Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Earth Sciences

Courses of Instruction

Earth Sciences (GEOL)
The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

GEOL 105Lg Planet Earth (4, FaSpSm) Geologic structure and evolution of planet earth. Principles of plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, processes of mountain building, continent and ocean formation, earthquakes, volcanism, development of landforms by running water and glaciers. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours. One all-day or two-day field trip required.

GEOL 107Lg Oceanography (4, FaSp) Physical, chemical, and geological character of the oceans and ocean basins. Origin of the oceans. Ocean processes and agents. Economic value of the oceans. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours. One all-day field trip required.

GEOL 108Lg Crises of a Planet (4, FaSpSm) Impact of civilization on planet earth, and impact of earth’s natural evolution on society: earthquakes, volcanism, landslides, floods, global warming, acid rain, groundwater depletion and pollution; mineral and fossil fuel depletion, formation of the ozone hole. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours. One all-day or overnight field trip.

GEOL 125Lg Earth History: A Planet and Its Evolution (4, FaSpSm) Basic principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics used in evaluating clues written in the rock record, and the processes that have shaped our planet. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours. At least one field trip required.

GEOL 130Lg The Nature of Scientific Inquiry (4, FaSp) Examination of the scientific process: what constitutes science; evolution of ideas about the nature of space, time, matter, and complexity; paradigm shifts in the biological and earth sciences. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours.

GEOL 150Lg Climate Change (4, FaSp) Climate systems from the beginning of earth history to the present; tools and techniques used to reconstruct prehistoric climate records; effects of climate variations on development of life forms on earth.

GEOL 160L Introduction to Geosystems (4, Fa) Survey of natural geological/environmental processes (systems) and variability active near the earth’s surface in the region that houses most life (the biosphere). Open only to environmental studies majors. Corequisite: ENST 100.

GEOL 240Lg Earthquakes (4, FaSpSm) Causes of earthquakes and nature of large faults; earthquake hazard and risk; world’s great earthquakes; understanding the Richter scale. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours; one field trip required. Concurrent enrollment: MDA 140.

GEOL 290L Special Laboratory (1, FaSp) Laboratory component for GEOL 105L, GEOL 107L, GEOL 108L, GEOL 125L, GEOL 130L, GEOL 150L, or GEOL 240L for students with equivalent lecture credit from another institution.

GEOL 305Lx Introduction to Engineering Geology (4, Sp) Principles of geology with emphasis on stratigraphy, structural geology and degradational processes; basic geologic considerations in civil engineering practice; introduction to mineralogy and petrology. Field trip required. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours. Not available for major credit to earth or geological sciences majors.

GEOL 315L Minerals and Earth Systems (4, Fa) Minerals and their formation in Earth geosystems; includes discussions of mineral properties, crystal structures, uses and biogeochemical importance. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 6 hours; required field trips. (Duplicates credit in former GEOL 215aL). Corequisite: CHEM 105aL or CHEM 115aL; recommended preparation: any introductory GEOL course.

GEOL 316L Petrologic Systems (4, Sp) Formation and identification of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks; interpretation of tectonic and environmental settings based on rock type and chemistry. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 6 hours; required field trips. (Duplicates credit in former GEOL 215bL). Prerequisite: GEOL 315L.

GEOL 320L Surficial Processes and Stratigraphic Systems (4, Fa) Processes of erosion, sediment transport, and deposition that shape the land surface; landscape response to tectonism; recognition and interpretation of depositional environments in the stratigraphic record. (Duplicates credit in former GEOL 334L, GEOL 451L.) Corequisite: GEOL 315L.

GEOL 321L Structural Geology and Tectonics (4, Sp) Field and theoretical aspects of rock deformation, analysis of structural systems, and stress and strain; orogenic belts and plate tectonics; introduction to field techniques and construction of geologic maps. Recommended preparation: GEOL 320L.

GEOL 385 Research Methods in the Earth Sciences (2, Fa) Nature of scientific inquiry and history of physical sciences; strategies and methodologies for research in earth sciences; introduction to science writing and quantitative methods. Lecture, 1.5 hours; attend one seminar per week. (Duplicates credit in former GEOL 485ab). Recommended preparation: any introductory GEOL course.

GEOL 390 Special Problems (1-4) Supervised individual studies. No more than one registration permitted. Enrollment by petition only.

