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Geology

Professors Creasy (chair), Retelle, and Eusden; Associate Professor Johnson; Lecturer Clough

Located in the northern Appalachian mountains, the College affords students excellent opportunities for study and research in the geological sciences. The curriculum utilizes this setting by stressing field-oriented and laboratory-supported inquiry into bedrock, surficial, and environmental geology. This program leads students and faculty alike to a fuller understanding and appreciation of the geological sciences.

Earth Surface Processes (103), Plate Tectonics (104), and Lunar and Planetary Science (110) introduce students to areas of active research and current interest in earth and environmental sciences and are vehicles for acquiring a basic understanding of processes that have formed and continue to shape the Earth and other planets.

Short Term units in geology offer students a unique experience. Geologic field methods, mapping techniques, and geochemical analyses are learned in a variety of spectacular settings. Past Short Term units have taken students to Hawaii, Scotland, the Canadian Arctic, the American Southwest, and the lakes, mountains, and coast of Maine.

More information on the geology department is available on the Web site (www.bates.edu/GEO.xml).

Cross-listed Courses. Note that unless otherwise specified, when a department/program references a course or unit in the department/program, it includes courses and units cross-listed with the department/program.

Major Requirements. The major requirements include two courses at the 100 level, four courses at the 200 level (Geology 210, 223, 230, and 240), two elective courses at the 300 level, and a geology Short Term unit. The program in geology culminates in a two-semester senior research experience (Geology 457 and 458) that consists of an original contribution based on field and/or laboratory investigations by the student under the supervision of a faculty committee.

For the B.S. degree a student is required to complete Chemistry 107 and 108, Math 105 and 106, Physics 107 or First-Year Seminar 314 and Physics 108 or First-Year Seminar 274. For the B.A. degree a student is required to complete either Chemistry 107 and 108 or Physics 107 (or First-Year Seminar 314) and Physics 108 (or First-year Seminar 274). The B.S. degree is recommended for students planning careers in the geological or environmental sciences. Note that Chemistry 107A or 107B is a prerequisite for Geology 223 and Geology 240.

Interdisciplinary Interests. The departmental course offerings allow a maximum of flexibility to meet individual interests. Students with environmental interests are encouraged to choose a major in geology or environmental studies with a geology concentration or a double major involving geology and another natural science such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Students contemplating a major in geology or an interdisciplinary major or double major must consult with the geology faculty during their second year to plan an appropriate program of study. All programs are subject to departmental approval.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses counting toward the major.

General Education. The following courses may serve as a department-designated set provided that at least one has a full laboratory component: 1) any two courses listed at the 100 level with the subject "GEO" or one 100-level "GEO" course and one course numbered at the 100 level that is cross-listed in geology; 2) one 100-level geology course and one geology Short Term unit. A student may request that the department approve a two-course set with one course at the 200 level prior to enrolling in the 200-level course. Any Short Term unit listed below, or First-Year Seminar 084, 190, 284, or 298 may serve as the third course option as partial fulfillment of the natural science requirement. The quantitative requirement may be satisfied through 110, 115, 210, 223, 230, or 240.

