Geology (GEOL)

How to Read Course Descriptions

GEOL 5.     Geology Of Mexico. 4 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1), Laboratory (B3)


Introduction to Geology through examination of aspects of the geology of Mexico. Emphasizes problem-based approach to learning Geology and the process of scientific investigation. Topics include a wide range of geological concepts including plate tectonic setting of Mexico, living with volcanoes: the Mexican volcanic belt, the Mexico City earthquake, issues of water supply, flooding and atmospheric pollution in Mexico City, the Chicxulub crater and geologic time, ore deposits of Mexico. Lecture three hours; laboratory three hours.

GEOL 5A.     Geology of Mexico Field Trip. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5


Focuses on fundamental geologic concepts as seen from real world examples in Mexico that will be visited during several strategic field stops. Field stops will emphasize a problem-based approach to learning geology and the process of scientific investigation. Topics include a wide range of geological concepts including plate tectonic setting of Mexico, living with volcanoes, the Mexico City earthquake, issues of water supply, flooding, climate change and atmospheric pollution in Mexico City, the Chicxulub meteor impact crater, geologic time, ore deposits of Mexico, and natural hazards. Field trip ten days.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 7.     Natural Disasters. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1)


Examination of earth materials and earth processes through the study of natural disasters. Topics include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and meteorite impacts. Examination of causes, effects and mitigation of natural disasters.

GEOL 8.     Earth Science. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1)


Earth and its neighbors in space. Scientific method and discovery in the study of stars, planets, weather, rivers, glaciers, oceans, rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, mountains, drifting continents, the earth in time.

Note: Students contemplating a geology major or minor in geology should enroll in GEOL 10, not in GEOL 8. No credit for those who have taken GEOL 10 or equivalent.

GEOL 8L.     Earth Science Lab. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 8; may be taken concurrently.

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1), Laboratory (B3)


Emphasizes scientific methods and systematic laboratory procedures. Includes weather analysis, rock and mineral identification, study of geologic concepts by means of topographic maps, and exercises in astronomy and oceanography. Laboratory three hours.

GEOL 8T.     Earth Science Lab for Teachers. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 8; may be taken concurrently.


Exploration of the solid Earth, its atmosphere and oceans, and the Earth's place in the solar system. Emphasizes learning Earth science through investigation, and uses Earth science to understand the processes of science. Laboratory three hours.

GEOL 10.     Physical Geology. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1)


Rocks and their mineral constituents, geological processes such as weathering, erosion, glaciation, mountain building, etc., volcanoes, earthquakes, folds, faults, the earth's interior, plate tectonics and earth resources. Field trip. Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 10L.     Physical Geology Lab. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 10; may be taken concurrently.

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Physical Science (B1), Laboratory (B3)


Laboratory supplement to GEOL 10. Emphasizes scientific method and systematic laboratory procedures. Identification of common minerals and rocks. Introduction to and analysis of topographic and geologic maps. Field trip. Laboratory three hours. Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 12.     Historical Geology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L.

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Further Studies in Area B (B5)


Origin and geological history of the earth and the evolution of its animal and plant inhabitants. Fee course.

Note: Lecture 3 hours.

Fee course.

GEOL 12L.     Historical Geology Lab. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 12; and GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L. GEOL 12 may be taken concurrently.


Supplements GEOL 12. Use of sedimentary rocks, fossils, geologic maps, and structural sections in interpreting ancient environments, tectonic settings, and geologic history. Age relations and correlation of rock and time-rock units. Introduction to fossil identification and biostratigraphy. Laboratory three hours.

GEOL 100.     Mineralogy. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1A; and either GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L.


Introduction to mineral identification by physical and optical properties. Techniques and theory of optical mineral analysis, crystallography and mineral formation. Lecture three hours; laboratory three hours.

GEOL 102.     Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 100 and GEOL 103


Study of the origin, evolution, occurrence, geochemistry, dynamics and physical characteristics of igneous and metamorphic systems. The laboratory will focus on both hand-specimen and petrographic-microscope studies. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 103.     Sedimentology/Stratigraphy. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 12, GEOL 12L, and GEOL 100


Compositions, textures, classification, origins and structures of sediments and sedimentary rocks. Hand specimen observation and interpretation. Facies models, classification and correlation of stratigraphic units, subsurface techniques. Lab emphasizes hand specimen and microscope identification and subsurface techniques. Field trip. Lecture three hours; laboratory three hours. Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 105.     Paleontology. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L, GEOL 12 and GEOL 12L.


Biology, evolution, classification and paleoecology of important groups of fossil organisms. Uses of fossils in solving geologic problems.

Note: Lecture = 3 units; Lab = 1 unit. Fee Course. Field Trip.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 110A.     Structural Geology and Tectonics. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 111A and GEOL 111B, PHYS 5A or PHYS 11A, MATH 26A or MATH 30.


