-and-compass mapping, measurement of stratigraphic sections; topographic map use and interpretation, interpretation of geologic map patterns, construction of geologic cross sections; Integrating field and remote data to address geologic problems using GIS software.
Prerequisites: GEOL 152 or equivalent.

GEOL 285 Directed Studies

Credits 1 to 4. 1 to 4 Other Hours.

Directed studies in specific problem areas of geology.
Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.

GEOL 289 Special Topics in...

Credits 1 to 4. 1 to 4 Lecture Hours. 0 to 4 Lab Hours.

Selected topics in an identified area of geology. May be repeated for credit.
Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.

GEOL 291 Research

Credits 0 to 4. 0 to 4 Other Hours.

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in geology. May be repeated 2 times for credit. Registration in multiple sections of this course is possible within a given semester provided that the per semester credit hour limit is not exceeded.
Prerequisites: Freshman or sophomore classification and approval of instructor.

GEOL 300 Field Geology

Credits 6. 6 Other Hours.

Basic concepts of field relationships and field techniques are used to develop geologic maps, stratigraphic columns, cross-sections and geologic interpretations for a variety of geologic provinces. Course conducted off-campus in a field camp for six weeks.
Prerequisites: GEOL 302, GEOL 306, GEOL 309, GEOL 312 or approval of instructor.

GEOL 301 Mineral Resources

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Origin, geologic relations and geographic distribution of mineral and energy resources; mineral economics, mining and reclamation and global economics in the resource industry; identification and classification of economic minerals including energy resources, base and precious metals, chemical industrial minerals and gemstones.
Prerequisites: GEOL 101 or GEOL 320; CHEM 106 or higher.

GEOL 302 Introduction to Petrology

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Introduction to the origin and evolution of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks; classification and petrographic analysis of major rock types; relationships to tectonic settings.
Prerequisites: GEOL 104 and GEOL 203 or approval of instructor.

GEOL 304 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Origin and evolution of igneous and metamorphic rocks; identification, classification and petrographic analysis; relationships to tectonic settings; genetic processes inferred from laboratory studies and field occurrences.
Prerequisites: GEOL 203; CHEM 120, or CHEM 107 and CHEM 117, or equivalent.

GEOL 305 Paleobiology

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Principles of paleobiology; study of organisms important in the marine fossil record; application of paleontology to geologic problems.
Prerequisite: GEOL 106 or approval of instructor.

GEOL 306 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Origin of sediments and sedimentary rocks; climate, weathering, and weathering products; transport, deposition, and depositional environments for sediments; field and laboratory studies in description and interpretation of genesis of sedimentary rocks; principles of stratigraphy and basin analysis; plate tectonics and the formation of sedimentary basins; stratigraphic nomenclature; geologic time and correlation; sequence stratigraphy and basin architecture.
Prerequisite: CHEM 119 or equivalent; GEOL 152 or equivalent.

GEOL 307 Dinosaur World

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Evolutionary development of dinosaurs and Mesozoic geography, climate and terrestrial environments including dinosaur morphology; evolutionary relationships; dinosaur metabolism; and constraints imposed by gigantism; their latitudinal distribution; casual mechanism for dinosaur extinction.

GEOL 309 Introduction to Geological Field Methods

Credits 3. 1 Lecture Hour. 6 Lab Hours.

Geological mapping methods, field observation procedures and data gathering and recording; use of Brunton compass; pace-and-compass mapping; topographic map use and interpretation; measurement of structural elements; interpretation of geologic map patterns; measurement of stratigraphic sections; construction of geologic cross sections; six day geologic mapping project during either spring break or two three-day weekends.
Prerequisites: GEOL 101 or GEOL 104; GEOL 106.

GEOL 310 Planetary Geology

Credits 3. 3 Lecture Hours.

Introduction to planetary science; organization and composition of the solar system, including the planets, satellites and asteroids; surface features and internal structures of the terrestrial planets and moons; the dynamic processes of planetary resurfacing, including volcanism, tectonism, weathering and impacts; the history and future of solar system exploration.
Prerequisites: GEOL 101 or equivalent; junior or senior classification or approval of instructor; also taught at Galveston campus.

GEOL 311 Principles of Geological Writing

Credit 1. 1 Lecture Hour.

