Professor Gregory, Department Chair
Professors: David Blackwell, Eugene Herrin, Louis Jacobs, Lee McAlester, Brian Stump, John Walther, Crayton Yapp; Adjunct Associate Professors: Anthony Fiorillo, Bonita Jacobs, Alisa Winkler, Dale Winkler; Adjunct Assistant Professors: Steven Bergman, Douglas Oliver.
The Geological Sciences provide ways of understanding and appreciating dynamic earth processes, our physical environment, and our place in the long and complex history of the planet and solar system. They also provide the background for rewarding careers in industry, government, and academia. Our faculty offer exceptional learning and research opportunities in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, environmental geology, planetary geology, and paleontology.
The geosciences attract students with broad interests in earth science, chemistry, biology, environmental science, archaeology, physics, astronomy, oceanography, applied mathematics, or engineering. Our department strongly encourages combined majors. In addition to combinations with the above fields, many of our undergraduate geoscience majors have double majors or minors in business (especially finance, real estate, or marketing), economics, prelaw, computer science, archaeology, foreign languages, English, history, journalism, and premedical. Geology is an interdisciplinary, applied science that integrates well with other fields.
Academic programs are tailor-made to the educational and career objectives of each student. Because of the heavily funded active research programs within the Department and our close ties with the Dallas geological community, students often receive excellent pre- and post-graduation employment opportunities in the geological sciences. The Department also has a substantial amount of financial aid available for undergraduate majors, including Department scholarships, appointments as teaching assistants, and support for off-campus field programs.
We offer three different majors in the Geological Sciences: Geology, Geophysics, and Environmental Geology. The B.A. degree is offered in Geology, and B.S. degree is offered in all three disciplines. We coordinate a Minor in Environmental Earth Science that can be combined with virtually any other degree program on campus. We also advise students in the Geoscience track of the Environmental Science Program (see the degree program listing in the Dedman College section for details).
The B.A. or B.S. degrees in Geology typically follow one of three primary tracks: hard-rock geology and geochemistry, soft-rock geology and resource exploration, and paleontology and paleoenvironments. Each of these areas integrates classroom learning with field and laboratory experience. Consult a faculty adviser for recommendations.
Requirements for the B.A. Degree. A minimum of 28 hours in Geology, selected from the following:
Required support courses 9 hours minimum:
NOTE: Participation in a recognized geology summer field camp is strongly recommended for all majors (B.A. and B.S.). Most geology graduate programs in the United States require that a field course be completed.
Requirements for the B.S. Degree. A minimum of 36 or 38 hours in geology, selected from the following:
Required support courses -- 17 hours minimum:
Requirements for the Minor. A minimum of 17 hours in Geology, selected from the following:
Geophysical techniques are used to understand the physical behavior of planet Earth, including plate-tectonic processes, earthquake mechanisms, and nuclear test-ban verification. The B.S. degree in Geophysics provides a strong quantitative background in seismology, geothermics, and digital signal processing.
Requirements for the B.S. Degree. A minimum of 33 hours in Geological Sciences, selected from the following:
Required support courses -- 30 hours minimum:
Environmental problems today are being addressed by a growing number of disciplines, including the sciences, engineering, the legal profession, economics, journalism, and ethics. Yet, most of these problems are rooted in geological processes. The B.S. degree in Environmental Geology is intended to provide students with a quantitative understanding of the chemical and physical processes of environmental change. Because of its multidisciplinary scope, students are strongly encouraged to take appropriate courses in other departments.
Requirements for the B.S. Degree: A minimum of 35 hours in Geology, selected from the following:
Required support courses 26 hours minimum:
The Minor in Environmental Earth Sciences is designed with a two-course geology core as background to an interdisciplinary course of study. The minor is freestanding and is not intended to feed into a major. Instead, it should provide an excellent and substantive background for students heading into the environmental field from other disciplines. The minor is not suitable for a student majoring in the Geological Sciences. The Department of Geological Sciences is responsible for administration of this minor.
Requirements for the Minor: A minimum of 18 hours, to be selected from the following*:
BIOL 1305 Our Natural Environment**
BIOL 33073 Ecology
BIOL 33423 The Plant Kingdom
BIOL 33433 Field Botany**
ENCE 5311 Environmental and Hazardous Waste Law
CF 3317 Global Perspectives on Environmental Issues (cannot count for GEC)
CF 3397 Science and Politics in the Nuclear Age (cannot count for GEC)
*At least nine of the 18 term hours must be taken at the 3000 level or above.
**Course is taught only at SMU-in-Taos.
1 One 1300-level GEOL course or permission of instructor.
2 High school chemistry and algebra.
3 BIOL 1401 and 1402, or permission of instructor.
1301. Earth Systems. Examines geologic change within the Earth as governed by physical, chemical, and biological processes, and interactions between the solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory each week. Recommended for all geology tracks.