Description, analysis and interpretation of geologic structures and tectonic settings. Theory of stress and strain as it pertains to the origin of folds, faults, joints, cleavage, and other structural elements. Laboratory includes techniques of structural analysis such as orthographic projections, stereonets, structure contours, Mohr diagrams, interpretation of maps and cross sections. Lecture three hours, laboratory three hours. Fee Course.

Fee course.

GEOL 110B.     Structural Geology Field. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 103, GEOL 111A, GEOL 111B, and GEOL 110A. It is recommended that GEOL 110A be taken concurrently.


Field description, mapping and interpretation of geologic structures. Includes techniques of taking detailed field notes, field photography measurement of structures using a pocket transit, geologic map and cross section construction, stereonet analysis, and report writing. Consists of off-campus fieldwork. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 111A.     Field Geology. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 12L and GEOL 100

Corequisite(s): GEOL 111B


Science and art of recognizing, describing and interpreting geologic features in the field. Lecture and laboratory course on the preparation and use of topographic and geologic maps, stratigraphic and cross sections, compass and GPS instrument. Lecture one hour; laboratory three hours. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 111B.     Field Techniques. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 100 and GEOL 103. GEOL 103 may be taken concurrently.

Corequisite(s): GEOL 111A


Introduction to geologic field methods including descriptions of rocks, geologic mapping, observation, interpretation and geologic report writing. Detailed mapping techniques will also be covered; these may include the use of plane table, total station theodolite and global position systems. Consists of off-campus fieldwork. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 112.     Geophysics For Geologists. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L, PHYS 5A, PHYS 5B which may be taken concurrently.


Introduction to the principal geophysical concepts and techniques useful to geologists in the study of tectonics, the Earth's interior and rresource exploration. Includes the study of seismology, heat flow, gravity, borehole geophysics, electromagnetism and geodynamics. Fee Course/Field Trip.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 114.     Volcanology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10.


Seminar and lecture in physical volcanic processes, interpretation of volcanic deposits, historic eruptions and hazard assessment. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 120.     Surficial Processes. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L; GEOL 12, GEOL 12L.


Focused study on the basic forces that drive surficial processes such as wind water and gravity and the role of weathering, sediment transport and deposition on landform and landscape development. A laboratory component will enhance student understanding by solving applied problems as well as develop proficiencies with various geologic tools.

Note: 150 minutes Lecture = 3 units, 150 minutes Lab = 1 unit. Fee Course.

Fee course.

GEOL 121.     Geology of California. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10.


Regional study of California and certain surrounding areas with regard to geologic development, plate tectonics, economic resources and geologic hazards. Lecture and field trip(s). Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 123.     Geochemistry. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L, CHEM 1A.


Fundamentals of the geochemistry of Earth materials. Thermodynamics and kinetics of geological environments, silicates and carbonates, major element geochemistry, trace and rare earth element geochemistry, stable and radiogenic isotopes. Applications to studies of aqueous, pedogenic, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic environments. Analysis of geochemical aspects of contemporary resource, environmental, and paleoenvironmental problems.

GEOL 125.     Metallic Ore Deposits. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 100, CHEM 1A.


Origin, geology, and distribution of metallic ore deposits. Introduction to ore minerals. Exploration methods. Field trip. Fee course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 127.     Hydrogeology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1A, GEOL 10, GEOL 10L, PHYS 5A, and MATH 26A or MATH 30, or instructor permission.


Presents fundamentals of groundwater flow, as influenced by topography and geology; geological aspects of groundwater supply, contamination, remediation, and protection of hydrogeological regions of the U.S. and their critical groundwater issues. Lecture three hours.

GEOL 130.     Oceanography. 3 Units

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Further Studies in Area B (B5)


Survey of geological, physical, chemical and biological oceanography including the sea floor; waves, tides, currents; the physical and chemical properties of seawater and their distribution in the sea; planktonic life and its relation to nutrients.

GEOL 140.     Geology and the Environment. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GWAR certification before Fall 09; or WPJ score of 80+; or 3-unit placement in ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W; or 4-unit placement in ENGL 109M or ENGL 109W and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X; or WPJ score 70 or 71 and co-enrollment in ENGL 109X.

General Education Area/Graduation Requirement: Writing Intensive Graduation Requirement (WI), GE AREA D


Applies geologic data and principles to situations affecting our environment. The geologic study of earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, landslides, groundwater and similar topics supplies the background data for lectures on land use and other social choices. Topics such as geopolitics and mineral supply provide a basis for understanding international politics, social costs, and world economics. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 150.     Computer Mapping in Geology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOG 109 or instructor permission


This course is designed to enhance the mapping skills of geology majors by providing them an opportunity to learn modern computer aided mapping techniques - methods and tools widely used across industry, government, and academe. The course is designed to teach students how to effectively use various tools and mapping software by applying their developing skills in solving a variety of geological problems. This course strategy will help develop both student technical map making and innovative problem solving skills.

