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Geological Sciences

Major in Geological Science—B.A.
Major in Geological Sciences—B.S.
Minor in Geological Sciences
Departmental Honors Program
Course Descriptions



Professor Abhijit Basu


David Bish, Simon Brassell, Jeremy Dunning, Michael Hamburger, Enrique Merino, Peter Ortoleva, Gary Pavlis, Mark Person, Lisa Pratt, Edward Ripley, Robert Wintsch

Associate Professors

James Brophy, Claudia Johnson, Greg Olyphant, Bradley Ritts, Juergen Schieber, Chen Zhu

Senior Scientists

John Comer, Arndt Schimmelmann, John Steinmetz

Associate Scientist

Chusi Li

Assistant Scientists

Bruce Douglas, Erika Elswick, Peter Sauer

Academic Advising

Geology 123, (812) 855-7214

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The Department of Geological Sciences (GEOL) provides training for those who want to become professional geologists and seek careers in university or college teaching, in industry, in research laboratories, and in federal and state geological surveys; for those who wish to teach earth science at the secondary school level; and for those who seek a general knowledge of geology and its relationship to other sciences.

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Major in Geological Sciences-B.A.


The B.A. in geology provides a broadly based background in the fundamentals of the geological sciences. It offers maximum flexibility in course selection to enhance interdisciplinary study, and makes a double major more accessible to students in related fields.


Students must complete 31 credit hours, including the following:

  1. 25 credit hours of courses in the geological sciences, to include
    1. At least one course at the 100-level, with a maximum of 3 courses.
    2. At least one course at the 200-level, with a maximum of 2 courses.
    3. At least one course at the 300 level.
    4. At least one course at the 400 level.
    5. Course work at the 200, 300, or 400 levels to reach a minimum of 25 credit hours in geological sciences
  2. At least 6 additional credit hours of College of Arts and Sciences courses that carry Natural and Mathematical Sciences distribution credit chosen from a department or departments other than Geological Sciences.

Students must also complete the requirements and procedures listed in this bulletin under "General Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees."

Students should note that in many cases credit may only be used for one course in a department if there is significant overlap with another course (e.g., C101 or C117).

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Major in Geological Sciences-B.S.


The B.S. curriculum includes more science requirements than the B.A. and is designed for students who plan advanced study or professional employment in the geological sciences.


Students must complete the following fundamental skills and distribution requirements:

  1. Writing, same as B.A. degree.
  2. Foreign language, 3 credit hours at the second-year level.
  3. Arts and humanities, two courses.
  4. Social and historical studies, two courses.
  5. Natural and mathematical sciences, fulfilled by major.

Major Requirements

The requirements for the major are:

  1. Any two formal 100-level courses in the geological sciences. One course must be selected from G103, G111, G104 or G112.
  2. G221, G222, G323, G334 and G429.
  3. Three formal 3 or 4 credit hour geological sciences courses at the 400 level.
  4. Chemistry C117; C118 is recommended.
  5. Mathematics M211 and M212.
  6. Physics P221 and P222.
  7. Biology L111 or L112.
  8. Two courses selected from: Biology B300 or Z374; Chemistry C360 or C361; Mathematics M311 or M343; and Physics P331 or P340. These courses must be selected from two different departments.
  9. One additional formal 3 credit course at the 300 or 400 level from any of the following departments: biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, or one additional formal 3 credit geological sciences course at the 400 level.

Students should satisfy the 100- and 200-level allied sciences and mathematics requirements at the earliest possible date. Students must also complete the requirements and procedures listed in this bulletin under "General Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees."

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Minor in Geological Sciences


Any 15 credit hours in formal (3 credit or more) geological sciences classes including:

  1. No more than one course at the 100 level;
  2. Either G221 and G222 or G225;
  3. At least two courses at the 300-400 level, one of which must be at the 400-level.

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Departmental Honors Program

Outstanding students who maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.3 are encouraged to participate in the honors program. Admission is gained through consultation with the departmental honors advisor, usually no later than the beginning of the junior year. An honors student may take special reading courses and enroll in honors sections of regular undergraduate courses. To complete the program and graduate with honors, the student must undertake a research project that leads to a thesis no later than the end of the senior year. If the research is taken for 3 credit hours (G499), a formal written report may be substituted for one 400-level geological sciences course to fulfill the advanced science/mathematics requirement. The research is guided by a faculty member, and the student is examined orally by a committee consisting of three faculty members. Research facilities are available on the Bloomington campus and at the Geologic Field Station in Montana.

