This course introduces basic landforms and geological processes. Topics include rocks, minerals, volcanoes, fluvial processes, geological history, plate tectonics, glaciers, and coastal dynamics. Upon completion, students should be able to describe basic geological processes that shape the earth.

Prerequisites: MAT 003

Corequisites: ENG 002

Class Hours: 3        Lab Hours: 2        Clinical/Work Exp.: 0        Credit Hours: 4


  • Explain fundamental geologic concepts including earth structure, plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, rock cycle, crustal deformation, surficial processes, earth resources and geohazards. (CCL)

  • Apply the basic methods of scientific inquiry in the context of geology. (CCL)

  • Recognize and quantify the operation of Earth system processes over geologic and human timescales and over local, regional and global spatial scales. (CCL)

  • Manipulate, interpret and construct visualizations of geologic data using maps, graphs, and contemporary technology. (CCL)

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for the societal relevance of geology and the impact of humans on the earth system. (CCL)


An Introduction to Geology

  • Describe the two broad areas of the science of Geology - physical geology and historical geology.

  • Discuss the fundamental difference between the doctrine of catastrophism and the doctrine of uniformitarianism.

  • List and describe some of the principles of relative dating.

  • Describe how a scientific hypothesis differs from a scientific theory.

  • Explain how scientific knowledge is gained.

  • List the major components of Earth’s physical environment.

  • Describe the theory of plate tectonics and list the three types of plate boundaries.

  • Discuss the rock cycle and its interrelationships among different parts of the earth system.

Minerals: Building Blocks of Rocks

  • Explain the difference between a mineral and a rock.

  • Describe the basic structure of an atom and explain how atoms combine.

  • List the most important elements that compose Earth’s continental crust.

  • Explain isotopes and radioactivity.

  • Describe the physical properties of minerals and how they can be used for mineral identification.

  • List the basic compositions and structures of the silicate minerals.

  • List the economic use of some nonsilicate minerals.

  • Distinguish between mineral resources, reserves, and ores.

  • Identify fundamental rock forming minerals in-hand specimen.

Igneous Rocks

  • Describe how igneous rocks form.

  • Explain the difference between magma and lava.

  • List the two criteria that are used to classify igneous rocks.

  • Describe how the rate of cooling of magma influences the crystal size of igneous rocks.

  • Relate the mineral makeup of an igneous rock to Bowen’s reaction series.

  • Describe the characteristics of basaltic and granitic rocks.

  • Explain how economic deposits of gold, silver, and many other metals form.

  • Identify hand specimens of igneous intrusive and extrusive rocks.

Volcanoes and Other Igneous Activity

  • Discuss the differences between explosive and relatively mild volcanic activity.

  • Discuss viscosity, silica content, volatiles, and temperature as each relates to magma composition.

  • List the various materials erupted from volcanoes.

  • Compare and contrast shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes, and cinder cones.

  • Discuss the hazards and features associated with explosive volcanic eruptions.

  • Explain the origin of other landforms including calderas, necks, lava domes, and lava plateaus.

  • Discuss igneous activity at divergent margins, subduction zones, and intraplate regions.

  • List and describe the various types of plutonic igneous bodies.

Weathering and Soils

  • List the processes on Earth that are continually removing materials from higher elevations and moving them to lower elevations.

  • Describe the two types of weathering and the ways that they are different.

  • Discuss the factors that determine the rate at which rock weathers.

  • Describe soil and list the factors that control soil formation.

  • Explain the concept of the soil profile and how it relates to soil formation.

  • Discuss the characteristics of the soil horizons in a typical soil profile.

  • List and briefly discuss the major soil types.

  • Relate the process of weathering to the formation of some ore deposits.

Sedimentary Rocks

  • Briefly discuss how sediment is turned into sedimentary rock.

  • Explain and briefly define the major types of detrital sedimentary rocks.

  • Explain and briefly define the major types of chemical sedimentary rocks.

