Head: N.L. Ross
University Distinguished Professors: R.J. Bodnar, P.M. Dove, G.V. Gibbs (Emeritus), and M.F. Hochella Jr.
National Academy of Science: P.M. Dove
Professors: R.J. Bodnar, T. J. Burbey, P.M. Dove, K.A. Eriksson, M.F. Hochella Jr., J.A. Hole, S.D. King, R.D. Law, N.L. Ross, M.E. Schreiber, J.A. Spotila, R.J. Tracy, and S. Xiao
Associate Professors: R. Weiss and Y. Zhou
Assistant Professors: M.J. Caddick, E. Gazel, B.C. Gill, F.M. Michel, S.J.Nesbitt, R.M. Pollyea, B.W. Romans, and D.S. Stamps
Research Professor: R.P. Lowell
Research Associate Professor: M.C. Chapman
Associate Professor of Practice: J.A. Chermak
Research Scientists: L. Fedele and M.R.Stocker
Advanced Instructor: N.E. Johnson
Adjunct Faculty: R. J. Angel, J. Beard, B. DeVivo, A. Dooley, N. Fraser, W. Henika, D. Houseknecht, J. Hunter, R. Koepnick, M. Kowalewski, M. Mikulich, J. Schiffbauer, C. Szabo, L. Ward, and C. Watts
Geosciences offer exciting opportunities for students with an interest in applying a full range of science and mathematical skills to understand the earth's properties and dynamic processes. This is a highly interdisciplinary program that applies physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics to understand and manage all aspects of Earth and the environment. Geoscientists work everywhere in the world under almost any condition as they search for earth resources, manage the environment and natural hazards, and supervise technical and business enterprises. For more information about exciting careers in Geosciences consult http://about.agu.org/ and www.agiweb.org/careers.html. The extensive scientific and mathematical skills of geoscientists, along with their broad field experience, allow them to pursue careers in many related fields ranging from material science to technical management to scientific reporting.
The internationally recognized faculty in Geosciences has developed four challenging options, described below, that lead to a B.S. in Geosciences. Coursework emphasizes the acquisition and processing of field data beginning with a special course in field methods taken in the spring of the first year. The geology option requires, and the other options recommend, that the student participate in a six-week field camp. The B.S. in Geosciences provides pre-professional preparation that will allow students to continue their education in post graduate programs in science, law, and business.
Earth systems and processes are enormously complicated and require a full range of intellectual skills to decipher and manage. Geoscientists must possess good quantitative skills and a solid understanding of physics, chemistry, and biology. They must be able to read maps, identify rocks, minerals, and fossils as well as visualize earth structures in three dimensions. They must have strong communication skills, both written and verbal. Learning to use these skills in an integrated way is a challenging and rewarding experience.
The graduation requirements in effect at the time of graduation apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year of your expected date of graduation. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as "Checksheets". The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion.
The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program. However, the university will not alter degree requirements less than two years from the expected graduation year unless there is a transition plan for students already in the degree program.
Please visit the University Registrar website at http://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation/checksheets/index.html for degree requirements.
The Geology option offers a detailed coverage of the broad range of classic disciplines within the geosciences. This option emphasizes the study of minerals, rocks and fossils, and teaches the student how to understand the processes and history of the earth based on the occurrences and relationships of these materials at or near the Earth's surface.
The Geochemistry option is designed for those students who have special interest in the chemical aspects of the Earth and its materials.
The Geophysics option offers the student the opportunity to specialize in the branch of the geosciences that investigates physical earth processes such as earthquakes and that images the interior of the earth through surface-based physical measurements.
Earth Science Education Option
The Earth Science education option provides students with a broad earth science curriculum that meets the content goals for secondary earth science teaching. Certification for Earth science teaching is not provided in the program. Information about teaching certification in Virginia can be obtained from the Department of Teaching and Learning.
Minor in Geosciences
The requirements to earn a minor in Geosciences can be found on its checksheet by visiting the University Registrar website at http://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation/checksheets/index.html.
The department offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geosciences with specializations in many sub-disciplines. (See the Graduate Catalog for further information.)
University policy requires that students who are making satisfactory progress toward a degree meet minimum criteria toward the General Education (Curriculum for Liberal Education) (see "Academics") and toward the degree.
Satisfactory progress requirements toward the B.S. in Geosciences with any of the available options can be found on the specific major checksheet by visiting the University Registrar website at http://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation/checksheets/index.html.