Courses
GEO 103. Earth Surface Processes.The Earth's surface environments are in a constant state of change resulting from the interaction of its atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. Changes on the surface occur on various time scales from brief, severe storms to glaciations lasting thousands of years. Studies of surficial processes and materials illustrate the dynamic nature of the Earth and provide a key to understanding past and future environmental change. The lecture is complemented with field and laboratory study. Field experiences include day trips to the Saco River, the Maine coast, or the White Mountains. Enrollment limited to 52. Normally offered every year. B. Johnson, M. Retelle.
GEO 104. Plate Tectonics.Plate tectonic theory provides a model for the origin and evolution of mountains. The slow and steady movements of lithospheric plates govern the distribution of rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, and continents. Study of active and ancient tectonism reveals dramatic past, present, and future global environmental changes. The laboratory illustrates the tectonic history of the Earth's crust through interpretation of geologic and tectonic maps and rocks. Field trips include day trips to local quarries, Mount Washington, or the Maine coast. Enrollment limited to 52. Normally offered every year. J. Creasy, J. Eusden.
AT/GE 110. Lunar and Planetary Science.An introduction to the solar system using the methods of physics and geology. The historical development of our understanding of planetary motion leads to the contemporary view of celestial mechanics essential to exploration by spacecraft. The composition, formation, and age of the solar system are examined, together with the physical processes involved in the development of planetary interiors and surfaces. Basic algebra and geometry are used throughout. Laboratory work emphasizes the principles of remote sensing and exploration technology. Nighttime telescope work is expected. Enrollment limited to 56. Normally offered every year. G. Clough.
BI/GE 112. Oceanography.An integrated, interdisciplinary overview of the chemistry, physics, geology, and biology of the world's oceans. Topics include chemical and physical properties of sea water, ocean circulation, evolution of ocean basins, coastal geomorphology, the distribution and abundance of organisms in the major marine communities, the status of the world's most important fisheries, and the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle. Enrollment limited to 40. Offered with varying frequency. W. Ambrose.
AT/GE 115. Impacts and Mass Extinctions.What happens when a ten-kilometer rock, traveling at forty kilometers per second, hits the Earth? As the dinosaurs discovered sixty-five million years ago, it is not a pretty picture. Scientists now believe that such catastrophically violent collisions, apparently common in the past, are inevitable in the future as well. But impacts alone may not explain the mass extinction events that have shaped the history of life on Earth; global-scale volcanism and climate change are examples of more familiar processes. This course examines the role of impacts in the Earth's history and the heated debate regarding the causes of mass extinctions. Enrollment limited to 64. Offered with varying frequency. J. Creasy, E. Wollman.
BI/GE 181. Introduction to Paleontology.The evolution of the vertebrates above the species level is treated in both biological and geological contexts. Enrollment limited to 40. Normally offered every year. E. Minkoff.
GEO 210. Sedimentary Processes and Environments.The study of modern sedimentary processes and environments provides geologists with a basis for comparison with ancient deposits preserved in the rock record. The analysis of modern sedimentary environments and reconstruction of ancient environments permit stratigraphic reconstructions at regional and global scales. Laboratory work includes field studies of processes and interpretation of modern and ancient depositional systems. Prerequisite(s): any two introductory geology courses or one introductory geology course and one of the following: Chemistry 107A, Chemistry/Environmental Studies 107B, Mathematics 105, or Physics 107. Normally offered every year. M. Retelle.
GEO 223. Rock-Forming Minerals and Mineral Assemblages.Many geochemical processes that occur within the lithosphere, such as crystallization of magmas, metamorphism, and weathering, are understood through the study of minerals and mineral assemblages. This course covers the occurrence, composition, and compositional variation of the common silicate minerals, the mineral reactions and assemblages typical of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary environments, and contemporary applications to a range of tectonic processes. The laboratory involves hand-specimen identification of minerals and the determination of mineral composition by optical microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry. Prerequisite(s): any two introductory geology courses or one introductory geology course and Chemistry 107A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 107B. Normally offered every year. J. Creasy.
GEO 230. Structural Geology.The processes of mountain building and plate tectonics are understood by observing the structure and architecture of rocks. This course explores the nature and types of structures present in rocks that make up the Earth's crust. Fundamental concepts and principles of deformation are examined in a variety of field settings. The laboratory introduces the techniques used in descriptive and kinematic structural analysis. Several one-day excursions and one several-day field trip take place throughout Maine and the mountains of the northern Appalachians. Prerequisite(s): any two introductory geology courses or one introductory geology course and Chemistry 107A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 107B, or Physics 107 or Mathematics 105. Normally offered every year. J. Eusden.
GEO 240. Environmental Geochemistry.This course is an introduction to the chemistry of geological processes that occur at the Earth's surface. Basic concepts are presented in the framework of biogeochemical cycling of the major organic elements through geologic time. Topics revolve around the hydrologic cycle and include the carbon cycle and biologically mediated chemical weathering of rocks and minerals. The laboratory includes field trips to local environmental "hotspots" and chemical analysis of geologic samples using stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma emission spectroscopy. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level geology course and Chemistry 107A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 107B. Recommended background: Chemistry 108A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 108B. Enrollment limited to 20. Normally offered every year. B. Johnson.
GEO 310. Quaternary Geology.The Quaternary Period, representing the last 1.6 million years of geologic history, is characterized by extreme climatic fluctuations with effects ranging from globally synchronous glacier expansions to periods warmer than present. Records of the climatic fluctuations are contained in sediments on land and in the oceans and lakes and also in the stratigraphy of ice caps. This course examines various climate proxy records and the dating methods used to constrain them. Fieldwork focuses on the recovery of sediment cores from local lakes, while indoor labs emphasize physical, chemical, and paleontological analyses of the sediment cores. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. M. Retelle.