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Course Descriptions

G103 Earth Science: Materials and Processes (3 cr.) N & M Introduction to origin and classification of minerals and rocks. Relationships between rock types, rock structures, surficial geological processes of running water, subsurface water, glaciation, wind, tides, and landform evolution. Geologic time. Two lectures and one demonstration/laboratory each week. Credit given for only one of the following: G103, G111. II Sem.

S103 Earth Science: Materials and Processes Honors (3 cr.) N & M Introduction to the origin and classification of minerals and rocks. Relationships between rock types, rock structures, surficial geologic processes of running water, subsurface water, glaciation, wind, tides, and landform evaluation. Two lectures and one laboratory each week. Credit given for only one of S103, G103, or G111.

G104 Evolution of the Earth (3 cr.) N & M Earth's history interpreted through five billion years. Deductive approach to understanding the significance of rocks and fossils and reconstructing the plate-tectonic origin of mountains, continents, and ocean basins. A survey of events in earth's evolution relevant to contemporary environmental concerns. Two lectures and one laboratory each week. Credit given for only one of the following: G104, G112. G105 Earth: Our Habitable Planet (3 cr.) N & M Introduction to planet Earth as a dynamic and complex global system. Course materials will demonstrate physical and chemical linkages between biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere that directly impact lifestyles of human populations at time scales of years to centuries. Two lectures and one laboratory each week.

G111 Physical Geology (3 cr.) N & M P: One high school or college course in chemistry. Basic concepts of geology. Formation of rocks, erosion and landscape evolution, plate tectonics, interpretation of earth processes from geological data. Two lectures and one laboratory per week. One required field trip. Restricted to prospective geology and other science majors. Credit given for only one of the following: G103, G111. I Sem.

G112 Historical Geology (3 cr.) N & M P: G111 or consent of instructor. Principles of interpreting earth history from geological data. Geologic time, biological evolution, plate tectonics, and ancient environments. Two lectures and one laboratory per week. One required field trip. Credit given for only one of the following: G104, G112. II Sem.

G114 Dinosaurs and Their Relatives (3 cr.) N & M Origin and evolution of vertebrates including dinosaurs and their distant relatives such as fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Course will focus on dinosaur evolution, paleobiology, paleoecology, and extinction. The scientific method and quantitative and qualitative methodologies will be presented. Two lectures and one demonstration each week. II Sem.

G116 Our Planet and Its Future (3 cr.) N & M The interaction between geologic and environmental processes in the earth. Special emphasis on how these processes affect public policies and laws. Multimedia exercises and videotape presentations (made specifically for this course) are included. Two lectures and one discussion section/laboratory per week.

G121 Meteorites and Geological Processes in Planets (3 cr.) N & M, TFR Geological processes operative on earth-like planetary bodies and asteroids; evidence from current meteorite, lunar, martian, and space research; quantitative and deductive exercises. For non­ science majors. Credit given for only one of G121 and S121.

S121 Meteorites and Geological Process in Planets, Honors (3 cr.) N & M, TFR For Hutton Honors College students and those with unusually good aptitude or preparation. Credit given for only one of S121 and G121.

S124 Honors Geology (3 cr.) N & M Physical, chemical, and biological processes of the Earth's evolution as a planet. Principles of geological reasoning. Two 75-minute seminars a week; six quizzes, one final examination, no laboratory. Credit not given for S124 and any of G103, G104, G105, G111, and G112, I Sem., II Sem.

G125 Processes in the Geological Sciences (2 cr.) P: One 100-level course from the geological sciences. May be taken concurrently with G221. This laboratory-based course is designed to provide familiarity with the geological processes that are critical for understanding both the geological past and modern geological activity. Course intended for geological sciences majors but open to other science majors.

G131 Oceans and Our Global Environment (3 cr.) N & M Introduction to oceanography, with emphasis on: ocean-atmospheric interaction and global climate, plate tectonics and morphology of the ocean basins, marine geology, energy resources, environmental problems due to sea level rise, coastal erosion, oil spills, and life in the sea. Two lectures and one laboratory each week.