  • List and briefly discuss the major sedimentary depositional environments.

  • Discuss the single most common characteristic feature of sedimentary rocks.

  • Describe the two broad groups of nonmetallic mineral resources.

  • List the energy resources that are associated with sedimentary rocks.

  • Identify in-hand specimen both detrital and chemical sedimentary rocks.

Metamorphism and Metamorphic Rocks

  • Briefly discuss the concept of metamorphism and metamorphic rocks.

  • List and discuss the agents of metamorphism including heat, pressure, and chemical fluids.

  • Briefly discuss the importance and origin of metamorphic textures.

  • Compare and contrast the various types of foliated and nonfoliated metamorphic textures.

  • List and briefly define the common metamorphic rocks, both foliated and nonfoliated.

  • Briefly discuss the various metamorphic environments found on Earth.

  • Explain the concept of metamorphic zones including index minerals and metamorphic grade.

  • Identify in-hand specimen both foliated and nonfoliated metamorphic rocks.

Mass Wasting: The Work Of Gravity

  • Discuss the relationship between mass wasting and landform development.

  • List and briefly explain those factors which control and trigger mass movements.

  • Compare and contrast the various categories of mass movements

  • List examples and briefly discuss mass movements based on the type of motion involved.

  • Discuss the different rates of movement involved in mass wasting.

  • List specific geographic examples of mass wasting including falls, slides, and flows.

  • Discuss the characteristics of slower mass movements including creep and solifluction.

  • Discuss observable phenomena that indicate mass wasting has occurred in a given area.

Running Water

  • Discuss and explain the hydrologic cycle on Earth.

  • Briefly discuss the concept of streamflow including discharge and gradient.

  • Explain the changes that occur from the head to the mouth of a stream.

  • Briefly explain the concept of base level and graded streams.

  • Compare and contrast the various mechanisms by which streams transport sediment.

  • List and briefly describe the various types of stream deposits.

  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of narrow and wide stream valleys.

  • List and briefly describe the various types of drainage patterns.

  • Briefly discuss flooding and flood control.


  • Briefly discuss the importance of groundwater.

  • Explain the distribution of underground water including the concept of the water table.

  • Understand the interaction between groundwater and surface streams.

  • List and briefly discuss those factors influencing the storage and movement of groundwater.

  • Compare and contrast springs, hot springs, and geysers.

  • List and discuss in some detail the major problems associated with groundwater withdrawal.

  • Explain briefly the geologic work accomplished by groundwater.

  • Discuss the main features associated with karst development.

Glaciers and Glaciation

  • Compare and contrast the various types of glaciers.

  • Briefly discuss the formation and movement of glaciers.

  • Discuss the processes involved in glacial erosion.

  • Compare and contrast those landforms produced by glacial erosion.

  • Discuss the processes associated with glacial deposition.

  • Compare and contrast those landforms produced by glacial deposition.

  • Briefly explain the glacial theory and the development of ice ages.

  • List and briefly explain some of the proposed causes of glaciation.

Deserts and Wind

  • Explain the distribution and origin of dry regions on Earth.

  • Briefly discuss the major geologic processes operating in arid climates.

  • Discuss the evolution and features of the Basin and Range Province.

  • Briefly explain the mechanisms of transporting sediment by wind.

  • Discuss the processes involved in wind erosion.

  • Compare and contrast the features produced by wind erosion.

  • Compare and contrast the various types of sand dunes.

  • Discuss the origin and geologic occurrence of loess.


  • Explain the formation and characteristics of waves.

  • List and briefly define the various types of waves.

  • Briefly discuss the mechanism of wave erosion.

  • Explain wave refraction and how it relates to long shore transport.

  • Compare and contrast shoreline features, including their origin and occurrence.

  • List and briefly discuss those factors that affect shoreline erosion.

  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the United States.

  • Briefly discuss the formation of emergent and submergent coastlines.

