As the title suggests, this course explores the materials of which the Earth is made and the ways the materials behave.  Note that this is a 4 credit hour course – THE LAB IS PART OF THE COURSE, NOT A SEPARATE COURSE.


Office: Science 203    Phone: 229-931-2325     e-mail:    Web:

Office Hours: MW:11-12, TTh:10-11, & by appointment, right after class, for example.   If the door is closed, knock (hard).

If necessary I will communicate to you through your radar e-mail account.  It is important that you check it often.


GOALS & LEARNING OUTCOMES: We will have three primary goals in this class:


1) To examine the relationship between observation and inference in science.  Successful students will be familiar with observations and facts, and to answer questions about how the observations and facts contribute to specific scientific hypotheses.

2) To understand how scientists use symbolic representations to illustrate and test both their observations and their hypotheses.   Goals 1 and 2 are the more important ones; goals 3 and 4 will be tools and context for reaching them.

3) To become familiar with the materials of which the Earth is made, how they differ from one another and how they are related.  Successful students will be able to recognize a variety of Earth materials, to explain or recognize how and where they are likely (or unlikely) to form, and why they do or do not occur together, and to represent or interpret these things symbolically.

4) To become familiar with the natural processes that create and affect those materials.  We will examine both surface processes and those that operate in the interior of the Earth.  Successful students will be able to explain the workings of such processes and recognize evidence of their operation in abstract representations (like graphs or maps) and concrete examples (like photographs or drawings).


TEXT: Monroe & Wicander The Changing Earth, 6th edition.  Lab materials will be distributed in the first lab.  The webpage has a great deal of material attached to it which will be used extensively in lecture.


TESTS AND GRADING: There will be four tests as outlined on the next page.  Each will have a lecture component and a lab component, and the lab component may be given separately if it requires rock or mineral identifications.  Notice that the labs are done in phase with, and to support what we are doing at the time in lecture, so something you hear in lab might always get mixed in with a “lecture” question on a test, and vice versa.  The first three tests, which will not be comprehensive, will count 20% each of your final grade.  The fourth test (the final exam) will be partly comprehensive (roughly 50% “old” material) and will count 40% of your final grade.  Your base grade will be calculated by this formula: GRADE=(0.20*T1)+(0.20*T2)+(0.20*T3)+(0.40*Exam).  As you get you test grades back you can plug them into this equation and vary the remaining values to see how you need to perform on the remaining tests to meet your grade goals.


The lecture tests will be primarily in the short answer format.  Matching, multiple choice, true/false questions will be rare to non-existent, as will long written essay answers.


One and only one test can be made up if a verifiable excuse is provided for the absence.  All make-up tests will be given on the last lab day of the term, after the lab test.


One possible grade adjustment may be made for students who meet the attendance and participation requirements outlined below.  Once the class average is calculated at the end of the term I will compare that average to a mid C (75 points).  If the class average is at or above that, no modification will be made.  If the average is below ~75, each student’s lowest test will be decreased in percent value and each best test increased by a corresponding amount to bring the average up to near 75.  This modification will ONLY be applied to those students whose performance meets my expectations.  Each test must be taken or a zero test grade will probably be part of the final grade.  There is no such thing as “extra credit”.  Such a thing could only exist after you had received all the basic credit, in which case you wouldn’t need it.


ATTENDANCE: Any given lecture is likely to depend upon material covered earlier in the class, all the way back to day one, from the last day.  Any day that you miss is therefore likely to cause both immediate and delayed problems for you.  A smart student would not miss any class without a very good reason.  Because I’m interested, among other things, in knowing how smart you are, I will not give you many additional punishments or incentives for your attendance decisions.  They are your decisions.  I will keep roll each day for my own records, but your presence or absence will have no tangible bearing on your base grade – you won’t be docked points for missing; you won’t get extra points for attending.  The only carrot/stick that will be in effect is this: if you have more than 4 unexcused absences or more than 8 total absences you will NOT be eligible for the grade modification discussed above.  Both lecture and lab attendance is counted in this total.  There are four types of excused absence: 1) illness on your part that requires medical attention, 2) serious illness or death in your family, 3) stranding of yourself in another city without reasonable transportation, and 4) your attendance at an official university-authorized function.  In each case it is your responsibility to bring me reasonable, verifiable, written evidence that I should excuse you.  For student athletes I need a copy of your game schedule ASAP.


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY: The University has a published policy concerning plagiarism, cheating, and so on.  You are responsible for knowing what that policy is and following it.  The only potential infractions likely in this class would involve cheating on tests.  If I have reason to think that you are cheating or have cheated on a test, you will receive a 0 for that test and I will notify the appropriate people and committees.  It is up to you to give me no reason to suspect you – big baggy clothes with 100 pockets, hoodies or big-brimmed hats on test day might be construed as a good place to hide a crib sheet, so dress in an inconspicuous manner.  Cell phones should be OFF ENTIRELY and completely out of view, not just on test days, but on all days.  Since test day is all about you ‘telling’ me something, there’ll be no need for earphones or earbuds.  Suspicious pieces of paper on or near you while testing will be subject to examination.  Consistently similar incorrect answers from people seated beside each other are red flags, and I have other tricks up my sleeves too.  Be assured that I am very serious about this.