G141 Earthquakes and Volcanoes (3 cr.) N & M, TFR Examination of the causes and effects of earthquakes and volcanic activity. Impacts of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, including secondary effects such as landslides, mudflows, and tsunamis; climactic effects; energy/mineral resources; and social disruption. Mitigation of effects of natural disasters. Two lectures and one laboratory per week.

G150 Exploring Extraterrestrial Life in Martian Rocks (3 cr.) N & M Concept of life and fossils in geology. Purpose, strategy, and processes of data collection. Web-derived data from NASA, LPI, PSR, and JPL on Martian meteorites. Evaluation of evidence of life in Mars. In-class/lab writing is required.

G161 Earth Resources (3 cr.) N & M An overview of the location, genesis, extraction, utilization of, and exploration for natural resources, including petroleum, coal, uranium, industrial minerals, gems, and metallic ores. Environmental issues related to resource extraction and processing, and the role of mineral and energy reserves in international economics are examined. Two lectures and one laboratory per week.

G171 Environmental Geology (3 cr.) N & M Examination of natural and man-induced geologic hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and land subsidence; environmental issues, disposal and management of solid, chemical, and radioactive waste, acid mine drainage as well as the environmental impact of mineral extraction and water resource utilization. Two lectures and one laboratory per week. I Sem.

G188 Volcanoes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada: Geology and Natural Heritage of the Long Valley Caldera (3 cr.) N & M, TFR P: LLC L100 or consent of instructor. Introductory-level field course. Introduces students to the natural history of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Focuses on the geological processes, natural hazards, and environmental issues facing a unique and environmentally sensitive area of the western United States. I SS

G190 The Evolving Earth (1-3 cr., 3 cr. maximum) Processes that have produced the earth and are continuing to change it. Topics include origin and evolution of life, dynamic forces within the earth (earthquakes and volcanism), geological sources of energy, and the effect of humans on the geologic environment. Occasional field trips.

Q203 Earth Science for Teachers (4 cr.) P: PHYS Q202. Introduction to origin, composition, and structure of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere as well as the interrelationship among spheres. Modern astronomy, including solar system, origin of stars, astronomical measurement, and astrogeology. Special emphasis on subjects commonly taught in elementary schools. Credit available only to students majoring in elementary education.

G221 Introductory Mineralogy (4 cr.) N & M P or C: College-level course in chemistry. The assembly of minerals from atoms in nature. Atomic bonding, structures, and symmetry. Control of physical properties by symmetry. Interaction of light with crystals. Crystal fields and forces driving the growth of crystals from melts and aqueous solutions. The chemistry of silicates and other minerals. Three lectures, one two-hour lab. Credit given for only one of GEOL G221 or G225. I Sem.

G222 Introduction to Petrology (4 cr.) N & M P: G221. Study of the principal representatives of the major chemical groups of minerals. Emphasis on rock-forming and useful minerals, their crystal structure, chemistry, physical properties, association, and occurrence. Study of major rock types. Two lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. II Sem.

G225 Earth Materials (4 cr.) N & M P: One course in chemistry. This course sequentially considers minerals, rocks, sediments, and soils; the materials that comprise the solid earth. The distribution and environmental significance of these materials are studied, as are their chemical and physical interactions with groundwater and plants. Three 50-minute lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Laboratory attendance is required. Credit given for only one of GEOL G225 or G221. I Sem.

G300 Environmental and Urban Geology (3 cr.) N & M P: One course in physical or general geology or physical geography. Significance of regional and local geologic features and processes in land use. Use of geologic factors to reduce conflict in utilization of mineral and water resources and damage from geologic hazards. II Sem.

G302 Development of the Global Environment (3 cr.) N & M P: One semester of college chemistry, physics, or astronomy; MATH M118 or equivalent. Origin of the chemical elements, formation of the solar system and planets, development of the terrestrial atmosphere and rise of atmospheric oxygen, evolution of complex life, and prospects for the future of our planet.

