Catalog 2012-2013

Geosciences

253.535.7563
www.plu.edu/geosciences
geos@plu.edu

The geosciences are distinct from other natural sciences. The study of the earth is interdisciplinary and historical, bringing knowledge from many other fields to help solve problems. Geoscientists investigate continents, oceans, and the atmosphere, and emphasize both the processes that have changed and are changing the earth through time and the results of those processes, such as rocks and sediments. Our fast-rising human population is dependent upon the Earth for food, water, shelter and energy and mineral resources.

Study in the geosciences requires creativity and the ability to integrate. Geologists observe processes and products in the field and in the laboratory, merge diverse data, develop reasoning skills that apply through geologic time and create and interpret maps. The field goes beyond pure research science, and includes applied topics like the relationships of natural events such as earthquakes and volcanoes with human societies.


The Department of Geosciences recognizes that it is no longer sufficient just to have knowledge of the facts of the field; successful students must have quantitative skills and be able to communicate clearly through writing and speaking. Laboratory experiences are an integral part of all courses. Many courses involve the use of microscopes, including the department’s scanning electron microscope. Computers are used in most courses to help students understand fundamental phenomena, obtain current information, and communicate results. Field trips are included in many courses.

Pacific Lutheran University is located at the leading edge of western North America, in the Puget Lowland, between the dramatic scenery of the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range. Pierce County has diverse geology, which is reflected in elevations that range from sea level to more than 14,000 feet.

Geosciences graduates who elect to work after completing a PLU degree are employed by the U.S. Geological Survey, natural resource companies, governmental agencies, and private-sector geotechnical and environmental consulting firms. Graduates who combine geosciences with education are employed in primary and secondary education.

Careers in geosciences often require post-graduate degrees. Many B.S. majors have been successful at major research graduate schools.

Degree Offerings and Policies

 The bachelor of science degree is intended as a pre-professional degree, for students interested in graduate school or working in geosciences. The bachelor of arts degree is the minimum preparation appropriate for the field and is best combined with other degree programs, such as majors in social sciences or the minor in Environmental Studies.

The department strongly recommends that all students complete MATH 140 or higher before enrolling in 300-level and higher courses in geosciences. The department also strongly encourages students to complete the Chemistry and Physics requirements as early as possible. Students should also note that upper-division courses are offered on a two-year cycle. Early declaration of majors or minors in geosciences will facilitate development of individual programs and avoid scheduling conflicts.

Students must complete a Geosciences capstone project for the major. They may not use the capstone of another major to fulfill the Geosciences capstone. While there can be overlap in the topic chosen, they must complete all of the Geosciences capstone requirements and take GEOS 498 and GEOS 499.

Prerequisite Requirement

Students may enroll in a course that has GEOS 201 as a prerequisite only when they have completed GEOS 201 with a grade of C+ or higher. In the case of other prerequisite courses, they must be successfully completed with a C- or higher before enrolling in the next course.

All courses taken for the major (either B.A. or B.S.) must be completed with a grade of C- or higher; overall Geosciences GPA of 2.00 or higher is required for graduation.

All courses taken for the minor must be completed with a grade of C or higher.

BACHELOR OF ARTS MAJOR
32 semester hours in following Geosciences courses:

  • GEOS 201
  • Plus at least 8 semester hours from: GEOS 102, 103,104, 105, 106, 107, or 109
  • 8 semester hours from: GEOS 324, 325, 326, 327, 329
  • 8 semester hours from: GEOS 328, 331, 332, 334, 335, 340, 350
  • 1 semester hour of GEOS 390
  • 1 semester hour of GEOS 498
  • 2 semester hours of GEOS 499
  • Required supporting non-geoscience course: CHEM 104 or CHEM 115
  • Recommended (minimum of 4 semester hours): Geologic Field Experience
    Students completing the B.A. degree in Geosciences are recommended to take a departmentally approved field camp from another college or university. Students would normally take this during the summer, after their junior year or after their senior year depending upon their level of preparation. This field experience may be a traditional field geology course or a field-based course in Hydrology, Environmental Geology or Geophysics, etc. Students must have approval of the department chair before enrolling in the Field Experience.
  • Options reflect a student’s interests and are discussed with an advisor

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE MAJOR
42 to 44 semester hours in following Geosciences courses:

  • 4 semester hours from: GEOS 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, or 109
  • GEOS 201, 324, 325, 326, 327, 329, and 335
  • 8 semester hours from: GEOS 328, 331, 332, 334, 340, or 350
  • 1 semester hour of GEOS 390
  • 1 semester hour of GEOS 498
  • 2 semester hours of GEOS 499
  • Required (minimum of 4 semester hours): Geological Field Experience
    Students completing the B.S. degree in geosciences are required to take a departmentally approved field camp from another college or university. Students would normally take this during the summer, after their junior year or after their senior year depending upon their level of preparation. This field experience may be a traditional field geology course or a field-based course in hydrology, environmental geology or geophysics, etc. Students must have approval of the department chair before enrolling in the Field Experience.
  • Required supporting courses
    Minimum 26 semester hours, to include:
    • CHEM 115 and 116
    • PHYS 125, 126 (with 135,136 labs) or PHYS 153, 154 (with 163, 164 labs)
    • MATH 151 and either MATH 152 or CSCE 120
    • Recommended: BIOL 226 and additional courses are recommended when paleontology is a major interest

MINOR
20 semester hours

  • All courses for the minor must be completed with grade of C or higher.
  • Required: GEOS 201 and at least 3 upper-division Geosciences courses (a minimum of 8 upper-division semester hours).

DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

In recognition of outstanding work the designation with Departmental Honors may be granted to Bachelor of Science graduates by a vote of the faculty of the Department of Geosciences, based upon the student’s performance in these areas:

  • Course work: The grade point average in geoscience courses must be at least 3.50.
  • Written work: From the time a student declares a major in geosciences, copies of outstanding work (e.g., laboratory reports, poster presentations, written reports) will be kept for later summary evaluation.
  • Oral communication: Students must evidence ability to communicate effectively as indicated by the sum of their participation in class discussions, seminars, help sessions, and teaching assistantship work.
  • Other activities: Positive considerations for honors include involvement in the department, doing independent research, geoscience-related employment, and participation in professional organizations.

The departmental honors designation will appear on the transcript of a student graduating with a geosciences major.

Course Offerings by Semester/Term

Fall Semester: 201, 326, 327, 332, 335, 340, 498
January Term: 331, 334
Spring Semester: 201, 324, 325, 328, 329, 350, 390, 499
Alternate Years: 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 331, 332, 334, 335, 340, 350, 390