COURTESY and PARTICIPATION: There is only one reason for you to be in my classroom or lab – to listen to me or to participate in discussion of the topic of the day with me (or occasionally with your peers).  This normally does not involve conversation on your part, and certainly does not require any conversation about non-geological topics.  If you prefer to talk about something else, feel free to do so in some different location where you will not interfere with your neighbors, who might actually be serious about learning about what they have paid to learn about.  If I ask you to leave because you are talking, I expect you to get up and leave.  You may go directly to the VPAA and complain about my rudeness if you wish.  Our business during class hours also does not require a telephone.  When you walk in the door, your phone should be stone-cold off (not on vibrate) and completely out of sight.  If a phone rings in my classroom, I will answer it, and as you can see, I can be rather gruff.  Similarly, because you will be communicating with people who are actually in the same room with you, there will be no need whatsoever for earbuds or earphones or any similar device during class period.  Your i-Pods and similar devices should be as off and as invisible as your cell phones.  If you text in class, it will be obvious to me.  Seriously, if you are staring at your crotch and smiling I will give you the benefit of the doubt about what you’re doing, and assume it’s texting.  If I see this happening then I will simply mark my roll that you have disqualified yourself from any tweaking of your grade on my part.  The same thing goes for chatting with your neighbor, having your phone ring, etc.  We are here to do a job.  If you don’t want to do that job the drop period runs for a few more days.


DISABILITY: If you have a documented disability that requires special attention in this class let me know within the first two weeks of class.  More importantly, let the folks in Student Support Services know so that they can authorize me to assist you.  I am not allowed to accommodate a disability without their say-so.



1) Begin immediately to memorize the geologic time scale on my web page.  There is a more detailed version in the book and you may use that one instead.  Its origin and development will be discussed in Geology II.  It WILL be valuable (~10 points) on most tests in this class.  Look at it as easy points.

2) Don’t wait until the last minute to study – keep up day-to-day.

3) Stay in tune and ask questions.  Notice that “I don’t understand any of this stuff.” has no question mark at the end. 

4) Skim, and perhaps outline, readings before class to get an idea of what’s coming.  Read the appropriate material in the book after lecture and try to spot problems.  Have I talked about things differently or in a different order?  Can you still recognize the appropriate material in the book?  Does any of it disagree with anything I said? ...

5) View the class (and GEOL1122 as well) holistically.  Ideas feed each other, in life as well as geology class.  We’ll be using basic tools from chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics in this geology class.  We’ll return to igneous rocks over and over again.  Just because you’ve been tested over quartz absolutely does not mean you’re done with quartz.  Don’t simply memorize for a test and then forget.  Try instead to internalize the material – make it yours.  I promise this will pay off, and the habit is invaluable in life.

6) Science relies upon familiarity with facts and with interpretation of those facts.  You will be expected to be readily familiar with certain facts, to be able to follow their implications to some logical conclusion, and to know the difference between the two things.


LECTURE AND LAB TOPICS (Appropriate chapter number in parentheses where first covered.)  Each of the sub-topics will take between 1 and 3 days, depending on how the discussion goes.  You can superimpose these topics on a calendar for a very rough idea of when we’ll be where.  We should have done two tests by midterm so you can base any decisions about withdrawal on that much data.




TOPIC 1 – Introduction and thinking scientifically about Earth   (Ch. 1).

1) Introduction to the course – the nature of science. (Not in Book – Web Material)

2) Determining the shape and size of Earth. (Web)

3) Basic geology of Egypt as a microcosm of continental composition – first experiences with Earth materials. (Web)

4) Determining the mass and density of Earth – conflicting conclusions as observations to be explained. (Web)

5) Earthquakes and the interior structure of Earth. (Ch. 8)

6) The nature of continents and oceans. (Ch. 2, Figure 2.7; Wall Map)

7) The Rock Cycle – Take 1. (Ch. 1)

8) A very brief look at time and geology (Ch. 1)



TOPIC 2 – Minerals (Ch. 3), Igneous Rocks (Ch. 4), and Volcanoes (Ch. 5).

1) Introduction to minerals and rocks – definitions and recognition that earth materials differ, that some often co-occur, and others rarely or never do.

2) What makes minerals differ – atomic structure as a theory and application of the theory to mineral characteristics.

3) Classification of minerals, particularly silicates.

4) Igneous processes – the creation of magma, its movement in the crust, and its cooling history.

5) Igneous rocks – composition and why it varies, igneous texture and how it originates.

6) Classification of igneous rocks.

7) Volcanoes – variations in eruptive style, shape, etc. and where and why they occur.



TOPIC 3 – Soils, sediments (Ch. 6), and Metamorphic rocks. (Ch. 7)

1) Weathering as a surface process, or set of processes.

2) Soil and sediment formation as a result of weathering/erosion.

3) Sediment transport, deposition, and lithification.

4) Sedimentary rock classification – how a rock name tells us the rock’s history.

5) Metamorphic processes or “agents” – how materials react to                 heat, pressure, and mobile fluids.

6) Metamorphic rock classification and how it reflects the origin of the rock.

7) The “Rock Cycle” – Take 2.



TOPIC 4 – Surface processes.

1) Mass wasting or “landslides” (Ch. 11)

2) Streams (Ch. 12) -- the various types of streams and their characteristics and behavior.

3) Groundwater (Ch. 13) – basic mechanics of water in the ground

4) Coasts – the basic types of coasts and the processes that create them.

5) If we have time we will briefly examine Glaciers (Ch. 14) and Deserts (Ch. 15) which represent climatic extremes on Earth.


TEST4 – the final exam