Earth Science (BS)

Program Requirements

Major Common Core

Broad survey of astronomy: the night sky, seasons, moon phases, eclipses, light, telescopes, stars, stellar evolution, galaxies, cosmology, the solar system.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

Introductory course designed for students not majoring in science. Focuses on basic biological principles with special emphasis on the human species. Includes scientific problem solving, biodiversity, human and social aspects of biology, ecology, cellular processes and organ function, human reproduction, pre-natal development, and heredity. Lecture, laboratory, and small group discussions.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-08

Introduction to the basic principles of chemistry including atomic and molecular structure, bonding, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, thermodynamics and states of matter. Laboratory will reinforce lecture concepts. Prereq: C or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or C or higher in CHEM 104

Prerequisites: “C” (2.0) or higher in MATH 112 or the equivalent; high school chemistry or “C” (2.0) or higher in CHEM 104.

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

An introduction to the science of understanding earth's physical environment, with focus on the processes that drive fundamental earth systems. Includes investigation of natural hazards, earth-sun relationships, climate and climate change, weather, flora and fauna, soil, landforms, and surfaces processes driven by rivers, glaciers, wind, rock decay, gravity. North American and world-wide examples are used to demonstrate spatial distribution and interrelationships. Some coverage of human-environmental relations.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

An examination of the processes involved in weather formation. Students will be introduced to weather map analysis, simple forecasting and observational techniques, and weather instruments.

Prerequisites: none

Physical geology is the study of how the earth works. From mountain building to soil erosion, this course provides an introduction to all the main areas of geologic study. Lecture discussions and laboratory exercises are designed for students seeking a major or minor in one of the natural sciences.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

General background in physical concepts for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Topics include mechanics, fluids, heat and thermodynamics. Lecture and laboratory.

Prerequisites: Either MATH 112 and MATH 113, or MATH 115

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-03

Major Restricted Electives

Choose 21 credits. Choose at least two courses from two different disciplines. Internship (GEOG 497 or GEOL 497) can only be taken once. Geog 480 and Geog 440 can be counted with prior approval.

A comprehensive examination of modern archaeological theory methods and activities, focusing on American archaeology. Emphasis will be given to data collection, data analysis, and museology. Lab included.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

This course focuses on studying the diversity of human societies using environmental approaches such as evolutionary/ecological perspectives and systems modeling. Case studies will be drawn from Native American cultures.

Prerequisites: none

An interdisciplinary investigation into Quaternary environmental/climatic change and the impact of change on the behavior and evolution of humans. This course has three segments: 1) an examination of natural systems responsible for climatic change, the impact climatic fluctuations have on Earth systems, timing of Quaternary changes, evidence of climatic/environmental change from spatially distant, climatically distinct environments; 2) investigation into worldwide evidence of human evolution, global dispersion, and adaptation to environmental systems; introduction to various methodological approaches in Quaternary archeologic, geomorphic, and climatic studies. Focus is on proxy records used for climate/environmental reconstruction, archeolgic/geomorphologic field methods, geochronologic dating methods.

Prerequisites: GEOG 101, ANTH 210; Students are strongly encouraged to take Geog 315 or 4/515 before enrolling. Geol 121 can be substituted for Geog 101 with instructor permission.

This course examines the history of agricultural systems in world wide perspective, with an emphasis on understanding their social and environmental contexts and the effects on them of climate change. Case examples will highlight the conditions under which agricultural systems emerge, thrive, and fail, and the impacts of these processes on human populations.

Prerequisites: none

Techniques for observing with the naked eye, binoculars and small telescopes; constellation and star identification; use of star atlases and handbooks; observations of stars, binaries, clusters, nebulae, planets and the sun and moon, etc. Students will also learn how astronomical theories are formulated and tested by observing phenomena in the sky. Evening observing labs required.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

The structure and function of stream ecosystems are presented with emphasis on adaptations of organisms to stream life and connections between stream organisms, the aquatic environment, and the surrounding watershed. Includes lab, field work, and team projects. Prereq: BIOL 105W, BIOL 106, BIOL 215 or consentSummer

Prerequisites: BIOL 105, BIOL 106, BIOL 215 or consent

To provide students the values and functions of wetlands and to use wetlands as an example of the relationship of ecology to management, and the impact that classification systems have politically. Lab (fieldwork) included.

Prerequisites: BIOL 105, BIOL 106, BIOL 215, or consent 

This class examines the effects of natural and human-induced changes in climate on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The course focuses on the science behind global change issues that have biological, social, and economic implicatons.

Prerequisites: BIOL 105, BIOL 106, BIOL 215 or consent 

Soil ecology will focus on the genesis and classification of soils, the physical properties of soil as they relate to habitat formation, niches, interactions that exist among soil organisms, human impact on soil systems relative to population pressures and management practices. Lab included.

Prerequisites: BIOL 105, BIOL 106, BIOL 215, or consent 

This course is an introduction to the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and interactions of inland freshwater lakes. Labs will emphasize field work, including data collection from five local lakes, analysis, and discussion.

Prerequisites: none

An examination of the underlying causes of natural disasters occurring over the globe. Focus will be primarily upon weather and climate related disasters. Students will also be exposed to concepts of plate tectonics and how these affect the distribution of earthquakes and volcanism over the planet.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-10

This course will cover elements of the structure of the earth and the variety of landforms found on the earth's surface, with emphasis upon the processes, both past and present, that act upon the surface to create the landforms now visible. Local field trips.

Prerequisites: none

The course will be an introduction to the analysis of spatial data using the concept of a geographic information system (GIS). Content of the course will be, to a great extent, based on the NCGIA core curriculum with assignments tailored to the data and software available within the department such as ArcGIS.

