Courses offered in the past four years. Courses offered currently are as noted.

Course Description

Natural Hazards
Despite increasing technological sophistication, modern civilization remains vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, extraterrestrial impacts, and other events. In this course we will consider the geologic mechanisms behind these hazards, the societal implications of these hazards, and approaches to reducing risk. Case studies will be combined with exploration of fundamental geologic concepts to provide students a foundation for understanding risk exposure and evaluating approaches to hazard management. (Not open to students who have taken GEOL 0112 or 0170) 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. (formerly GEOL 0111)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Environmental Geology
Geological processes form the physical framework on which ecosystems operate. We require an understanding of the geological environment in order to minimize disruption of natural systems by human development and to avoid hazards such as floods and landslides. This course is an overview of basic tectonic, volcanic, and landscape-forming processes and systems, including earthquakes, rivers, soils, and groundwater. Environmental effects of energy, mineral, and water resource use, and waste disposal are also examined. Weekly field labs after spring break. Registration priority for first and second-year students. 3 hrs. lect./disc., 3 hrs. lab/field trips (formerly GEOL 0112)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Earth’s Oceans and Coastlines
In this course we explore our planet’s oceans and coastlines through the interdisciplinary study of marine geology, physics, biology, and chemistry. We use these fields as lenses through which we examine our reliance on the oceans for climate stability, food, economic resources, and waste dispersal, among a host of other ecosystem services. In parallel, we explore how humans are fundamentally altering coastal and marine ecosystems, posing unequally distributed, but increasingly severe threats to ocean and human health. In labs, we make use of the college’s research vessel, the R/V Folger, and learn quantitative data visualization and analysis techniques. 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips (formerly GEOL 0161)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

DED, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Geologic Evolution of Vermont
This course explores the fascinating geology of Vermont. Students learn the geology through six field problems, involving extended trips around western Vermont. Lectures on the meaning of rocks support the fieldwork. The last few indoor labs are devoted to understanding the geologic map of Vermont. Emphasis is on descriptive writing and on use of data to interpret origin of rocks. Culminates in a written report on the geologic and plate tectonic evolution of Vermont. (One ECSC course) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab/field trips (formerly GEOL 0201)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Dynamics of Earth's climate system
In this course we will explore the interconnected components of Earth’s climate system, the laws governing their dynamics, and their changes over time. We will describe how we gather information about Earth’s climate and how we know it is changing. In a weekly laboratory, we will analyse real data and apply simple numerical models to draw conclusions about phenomena in the atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets, and more. A major goal of this course is for students to gain confidence in quantitative methods for studying the Earth system. Prereq: any 100-level course in ECSC. (ECSC majors or with instructor approval) Lecture/lab. (formerly GEOL 0202)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Climate and Earth’s History
In this course we will discuss how external forces and internal feedbacks within the Earth system govern climate. Specific topics will include orbital variability, changes in ocean circulation, CO2 uptake in terrestrial ecosystems, and molecular vibrational controls on infrared absorption and Earth's heat budget. We will then examine climate change through Earth's history as evidenced by a number of geologic proxies including the sedimentary record, ice cores, isotopic records, glaciers, soils, and tree rings. Ultimately, our improved understanding of past climates will provide a context within which to discuss future changes to come. (one ECSC course, or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect. (Formally GEOL 0302)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Mineralogy (formerly GEOL 0211)
This course covers the nature, identification, composition, and meaning of minerals and mineral assemblages. Introduction to crystallography, hand-specimen identification, optical mineralogy, x-ray analysis, and electron microbeam analysis. Laboratory: study of minerals in hand-specimen and under the polarizing microscope; use of x-ray diffraction and electron microscopy in mineral analysis. (One ECSC course) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab (formerly GEOL 0211)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Remote Sensing in Environmental Science
In this course we will discuss fundamentals of air- and space-based remote sensing applied to geological and environmental problems. The core goal is to understand how different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation interact with Earth's surface, and how images collected in these different wavelengths can be used to address questions in the Earth sciences. Lectures will present theory and basics of data collection as well as applications in hydrology, vegetation analysis, glaciology, tectonics, meteorology, oceanography, planetary exploration, and resource exploration. Labs will focus on commonly-used imagery and software to learn techniques for digital image processing, analysis and interpretation in Earth science. (one ECSC course, or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs lab (formerly GEOL 0322)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Past, Present, and Future of the Mountain Critical Zone
The Critical Zone is the name given to the thin slice of the Earth from the treetops to the base of the soil where geology, biology, hydrology and climate all come together. This course will focus on topics germane to the Critical Zone in mountain environments including glaciers and permafrost, cold-climate weathering and landforms, ecosystem adaptations to cold environments, snow and snowpack hydrogeology, responses to contemporary climate change and projections for the future. The goal is to provide a strong scientific grounding through which contemporary issues involving mountain regions can be understood. Laboratory exercises will include analysis of datasets from mountain environments. (any 0100-level ECSC or GEOG course, or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab (formerly GEOL 0350)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

