Catalog 2013-2014

Geosciences

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

What are the Geosciences?

Geosciences is a multidisciplinary field that studies the features, processes and history of the earth. The role of geoscientists will be central to the primary challenges facing the world in the 21st century, including global climate change and evolving demands for energy resources, construction and manufacturing materials, food and agricultural products, and building sites necessary to support a growing population. The geosciences are distinct from other natural sciences in that knowledge from many other fields is integrated to explore questions that arise as humans interact with the Earth.


What do Geoscientists do?

Geoscientists investigate processes that change the Earth over time, including dramatic geological processes such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and ongoing processes associated with rivers, wind, glaciers, oceans, and soil erosion. Geoscientists are trained to explore how the materials of the Earth react over different time scales, from seconds to billions of years, and over different spatial scales, from atomic to planetary. Study in the geosciences requires creativity, collaboration, and the ability to integrate information from a wide range of connected topics such as chemistry, biology, physics, and geography. In this light, geoscientists have a particularly flexible professional skillset that is founded in core analysis and interpretation skills developed in the field and laboratory. Successful students must be able to think three dimensionally, have strong quantitative skills, and be able to communicate clearly through writing and speaking. Field trips are included in most courses.


Why study Geosciences at PLU?

Pacific Lutheran University is located at the leading edge of western North America offering a unique setting for the study of geosciences. The natural environments of the Pacific Northwest region are unsurpassed in providing a rich variety of geologic field studies in the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River Basalt Plateau, the coastal areas of the Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean, and the Olympic Peninsula. The student/faculty ratio in geosciences at PLU allows students to work closely with faculty in classes, laboratories, and field studies. Faculty members work individually with students in small seminar groups and on research projects.

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 DEGREE
Major in Geosciences
32 semester hours in following Geosciences courses, plus 4 semester hours in supporting 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 DEGREE
Major in Geosciences

42 to 44 semester hours in following Geosciences courses, plus 30 semester hours in required and recommended supporting 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
J-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

Geosciences (GEOS) Undergraduate-Level Courses

GEOS 102: General Oceanography - NS, SM

Oceanography and its relationship to other fields; physical, chemical, biological, climatic, and geological aspects of the sea. Includes labs and field trips. (4)

GEOS 103: Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Geologic Hazards - NS, SM

Study of the geologic environment and its relationship to humans, with emphasis on geologic features and processes that create hazards when encroached upon by human activity, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and avalanches, and solutions to problems created by these hazards. Includes labs and field trips. (4)

GEOS 104: Conservation of Natural Resources - NS, SM

Principles and problems of public and private stewardship of our resources with special reference to the Pacific Northwest. Includes labs and field trips. Cross-listed with ENVT 104. (4)

GEOS 105: Meteorology - NS, SM

A full, balanced, and up-to-date coverage of the basic principles of meteorology. Examination of the impacts of severe weather on humans and the environment. Includes labs. (4)

GEOS 106: Geology of National Parks - NS

Study of the significant geologic features, processes, and history as illustrated by selected National Parks. Relationship between human history and geology and the impact of geology on our lives will be included. (4)

GEOS 107: Global Climate Changes - NS

A survey of current climate change research. Students will develop and apply a fundamental understanding of earth systems through evaluation of geologic and other scientific evidence for long- and short-term climate change. (4)

GEOS 109: The Geology of Energy - NS, SM

Geoscientific exploration of natural systems and processes that create non-renewable and renewable energy resources. Issues of extraction and exploitation of diverse energy resources in a global context. May not be repeated for credit. (4)

GEOS 190: FYEP190: Inquiry Seminar

A four-credit seminar to introduce students to the methods and topics of study within a particular academic discipline or field. Students practice the academic skills that are at the center of the General Education Program. (4)

GEOS 201: Geologic Principles - NS, SM

A survey of geologic processes as they apply to the evolution of the North American continent, including the interaction of humans, with their geologic environment. Students participate actively in classes that integrate laboratory and field study of rocks, minerals, fossils, maps and environmental aspects of geology and emphasize development basic skills of geologic inquiry. This course meets state education certification requirements for content in physical and historical geology. Includes labs and field trips. (4)

GEOS 287: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 288: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 289: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 291: Directed Study

To provide individual undergraduate students with introductory study not available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as DS: followed by the specific title designated by the student. (1 to 4)