G316 Mineral Fuels and Materials (3 cr.) N & M P: One course in general geology. Origin of petroleum, coal, industrial minerals, and ore deposits; reserves, resources, and future needs; history, economic and environmental considerations, national minerals policy, and international aspects of energy and raw materials distribution.

G319 Elementary Field Geology (2 cr.) P or C: MATH M014 or equivalent. Use of geologic surveying instruments; aneroid barometer, Brunton pocket transit, telescopic alidade. SS.

G321 Field Geology for Business Students (3 cr.) N & M P: G103 or G104 or consent of instructor. A field-based course taught in Montana. General topics include topographic and aerial maps and their role in resource exploration; rocks, minerals, and associated industrial uses; oil, natural gas, groundwater migration and concentration, mining and environment, streams (economic importance, floodplains, practical uses and limitations).

G323 Structural Geology (4 cr.) N & M P: G104 or G112. P or C: G222. Geometry and origin of folds, faults, joints, and cleavage. Modes and principles of rock deformation. Regional tectonics of selected fold-mountain systems. Laboratory and field trip. II Sem.

G329 Introductory Field Experience in Environmental Science (1-6 cr.) N & M P: One course in environmental science, and G225. Introduction to field-based scientific investigations. Experience in various environmental sciences including ecology, environmental chemistry, geology, hydrology, and meteorology. Field exercises are carried out within an instrumented demonstration watershed close to the IU Geologic Field Station in Montana. Course includes visits to several Superfund sites. SS.

G334 Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4 cr.) P: G222. Interrelationship of sedimentation and stratigraphy; processes and factors influencing genesis of sedimentary strata; provenance, depositional environment, sedimentary facies, paleoecology; analytical techniques; application of principles of interpretation of stratigraphic record. Laboratory study of sediments and sedimentary rocks. I Sem.

G341 (BIOL L341) Natural History of Coral Reefs (4 cr.) N & M P: 100-level biology course for majors and a course in organism biology/ecology, sedimentology, or stratigraphy; demonstrated proficiency in swimming; approved application. Four-week summer course introducing principles of biology, ecology, and geology as applied to coral reef ecosystems. Week 1: daily meeting at IUB to provide background; weeks 2-4: field/lab exercises and research projects at tropical marine laboratory; subsequent fall semester: one-day student colloquium at IUB.

G351 Elements of Hydrology (3 cr.) P: C118, P201/P221, and M212 or M216, or consent of instructor. Introduction to hydrology, physical properties of water relating to heat transfer and flow, phases of water and phase changes, water as a solvent and transporting agent, water budgets at various scales of inquiry, fluid pressure and potential, and fluid flow at the surface and subsurface of the earth.

G399 Reading for Honors (12 cr. max.) P: Approval of departmental honors advisor. I Sem., II Sem.

G404 Geobiology (3 cr.) P: G334 and BIOL L111 or L112. Application of biological principles and use of fossils in the study of earth history. Origin of life and the early fossil record; evolution; approaches to taxonomy; chemistry of fossils; ecology of ancient life; use of fossils in the solution of geologic problems. I Sem.

G406 Introduction to Geochemistry (3 cr.) P: G222, MATH M212 or M216, and CHEM C118; or consent of instructor. Chemistry in the study of the earth, employing elementary chemical thermodynamics, the phase rule, chemical equilibria, redox reactions, the radioactive decay law, and organic chemistry. II Sem.

G410 Undergraduate Research in Geology (1 6 cr.) P: Junior standing and consent of advisor. Field and laboratory research in selected problems in geology. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours. I Sem., II Sem., SS.

G411 Invertebrate Paleontology (3 cr.) P: BIOL L111 or L112, and one 300- or 400-level course in biology or geology. Structure, classification, habitats, and geological history and significance of the invertebrate phyla. Laboratory study of fossils. II Sem.

G413 Introduction to Geophysics (3 cr.) P: PHYS P202 and P222 and MATH M212 or M216. Application of physics in the study of geologic and environmental problems. Theory and application of seismic, gravity, magnetic, and electric methods in exploration of the earth's subsurface, with emphasis on near-surface processes. Two lectures and one laboratory per week. I Sem.

G415 Geomorphology (3 cr.) P: G222; college chemistry and mathematics or consent of instructor. Natural processes that form landscapes, surficial geologic materials and soils. Physics and chemistry of weathering. Dynamics of streams, wind, waves, glacier ice, and mass movement. Interactions of geomorphology and environment. I Sem.