  • Understand the origin and characteristics of tides.

Earthquakes and Earth’s Interior

  • Explain the origin of earthquakes, including their relationship to faults.

  • Briefly discuss elastic rebound and the accumulation of strain in rocks.

  • Discuss seismology, including the characteristics and recording of earthquake waves.

  • Understand the occurrence of earthquakes in relation to tectonic plate boundaries.

  • Discuss the measurement of earthquake intensity and magnitude.

  • Discuss the various types of destruction associated with earthquakes.

  • Explain earthquake prediction in terms of both short-range and long-range forecasting.

  • List and briefly explain the layers of the Earth defined by composition and physical properties.

  • Briefly discuss Earth’s major boundaries, including the moho and the crust-mantle boundary.

  • Discuss the composition of Earth’s layers.

Plate Tectonics: A Scientific Theory Unfolds

  • Briefly discuss the evidence used by Alfred Wegener to support his theory of continental drift.

  • Briefly explain the theory of plate tectonics.

  • Compare and contrast the distribution and geologic characteristics of tectonic plate boundaries, including divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries.

  • Explain polar wandering and how it helped to renew interest in the idea of continental drift.

  • Discuss geomagnetic reversals and seafloor spreading; and how each contributed to the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the 1960s.

  • Discuss the evidence used to test the plate tectonics model including earthquakes, volcanoes, ocean drilling, and hot spots.

  • Briefly explain how plate motions are measured.

  • Discuss mantle convection and the various mechanisms proposed to explain plate motion.

Origin and Evolution of the Ocean Floor

  • Briefly explain the technology utilized in mapping the ocean floor.

  • Discuss the geologic characteristics and features associated with passive and active continental margins.

  • Explain the origin of submarine canyons, including the role of turbidity currents.

  • Briefly discuss features of the deep-ocean basins, including deep-ocean trenches, abyssal plains, and seamounts.

  • Understand the origin and significance of coral reefs and atolls.

  • Discuss the types of sediment found on the seafloor, including terrigenous, biogenous, and hydrogenous sediment.

Crustal Deformation and MountainBuilding

  • Explain the concept of deformation, including force, stress and strain.

  • Distinguish between brittle and ductile deformation.

  • Discuss how temperature, confining pressure, rock type, and time all affect rock deformation.

  • Discuss the folding of rocks, including the origin, characteristics, and some geographic examples of folding.

  • Discuss the faulting of rocks, including the origin and stresses responsible for faults.

  • Briefly discuss the origin and significance of joints.

  • Briefly explain orogenesis and the concept of mountain building.

  • Discuss mountain building associated with subducting plate boundaries, including a comparison of Aleutian-type and Andean-type mountain building.

  • Explain mountain building associated with continent-continent collisions.

  • Discuss vertical movements of Earth’s crust, including isostatic adjustment and mantleconvection.

Geologic Time

  • Describe how geologic time is measured.

  • Discuss why the study of geologic time is important.

  • Recognize how our concept of geologic time and Earth’s age changed throughout human history.

  • Know who James Hutton was and why he was important.

  • Explain how Lord Kelvin almost overturned the uniformatarian foundation of geology.

  • Discuss relative dating and why the principles of relative dating are important.

  • List the six fundamental principles of relative dating.

  • Define unconformities.

  • List the three specific types of unconformities.

  • Discuss how the principles of relative dating are applied to interpret the geologic history of an area.

  • Explain what correlation is.

  • Describe how subsurface units are correlated.

  • Discuss why the discovery of radioactivity is important to geology.

  • Define atoms, elements, and isotopes.

  • Briefly discuss the fundamentals of radioactive decay.

  • Describe some of the sources of uncertainty in radiometric dating.

  • Understand fission-track dating.

  • Describe the carbon-14 dating technique.

  • Compare tree-ring dating to other dating methods.

  • Explain the geologic time scale and how it was developed.