1305. Oceanography. A study of the physical (geological), biological, and chemical processes responsible for the existence of the ocean as we know it today. Examines the impact of man on the oceans and oceanography's role in resource development, climatic and environmental modification, and other human concerns. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory each week.
1307. The Solar System. A study of the formation and evolution of the solar system. Discussion of solar system materials, nebular processes, meteorites, the formation and evolution of the planets and their satellites, the origin of stars, and the evidence for the standard model of cosmology. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory each week.
1308. Evolution and Life History. Evolution as observed in the fossil record in light of biological principles. Evolution as a process, origins of life, adaptation, extinction, emphasizing examples from geological record. One four-hour field trip each week. Recommended for the paleontology track.
1313. Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Seismic and volcanic activity are two important manifestations of plate tectonics on the earth. They are also two major natural hazards affecting humankind. This course will emphasize the geologic insights provided by earthquakes and volcanoes, and their impact on society.
1315. Introduction to Environmental Sciences. Fundamental principles of ecology, hydrology, geology, population dynamics, land-use management, and related fields will be used as the basis for understanding many of the major environmental issues that face our planet greenhouse climate changes, soil and water pollution, acid rain and related atmospheric pollution problems, habitat destruction and species extinctions, waste disposal, land use management, energy resource development, geologic hazards, and others. Two lectures and one two-hour laboratory. Field trips will take the place of some laboratory classes.
2320, 2321. Southwestern Environments: A Geologic Approach. Practice of the scientific method by investigation of the processes affecting geologic and environmental change in the southwestern United States. Offered only through the SMU-in-Taos program. Course will satisfy either the laboratory science requirement (2320) or the second-term writing requirement (2321). Either course can fulfill a 1300-level geology major or minor course requirement.
3159. Computer Methods in Geological Sciences. Elements of high-level computer programming applied to geological and geophysical problems. Designed to give the student sufficient skill to efficiently program geoscience problems using the application of computer languages such as MATLAB. Prerequisite: Geoscience major or permission of instructor.
3240, 3241, 3242, 3243, 3343. Geology Field Studies. Project- and mapping-oriented, two-week field trips to classical geological localities in or outside of the United States. Trips will normally be conducted either during the May Interterm or between terms. Examples of trips planned are to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Grand Canyon, Lake Superior/Canada, and New Mexico/Colorado. Prerequisites: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences and permission of instructor.
3330. Resources and the Environment. A study of earth materials and processes and how they bear on planning, resource, conservation, and pollution problems arising from humankind's intense use of the planet earth. Class projects and/or field trips are an integral part of this timely course. Prerequisite: 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor.
3340. Face of the Earth. A study of the theory of plate tectonics on understanding earthquake, volcano, and mountain belt formations. Specific application of the theory is illustrated in terms of its application to understanding features of the regional geology of North America such as the Coastal Region and the San Andreas fault. Prerequisite: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor.
3353. Modern and Ancient Climates. Science of the modern atmosphere, modern climate, and evidence of historical climatic change. Geological evidence for atmospheric and climatic changes throughout Earth's history. Prerequisite: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor.
3360. Process Geomorphology. Analysis of geological processes and other factors that influence or control the origin and development of landforms of the earth. Laboratory exercises and field trips are included. Prerequisite: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor.
3363. Environmental Geology Seminar. This seminar will focus on timely geoscience-based environmental problems and address scientific, environmental, political, economic, legal, and social aspects of potential "solutions" through selected readings, seminars, guest speakers, and research projects. Prerequisites: One 1300-level Geology course or permission of instructor.
3366. Environmental Geology and Geochemical Cycles. An introduction to the physical and chemical processes occurring in the earth's atmosphere, oceans, rivers, and groundwater at both a local and a global scale. Prerequisites: High school algebra and chemistry and one 1300-level course in Geological Sciences.
3369. Paleobiology. A survey of biological diversity, phylogenetic analysis, rates of evolution, extinction, biogeography, taphonomy and paleoecology. Prerequisite: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor. BIOL 1401 is also a suitable prerequisite.
3374. Introduction to Petroleum Geology. An introduction to stratigraphy, sedimentation, and petroleum geology. Prerequisite: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences or permission of instructor.
3451, 3452. Earth Materials I and II. The study of minerals and rocks: elementary crystallography, crystal chemistry, mineral structures and physical properties, rock classification and identification of rocks and minerals in hand specimen, principles of mineral optics, identification of minerals in thin section, introduction to relationships among rock textures, origins, and rock-forming processes. Prerequisites: One 1300-level course in Geological Sciences and credit or registration in CHEM 1301 or 1303 (for 3451); credit or registration in GEOL 3340 (for 3452).
3454. Structural Geology. Introduction to the stress-strain relations of rocks, the origin of faults, the brittle to ductile transition, mechanics of thrusting and folding. Laboratory problems in structure contouring, fault solutions, stereonet manipulation, analysis of folded terrains. Prerequisite: Credit or registration in GEOL 3452, or permission of instructor.