DED, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Water Resources and Hydrogeology
Fresh water is the most fundamental resource sustaining life on the planet. In this course we examine all elements of the hydrologic cycle, focusing first on precipitation and surface water flow and then on subsurface flow. We study examples from across the globe to understand factors influencing water quality and availability, and apply mathematical approaches to quantify constraints on sustainable use. The consequences of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts to the hydrological cycle are examined, and current issues and policies are discussed in light of increasing demands on water resources and associated natural systems. (ENVS 0112 or any 0100-level ECSC course) 3 hrs. lect./3 hrs. lab (formerly GEOL 0355)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

DED, SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Soils and the Environment
Soils constitute the fundamental link between atmosphere, water, biota, and rock. Knowledge of the physical, chemical, and biological processes operating in soils is essential when assessing natural cycles as well as anthropogenic alterations to those natural cycles. In this course, we will analyze a wide range of issues, including soil formation, climate, soil mineralogy, soil fertility and nutrient cycling, sediment pollution, soil contamination, water pollution, sediment erosion and deposition, and implications for land-use planning. Labs will be project-oriented and will consist of a combination of fieldwork and instrument analysis. (any ECSC 0100 or ENVS 112, or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect., 3 hrs. lab (formerly GEOL 0357)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Geoscience for the Common Good
Students will collaborate with community partners in applying Earth science approaches to real-world problems, learning firsthand how geologic information can improve decision-making affecting humans and the environment. Topics and partners will generally have a local or regional footprint, coupled with broader implications. The course will be jointly guided by a faculty member and the community partner. Student work will involve reading and discussion; the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; collaboration with community partners; and consultation with additional outside experts. The course will culminate in a public presentation, as well as the preparation of written reports or other outreach materials. (ECSC 0201 and 0202) 3 hrs. lect. 3 hrs. lab. (formerly GEOL 0370)

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Modern Climate Seminar
An advanced seminar for students with prior work in physical science of Earth's climate. We will survey current climate change research by reading, discussing, and writing about scientific literature. Assessment reports such as the US National Climate Assessment will form the foundation of our discussions. At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to (1) read scientific papers, (2) identify key open questions in climate science research, and (3) relate scientific findings to common societal questions about climate action. 3hr seminar. (GEOL 0202, ECSC 0202, GEOL 0302 or ECSC 0302).

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

SCI

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis Research Seminar
This seminar will focus on methods and strategies for completing advanced geological research and provides a springboard for senior thesis research. Topics will include field and laboratory techniques, primary literature review, and scientific writing. Students taking this course are expected to be simultaneously working on the early stages of their senior thesis research. During the semester students will present a thesis proposal and the seminar will culminate with each student completing a draft of the first chapter of their senior thesis. ECSC 0400 is required of all geology majors. 3 hrs. disc. or lab (formerly GEOL 0400)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Readings and Research
Individual or group independent study, laboratory or field research projects, readings and discussion of timely topics in earth and environmental science. (Approval only) (formerly GEOL 0500)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Senior Thesis Research
Upon completion of ECSC 0400, all senior geology majors will continue their independent senior thesis research by taking one unit of ECSC 0700. This research will culminate in a written thesis which must be orally defended. (Approval only) (formerly GEOL 0700)

Terms Taught

Fall 2022, Spring 2023

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Telling Time with Geochronology
In this course we will explore the field of geochronology: the methods by which the age of rocks and landforms are determined to illuminate the mysteries of ancient earth. Content will include understanding how rocks and landscapes form, as well as aspects of physical chemistry such as radioactive decay and mass spectrometry. Learning will occur through seminar-style discussions and hands-on lab work centered around a 4-week project using U-Pb dating to test hypotheses about the geologic history of Vermont. Students working in small groups will learn how to use instruments such as the scanning electron microscope and laser-ablation mass spectrometry. This course is nominally restricted to geology majors although other interested students are encouraged to contact the professor.

Terms Taught

Winter 2023

Requirements

SCI, WTR

View in Course Catalog