Department Mission

Much has been written about the future directions of earth and geosciences in the 21st century (NSF, 2000; NRC, 2001; USGS, 2007). All of these reports stress the importance of increasing our efforts to meet society’s growing needs through continued study of the earth, atmosphere, oceans and biota from interdisciplinary and disciplinary perspectives. Scientific issues relating to energy, mineral, and water resource security, ecosystem and environmental stewardship, hazards risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation, and climate variability and change, for example, are all best studied from an earth and geoscience perspective.

It is within this broader context that we have defined our mission for an undergraduate education in Geology at Bates College:

Our mission is to instill in students a life-long love of learning about the earth and their surroundings. We seek to prepare students for professional careers in the geosciences or related fields as well as to be well-rounded and engaged citizens. We aim to contribute to the scientific literacy of students taking introductory and general education courses in geology. We strive to continue to build a department within the college, the Lewiston/Auburn community, and within the geologic community as a whole that is respected, admired, and valued.

Our goals are to teach students the founding principles of geology, including an in-depth knowledge of earth materials, geologic time, surface processes, field relationships, plate tectonics, cycles and cycling, and the earth as a system. We stress the importance of communication, independent research, collaboration and teamwork, learning how to think across different spatial and temporal scales, recognizing the connections between geology and other sciences, and using science to make informed decisions about various geological and environmental issues.

We achieve our goals by using a variety of approaches in our classes, including lectures, discussions, problem sets, and hands on field- and laboratory- based experiences. We utilize a balance of classical geological field and laboratory techniques (e.g., field mapping, stratigraphic logging and petrographic microscopy) and newer technologies (e.g., GIS, SEM-EDS, ICP-OES, IRMS) in our teaching and research to keep our students current in the field while retaining earlier and more transparent technologies so that students understand the most fundamental principles of geoscience and its instrumentation.

National Research Council (2001) “Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science.”

National Science Foundation (2000) “Geosciences Beyond 2000, Understanding and Predicting Earth’s Environment and Habitability.”

U.S. Geological Survey (2007) “Facing tomorrow’s challenges—U.S. Geological Survey science in the decade 2007–2017” U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1309.

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

Major Requirements. The major requirements include eight core courses, four elective courses, and a one- or two-semester thesis.

Core Courses. One of the following:
GEO 103. Earth Surface Environments and Environmental Change/Lab.
GEO 104. Plate Tectonics and Tectonic Hazards/Lab.
GEO 107. Katahdin to Acadia: Field Geology in Maine/Lab.
GEO 109. Global Change/Lab.

All of the following:
GEO 210. Sedimentary Processes and Environments/Lab.
GEO 223. Rock-Forming Minerals and Mineral Assemblages/Lab.
GEO 230. Earth Structure and Dynamics/Lab.
GEO 240. Environmental Geochemistry/Lab.

Two 300-level geology courses.

One geology Short Term course.

Elective Courses. Students must take two courses from List A and two courses from List B.

List A:
ES/GE 217. Mapping and GIS/Lab.
ES/GE 226. Hydrogeology.
GEO 360. Independent Study.
GEO 458. Senior Thesis (taken in addition to GEO 457, creating a yearlong thesis).
A second Short Term geology course.
A third 300-level geology course
One or two 200- or 300-level courses maybe transferred from an off-campus study program with prior approval of the department.

List B:
BI/GE 112. Oceanography.
BI/GE 113. Marine Science.ENVR
BIO 190. Organismal Biology/Lab.
BIO 244. Biostatistics.
BIO 270. Ecology and Evolution/Lab.
CHEM 107A. Atomic and Molecular Structure/Lab.
CHEM 108A. Chemical Reactivity/Lab.
ENVR 203. Scientific Approaches to Environmental Issues.
ENVR 240. Water and Watersheds.
ENVR 310. Soils/Lab.
FYS 274. Physics in the Twentieth Century/Lab.
GE/PH 111. Polar Environment, Climate, Ecosystems.
MATH 105. Calculus I.
MATH 106. Calculus II.
PHYS 107. Classical Physics/Lab.
PHYS 108. Modern Physics/Lab.

Senior Thesis. Students may choose to complete a one-semester thesis (GEO 457) or a two-semester thesis (GEO 457 and 458). The two-semester option is normally reserved for honors candidates, those students who plan to pursue a career in the geological or environmental sciences, and/or those planning to attend graduate school in geological or environmental sciences.

B.S. Degree for Geology Majors. Students planning careers in the geological or environmental sciences are encouraged to complete a two-semester thesis (GEO 457 and 458), and to complete the Bachelor of Science degree requirements, available in the Academic Program section of the catalog.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for any course used to fulill the major requirements.

Geology Minors. Students may complete a minor in geology by taking seven geology courses distributed as follows:

One of the following:
FYS 190. The Changing Climate of Planet Earth.
FYS 284. Burning our Planet.
FYS 327. Katahdin to Acadia: Exploring Maine Geology.
FYS 441. Volcanic Science.
GEO 103. Earth Surface Environmental Change/Lab.
GEO 104. Plate Tectonics and Tectonic Hazards/Lab.
GEO 107. Katahdin to Acadia: Field Geology in Maine/Lab.
GEO 108. Global Environmental Change.
GEO 109. Global Change/Lab.

All of the following:
GEO 210. Sedimentary Processes and Environments.
GEO 223. Rock-Forming Minerals and Mineral Assemblages.
GEO 230. Earth Structure and Dynamics.
GEO 240. Environmental Geochemistry.

Two additional geology or geology cross-listed courses, including Short Term courses.

Environmental studies majors whose concentration in the major is geology may not minor in geology.

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

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, physics or math. 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.

Guidelines for Geology Majors Regarding Off-Campus Study.
1) The department expects that majors who wish to study abroad do so for only one semester.
2) The department expects that majors will have completed the following major requirements prior to the semester abroad: one 100-level courses; a minimum of two, but preferably three, 200-level courses; and one geology Short Term course.
3) The department expects that majors will have completed the following major requirements prior to their senior year: all four 200-level courses and one 300-level course.
4) The department normally accepts only two non-Bates courses toward the major. These two courses are counted as electives under list A in the major requirements.
5) All applications for off-campus study require approval of the major advisor and the department chair. Applications that involve exceptions to the above guidelines require review and approval by the department.