Mount Rainier with Tacoma in the foreground.
Photo courtesy of USGS.
Geosciences Course Descriptions
102 General Oceanography
Oceanography and its relationship to other fields; physical, chemical, biological, climatic, and geological aspects of the sea. Includes labs and field trips.
103 Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Geologic Hazards
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.
104 Conservation of Natural Resources
Principles and problems of public and private stewardship of our resources with special reference to the Pacific Northwest. Includes labs.
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. No prerequisites. Includes labs.
106: Geology of National Parks (Taught as GEOS 190)
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.
107: Global Climate Change (Taught as GEOS 190)
A survey of current climate change research. Students will develop and apply fundamental understanding of earth systems through evaluation of geologic and other scientific evidence for long- and short-term climate change.
109: Geology of Energy
Exploration of geoscientific systems and processes that create non-renewable and renewable energy resources. Issues of extraction and exploitation of diverse energy resources in a global context.
201 Geologic Principles
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 developing basic skills of geologic inquiry. This course meets state education certification requirements for content in physical and historical geology.
324 Igneous Petrology
Applied and theoretical study of the genesis, nature, and distribution of igneous rocks, at microscopic to global scales. Includes labs. Prerequisites: 201, 326, or consent of instructor.
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: 201 or consent of instructor.
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: 201 or consent of instructor.
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: 201 or consent of instructor.
A systematic study of the fossil record, combining principles of evolutionary development, paleohabitats and preservation, with practical experience of specimen identification. Includes labs. Prerequisite: 201 or consent of instructor.
329 Metamorphic Petrology
Consideration of the mineralogical and textural changes that rock undergo during orogenic episodes, including physical-chemical parameters of the environment as deduced from experimental studies. Includes labs. Prerequisites: 201, 326, or consent of instructor.
331 Maps: Computer aided mapping and map 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 (geoscience preferred), math or computer science course or consent of instructor. Familiarity with maps recommended.
Study of the processes that shape the Earth's surface with emphasis on the effects of rock types, geologic structure, and climate on the formation and evolution of land forms. Includes labs. Prerequisite: 131, 201, or consent of instructor.
Study of the hydrologic cycle, investigating surface and ground-water 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: 201 or consent of instructor.
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.
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)
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: 102, or 201, or consent of instructor.
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: 201 or consent of instructor. A minimum of 4 credits of 300-level Geosciences courses. Pass/Fail.
Geologic Field Experience
- Required for the B.S. in Geosciences: Students completing the B.S. degree in Geosciences are required to take a departmentally approved field camp from another college or university (minimum of 4 semester credit hours). 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.
- Recommended for the B.A. in Geosciences: 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.
491 Independent Study
Investigations or research in areas of special interest not covered by regular courses. Requires regular supervision by a faculty member.
Experimental or theoretical investigation, in close cooperation with a faculty member. Open to upper division students.
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 credits of 300-level or above courses in Geosciences. Pass/Fail.
499 Capstone Seminar
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. December graduates should complete the sequence (498-499) in their final full year. Prerequisite: GEOS 498.