Principles of writing for geological reports; format and style for abstracts, grant proposals, journal manuscripts and industry reports; evaluating written reports for revision and editing; using proper referencing and citation style; methods of maintaining clarity in documents; using web tools for geological communication.

GEOL 312 Structural Geology and Tectonics

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Fundamentals of the deformation of the lithosphere ranging from plate to atomic scales; stress, strain, experimental rock deformation, microscopic mechanisms and mechanical behaviors; analysis of faults, folds, flow and rock fabrics; subsurface interpretation; regional tectonics of selected areas; practical experience in geometric and kinematic analysis, constructing balanced cross sections.
Prerequisites: GEOL 104 or GEOL 150 or equivalent; MATH 142 or MATH 152; and PHYS 218 or PHYS 201.

GEOL 314 Paleontology and Geobiology

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Biosphere-geosphere interactions, including procaryote controls on sedimentary geochemistry and organismal distributions, and fossil preservation; fossils in the context of evolutionary theory and global change; identification of important groups of marine fossils; use of fossils to determine the stratigraphic age of rocks and the history of life on Earth.
Prerequisites: CHEM 101, CHEM 107, or CHEM 119; GEOL 306.

GEOL 320 Geology for Civil Engineers

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Principles of physical and engineering geology; properties of minerals, rocks and soils; active surface and subsurface processes; applications to the siting, design, construction, operation and maintenance of engineered works and the protection of the environment. A three-day field trip is required (a field trip fee is charged at registration).
Prerequisite: Sophomore classification.

GEOL 330 Geologic Field Trips

Credits 1 to 3. 1 to 3 Other Hours.

Field trips to observe, analyze and interpret the geology and geophysics of selected localities in Texas and adjacent regions; complements classroom experience. Trip frequencies, duration, dates and study localities vary with semester.
Prerequisite: GEOL 101 or GEOL 104 or approval of instructor. May be repeated for credit.

GEOL 350 Summer Field Geology

Credits 3. 3 Other Hours.

Intense immersive geologic mapping experience, integrating geological skills from throughout the curriculum; concepts of field relationships and field techniques are used to develop geologic maps, stratigraphic columns, cross-sections and geologic interpretations for a variety of geologic provinces; conduct off-campus in a field area or areas for three to four weeks.
Prerequisites: GEOL 304, GEOL 314, GEOL 306, GEOL 250 and GEOL 312.

GEOL 352/GEOG 352 GNSS in the Geosciences

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Fundamentals of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS); basic geodesy, figure of the earth; frames of reference, map projection, datums, ellipsoids; GPS accuracy and precision; applications in earth resource mapping and database creation; elementary GPS phase data processing.
Prerequisites: Junior or senior classification or approval of instructor.
Cross Listing: GEOG 352/GEOL 352.

GEOL 404 Geology of Petroleum

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Origin, migration and accumulation of petroleum; typical U.S. oil and gas fluids; laboratory work in subsurface geology.
Prerequisites: GEOL 104 or GEOL 150; also taught at Qatar campus.

GEOL 410 Hydrogeology

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Geologic conditions determining the distribution and movement of ground water and their effect on the hydrologic properties of aquifers.
Prerequisite: MATH 151 and MATH 152, or equivalent; junior or senior classification.

GEOL 420 Environmental Geology

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Geologic concepts of the nature of geologic environments and the dynamics of geologic processes needed to characterize and quantify human interactions with specific geologic systems including aquifers, watershed, coastlines and wetlands; specific techniques, including geophysical and geochemical techniques, field mapping, geographical information systems and remote sensing used to monitor human-geosphere interactions.
Prerequisites: GEOL 101 or GEOG 203; junior or senior classification or approval of instructor.

GEOL 440 Engineering Geology

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Fundamentals of soil, rock and fluid mechanics and basic engineering practices as applied to the analysis of the geologic environment for engineering uses. Designed for geoscience majors who have not had engineering courses.
Prerequisites: GEOL 312 or approval of instructor; PHYS 218.

GEOL 450 Geology Senior Project

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Conducting and communicating a team research project in geology and/or geophysics; formulating a research question and a plan to answer that question; synthesizing and interpreting the geological and geophysical literature; written and oral presentation of findings and critiquing those findings.
Prerequisites: GEOL 210 and GEOL 312, or approval of undergraduate advisor.