3472. Principles of Sedimentation. A study of the origin and postdepositional modification of sediments, sedimentary structures, and sedimentary rocks. Application to the recognition and interpretation of ancient marine and nonmarine sedimentary depositional sequences. Required weekend field trips. Prerequisite: Credit or registration for GEOL 3451 or permission of instructor.
4296, 4298. Integrative Research. Faculty-supervised independent geoscience research project designed to acquaint the student with current scientific techniques in data gathering (in field and/or laboratory and/or library), data processing, and presentation of results. Prerequisite: Permission of faculty adviser.
321. Internship in Geoscience. Direct experience using applied geoscience techniques in a work environment, including resource recovery companies, environmental companies, law firms, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and municipal, state, or federal agencies. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing in a geoscience major, overall G.P.A. of at least 3.0 and completion of GEOL 3452; sponsorship of a professor and approved organization, agency, or company.
4390. Introduction to Geophysical Prospecting. Introduction to geophysical exploration techniques. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: MATH 1338 or permission of instructor.
4657. Field Geology. Geologic mapping and field trips. Taught at Fort Burgwin during the first summer session. Prerequisites: GEOL 3454, 3472, or 5350 or permission of instructor.
5110, 5210, 5310. Independent Study in Geoscience. Independent study of a selected topic in geoscience. Individual study under direction of a faculty member allowed for 5110 or 5210; group projects allowed for 5310.
5166. (BIOL 5166) Vertebrate Anatomy Laboratory. A laboratory course to accompany GEOL 5366. Exercises include basic anatomy, dissections, and examination of fossils. Corequisite: GEOL 5366.
5320. Dynamic Earth I. Physical and chemical structure of the Earth and its evolution through geologic time. Dynamic processes in the mantle and crust. Development of the theory of plate tectonics as a unifying mechanism for large-scale geologic processes. Implications of plate tectonics, and contemporary applications to geological and geophysical problems. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
5366 (BIOL 5366). Vertebrate Origins and Evolution. An introduction to biological and geological processes that have affected the diversity of vertebrate organisms throughout Earth history, including origination, biogeography, adaptation, and extinction. Strong emphasis on vertebrate anatomy. Prerequisite: GEOL 1308 or permission of instructor. The accompanying laboratory is strongly recommended.
5368. Paleoecology. Interactions between the living world and the earth's changing environments through geologic time. Prerequisite: GEOL 3369 or permission of instructor.
5370. Global Change. An introduction to relatively short-term geologic changes in Earth's environments. Tempo and mode in the three principal sources of such changes extraterrestrial events, variations in the earth's internal dynamo, and the evolving ocean-atmosphere-biosphere system will be emphasized. Prerequisite: GEOL 3452 or permission of instructor.
5380. Principles of Stratigraphy. Evolution and application of modern stratigraphic concepts, and the development of stratigraphic nomenclature. Emphasis on the integration of physical, biological, and chemical parameters in interpretation of the rock record. Prerequisite: GEOL 3452 or permission of instructor.
5384. Hydrogeology. An introduction to the chemical and physical behavior of natural waters and the role of fluids in geologic processes. The course will stress the application of thermodynamics, kinetics, and fluid mechanics to understand such geologic processes as ore formation, sediment diagenesis, isograd formation, acid rain, global warming, and groundwater contamination. Prerequisites: MATH 1338 and CHEM 1304, or permission of instructor.
5386. Geochemistry. A survey of geochemical processes within the earth and at its surface, emphasizing mineral water interactions and application of the principles of chemical equilibrium to solution of geochemical problems. Prerequisite: GEOL 3452 or permission of instructor.
5389. Theory of Digital Data Processing in Geophysics. Linear transform theory, convolution, correlation, linear systems, Shannon sampling theorem, discrete Fourier transform, Fast Fourier Transform, Z transform, inverse filtering, recursive filtering, optimum filtering, deconvolution and power spectrum analysis. Prerequisite: MATH 2343 or permission of instructor.
5391. Potential Field Methods in Geophysical Exploration. Introduction to potential theory in geophysics. The emphasis is on gravity and magnetic techniques with a brief introduction to heat flow and electrical methods. Basic concepts and their application to hard and soft rock exploration are covered.
5392. Introduction to Seismology. Basic principles of seismology. Prerequisites: MATH 2343 and permission of instructor.
5394. Geophysical Problem Solving. Approaches to problem solving in geophysics. "Back-of-the-envelope" approximations and dimensional analysis. Analytical solutions and numerical techniques on the computer. Inverse theory and error propagation. Using models in the real world. Term project. Prerequisites: MATH 2343, 5353; knowledge of a programming language.
5481. Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. The origin, occurrence, and classification of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Problems of genesis are considered in the light of chemical equilibria and features of geological occurrence. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: GEOL 3452 or permission of instructor.