Undergraduate Course Descriptions (GEOS)
1004: PHYSICAL GEOLOGY
Minerals and rocks, internal and external processes especially the modification of landscape, global plate tectonics, and their interrelationships; introduction to the more direct aspects of human interactions with the natural physical environment. (3H,3C)
1014: THE EARTH AND LIFE THROUGH TIME
Scientific examination of rocks, fossils, and the earthâs interior as clues to global-scale geological and biological processes that have shaped our planet and its biosphere through time. Origin and physical evolution of the earth, oceans, and atmosphere; origin and evolution of life; plate tectonics and mountain-building events; global climate changes; major evolutionary innovations; mass extinction events. (3H,3L,4C)
1024: RESOURCES GEOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The nature, origin, occurrence, distribution, use, and limitations of the earthâs mineral resources including abundant and scarce metals, precious metals and gems, building materials, industrial minerals, fossil fuels, nuclear energy, water, soils, and other minerals. (3H,3C)
1034: EARTHâS NATURAL HAZARDS
Natural geological hazards, their impact on human civilizations and what they tell us about the workings of our dynamic planet. Topics include what constitutes hazards and risks, mitigation strategies; tectonic hazards; land surface hazards; atmospheric hazards; solar system hazards. (3H,3C)
1104: PHYSICAL GEOLOGY LABORATORY
Identification of minerals and rocks; topographic maps and air photographs and their use in understanding landscape and geologic influences on human activities; geologic maps. (3L,1C)
1124: RESOURCES GEOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT LABORATORY
Laboratory exercises dealing with the nature of mineral resources, how they are exploited, and the practical concerns associated with their extraction. (3L,1C)
2004: GEOSCIENCE FUNDAMENTALS
Introduction to geoscientific reasoning, methods, written and oral communication, professional expectations, and career options. Scientific methodology, empirical reasoning, and the specific application of these methods to conducting investigations and communicating the results to a geoscientific audience. Introduction to: accessing and using the geoscientific literature, conducting research, collaborating in research groups, using technologies that support collaborative oral and written communication, and building a professional presence. Restricted to Geoscience majors. Pre: (1004, 1014) or (1004, 1024) or (1004, 1034) or (1014, 1024) or (1014, 1034) or (1024, 1034). (2H,3L,3C)
2014: MISSION TO THE PLANETS
The physical, chemical, and geological nature of the terrestrial planets and their atmospheres; similarities and differences between the Earth and other terrestrial planets; manned and unmanned space probes and how they have shaped our understanding of the planets. (3H,3C)
2024: EARTHâS DYNAMIC SYSTEMS
Overviw of the goesciences emphasizing processes operating within and on Earth now and over the last 4.55 billion years Integrates Earthâs systems and cycles, includes the rock cycle, hydrologic cycle, origin and evolution of life, extinction. Earthâs surface, and atmosphere. Field trips required. Restricted to geoscience majors. Partial duplication of GEOS 1004. (6H,6L,8C)
2104: ELEMENTS OF GEOLOGY
Structure of the earth, properties of minerals and rocks, and geologic processes that act on the surface and in the interior of the earth, and integrated geologic systems of importance in engineering and regional planning. For students in engineering and physical sciences. Geology 2104 duplicates material in Geology 1004 and both may not be taken for credit. (2H,3L,3C)
2444: GEOSCIENCE FIELD OBSERVATIONS
Study of geological phenomena in the field. Students make observations in the field, integrate them into coherent datasets, and construct interpretations. Rock type and structure identification in outcrop. Field techniques and applications in structural geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, geomorphology, environmental geology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, and geophysics. 10 full days spent in the field (Mondays through Fridays during Summer I), plus additional classroom or laboratory meetings. Pre: 1004, 1014, 1104. (6L,2C)
2964: FIELD STUDY
Pass/Fail only. Variable credit course. X-grade allowed.
2974: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Variable credit course.
2974H: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Honors section. Variable credit course.
2984: SPECIAL STUDY
Variable credit course. X-grade allowed.