GEOL 171.     Petroleum Geology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 5A & GEOL 103. GEOL 103 may be taken concurrently.


Introduction to the origin, migration, and accumulation of hydrocarbons in the context of stratigraphic and structural systems. Exploration and production of both conventional and unconventional resources. Lecture three hours. Field trip. Fee Course.

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 177.     Hawaii Volcanic Field Trip. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): Geology 10 or another physical geology course approved by instructor; Field Trip, 2 units.


An investigation and visit to the many interesting volcanic features and eruption activities of Hawaiian volcanism. Topics include tectonics, physical volcanology, and volcanic monitoring techniques.

Credit/No Credit

GEOL 184.     Geological Field Trip. 2 Units


10-day field trip to a region of outstanding geology. Attendance at preliminary meetings is required. Analyzes and interpretation of geologic features is emphasized. Fee course.

Note: Student should consult the Geology Department during the semester before planning to take the course. May be taken more than once for credit.

Credit/No Credit

Fee course.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 188.     Advanced Geologic Mapping. 6 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 102, GEOL 103, GEOL 110A, GEOL 110B, GEOL 111A, GEOL 111B and instructor permission.


Advanced principles/methods of geologic mapping, interpretation and geologic report writing for selected field areas in the western United States. Mapping techniques include the use of aerial photographs and global position systems. Consists of on-campus field preparation and off-campus fieldwork. Fee course.

Fee course.

GEOL 190A.     Geology and Tectonic Development of California Seminar. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10, GEOL 12; GEOL 110A recommended.


Seminar in the geologic and tectonic development of California.

GEOL 193C.     Engineering Geology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 5 or GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L, GEOL 12, PHYS 5A or PHYS 11A, MATH 29 or high school trigonometry.


Investigates the engineering properties of earth materials, the engineering considerations required to build safe and durable structures on and within the Earth, and problems associated with structures designed and built neglecting physical environmental conditions. Designed to introduce engineering concepts to students who have a competent grasp of general geologic principles and processes. Lecture 3 hours.

GEOL 195.     Geology Internship. 1 - 3 Units


Supervised unpaid work experience in government or industry. Supervision is provided by the faculty instructor and responsible officials in the work situations.

Note: Open to all upper division Geology majors with instructor permission. Number of units earned depends on number of hours worked.

Credit/No Credit

GEOL 197.     Advanced Laboratory Techniques for Geology. 1 - 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Appropriate upper division courses and instructor permission.


Supervised individual instruction on techniques applied in geology laboratories for advanced research in mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, geophysics, and paleontology.

Credit/No Credit

GEOL 198A.     Senior Research Preparation. 1 Unit

Prerequisite(s): Senior status and appropriate courses as determined by a Departmental faculty committee. The proposed project must be approved by a Department committee; instructor permission.


Selection and design of an independent research project. A final written report is required and includes: research proposal, bibliography, and results of preliminary review of the literature. Student must choose a supervising instructor.

GEOL 198B.     Senior Research Project. 2 Units

Prerequisite(s): Senior status and appropriate courses as determined by a Departmental faculty committee. The proposed project must be approved by the Department committee; instructor permission.


Completion of an independent research project. A final written report is required. Progress reports may be required by the supervision instructor. Presentation of an oral report on the research project during the same semester is required.

GEOL 199A.     Beginning Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units


Individual projects or special studies at a beginning level, including fieldwork, lab work, library study, or other learning activities.

Note: Open only to students judged competent to carry on individual work. Credit/noncredit grading also available.

GEOL 199B.     Intermediate Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units


Individual projects or special studies at an intermediate level, including fieldwork, lab work, library study, or other learning activities.

Note: Open only to students judged competent to carry on individual work. Credit/noncredit grading also available.

GEOL 199C.     Advanced Special Problems. 1 - 3 Units


Individual projects or special studies at an advanced level, including fieldwork, lab work, library study, or other learning activities.

Note: Open only to students judged competent to carry on individual work. Credit/noncredit grading also available.

GEOL 200.     Graduate Research Methods Seminar. 3 Units


Developing a research proposal, library and internet searches, seeking external funding, presentation graphics, and publication formats. Students will develop a research project in preparation for thesis requirement. Seminar three hours.

Note: Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI).

GEOL 202.     Aqueous Geochemistry. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1B; instructor permission.


Low temperature geochemical reactions in aqueous environments. Chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, mixing and dilution, mineral stability, chemical composition of surface water, stable isotopes. Three hours lecture.

GEOL 204.     Contaminant Hydrogeology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1B and CHEM 6B or CHEM 20, GEOL 202.


