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Unit 1

Introduction: geologic time; earth as a system, the rock cycle, early evolution, internal structure & face of earth, dynamic earth. Matter and minerals: atoms, isotopes and radioactive decay; physical properties & groups of minerals; silicates, important nonsilicate minerals, resources. Igneous rocks: magma, igneous processes, compositions & textures; naming igneous rocks; origin and evolution of magma, intrusive igneous activity, mineral resources and igneous processes.

Unit 2

Volcanoes and volcanic hazards: materials extruded, structures and eruptive styles, composite cones and other volcanic landforms, plate tectonics and volcanic activity. W eathering and soils: earth’s external processes; mechanical & chemical weathering, rates; soils, controls of formation, profile, classification, human impact, erosion, weathering and ore deposits. Sedimentary rocks: the importance and origins of sedimentary rocks; detrital & chemical sedimentary rocks, coal, converting sediment into sedimentary rock; classification & structures, nonmetallic mineral & energy resources. Metamorphism and metamorphic rocks: metamorphic textures, common metamorphic rocks, metamorphic environments & zones.

Unit 3

Mass wasting: gravity, mass-wasting and landform development, controls and triggers, classification of mass-wasting processes, slump, rockslide, debris flow, earthflow, slow movements. Running water: hydrologic cycle, running water, streamflow, work of running water, stream channels, base level and graded streams, shaping stream valleys, depositional landforms, drainage patterns, floods and flood control. Groundwater: importance and distribution, water table, factors influencing storage and movement, springs, wells, artesian wells, environmental problems, hot springs and geysers, geothermal energy, geologic work. Glaciers and glaciation: formation and movement, erosion & landforms, deposits, other effects, causes. Deserts and wind: distribution and causes, geologic processes, basin and range, wind transport, erosion & deposits.

Unit 4

Shorelines: coastal zone, waves & erosion, sand movement, shoreline features & stabilization; erosion problems along U.S. coasts, hurricanes, coastal classification, tides. Earthquakes and earth’s interior: faults, seismology, locating the source of an earthquake, measuring intensity, belts and plate boundaries, destruction, damage east of the Rocky Mountains, earthquake prediction, earth’s interior. Plate tectonics: continental drift, divergent boundaries, convergent boundaries, transform fault boundaries, testing the plate tectonics model, the breakup of Pangaea, measuring plate motion, what drives plate motions, plate tectonics in the future.

Unit 5

Origin and evolution of the ocean floor: continental margins, features of deepocean basins, anatomy of oceanic ridge, oceanic ridges and seafloor spreading, nature of oceanic crust, continental rifting, destruction of oceanic lithosphere. Crustal deformation and mountain building: structures formed by ductile & brittle deformation, mountain building at subduction zones, collisional mountain belts, faultblock mountains, vertical movements of the crust. Geologic time: time scales, relative dating, correlation of rock layers; dating with radioactivity, the geologic time scale, difficulties in dating. Earth’s evolution: birth of a planet, origin of the atmosphere and oceans, Precambrian (formation of continents); Phanerozoic (formation of modern continents & earth’s first life); Paleozoic (life explodes); the Mesozoic (dinosaurs); Cenozoic era (mammals). Global climate change: climate & geology, climate system, detecting change; atmospheric basics & heating the atmosphere; natural & human causes; carbon dioxide, trace gases, and climate change; climate-feedback mechanisms, aerosols, some possible consequences.

Text Books

  1. Frederick K. Lutgens, Edward J. Tarbuck & Dennis G. Tasa: Essentials of Geology (11th edition), Prentice Hall, 8 March, 2012.


  • Graham R. Thompson & Jonathan Turk: Introduction to Physical Geology (2nd Edition), Brooks Cole, 23 June, 1997.

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