Geology (GEOL)

College of Arts and Sciences, The Department of Earth, Environment, and Society

Owens Science Hall (OWS) 153, (651) 962-5243
Hickson, Lamb, McDermott, Theissen (Director)

Department Web Site: https://cas.stthomas.edu/departments/areas-of-study/earth-environment-society/index.html

Geology is the field of study that tackles a wide range of issues facing society today: preparing for natural disasters, finding and extracting natural resources in responsible and sustainable ways, understanding and preparing for global environmental change, preventing, assessing and mitigating environmental pollution, and public health issues, to name a few. Many of us grew up thinking geologists simply study rocks. Although it is true rocks provide some of the fundamental clues to understanding these issues, geologists also study soil, sediments, lakes, groundwater, and the interior of the earth. Spatial analysis using ArcGIS, numerical computer modeling, and geochemical analysis using sophisticated instrumentation are common methods used by different geoscientists.

In the Geology program, we strive to develop the whole student by emphasizing critical thinking and analytical, quantitative, public speaking and writing skills. Students have the opportunity to work collaboratively with geology faculty on research projects, in addition to learning the key field, lab and research skills of a professional geologist. These skills are transferable to many different fields and help prepare students for a range of career paths. The geology curriculum has been designed to provide students with a solid core, but with sufficient flexibility to allow students with particular interests to pursue a more customized Geology program. At the heart of this program are a number of hands-on learning opportunities, a fundamental and basic component of a St. Thomas geoscience degree. Program faculty emphasize the fact that geology must be learned by practicing skills and as a result offer analytical experiences in all courses that extend from a short afternoon trip to a multi-week field course on field methods and regional geology. Majors will visit many of the geologically significant localities throughout the upper Midwest as part of their program as well as use analytical instrumentation.

For information about Teacher Licensure in one of the following concentrations, please see the education section.

  • Elementary Education with a Co-major in Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education
  • Elementary Education with a Specialty in Science (5-8)
  • Co-major in Science (5-8) – Earth and Space Science (9-12) and a Co-major in Secondary Education

Major in Geology (B.A.)

The Bachelor of Arts in Geology is designed for students that want a rigorous foundation in the geosciences that prepares them for a career as a professional geologist, but also lays the groundwork for careers in Earth and space science teaching, public policy, natural resource management, environmental law, or others that do not require graduate degrees. Some graduate programs might consider this degree sufficient for entry, but some may require more allied courses in mathematics, chemistry, and/or physics. If you are considering careers in environmental geology that will lead to a Professional Geologist state certification, pay particular attention to the elective and allied courses marked with an asterisk (*).

Four credits from the following:
  • GEOL 110 Geology of the National Parks (4 credits)
  • GEOL 111 Introductory Physical Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 114 The Science of Natural Disasters (4 credits)
  • GEOL 115 Environmental Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 162 The Earth’s Record of Climate (4 credits)
Plus:
  • GEOL 211 Earth Materials (4 credits)
    or GEOL 310 Environmental Geochemistry (4 credits)
  • GEOL 260 Geology in the Field (4 credits)*
  • GEOL 320 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4 credits)
  • GEOL 340 Fundamentals of the Lithosphere I (Petrology) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 360 Fundamentals of the Lithosphere II (Structural Geology) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 410 Hydrogeology
Plus twelve credits from the following (eight credits of which must be at the 200-level or higher):
  • GEOL 130 Earth History (4 credits)
  • GEOL 161 Medical Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 162 The Earth’s Record of Climate (if not chosen above) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 211 Earth Materials (if not chosen above) (4 credits)*
  • GEOL 220 Oceanography (4 credits)
  • GEOL 252 Earth Surface Processes and Geomorphology (4 credits)*
  • GEOL 310 Environmental Geochemistry (4 credits) (if not chosen above)*
  • GEOL 430 Advanced Earth History (4 credits)
  • GEOL 460 Advanced Field Methods (4 credits)
  • GEOL 461 Medical Geology (unless receiving credit for 161) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 462 The Earth’s Record of Climate (unless receiving credit for 162) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 491 Research (4 credits)
  • BIOL 471 Evolution (4 credits)
  • One course may come from this list:
    • ESCI 310 Environmental Problem Solving
    • GEOG 223 Remote Sensing
    • GEOG 321 Geographic Information Systems*

Quantitative Analysis (4 credits)

  • CISC 130 Programming and Problem Solving
  • STAT 220 Statistics I (Excel or R-based lab recommended)*
  • MATH 109
    or MATH 113 Calculus I

Allied Courses (8 credits), with no two courses from the same program:

  • BIOL 102 Conservation Biology
  • BIOL 209 Biology of Sustainability
  • CHEM 101 Environmental Chemistry*
  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (MATH 113 placement required)
  • CISC 130 Programming and Problem Solving (if not taken for Quantitative Analysis)
  • ECON 370 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (4 credits)
  • ENGR 123 Energy and the Environment
  • ENVR 212 Society and Sustainability, ENVR 301 Environmental Ethics, OR ENVR 351 Environmental Policy (all classes 4 credits)
  • PHYS 101 Physics for Liberal Arts
  • PHYS 104 Astronomy
  • PHYS 109 Physics for Life Sciences I (MATH 111 placement required)
  • PHYS 211 Classical Physics I (MATH 113 placement required)
  • STAT 320 Statistics II*

*Strongly recommended for students wishing to pursue professional geologist (PG) state
certification.