GEO 315. Glacial Geology.Glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets are presently located in high-latitude and high-altitude areas of the globe. However, during the height of the last ice age, about 18,000 years ago, major ice sheets extended to mid-latitudes from the polar regions and to lower elevations in mountainous regions of low latitudes. Lectures investigate processes of modern glaciers, evidence for former extent, and the cause of climatic variability between glacial and interglacial periods. The laboratory introduces students to glaciogenic sediments, stratigraphic analysis, glacial landforms, and field mapping. Several one-day local field trips and one overnight field trip take students to sites in Maine and northern New England. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. M. Retelle.
GEO 325. Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive Spectrometry.The intent of this course is for students to become proficient in geologic applications of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with an energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS). Microscopic textural analyses of rocks and minerals, X-ray microanalysis of minerals, and compositional imaging and digital image processing are techniques performed in this course. Students are trained in the use of the SEM/EDS system and a variety of sample preparation methods. Lectures focus on the theoretical aspects of electron microscopy as well as the methods and interpretations of data collected using the SEM/EDS. Students work individually or in small teams on a self-designed research or curriculum development project involving the SEM/EDS. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. J. Eusden.
GEO 340. Stable Isotope Geochemistry.The stable isotope composition of modern and ancient waters and biological materials has revolutionized our understanding of biogeochemical cycling at the Earth's surface and of environmental change. This course focuses on the theory and applications of stable isotope fractionation in water and biological materials for modern and past environmental research. The laboratory includes fieldwork within the Androscoggin River watershed and the Maine coast and use of a stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Students are engaged in projects that may include tracking changes in carbon cycling in lakes, salt marshes, and trees through time, and documenting changes in energy flow in modern and ancient marine food webs. The interdisciplinary nature of the subject material lends itself well to upper-level students from a variety of science majors. Prerequisite(s): Chemistry 108A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 108B and any 200-level geology course. Recommended background: GEO 240. Enrollment limited to 10. Offered with varying frequency. B. Johnson.
GEO 360. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Normally offered every semester. Staff.
GEO 364. Plate Tectonics, Climate Change, and Landscape.Plate tectonics and climate often interact in profound ways. For example, high rainfall creates rapid erosion that reduces the height of compressional mountain ranges; ash plumes from arc volcanism may trigger global cooling and also restore water to the atmosphere and oceans. This seminar explores these and other relationships with a focus on active tectonic environments and today's climate as well as paleoclimate change and ancient tectonics. Students give in-class presentations on these topics from the current literature and investigate in the lab the fundamentals of tectonic processes. They also participate in field excursions to rock exposures demonstrating the relationships between ancient tectonics and paleoclimate in the Appalachians. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. J. Eusden.
GEO 365. Special Topics.A course reserved for a special topic selected by the department. Instructor permission is required. Staff.
GEO 367. Biomolecular Paleoclimatology.Biologically synthesized compounds in the geologic record can persist for billions of years. The presence of these compounds in core sediments, bones, potsherds, and rocks provides valuable information on past environments, climates, and biological processes. This course focuses on the use of compound-specific data in conjunction with other types of paleoenvironmental proxies to reconstruct paleoclimatology. Prerequisite(s): Chemistry 108A or Chemistry/Environmental Studies 108B and any 200-level geology course. Enrollment limited to 8. Normally offered every other year. B. Johnson.
GEO 381. The Lithosphere.The formation and occurrence of rocks in the lithosphere are directly relatable to plate tectonic processes. Specific tectonic environments such as rift valleys or oceanic subduction zones are characterized by specific assemblages of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The course examines rock assemblages typical of global tectonic environments, the processes by which they are generated, and the methods by which they are studied. The laboratory is project-oriented and includes field studies, optical and X-ray analytical techniques, and written reports. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. J. Creasy.
GEO 391. Seminar in Appalachian Geology.A description of the Appalachian Mountain Belt. The purpose is to understand the tectonic evolution of the Appalachian Mountains. Plate tectonic models that are particularly helpful in enhancing our understanding are discussed in detail. Students are expected to do independent work and to give oral and written reports. Fieldwork includes several day trips and an overnight traverse through the northern Appalachians of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Prerequisite(s): any 200-level geology course. Offered with varying frequency. J. Eusden.
GEO 457. Senior Thesis.The thesis is a program of independent research conducted by the student, on a field and/or laboratory problem, under the direction of a faculty mentor. All seniors must take both courses and participate in the regularly scheduled weekly seminar. Such participation includes preparation of a thesis proposal and a thesis outline, timely submission of written results, and oral progress reports of thesis research. Students are responsible for scheduling individual meetings with their faculty committee. A final thesis document is submitted by the student near the end of the winter semester on a date established by the department. A public presentation and an oral defense are scheduled during reading week of the winter semester. Students register for Geology 457 in the fall semester and for Geology 458 in the winter semester. Normally offered every year. Staff.