GEOL 451 Introduction to Geochemistry

Credits 3. 2 Lecture Hours. 2 Lab Hours.

Chemical principles and processes responsible for the formation and cycling of earth materials, with emphasis on low temperature equilibria and kinetics in rockwater systems.
Prerequisite: GEOL 302 or approval of instructor.

GEOL 478 Earth Science Modeling

Credits 4. 3 Lecture Hours. 3 Lab Hours.

Techniques for building, solving and analyzing numerical models applied to a wide variety of problems in geology, geochemistry, geobiology and geophysics; derivation and scaling of conservation laws; finite difference and finite element techniques; programming in MATLAB or a higher-level language.
Prerequisites: MATH 151; MATH 152; junior or senior classification.

GEOL 481 Seminar

Credit 1. 1 Other Hour.

Review of selected topics in the geological literature; preparation of oral and written reports.
Prerequisite: Approval of department head.

GEOL 484 Internship

Credits 0. 0 Other Hours.

Directed internship in a private firm, government agency or non-governmental organization to provide work experience related to the student’s degree program and career objectives. May be taken two times.
Prerequisites: Junior or senior classification and approval of internship agency and approval of instructor.

GEOL 485 Directed Studies

Credits 1 to 12. 1 to 12 Other Hours.

Advanced problems in geology; also taught at Galveston and Qatar campuses.

GEOL 489 Special Topics in...

Credits 1 to 4. 1 to 4 Lecture Hours. 0 to 4 Lab Hours.

Selected topics in an identified area of geology. May be repeated for credit.
Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.

GEOL 491 Research

Credits 0 to 4. 0 to 4 Other Hours.

Research conducted under the direction of faculty member in geology. May be repeated 2 times for credit. Registration in multiple sections of this course is possible within a given semester provided that the per semester credit hour limit is not exceeded.
Prerequisites: Junior or senior classification and approval of instructor.

Bapst, David W, Instructional Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Chicago, 2013

Becker, Mauro R, Research Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Texas - Austin, 1996

Belanger, Christina L, Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Chicago, IL, 2011

Benavides Iglesias, Alfonso, Lecturer
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Texas A&M University, 2007

Bhatia, Mukul R, Executive Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, The Australian National University, 1982

Chester, Frederick M, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Texas A&M University, 1988

Chester, Judith S, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Texas A&M University, 1992

Clement, Brad M, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Columbia University, 1985

Donovan, Arthur D, Professor of the Practice
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Colorado School of Mines, 1985

Duan, Benchun, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of California, Riverside, 2006

Everett, Mark E, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Toronto, 1991

Ewing, Ryan C, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, The University of Texas - Austin, 2009

Giardino, John R, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1979

Grossman, Ethan L, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Southern California, 1982

Hu, Lin Ying, Professor of the Practice
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Mines Paris Tech, 1988

Kenderes, Elizabeth, Instructional Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Missouri, 2018

Kitajima, Hiroko, Associate Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Texas A&M University, 2010

Knappett, Peter S, Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, 2010

Kronenberg, Andreas K, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Brown University, 1983

Lamb, William M, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1987

Laya Pereira, Juan Carlos, Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Durham University, United Kingdom, 2012

Marcantonio, Franco, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Columbia University, 1994

Miller, Brent V, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Dalhousie University, Canada, 1997

Newman, Julie, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Rochester, 1993

Perez, Nicholas D, Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Texas at Austin, 2015

Pope, Michael, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Virginia Tech, 1995

Raymond, Anne L, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Chicago, 1983

Reece, Julia S, Assistant Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Texas, 2011

Reece, Robert S, Associate Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, The University of Texas - Austin, 2012

Riggs, Eric A, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of California-Riverside, 2000

Sparks, David W, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Brown University, 1992

Sun, Yuefeng, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, Columbia University, 1994

Yancey, Thomas E, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of California, Berkeley, 1971

Yu, Alan Zhihuai, Professor of the Practice
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of South Carolina, 1992

Zhan, Hongbin, Professor
Geology & Geophysics
PHD, University of Nevada, Reno, 1996