GEOS 324: Igneous Petrology

Applied and theoretical study of the genesis, nature, and distribution of igneous rocks, at microscopic to global scales. Includes labs. Prerequisites: GEOS 201, 326, or consent of instructor. (2)

GEOS 325: Structural Geology

The form and spatial relationships of various rock masses and an introduction to rock deformation; consideration of basic processes to understand mountain building and continental formation; laboratory emphasizes practical techniques which enable students to analyze regional structural patterns. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 326: Optical Mineralogy

Theory and practice of mineral studies using the petrographic microscope, including immersion oil techniques, production of thin sections, and determination of minerals by means of their optical properties. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (2)

GEOS 327: Stratigraphy and Sedimentation

Formational principles of surface-accumulated rocks, and their incorporation in the stratigraphic record. This subject is basic to field mapping and structural interpretation. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 328: Paleontology - NS, SM

A systematic study of the fossil record, combining principles of evolutionary development, paleohabitats and preservation, with practical experience of specimen identification. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 329: Metamorphic Petrology

Consideration of the mineralogical and textural changes that rocks undergo during orogenic episodes, including physical-chemical parameters of the environment as deduced from experimental studies. Includes labs. Prerequisites: GEOS 201, 326 or consent of instructor. (2)

GEOS 331: Maps: Computer-Aided Mapping and Analysis

Computer-based Geographic Information Systems, digital maps, and data sources. The creation, interpretation, and analysis of digital maps from multiple data sources. Analysis of spatial information from sciences, social sciences, and humanities using sets of digital maps. Includes labs. Prerequisite: Previous science (geosciences preferred), math or computer science course or consent of instructor. Familiarity with maps recommended. (4)

GEOS 332: Geomorphology

Study of the processes that shape the Earth's surface with emphasis on the effects of rock type, geologic structure, and climate on the formation and evolution of landforms. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 334: Hydrogeology

Study of the hydrologic cycle, investigating surface and groundwater flow, resource evaluation and development, wells, water quality and geothermal resources. Emphasis on water problems in the Puget Sound area, with additional examples from diverse geologic environments. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 335: Geophysics

Study of the physical nature of the earth, its properties and processes, employing techniques from seismology, heat flow, gravity, magnetism, and electrical conductivity. Emphasis on understanding the earth's formation, structure, and plate tectonics processes as well as geophysical exploration techniques. Includes labs. Prerequisites: GEOS 201, one semester of calculus, physics (high-school-level or above), or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 340: Glacial Geology

Applied and theoretical study of glacier dynamics, glacial geomorphology, and ice ages. Includes the role of glaciers in water resources, earth history, and climate change. Examines ice on microscopic to continental scales. Examines glacial change on short- and long-term timescales. Local glaciated environments will be featured. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 350: Marine Geology

Study of the 70% of the earth beneath the oceans, focusing on the extensive discoveries of the past few decades. Emphasis on marine sediments, sedimentary processes, plate tectonic processes, and the historical geology of the oceans. Includes labs. Prerequisite: GEOS 102 or 201, or consent of instructor. (4)

GEOS 387: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 388: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 389: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 390: Field Trip

Field and on-campus study of major geologic sites in western U.S. Trips take place during spring break or at end of spring semester. Prerequisite: GEOS 201 or consent of instructor. A minimum of 4 credits of 300-level geosciences courses. Pass/Fail. (1)

GEOS 487: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 488: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 489: Special Topics in Geosciences

To provide undergraduate students with new, one-time, and developing courses not yet available in the regular curriculum. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as ST: followed by the specific title designated by the academic unit. (1 to 4)

GEOS 491: Independent Study

Investigations or research in areas of special interest not covered by regular courses. Requires regular supervision by a faculty member. (1 to 4)

GEOS 495: Internship

To permit undergraduate students to relate theory and practice in a work situation. The title will be listed on the student term-based record as Intern: followed by the specific title designated by the instructor in consultation with the student. (1 to 12)

GEOS 498: Seminar

Discussion of professional papers and introduction to directed research for the Capstone project. Required of all majors in their senior year. December graduates should complete the sequence (GEOS 498-499) in their final full year. Prerequisite: At least 8 semester hours of 300-level or above courses in Geosciences. Pass/Fail. (1)

GEOS 499: Capstone: Senior Seminar - SR

Culminating experience applying geological methods and theory through original literature or field or laboratory research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, with written and oral presentation of results. Required of all majors in their senior year. Prerequisite: GEOS 498. (2)