Major in Geology (B.S.)

Four credits from the following:
  • GEOL 111 Introductory Physical Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 114 The Science of Natural Disasters (4 credits)
  • GEOL 115 Environmental Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 162 The Earth’s Record of Climate (4 credits)
Plus:
  • GEOL 211 Earth Materials (4 credits) or GEOL 310 Environmental Geochemistry (4 credits)
  • GEOL 260 Regional Geology and Geological Field Methods (4 credits)
  • GEOL 320 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4 credits)
  • GEOL 340 Fundamentals of the Lithosphere I (Petrology) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 360 Fundamentals of the Lithosphere II (Structural Geology) (4 credits)
Plus sixteen credits from the following (four credits of which must be at the 400-level and four credits of which must be at the 300 or 400 level):
  • GEOL 130 Earth History (4 credits)
  • GEOL 161 Medical Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 162 The Earth’s Record of Climate (if not chosen above)(4 credits)
  • GEOL 211 Earth Materials (if not chosen above) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 220 Oceanography (4 credits)
  • GEOL 252 Earth Surface Processes and Geomorphology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 310 Environmental Geochemistry (4 credits) (if not chosen above)
  • GEOL 410 Hydrogeology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 460 Advanced Field Methods (4 credits)
  • GEOL 461 Medical Geology (unless receiving credit for 161) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 462 The Earth’s Record of Climate (unless receiving credit for 162) (4 credits)
  • GEOL 491 Research (4 credits)

Note: GEOG 321 Geographic Information Systems and geology courses offered at Macalester College may fulfill one of these courses with permission of chair

Allied requirements

  • MATH 113 Calculus I (4 credits) or MATH 109 Calculus with Review II (4 credits)
  • MATH 114 Calculus II (4 credits)
  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry I (4 credits)
  • CHEM 112 General Chemistry II (4 credits)
  • PHYS 211 Introduction to Classical Physics I (4 credits)
  • PHYS 212 Introduction to Classical Physics II (4 credits)
  • MATH 303 Statistics for the Applied Sciences (4 credits) or STAT 220 Statistics I (4 credits)
For students wishing to pursue careers in paleontology, geobiology, or geomicrobiology:
  • BIOL 207 Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution (4 credits) and 208 Biological Communication and Energetics (4 credits)
  • Biology may be substituted for one of the CHEM/PHYS sequences with permission of chair

Depending on a student’s interest and career goals, substitutions may be made for other advanced courses in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics for certain listed courses, in consultation with the geology department chair.


Minor in Geology

Four credits from the following:
  • GEOL 110 Geology of the National Parks (4 credits)
  • GEOL 111 Introductory Physical Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 114 Natural Disasters (4 credits)
  • GEOL 115 Environmental Geology (4 credits)
  • GEOL 163 Applied Geology (4 credits)
And one of the following elective options:

Sixteen credits from additional GEOL courses not from the list above, at least 12 credits of which are numbered 200 or above.

or

Twelve additional credits in GEOL courses not from the list above at least 8 credits of which are numbered 200 or above, and four credits from the following list.

  • ESCI 310 Environmental Problem Solving (4 credits)
  • BIOL 209, Biology of Sustainability (4 credits)
  • BIOL 333 General Ecology (4 credits)
  • BIOL 435 Aquatic Biology (4 credits)
  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry (4 credits)
  • GEOG 223 Remote Sensing (4 credits)
  • GEOG 321 Geographic Information Systems (4 credits)
  • GEOG 421 Applied Geographic Information Systems (4 credits)
  • ENGR 160 Surveying (2 credits)
  • ENGR 463 Soil Mechanics and Foundations (4 credits)
  • ENGR 467 Environmental Engineering, Hydrology, and Hydraulics (4 credits)
  • PHYS 211, Classical Physics 1 (4 credits)
Course Number Title Credits
GEOL  102 Origins & Methods 4
GEOL  111 Intro Physical Geology 4
GEOL  114 Science of Natural Disaster 4
GEOL  115 Environmental Geology 4
GEOL  130 Earth History 4
GEOL  161 Medical Geology 4
GEOL  162 The Earth's Record of Climate 4
GEOL  163 Applied Geology 4
GEOL  211 Earth Materials 4
GEOL  220 Oceanography 4
GEOL  243 Individual Study 2 OR 4
GEOL  252 Earth Surface Proc/Geomorph 4
GEOL  260 Regional Geol & Field Meth 4
GEOL  269 Research 2 OR 4
GEOL  298 Topics 4
GEOL  310 Environmental Geochemistry 4
GEOL  320 Sedimentology/Stratigraphy 4
GEOL  340 Fund of Lithosphere I (Pet) 4
GEOL  360 Fund of Lithosphere II 4
GEOL  389 Research 0 OR 4
GEOL  393 Individual Study 2 OR 4
GEOL  410 Hydrogeology 4
GEOL  430 Advanced Earth History 4
GEOL  460 Advanced Field Geology 4
GEOL  461 Medical Geology 4
GEOL  462 The Earth's Record of Climate 4
GEOL  489 Topics 4
GEOL  490 Topics 4
GEOL  491 Individual Study 1 TO 4
GEOL  495 Individual Study 2 OR 4