Prerequisites: none

The characteristics of particular climates and understanding the factors that control their spatial distribution.

Prerequisites: none

This course examines the dynamic nature of soils including the processes that control formation and degradation, anthropogenic impacts, spatial distribution across landscapes, and links among soils and other components of the earth system. A combination of lectures and hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings are utilized to explore the complex interactions between soils and landscapes.

Prerequisites: none

Meteorological principles and theory are applied to the analysis and interpretation of weather data in order to better understand the structure and evolution of synoptic-scale weather systems. Basic knowledge of mathematics will be assumed.

Prerequisites: GEOG 217 

This course analyzes the distribution and concentration of plants and animals throughout the world. Emphasis is placed on the role of evolution, tectonics, and physical barriers to the distribution and migration of species. Special emphasis is placed on the role of humans in the modern redistribution of species.

Prerequisites: none

This course examines the natural processes that operate on our planet and shape the landscape presently. This will be done through a focus on applied exercises, measurements and direct/indirect observations. Through applied projects students will have an understanding of how these processes interact within a variety of Earth Systems.

Prerequisites: none

An in-depth investigation into fluvial systems including sediment transport, sediment budget analysis, channel geometry/morphology, drainage basin analysis, geomorphic evolution of fluvial landscapes, hydrology (i.e., runoff generation and channel formation, storm hydrograph and flood analysis, discharge measurements) of fluvial systems, and effects of anthropogenic modification and use of fluvial systems. Registration with completed prereqs or instructor consent.

Prerequisites: Either Geog 101 or Geol 121 and Geog 315 or 415 are recommended. Or instructor consent.

An interdisciplinary investigation into Quaternary environmental/climatic change and the impact of change on the behavior and evolution of humans. This course has three segments: 1) An examination of natural systems responsible for climatic change, the impact climatic fluctuations have on Earth systems, timing of Quaternary changes, evidence of climatic/environmental change from spatially distant, climatically distinct environments; 2) Investigation into worldwide evidence of human evolution, global dispersion, and adaptation to environmental systems; 3) Introduction into various methodological approaches in Quaternary archeologic, geomorphic, and climatic studies. Focus is on proxy records used for climate/environmental reconstruction, archeologic/geomorphic field methods, geochronologic dating methods.

Prerequisites: Either GEOG 101 or ANTH 210; We strongly encourage students to take GEOG 315 before enrolling. Geol 121 can be substituted for GEOG 101 with instructor permission.

Survey of natural resources emphasizing energy, minerals, soils, fisheries, and water resources. Also addresses timber, wetlands, and wildlife on public and private lands.

Prerequisites: none

Various excursions to study physical and cultural landscapes inside and outside of Minnesota.

Prerequisites: none

This course covers the basic strategies for field mapping using data acquired from global positioning systems (GPS).

Prerequisites: GEOG 373 or equivalent 

This is an introductory course on theories and techniques of remote sensing. Focus will be placed on providing students with a general overview of the application of remote sensing to practical problems, and hands-on experience for image processing and analysis.

Prerequisites: none

Topics vary in physical, cultural, economic, political, and historical geography, as well as environmental conservation and geographic techniques.

Prerequisites: none

An applied work and learning experience. The student will provide a written internship report on professional practicum and the work supervisor will be consulted on how much the student has accomplished.

Prerequisites: Consent 

An examination of the development and evolution of life on earth. In addition to reviewing the range of life forms and global climates existing on earth during various times in its geologic past, we will also look at how global industrialization could lead to the earth's next period of mass extinction. Weekly laboratory assignments help illustrate principles discussed in lectures.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

Examination of the elemental composition and crystal structure of various common minerals. Laboratory time is spent practicing techniques of identifying crystals and minerals. The importance and occurrence of many economic minerals is also covered thoroughly in this course.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 121 

Study of the compositions and origins of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in a plate tectonic context. Topics include mineral optics and geochemistry. Lab portion of course emphasizes identification and study of rocks.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Focused studies of the origins and processes of transportation, deposition, burial, and diagenesis of sedimentary materials. Lab assignments focus on sedimentary material identification and analysis. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121

Study of the processes and results of rock deformation at scales ranging from microscopic to plate tectonic, and at conditions ranging from the Earth's surface to the deep interior.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

Study of the origin, composition, texture, morphology, and stratigraphy of glacial deposits. Topics include the geologic record of glaciation, techniques used to reconstruct histories of glaciation, glacial depositional systems, provenance of glacial sediments, influence of glaciation on soil texture, and interpretation of glacial geologic maps. Emphasis will be placed on description and interpretation of glacial features in southern Minnesota. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

Comprehensive survey of ore deposit and petroleum geology, including exploration and production technologies. Course emphasizes projects using industry data.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121, GEOL 201, GEOL 122

The application of geologic data and principles to problems created by human occupancy and use of the physical environment. Lecture and laboratory topics include soil classification and conservation, hazardous waste site evaluation and remediation, and living with geologic hazards.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

This course introduces physical and chemical studies of hydrogeology. The main areas of discussion will include the physical and chemical attributes of aquifers, movement of ground-water and solute through soils and rocks, and reactions between earth materials and pollutants in ground-water systems. The class includes extensive use of MODFLOW and MT3D, the two most commonly usedgroundwater modeling programs currently available.

Prerequisites: CHEM 201, GEOL 121 

Internships allow students to apply knowledge and skills learned through undergraduate geoscience classes to real-world problems. Students will work with faculty to secure suitable employment and when finished, students will develop a written report of professional practicum that explores the relationships that exist among collegiate lessons and workplace tasks. Evaluation will be based on the content and presentation of the report as well as consultations with the internship supervisor.

Prerequisites: none