GEOL 412 Oceans, Climate, and the Environment (4, Sp) Survey of physical, chemical, and geological oceanography emphasizing the role of the oceans in modulation of climate, atmospheric composition and biogeochemical cycles; paleoceanography and paleoclimate. Corequisite: CHEM 105bL, MATH 126; recommended preparation: PHYS 151L or PHYS 135abL.

GEOL 425L Data Analysis in the Earth and Environmental Sciences (4, Fa) Introduction to mathematical methods giving insight into earth and environmental data. Topics include probability and statistics, timeseries analysis, spectral analysis, inverse theory, interpolation. Recommended preparation: MATH 126, familiarity with matrix algebra.

GEOL 427 The Global Environment (4, Sp) (Enroll in BISC 427)

GEOL 433L Paleontology and Evolution in Deep Time (4, Fa) Origin and evolution of life; Precambrian life; evolutionary history of major groups during the Phanerozoic; mass extinctions; deep time and evolutionary processes. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 3 hours; required field trips. (Duplicates credit in former GEOL 333L.) Recommended preparation: any introductory GEOL course.

GEOL 440L Geophysics and Geoengineering (4, Sp) Plate tectonics, magnetic and gravity fields, earthquakes, seismic waves, reflection and refraction seismics, heat transport, mantle convection, deep Earth structure, data analysis. Includes field trip. Prerequisite: MATH 126; corequisite: PHYS 135bL or PHYS 152L.

GEOL 441 Seismic Exploration Geophysics (4, FaSp) Seismic wave theory, ray theory, reflection, refraction, data processing, signal enhancement, field instrumentation and techniques on land and at sea; geological interpretation of seismic data. One field trip.

GEOL 445 Earth Climate: Past, Present, and Future (4) (Enroll in ENST 445)

GEOL 450L Geosystems (4, Fa) Geosystems, such as mantle convection, active faults, climate, and the carbon cycle, will be studied using numerical models and concepts such as chaos, universality, emergence, and intermittency. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory, 2 hours. Prerequisite: MATH 125; recommended preparation: MATH 126.

GEOL 460L Geochemistry and Hydrogeology (4, Fa) Composition and origin of the earth; principles of physical chemistry applied to aqueous systems; reaction-diffusion modeling; principles of hydrology; environmental problems. Lecture, 3 hours; laboratory/discussion, 2 hours. Prerequisite: CHEM 105bL or CHEM 115bL and MATH 126.

GEOL 465 Summer Field Geology (4, Sm) (SS only) Four weeks of geological field mapping from a centrally located camp in the California Coast Ranges or Great Basin. Recommended preparation: GEOL 321L.

GEOL 470 Environmental Hydrogeology (4, Sp) Concepts in hydrogeology and their application to environmental problems. Topics include groundwater chemistry and hydrology, contaminants and their behavior. Guest lectures on regulations and remediation techniques. Recommended preparation: GEOL 460L.

GEOL 474 Ecosystem Function and Earth Systems (4) (Enroll in BISC 474L)

GEOL 483 Geobiology and Astrobiology (4) (Enroll in BISC 483)

GEOL 490x Directed Research (2-8, max 8) Individual research and readings. Not available for graduate credit.

GEOL 494x Senior Thesis (2, FaSp) Writing of a thesis under individual faculty supervision. Not available for graduate credit.

GEOL 499 Special Topics (2-4, max 8) Special topics in the earth sciences. Field trip required when appropriate to the topic.

GEOL 500 Marine Paleoecology (3, 2 years, Sp) Principles of marine paleoecology; interrelationships between marine organisms and their environment in geologic time. Prerequisite: GEOL 433L; Recommended Preparation: GEOL 577L.

GEOL 501 Paleobiology (3, Fa) Concepts and methods for functional morphologic analysis of fossil marine invertebrates. Systematics theory and methodology, macroevolution, and broad biotic trends in the Phanerozoic. Recommended preparation: GEOL 433L.

GEOL 505 Introductory Graduate Seminar in Earth Sciences (2, Fa) Lectures by Earth Sciences faculty about current research; introduction of new graduate students to the breadth of current research; applying for research funding; practicing effective research presentations.

GEOL 510L Advanced Stratigraphic Field Methods (3) Stratigraphic field methods and computer-assisted data analysis. Field trips incorporating vertical and lateral facies analysis; collection of paleocurrent, fabric, paleomagnetic, photogeologic and compaction data. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours; field trips. Prerequisite: GEOL 320L.

GEOL 511L Depositional Systems (3) Analysis of depositional systems, including conceptual methods of lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, chronostratigraphy, and paleoecology; description of major depositional environments. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory, 2 hours.