3014: ENVIRONMENTAL GEOSCIENCES
The roles of geology and geophysics in defining and monitoring the natural environment, with special application to interactions between humans and the geologic environment. Both descriptive treatment and quantitative concepts related to environmental processes involving the solid earth and earthâs surface, with emphasis on geologic hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and slope failures, flooding, groundwater problems, mineral and rock dusts). Pre: 1004 or 1024 or 2104. (3H,3C)
3024: FORTRAN FOR PHYSICAL SCIENCE
Computer programming using Fortran 95 with applications to physical science, including statistics, physics, geology, and hydrology. Applications used to expose students to the capabilities of the language will include arrays, I/O concepts, structured programming, data types, procedures and modules, and dynamic data structures. Pre: (MATH 1114 or MATH 2114 or MATH 2114H), (MATH 1206 or MATH 1226) or (MATH 2015 o r MATH 1026). (3H,3C)
Descriptive and quantitative treatment of the geological, physical, chemical and biological processes that occur in, or are influenced by, the oceans. The history of oceanic exploration and discovery is addressed. Pre: (MATH 1206 or MATH 1226) or (MATH 2015 or MATH 1026). (3H,3C)
3104: ELEMENTARY GEOPHYSICS
Acquisition and interpretation of exploration geophysical data. Seismic reflection and refraction methods, gravity and magnetic fields, geoelectrical methods, and geophysical well logging. Pre: (MATH 1205 or MATH 1225), (MATH 1206 or MATH 1226), (GEOS 1004 or GEOS 2104), PHYS 2305. Co: PHYS 2306. (2H,3L,3C)
Study of sedimentary basins in a plate-tectonic framework, mechanisms of basin formation, three-dimensional geometry of basin fill, and controls on basin fill. Siliciclastic and carbonate-evaporate rocks as examples of basin fill are discussed in lectures and studied in the lab and in the field. Applied aspects of the course include a discussion of geometries of sedimentary aquifers and reservoirs. Pre: 2004, 2024, 2444. (2H,3L,3C)
3304 (CSES 3304) (GEOG 3304): GEOMORPHOLOGY
Examines the variety of landforms that exist at the earthâs surface. Detailed investigation of major processes operating at the earthâs surface including: tectonic, weathering, fluvial, coastal, eolian, and glacial processes. Field excursion. Pre: GEOG 1104 or GEOS 1004 or GEOS 2104. (3H,3C)
3404: ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY
Introduction to basic geological structures, evolution of microfabrics, development of faults, folds and foliations, stereographic analysis of geological structures, thrust fault geometries, balancing of geological cross-sections, and introduction to the concepts of stress and strain. Pre: 2004, 2024, 2444. (2H,3L,3C)
3504 (MSE 3104): MINERALOGY
Principles of modern mineralogy, crystal chemistry, and crystallography, with emphasis on mineral atomic structure and physical property relationships, mineralogy in the context of geology, geochemistry, environmental science and geophysics, phase equilibria, mineral associations, and mineral identification, and industrial applications of minerals. There are three required field trips during the semester. Pre: 2004, 2024, 2444, CHEM 1036, (MATH 1205 or MATH 1225). (2H,3L,3C)
Paleontological principles and techniques and their application to the evolution of life, the ecological structure of ancient biological communities, the interpretation of ancient depositional environments, and the history of the earth. Pre: 1004, 1014. (2H,3L,3C)
3614 (CSES 3114) (ENSC 3114): SOILS
Characterization of soils as a natural resource emphasizing their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties in relation to nutrient availability, fertilization, plant growth, land-use management, waste application, soil and water quality, and food production. For CSES, ENSC, and related plant- and earth-science majors. Partially duplicates CSES/ENSC 3134. Pre: CHEM 1036. (3H,3C)
3624 (CSES 3124) (ENSC 3124): SOILS LABORATORY
Parent materials, morphology, physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils and related soil management and land use practices will be studied in field and lab. Partially duplicates CSES/ENSC 3134. Co: 3614. (3L,1C)
3704: IGNEOUS AND METAMORPHIC ROCKS
Study of characteristics and mechanisms of igneous intrusion at depth in the crust, volcanic phenomena on the surface, and textural and mineralogical modification of rocks at elevated temperatures and pressures of crustal metamorphism. Tectonic aspects of igneous and metamorphic rocks will be stressed. Pre: 1004, 1014, 3504. (2H,3L,3C)
3954: STUDY ABROAD
Variable credit course.