G416 Economic Geology (3 cr.) P: G334; CHEM C118 or consent of instructor. Geologic occurrence and genesis of economic mineral deposits, including petroleum and coal. Introduction to mining, processing, and exploration methods. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. II Sem.

G417 Optical Mineralogy (3 cr.) P: G222. Theory and use of optics in the identification and classification of rock-forming minerals in fragments and thin sections. One lecture and two two-hour laboratory meetings per week. I Sem.

G418 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (3 cr.) P: G222 or equivalent. The petrogenesis of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Both the lecture and laboratory portions of the course stress the application of modern petrographic, mineralogic, geochemical, and phase equilibria techniques to the solution of relevant petrologic problems. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory meeting per week. II Sem.

G419 Sedimentary Geology of Dinosaur-Bearing Rocks (2 cr.) Five-day, six-night field course in Wyoming for primary and secondary science educators requiring licensing certification renewal. Focus is on presenting simple concepts of geology and paleontology utilized in reconstructing the ancient landscape, climate and environments of deposition of important dinosaur-bearing formations. Additional course fee required.

G420 Regional Geology Field Trip (1-2 cr.) P: Consent of instructor. Field investigation of selected regions of North America for study of mineralogic, lithologic, stratigraphic, structural, paleontologic, geomorphologic, or other geological relationships. Six to 15 days in the field. May be repeated. II Sem.

G423 Methods in Applied Geophysics (4 cr.) P: G413 or equivalent. Application of geophysical principles to field and laboratory experiments, with emphasis on data acquisition, analysis, and geologic interpretation. Experiments include earthquake seismology, electrical resistivity, magnetic and gravity surveys, and reflection and refraction seismology. II Sem.

G424 Geographic Information Systems Applications in Geology (3 cr.) Concepts and use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies are introduced during intensive laboratory sessions. Field work, conducted in the Indiana University Research and Teaching Preserve, involves mapping of pertinent features using GPS units followed by additional data collection aimed at attributing specific mapped features.

G427 Introduction to X-ray Mineralogy (3 cr.) P: G221. Theory and practice of X-ray powder diffraction. Measurement and analysis of digital diffractometer data, including profile fitting and Rietveld refinement, with application to geological, environmental, and structural-chemical problems.

G429 Field Geology in the Rocky Mountains (5-8 cr.) P: G222, G323. Six weeks, including five weeks at the Geologic Field Station in Montana. Geologic reconnaissance, measurement of stratigraphic sections, mapping on aerial photographs, construction of structure sections. Regional geomorphology, stratigraphy, and structure through South Dakota, the Black Hills, Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone Park, and Glacier Park. SS.

G444 Methods in Analytical Geochemistry (1-2 cr.) An overview of basic collection and preparation of water, soil, and geologic materials for analysis by analytical geochemistry techniques for environmental, and exploration geology, and geochemistry applications. Techniques include Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP), Atomic Spectrometry Absortion (AAS) by flame and graphite furnace, X-ray fluorescence, and Leco carbon and sulfur concentration determinations. May not be repeated.

G451 Principles of Hydrogeology (3 cr.) P: C118, M212 or M216, and consent of instructor. Physical and chemical properties of water; chemical equilibria and stable isotopes in groundwaters; acid drainage, landfills, and agricultural pollution; Darcy's Law, fluid potential, unsaturated flow; fluid and aquifer properties affecting groundwater flow; fluid mass-balance equation and its application; contaminant transport. I Sem.

G454 Fundamentals of Plate Tectonics (3 cr.) N & M P: G323, G334 or consent of instructor. Synthesis of observations from diverse disciplines of geology leading to the development of modern plate tectonic theory. Applications of plate tectonic principles to fundamental problems of continental and marine geology. Meets jointly with G554.

G490 Undergraduate Seminar (1-2 cr.) Open to junior and senior majors by special permission. Readings and discussion of selected topics. May be repeated for a maximum of 4 credit hours.

G499 Honors Research in Geology (1-6 cr.) P: Approval of departmental honors advisor. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit hours. I Sem., II Sem., SS.

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