  • Discuss how climate change and geologic time are linked.

Earth’s History: A Brief Summary

  • Discuss Earth’s primitive atmosphere and how it has evolved throughout geologic time.

  • Understand the immensity of the Precambrian time and what organisms thrived.

  • Describe the Paleozoic Era and the explosion of life.

  • Discuss the Mesozoic Era and the history of the Age of the Dinosaurs.

  • Understand why the Age of the Mammals (Cenozoic Era) occurred and how it is linked with the demise of the dinosaurs.


A Excellent 4 Grade Points Numerical grade of 90 - 100
B Above Average 3 Grade Points Numerical grade of 80 - 89
C Average 2 Grade Points Numerical grade of 70 - 79
D Below Average 1 Grade Point Numerical grade of 60 - 69
F Failed 0 Grade Point Numerical below 60
WP Withdraw Passing 0 Grade Point Issued if the course is dropped after the
census date and on or before the 60% point
of the course unless the instructor issues
a WF based on extenuating circumstances
WF Withdraw Failing 0 Grade Point Issued if the course is dropped after the
60% point of the course or the instructor
chooses based on extenuating circumstances


Students are responsible for attending and actively participating in all classes whether online, hybrid, or seated. Punctual, consistent attendance and participation are important for class success and future endeavors. Students are responsible for communicating with the instructor if an absence is unavoidable. While this statement is applicable to all departments within the School of Academics, Education, and Fine Arts, some departments may further define attendance and participation expectations based on the curriculum requirements.

It is the student's responsibility to withdraw from the course. Students may complete the withdrawal process in the Advising Center. Students may receive a grade of WP if they withdraw from a course by the 60% point/date of the course. Any student withdrawals that occur after the 60% point will result in a grade of WF. Exceptions to the "WF" grade may exist if the student has a mitigating circumstance. Students are encouraged to discuss withdrawal options with the faculty member and complete the withdrawal process in the Advising Center. Students who come in after the scheduled starting time or students who leave before the scheduled ending time will be counted as tardy. Three (3) tardy arrivals or early departures will count as one absence.


To preserve the best learning environment for all students, all cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off and stored with other personal property in book bags while class is in session. Ear buds must be removed. If a student uses these devices during class, the instructor will require the student to leave because text messaging and other activities disturb the class and prevent others from concentrating on class work. If a student uses electronic devices during a test or quiz, a zero will be recorded for that assignment, and the instructor may withdraw the student from the course. The use of a phone in any way during a test or the discussion of a graded test is strictly prohibited and considered cheating.


If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact Frank Pait, Counselor for Students with Disabilities, at extension 4222, in the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) located on the first floor of the Cuyler A. Dunbar Building (CAD).

If you are a student with a mobility impairment and have a class in a multi-story building, please discuss evacuation plans with your instructor.


Students shall be permitted excused absences from all classes two days per academic year for religious observances required by their faith. The absences requested in accordance with this policy are "one of" and not "in addition to" any absences otherwise permitted by the faculty for a class. The excused absence request must be submitted by the second class meeting and a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of the absence. Please contact your instructor for the required forms.


Students at CVCC are expected to be honest in all academic pursuits, whether class, lab, shop, or clinical. Acts of academic dishonesty are considered unethical and subject to behavior sanctions. Examples of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Sharing information about the content of quizzes, exams, classroom/lab/shop/clinical assignments (scheduled or make-up) without approval of the instructor including but not limited to unauthorized copying, collaboration, or use of notes, books, or other materials when preparing for or completing examinations or other academic assignments (scheduled or make-up).

2. Buying, selling, or otherwise obtaining a copy of a quiz, exams, project, term paper, or like document, without approval of the instructor.

3. Plagiarism, which is defined as the intentional representation of another person's work, words, thoughts, or ideas (from any source) as one's own.

