This list contains the minimum basic objectives for this course, as
set forth by the Geology Curriculum Committee. Additional topics
may also be presented in the course.
A student on completion of Physical Geology should be able to:
- Distinguish between physical and historical geology.
- Contrast the concept of catastrophism and uniformitarianism.
- Describe the nature of scientific inquiry.
- Have a basic understanding of and be able to explain the
theory for the origin of the solar system and earth.
- Describe the earth's basic internal structure.
- Describe the three types of plate tectonic motion and give
examples of which type occurs where on the Earth.
- Understand the rock cycle and how the formation of various
types of rocks can be interrelated.
Minerals and Matter
- Distinguish between rocks and minerals.
- Distinguish the three basic subatomic particles, understand
atomic mass, atomic number, radioactivity, and ions.
- Describe the various type of bonding in chemical compounds
(ionic, covalent, metallic).
- Describe the process of crystallization in minerals.
- Distinguish the physical properties that are useful in
- List the eight most common elements of the earth's crust.
- Briefly describe the silicon-oxygen tetrahedron.
- List and distinguish among the common silicate minerals.
- List the economic uses of some common minerals.
- Describe the chemical classification of minerals.
- Contrast magma and lava.
- Describe how the rate of cooling influences the size of
crystals in igneous rocks.
- List the different igneous rock textures (aphanitic,
phaneritic, porphyritic, pegmatitic, vesicular, and glass) and
explain their origins.
- Discuss the contributions of N. L. Bowen to the understanding
of igneous rocks. Be able to list the minerals of Bowen's
Reaction series in order, and explain its significance to
melting and crystallization.
- Discuss the various types of magma and how they relate to
- List the various kinds of intrusive igneous bodies (dike, sill
laccolith, stock, batholith) and describe each in terms of the
criteria used to classify plutons.
- List and describe the factors that determine the nature of an
- List the categories of materials that may be emitted during a
- Compare and contrast the three basic types of volcanoes
(shield, composite, and cinder cone) as to size, shape and
- Name a prominent example of each of the three basic types of
- Relate the distribution of volcanic activity to the plate
Weathering and Soil
- Briefly contrast weathering and erosion.
- Contrast chemical and mechanical weathering.
- List and describe the types of mechanical weathering.
- List and describe the types of chemical weathering.
- List the products resulting from the chemical weathering of
- List and discuss the factors that influence the type and rate
of rock weathering.
- Explain the formation of sedimentary rocks in terms of the
- Explain and give examples of the various environments of
deposition of sediment.
- Discuss the textural characteristics of sediments
- Briefly explain why sedimentary rocks are important in the
study of Earth history.
- Contrast the basic groups of sedimentary rocks.
- List and briefly describe the principle characteristics of the
common sedimentary rocks.
- Describe the ways in which sedimentary rocks are lithified.
- List the agents of metamorphism and briefly describe the
effects of each agent.
- Briefly describe the textural differences exhibited by
metamorphic rocks (foliated, non-foliated).
- Describe the use of index minerals in the interpretation of
- Discuss the types of metamorphism.
- Discuss the relationship between metamorphism and plate
- Describe the basics of the hydrologic cycle.
- Discuss erosion and the transport of sediment by streams.
- Contrast porosity and permeability.
- Describe the character and behavior of groundwater in various
- Discuss environmental problems related to groundwater.
- Understand what karst topography is and how it forms.
- Define the basic type of stresses to which rocks may be
- Define the basic types of behavior rocks may exhibit when
subjected to deforming forces, strain.
- Contrast the various types of folds (anticlines, synclines,
monoclines, basins, domes).
- Contrast the different types of faults (normal, reverse,
- Describe the type of stress that produces each type of fault.
- Understand the basics of strike and dip.
- Illustrate the various folds and faults on geologic maps.
- Discuss the principle of the seismograph, seismometer,
- List and contrast the basic types of earthquake waves (body
waves - P & S, surface waves - Love & Rayleigh).
- Distinguish between the focus and epicenter of an earthquake.
- Describe the world-wide distribution pattern of earthquake
- Explain the earthquake magnitude scale and the Modified
Mercalli scale of earthquake intensity.
- Explain how the epicenter of an earthquake is located.
- Describe the effects of earthquake activity.
Interior of the Earth
- Relate the discovery of the shadow zone to the existence of
- List the principle zones of the earth (crust, mantle, outer
core, inner core), and contrast them in terms of their
thickness and chemical makeup and seismic behavior.
- Contrast the asthenosphere and lithosphere.
- Discuss seismological and other evidence that indicates that
the outer core is liquid.
- Understand what is meant by the term Mohorovicic
- Understand the basics of how the Earth's magnetic field is
- Discuss the importance of meteorites and our understanding of
the interior of the earth.
- List the basic types of plate boundaries (divergent,
convergent, transform) and describe the relative motions of
- List the driving mechanisms that might cause plate motion
(Thermal convection, mantle plumes, hot spots).
- Be able to cite the lines of evidence in support of the Plate
Tectonics Theory, Continental Drift and Sea floor Spreading.
- Understand how geomagnetic reversals provide evidence of sea
- Understand the tectonic processes resulting in the formation
of major Earth features such as mountain belts, ocean basins,
deep sea trenches, volcanic areas, etc.
- How did the theory of Plate Tectonics come about? Who is
- What are the various features associated with the basic types
of plate boundaries (subduction zone, trenches, Benioff zone,
- List and describe the main subdivisions of the continental
margin (continental shelf, continental slope, continental
- List and describe the main features associated with the deep
- Describe the relationship among mid-ocean ridges, deep-ocean
trenches, and sea-floor spreading.
- Describe the characteristics of turbidity currents and their
- Understand the formation of reefs (barrier, fringe, atolls).
- Discuss the character of sea floor sediment.
- Explain the process of isostasy and the concept of isostatic
- Briefly outline how mountain building is related to plate
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