GEO 457-458. Senior Thesis.The thesis is a program of independent research conducted by the student, on a field and/or laboratory problem, under the direction of a faculty mentor. All seniors must take both courses and participate in the regularly scheduled weekly seminar. Such participation includes preparation of a thesis proposal and a thesis outline, timely submission of written results, and oral progress reports of thesis research. Students are responsible for scheduling individual meetings with their faculty committee. A final thesis document is submitted by the student near the end of the winter semester on a date established by the department. A public presentation and an oral defense are scheduled during reading week of the winter semester. Students register for Geology 457 in the fall semester and for Geology 458 in the winter semester. Normally offered every year. Staff.
GEO 458. Senior Thesis.The thesis is a program of independent research conducted by the student, on a field and/or laboratory problem, under the direction of a faculty mentor. All seniors must take both courses and participate in the regularly scheduled weekly seminar. Such participation includes preparation of a thesis proposal and a thesis outline, timely submission of written results, and oral progress reports of thesis research. Students are responsible for scheduling individual meetings with their faculty committee. A final thesis document is submitted by the student near the end of the winter semester at a date established by the department. A public presentation and an oral defense are scheduled during reading week of the winter semester. Students register for Geology 458 in the winter semester. Normally offered every year. Staff.
Short Term Courses
GEO s30. Field Geology in the Appalachians.Geologic mapping and other geologic and geophysical field methods are developed and applied in an integrated study of specific topics or areas of current interest in Appalachian geology. Students prepare detailed geologic maps and reports. Several sections may be offered emphasizing the differing interests of the staff involved. These sections may be off campus, all or in part, depending upon the specific project. Students should consult registration materials for specific offerings. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 8. Instructor permission is required. Offered with varying frequency. Staff.
GEO s31. Limnology and Paleolimnology of Maine Lakes.This unit studies the present and past environmental conditions of lake basins in Maine. Modern conditions, such as thermal and chemical stratification and hydrologic and sedimentary inputs, are monitored in a local watershed. Cores and acoustic profiles of bottom sediments are obtained to study the long-term climatic history. The unit is project-oriented; students collect field data, perform laboratory analysis of core and water samples, and prepare a final report. Participants must be able to swim. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: Geology 103, 104, 105, or 106. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. Offered with varying frequency. M. Retelle.
ES/GE s32. Environmental Change in the Australian Outback.This field-based unit explores the geology and environmental change that has occurred in central Australia over the last 125,000 years. Students spend four weeks exploring the millennial-scale global climate events that are recorded in the sediments of the large interior playa lakes, dune fields, and fluvial systems. Evidence for environmental change coincident with colonization by the first human immigrants beginning 60,000 years ago and the expansion of the European pastoralists into the Australian Outback beginning 200 years ago is explored in the context of this unique geologic setting. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104. Enrollment limited to 8. Instructor permission is required. Offered with varying frequency. B. Johnson.
GEO s34. Field Geology in the Southern Rocky Mountains.A mobile course in geologic field methods and mapping provides experience with a wide variety of rock types and structural styles in the southwestern United States. Detailed studies are done at several sites in the Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt of New Mexico and Colorado, the Colorado Plateau of Arizona and Utah, and the Basin and Range Province. Recommended for majors. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level geology course. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 8. Instructor permission is required. Offered with varying frequency. J. Creasy.
ES/GE s37. Introduction to Hydrogeology.Hydrogeology is the study of the interactions between water and earth materials and processes. This unit uses hydrogeology as a disciplinary framework for learning about groundwater processes, contamination, supply, use, and management. Students are engaged in class research projects along the Maine coast and within the Androscoggin River basin. Field and laboratory methods are learned in the context of these projects for determining groundwater flow and aquifer properties, collecting samples, and analyzing water quality. The final research project is both written and presented to the College community. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level Geology course or Environmental Studies 203. Enrollment limited to 16. Offered with varying frequency. B. Johnson.
BI/GE s38. Geologic and Biologic Field Studies in the Canadian Arctic.This unit examines the biology and Quaternary geology of the eastern Canadian Arctic. Research focuses on glaciology, snow hydrology, and sedimentation in fjords and lakes, and the adaptations required of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals to survive in the Arctic. Students prepare geologic and vegetation maps, examine animal distributions, study modern fjord and lacustrine environments, and collect and analyze water and sediment samples from lake and marine environments. Emphasis is placed on the relations between biological and geological patterns. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: Biology 101, 201 or any introductory geology course. Recommended background: field experience in biology or geology. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. Instructor permission is required. Offered with varying frequency. W. Ambrose, M. Retelle.
GEO s39. Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak.Six hundred million years of geologic history are preserved in the spectacular rock exposures of the Maine coast. Students learn how to interpret this geologic history by completing four one-week bedrock mapping projects of coastal exposures on offshore islands. Islands in Casco Bay, Penobscot Bay, and Acadia National Park are used as both base camps and field sites for these projects. Travel to and from these islands is done in sea kayaks. Students are trained in kayaking techniques, sea kayak rescue and safety, and low-impact camping by a certified kayak instructor who stays with the group for the entire Short Term. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Participants must be able to swim. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level geology course. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 10. Offered with varying frequency. J. Eusden.
GEO s46. Internship in the Natural Sciences.Off-campus participation by qualified students as team members in an experimental program in a laboratory or field setting. Internships require specific arrangement and prior department approval. Offered with varying frequency. Staff.
GEO s50. Independent Study.Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study during a Short Term. Normally offered every year. Staff.