4. Failing to follow approved test taking procedures by performing such acts as:
  • Looking on another student's test
  • Use of unauthorized notes; written, electronic, or otherwise
  • Changing answers after exam is scored
  • Verbal, non-verbal, or electronic communication with another student during an exam

Instructors have the authority to impose either a warning, probation, or dismissal from the class for acts of academic dishonesty relative to classes under their supervision.

Students have an obligation to report any acts of academic dishonesty to the instructor or appropriate campus authority when reasonable grounds exist for such a report. Students also have a responsibility to cooperate in the investigation of any alleged acts of academic dishonesty. Failure to report acts of academic dishonesty could result in a behavior sanction as outlined in the Student Conduct Policy, Policy 3.18


Reporting and Response to Sexual Violence, Sexual or Gender-based Harassment, and Other Sexual Misconduct

"Title IX Violations" is the term that will be used to include "sexual violence, sexual or gender-based harassment, and other sexual misconduct" and is explained further in Procedure 3.18.2. The Procedure can be found on the CVCC Website under About Us/Procedures.

Procedure 3.18.2 applies exclusively to Title IX Violations allegations. All other forms of harassment and/or discrimination are handled under Policy 3.18: Student Code of Conduct.

Students and/or employees are encouraged to report Title IX Violations in any of its forms, including, but not limited to, sexual or gender-based harassment, rape, sexual assault, other forcible and non-forcible sex offenses, domestic or dating violence, or stalking, and CVCC supports this procedure for students and employees in compliance with Title IX legislation.

Any student who believes that he or she is being, or has been subjected to, Title IX Violations is encouraged to file a report of the alleged Title IX Violations promptly with the Title IX Coordinator, Dean for the School of Access, Development, and Success.


To Report a Serious Emergency Dial 911 from any campus phone or 911 from mobile phones; then dial 711 (Campus Safety & Security) from a campus phone.

For specific CVCC emergencies guidelines, please refer to the CVCC Emergency Guidebook


Quickly get all persons behind a locked door, close blinds, lock all windows/doors, and turn off lights. Sit against an interior wall away from windows and doors (hide). Keep cell phones ON in silent mode or vibrate. Do not leave the locked area until notified by a known CVCC administrator or by law enforcement that the emergency is over.

Seek Shelter (tornados, hurricanes, etc.)
Move to hallways and/or other inner rooms. Stay away from windows and doors. Sit on floor facing the inner wall and shield head with hands. Remain in shelter until notified by CVCC administration or by emergency personnel that the danger is over.

Building Evacuation
Leave the building immediately and proceed to a parking lot location at least 300 feet from the building. Do not delay to retrieve books or other personal items. Do not use elevators. Do not touch suspicious objects. Stay clear of the building once outside. Faculty should take class rosters if possible and account for all students at evacuation locations. Report any special assistance needed to CVCC faculty/staff or to emergency personnel. If you are aware or suspect someone is trapped in a threatened building, notify CVCC faculty/staff or emergency personnel. Remain at your building evacuation location until further instructions are provided by CVCC administration or by emergency personnel. In case of bomb threat, avoid using cell phones and wireless devices; this may detonate the bomb.

Smoke, Fire or Hazardous Materials
Activate the nearest fire alarm. Before attempting to fight a fire, notify someone nearby. Never attempt to fight a fire larger than wastebasket size. Close doors and windows to isolate the problem if the situation permits. If trapped in a building during a fire, use wet towels or cloths to protect you from flames and smoke. Stop/drop/roll if your clothes catch on fire. Do not open doors that feel hot. Always stay between the fire and an exit. Stay low to the floor as you try to exit.

Personal Emergencies
Unless you feel threatened, stay with the victim until emergency personnel arrive. Avoid contact with bodily fluids. Stay calm and try to minimize panic. If the person is conscious, ask if he/she is a High School student (if so, include this information in your 911 call).

Emergency Procedures Revised: April 4, 2012

Cell phone backup to 711 Campus Safety & Security:

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