GEOL 512 Introduction to Chemical and Physical Oceanography (3, Fa) (Enroll in OS 512)

GEOL 514 Marine Geology (3, Fa) Origin and characteristics of ocean basins; marine sedimentary environments; shoreline classification and character; evolution of oceanic features. Lecture, 3 hours; research conference, 1 hour.

GEOL 515 Introduction to Atmospheric Science (3, Fa) Elementary physical principles underlying the behavior of Earth’s atmosphere. Dry and moist thermodynamics, radiative transfer, conservation laws, fundamental dynamical balances, instability theory, cloud physics. Recommended preparation: PHYS 161L, PHYS 304.

GEOL 520 Ichnology (3, 2 years, Fa) Ancient and recent borings and bioturbation structures and their utilization in stratigraphic, paleoenvironmental, paleoecological, sedimentological, and geochemical studies. Recommended preparation: GEOL 320L and GEOL 433L.

GEOL 521L Advanced Structural Geology (3, FaSp) Advanced field and theoretical aspects of rock deformation, strain and stress analyses, and evolution of structural systems. Includes lab, field trip(s), and class project.

GEOL 525 The Science of Climate Change (4, Sp) Introduction to the fundamental aspects and the factors that influence ocean and atmospheric behavior, and how the earth’s climate has varied in the past.

GEOL 530 Modern Perspectives on Crustal Dynamics (3, 2 years, Sp) Deformation mechanisms, strength and structure of the crust. Fractal scaling in structures and dynamic processes. Geodetic measurement of crustal deformation and spatio-temporal patterns of seismicity.

GEOL 531 Plate Interactions: Geological Aspects (3, 2 years, Sp) Principles and geometrics of plate tectonics; geologic characteristics of modern plate boundaries of divergent, convergent, transform type; ocean basin and orogen development from worldwide examples. Field trip.

GEOL 532 Advanced Geologic Mapping (3, Fa) Principles of mapping geologically complex terranes of different structural style. Fieldwork will be coordinated with seminar review of diverse structural phenomena. Field trips. Recommended preparation: GEOL 321L, GEOL 465.

GEOL 533 Structural Evolution of Arcs (3, 3 years, Fa) Examination of the physical characteristics of arcs, particularly structural behavior at different crustal levels. Structural and thermal evolution of magma-country rock systems including pluton emplacement processes. Field trip. Recommended preparation: GEOL 316L, GEOL 321L.

GEOL 534L Mechanics of Lithospheric Deformation (3, Fa) The mechanical description of deformational processes at both crustal and lithospheric scales, and the interpretation of geological and geophysical data in terms of these processes.

GEOL 535L Microstructures and Deformation Mechanisms (3, 3 years, Fa) Examination of deformation mechanisms and resulting microstructures in rocks; chemical and textural equilibrium; physical and chemical processes during fluid flow; prophyroblast-matrix relationships; interpretation of kinematic indicators. Laboratory. Prerequisite: GEOL 321L.

GEOL 536 Principles of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism (3, 2 years, Sp) Historic geomagnetic field behavior, secular variation, rock magnetism, paleomagnetic techniques, magnetic polarity time scale, apparent-polar-wander paths, and applications to stratigraphic and geotectonic studies. Recommended preparation: GEOL 440.

GEOL 537 Rock Mechanics (3, 2 years, Sp) Elasticity, fracture, and flow properties of rocks and minerals; effects of temperature, pressure, petrology, fractures, and interstitial fluids. Experimental techniques and geological applications.

GEOL 538 Tectonic Evolution of Western North America (3, 2 years, Sp) Geosynclinal and orogenic development of western North America from the Precambrian to present, in the light of plate tectonics concepts. Field trips. Recommended preparation: GEOL 321L.

GEOL 540 Geodynamics (3, 2 years, Fa) Applications of continuum physics to geological problems; fundamental physical processes necessary for an understanding of plate tectonics; quantitative analysis of geological problems stressed. Recommended preparation: GEOL 440.

GEOL 550 Chemical Equilibrium and Disequilibrium in Geology (3, 2 years, Sp) Phase equilibria; phase diagrams; thermodynamics of aqueous and solid solutions; irreversible thermodynamics; kinetics, diffusion, and metasomatism, with applications to problems in petrology and geochemistry. Prerequisite: GEOL 460L.