4024: SENIOR SEMINAR
Investigation and solution of significant geologic research problems by analysis and integration of information across a wide spectrum of Geosciences subdisciplines, and the presentation of results in oral and written form. Research projects will provide maximum student exposure to the full breadth of the Geosciences and the interrelated nature of subdisciplines. Pre: 3104, 3204, 3404, 3504, 3604, 3704. (3H,3C)
4124: SEISMIC STRATIGRAPHY
Overview of seismic data acquisition and processing methods, seismic wavelets, static and dynamic corrections, and seismic velocities; seismic reflection data interpretation; seismic reflection responses Seismic mapping; seismic stratigraphy and seismic lithology. Consent required. Pre: 3104, 3204. (2H,3L,3C)
4154: EARTHQUAKE SEISMOLOGY
Seismicity and its causes in the context of plate tectonics; determination of earthquake location, size and focal parameters; seismogram interpretation; seismometry; hazard potential; use of earthquakes in determining earth structure. Pre: MATH 2214, (MATH 2224 or MATH 2204 or MATH 2204H), PHYS 2305, GEOS 3104. (2H,3L,3C)
4164: POTENTIAL FIELD METHODS IN EXPLORATION GEOPHYSICS
Theory and application to engineering, environmental, and resource exploration. Gravity, magnetics, electrical resistivity, self potential, induced polarization, ground-penetrating radar, magnetotellurics, electromagnetic induction. Pre: 3104, MATH 2214, (MATH 2224 or MATH 2204 or MATH 2204H), PHYS 2306. (3H,3L,4C)
4174: EXPLORATION SEISMOLOGY
Theory and application of seismic methods to engineering, environmental and resource exploration: reflection seismics, refraction seismics, and tomography. Data acquisition, digital filtering, data corrections, imaging, interpretation, and forward modeling. Pre: 3104, (MATH 2224 or MATH 2204 or MATH 2204H), PHYS 2305, PHYS 2306. (3H,3L,4C)
4234: VERTEBRATE EVOLUTION
Characterization of the evolution of vertebrates from the fossil record to now. Tracing anatomical features in humans to their origin of different vertebrate groups. Chronicling vertebrate diversification events through extinctions, changes in climae in the last 600 million years, biogeography, and phylogenetic methods. Evidence of evolution through fossils and dissection. Pre: 1014 or BIOL 2704. (3H,3L,4C)
4354 (GEOG 4354): INTRODUCTION TO REMOTE SENSING
Theory and methods of remote sensing. Practical exercises in interpretation of aerial photography, satellite, radar and thermal infrared imagery. Digital analysis, image classification and evaluation. Applications in earth sciences, hydrology, plant sciences, and land use studies. (2H,3L,3C)
4404: ADVANCED STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY
Basic principles of rock behavior under applied, non-hydrostatic stress (experimental and tectonic) and analysis of the geometrical patterns produced. Alternate years. Pre: 3404. (2H,3L,3C)
4624: MINERAL DEPOSITS
Introduction to the range and variety of metallic and non-metallic economic mineral deposits. Classification of the petrologic and tectonic settings of mineral deposits. Source, transport and depositional mechanisms of mineral deposit formation. Laboratory emphasizes identification of ore minerals, gangue minerals, common host rocks, wall-rock alteration and mineral zoning. Course requirement of 3 hours of GEOS at the 3000-level or above, may be satisfied by taking prerequisite prior to or concurrent with course. Pre: 1004 or 2104. (2H,3L,3C)
4634: ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY
Application of quantitative methods of thermodynamic and physicochemical analysis to the study of the distribution and movement of chemical elements in surface and near-surface geological environments. Emphasis on practical approaches to environmental geochemistry. Pre: (MATH 1205 or MATH 1225), CHEM 1036. (2H,3L,3C)
4714: VOLCANOES AND VOLCANIC PROCESSES
Study of characteristics and mechanisms of volcanic phenomena, including magma dynamics, origin and chemistry of lavas, physics of eruptions, and characteristics of volcanic products, particularly pyroclastic deposits. Includes focus on volcanism as a general planetary process, on terrestrial tectonic settings of volcanism and on volcanic hazards. (2H,3L,3C)
4804: GROUNDWATER HYDROLOGY
Physical principles of groundwater flow, including application of analytical solutions to real-world problems. Well hydraulics. Geologic controls on groundwater flow. Pre: (PHYS 2205 or PHYS 2305), (MATH 1206 or MATH 1226 or MATH 2016 or MATH 2024). (2H,3L,3C)
4954: STUDY ABROAD
Variable credit course.
4964: FIELD STUDY
Variable credit course.
4974: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Variable credit course.
4974H: INDEPENDENT STUDY
Honors section. Variable credit course.
4984: SPECIAL STUDY
Variable credit course.
4994: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
May be repeated for a maximum of 4 credits. Variable credit course.
4994H: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH
Honors section. Variable credit course.