Contaminants and contaminant transport in near-surface environments. Fluid-sediment interaction, fluid partitioning, common geochemical reactions, stability and mobility of groundwater contaminants, multi-phase systems, sampling considerations and overview of analytical techniques.

GEOL 208.     Groundwater Modeling. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 127, MATH 45.


Computer modeling of groundwater systems using 2 and 3 dimensional numerical solutions and common software packages. Topics will include data acquisition, constructing a numerical model, model calibration, flow paths, particle tracking and model output.

GEOL 212.     Geologic Remote Imaging. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 5B or PHYS 11B or equivalent; GEOL 102, GEOL 110A or equivalent; and proficiency using a personal computer.


Use of remote imaging in geologic applications. Types of imagery, acquisition, production, processing, and interpretation are covered. Lecture three hours; laboratory three hours.

GEOL 213.     Advanced Structural Geology and Tectonics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 110A and MATH 30


An advanced treatment of deformation of the lithosphere of the earth over short and long timescales. Construction of 2D and 3D models of the crust. Use of software packages to solve problems in tectonics and related disciplines.

GEOL 214.     Advanced Volcanology. 3 Units


Analyzes volcanic eruption processes. Interpretation of volcanic deposits in the evaluation of volcanic hazards, risk, eruption processes, and geologic history. Field trip.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 218.     Applied Geophysics. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 5B or PHYS 11C and GEOL 112.


Advanced field techniques used for geophysical exploration. Data collection and problem solving using resistvity, conductivity, seismic reflection, seismic refraction, gravity, magnetics and borehole geophysical techniques. Lecture two hours, laboratory three hours.

GEOL 220.     Surficial Processes. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 120 or equivalent.


Dynamics of geological processes and the landscapes they carve. System thresholds, linked processes, data generation and evaluation that characterize landscape development.

GEOL 223.     Geochemistry. 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 1A, MATH 30, GEOL 100, or instructor permission.


Fundamentals of the geochemistry of Earth materials. Thermodynamics and kinetics of geological environments, silicates and carbonates, major element geochemistry, trace and rare earth element geochemistry, stable and radiogenic isotopes. Applications to studies of aqueous, pedogenic, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic environments. Analysis of geochemical aspects of contemporary resource, environmental, and paleoenvironmental problems.

Note: Lecture 3 hours = 3 units; laboratory 170 minutes = 1 unit.

GEOL 227.     Advanced Hydrogeology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 127, graduate level status in Geology.


Water budgets, theories of groundwater flow to wells, hydrogeologic regimes, fracture flow, dewatering, salt water intrusion, dating and chemical identification of water. Lecture 3 hours.

GEOL 230.     Seminar In Geology. 3 Units


Reading, analysis and discussion of the geologic literature on selected topics in geology. Student presentations and reports are required.

Note: May be taken twice for credit.

GEOL 240.     Special Topics. 1 - 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): Will vary with each special topic course.


Advanced special topics in Geology that may include structural geology, volcanology, hydrogeology, engineering geology or other specialized topics selected to meet student demand or respond to industry trends in geology.

GEOL 275.     Quantitative and Numerical Research Methods. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): MATH 31


Introduction to quantitative and numerical methods of solving geologic problems using high level programming.

GEOL 290.     Regional Geology of the Western US. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 100, GEOL 102, GEOL 103 and GEOL 110A.


Application of advanced geological concepts in tectonics, stratigraphy, sedimentology, petrology, and volconism to the geologic evolution of the Western United States from Precambrian to present. Field trip. Course Fee.

Field trip(s) may be required.

GEOL 293.     Engineering Geology. 3 Units

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 193C.


Takes a geological approach to evaluating engineering issues associated with building with or on natural earthen materials. Rock and soil mechanics, slope stability, geophysical investigation of rock and soil properties.

Note: 150 minutes Lecture = 3 units.

GEOL 299.     Special Problems in Geology. 1 - 4 Units

Prerequisite(s): Graduate-level status in geology, approval of project by a faculty sponsor and Department Chair; instructor permission.


Graduate research. Independent research in geology that may include library research, short-term original research, technique development, fieldwork, or laboratory research. May include research toward thesis proposal. Culminating experience will be in the form of a written report, oral presentation, or scientific paper.

GEOL 500.     Master's Thesis. 6 Units

Prerequisite(s): Advanced to candidacy and chair permission of his/her thesis committee.


Completion of a thesis approved for the Master's degree. Should be taken in the final semester prior to the completion of all requirements for the degree.

GEOL 596.     Comprehensive Examination. 0 Units


A written comprehensive examination administed by a committee of three faculty members. Assesses the student's ability to integrate knowledge from core and elective courses, show critical and independent thinking, and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. Required for the non-thesis option. Graded: CR/NC. May be retaken one time after 4 calendar months. Units: 0.

Credit/No Credit