GEOL 551 Introduction to Seismology (3, 2 years, Fa) Basic elements of seismology for the study of the earth’s interior and the tectonic process, utilizing observations of seismic waves.

GEOL 552 Advanced Seismology (3) Advanced methods of theoretical seismology for studying the generation of seismic waves from natural and artificial sources and the propagation through realistic earth models. Prerequisite: GEOL 551.

GEOL 553 Physics of Earthquakes (3, 2 years, Fa) Basic physics of earthquakes and seismicity. Continuum elasticity; fracture mechanics; laboratory friction; damage rheology; physics of critical phenomena; spatio-temporal seismicity patterns; analysis of complex data sets. Recommended preparation: GEOL 537 and/or GEOL 551.

GEOL 555 Paleoceanography (3) Mesozoic and Cenozoic paleoceanography; analytical approaches applied to water mass history, paleocirculation, paleoproductivity, nutrient cycling, and paleotemperature reconstruction. Lecture, readings, and research project. Recommended preparation: GEOL 412 or GEOL 512 and GEOL 460L.

GEOL 556 Active Tectonics (3, Sp) Aspects of deformation and associated seismicity at active plate margins around the world. Includes review of plate tectonics, seismology, geodesy, paleomagnetism, geodynamics, Quaternary dating techniques, tectonic geomorphology, paleoseismology, and seismic hazard assessment. Two weekend field trips required. Recommended preparation: GEOL 530, GEOL 531; prerequisite: GEOL 321L.

GEOL 560 Marine Geochemistry (3, 2 years, Sp) Principles of chemical sedimentology and aquatic chemistry; diagenesis, authigenesis, and the geochemical cycle. Prerequisite: GEOL 460L.

GEOL 564 Isotope Geochemistry (3, 2 years, Sp) Variations in the isotopic composition of elements in the earth’s crust with applications to geological problems, including geochronology, geothermometry, ore genesis, and crustal evolution.

GEOL 566 Geochemistry Seminar (1-4) Current topics in geochemistry.

GEOL 567 Stable Isotope Geochemistry (3) Theoretical basis; nuclide nomenclature, partition function ratios, mechanisms and rates of isotope exchange; mass spectrometry and extraction techniques; application of stable isotopes to geologic problems.

GEOL 568L Metamorphic Petrology (3, 2 years, Fa) An introduction to advanced study of metamorphic mineral assemblages with use of experimental and field data. Lecture, 2-4 hours; laboratory to be arranged.

GEOL 569L Igneous Petrology (3, 2 years, Fa) Study of igneous and meta-igneous rocks from the basis of experimental and field data and theoretical considerations. Lecture, 2-4 hours, laboratory to be arranged.

GEOL 575 Organic Geochemistry (3, Sp) Advanced course on the fundamentals and frontiers of organic geochemistry. Topics include biomarker and isotope geochemical approaches to reconstructing past marine, terrestrial environmental change. Recommended preparation: CHEM 105abL, CHEM 322abL, GEOL 150L, GEOL 412, or equivalent background.

GEOL 577L Micropaleontology (3, 2 years, Fa) Microscopic fossils, especially foraminifera, their classification, the common genera, morphology, evolutionary trends; laboratory and field techniques. Lecture, 2 hours; laboratory and fieldwork, 6 hours. Recommended preparation: GEOL 433L.

GEOL 590 Directed Research (1-12) Research leading to the master’s degree. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

GEOL 594abz Master’s Thesis (2-2-0) Credit on acceptance of thesis. Graded IP/CR/NC.

GEOL 599 Special Topics (2-4, max 9, Irregular) Special topics in the earth sciences. Field trip required when appropriate to the topic. Prerequisite: second-year graduate standing normally required.

GEOL 601 Seminar in Sedimentary Geology (1-3, max 6, Sp) Analysis and discussion of current topics in sedimentary geology; topics will be chosen by students and faculty to focus on areas of recent advances.

GEOL 609 Seminar in Earthquake Physics (2, max 6, FaSp) Current research on the physics governing earthquakes and faults, including results from continuum and fracture mechanics, statistical physics, lab experiments, and seismological observations.

GEOL 650 Recent Advances in Paleontology (3) Selected review of recent ideas in paleobiology, evolution, and paleoecology related to examining the current frontiers in paleontology.

GEOL 790 Research (1-12) Research leading to the doctorate. Maximum units which may be applied to the degree to be determined by the department. Graded CR/NC.

GEOL 794abcdz Doctoral Dissertation (2-2-2-2-0) Credit on acceptance of dissertation.