Geological Sciences

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Rebecca J. Dorsey, Department Head

541-346-4692 fax

100 Cascade Hall
1272 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1272


Ilya N. Bindeman, associate professor (stable isotope geochemistry, volcanology). BS, 1988, Moscow; PhD, 1998, Chicago. (2004)

Katharine V. Cashman, professor (volcanology, igneous petrology, crystallization kinetics). BA, 1976, Middlebury; MS, 1979, Victoria, New Zealand; PhD, 1987, Johns Hopkins. (1991)

Rebecca J. Dorsey, professor (sedimentology, basin analysis). BS, 1983, Vermont; MA, 1986, PhD, 1989, Princeton. (1997)

Emilie Hooft Toomey, assistant professor (marine geophysics). BSc, 1990, Trinity College, Toronto; PhD, 1997, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (1999)

Eugene D. Humphreys, professor (seismology, regional tectonics). BS, 1974, MS, 1978, California, Riverside; PhD, 1985, California Institute of Technology. (1985)

Qusheng Jin, associate professor (biogeoscience). BS, 1994, Nanjing; MS, 1997, Chinese Academy of Sciences; PhD, 2003, Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. (2005)

A. Dana Johnston, professor (experimental petrology, geochemistry). BS, 1976, Bates; MS, 1978, PhD, 1983, Minnesota. (1986)

Marli B. Miller, senior instructor (structural geology). BA, 1982, Colorado College; MS, 1987, PhD, 1992, Washington (Seattle). (1997)

Mark H. Reed, professor (mineral deposits, aqueous geochemistry). BA, 1971, Carleton; MS, 1974, PhD, 1977, California, Berkeley. (1979)

Alan W. Rempel, associate professor (geomechanics and applied mathematics). BASc, 1991, MSc, 1995, British Columbia; PhD, 2001, Cambridge. (2004)

Gregory J. Retallack, professor (paleobotany, paleosols). BA, 1973, Macquarie; PhD, 1978, New England University, Australia. (1981)

Joshua J. Roering, professor (surface processes, geomorphology). BS, 1994, MS, 1995, Stanford; PhD, 2000, California, Berkeley. (2000)

David A. Sutherland, assistant professor (physical oceanography). BA, 2001, North Carolina, Wilmington; PhD, 2008, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (2011)

Douglas R. Toomey, professor (seismology, tectonics, midocean ridges). BS, 1981, Pennsylvania State; PhD, 1987, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (1990)

Paul J. Wallace, professor (igneous petrology, volcanology, geochemistry). BS, 1986, George Washington University; PhD, 1991, California, Berkeley. (2001)

James M. Watkins, assistant professor (experimental petrology, geochemistry, volcanology). BS, 2005, Wisconsin, Eau Claire; PhD, 2010, Cailfornia, Berkeley. (2012)

Ray J. Weldon, professor (neotectonics, structural and quaternary geology). BA, 1977, Pomona; PhD, 1986, California Institute of Technology. (1987)


David Krinsley, courtesy professor (electron microscopy). PhB, 1948, SB, 1950, SM, 1950, PhD, 1956, Chicago. (1991)

John M. Logan, courtesy professor (rock mechanics). BS, 1956, Michigan State; MS, 1962, PhD, 1965, Oklahoma. (1997)

Daniel Weill, courtesy professor (petrology, geochemistry, mineralogy). BA, 1956, Cornell; MS, 1958, Illinois; PhD, 1962, California, Berkeley. (2002)

Special Staff

John Donovan, research assistant (electron beam microanalysis). (2001)

Dennis K. Fletcher, research assistant. BS, 1996, Oregon. (2006)

James Palandri, research associate. PhD, 2000, Oregon. (2001)


Sam Boggs, professor emeritus. BS, 1956, Kentucky; PhD, 1964, Colorado. (1965)

M. Allan Kays, professor emeritus. BA, 1956, Southern Illinois; MA, 1958, PhD, 1960, Washington (St. Louis). (1961)

Alexander R. McBirney, professor emeritus. BS, 1946, United States Military Academy, West Point; PhD, 1961, California, Berkeley. (1965)

William N. Orr, professor emeritus. BS, 1961, Oklahoma; MA, 1963, California, Riverside and Los Angeles; PhD, 1967, Michigan State. (1967)

Jack M. Rice, professor emeritus. AB, 1970, Dartmouth; MS, 1972, PhD, 1975, Washington (Seattle). (1977)

Norman M. Savage, professor emeritus. BSc, 1959, Bristol; PhD, 1968, Sydney. (1971)

Harve S. Waff, professor emeritus. BS, 1962, William and Mary; MS, 1966, PhD, 1970, Oregon. (1978)

The date in parentheses at the end of each entry is the first year on the University of Oregon faculty.

Undergraduate Studies

The undergraduate program in the Department of Geological Sciences provides an understanding of the materials that constitute the earth and the processes that have shaped the earth from deep in its interior to the surface environment. Geology applies all the basic sciences—biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics—to understanding earth processes in the historical context of geologic time. It is a science that explores problems by combining field investigations with laboratory experiments and theoretical studies.

Geology also addresses many natural hazards—earthquakes, flooding, and volcanic eruptions—that affect humans. It addresses the impact of humans on the earth’s surface environment, where we pollute rivers and ground water, cause rapid erosion and landslides, or attempt to re-engineer rivers and shorelines.

Preparation. High school students planning to major in geological sciences should include in their high school program as much mathematics and science (physics, chemistry, biology, or earth science) as possible.

Students who transfer to the department after two years of college work elsewhere should have completed a year of general chemistry, a year of general physics, and two quarters or a semester of calculus. A year of general geology with laboratory is recommended.

Careers. Students with a degree in geological sciences are qualified for employment in a broad range of careers: geotechnical and environmental consultants; K–12 school teachers (with an additional teaching certificate); laboratory technicians; professional geologists, geophysicists, or geochemists; and positions in the petroleum and mining industries or in state and federal agencies such as the United States Geological Survey or the Environmental Protection Agency. The current climate for employment in the earth sciences is good. Geoscience jobs require skills in critical thinking and problem solving, quantitative analysis, oral and written communication, and team work. The Department of Geological Sciences curriculum emphasizes these skills.

Geological Sciences Curriculum

The Department of Geological Sciences offers a bachelor of science (BS) or a bachelor of arts (BA) degree with a major in geological sciences.

Introductory Geology. The department offers two introductory sequences. The recommended sequence for majors is Earth’s Interior Heat and Dynamics (GEOL 201), Earth Surface and Environmental Geology (GEOL 202), Evolution of the Earth (GEOL 203). The 100-level sequence—Earth’s Dynamic Interior (GEOL 101), Environmental Geology and Landform Development (GEOL 102), The Evolving Earth (GEOL 103)—may be substituted if the three courses are passed with grades of mid-B or better.

Grade Options and Standards. Undergraduate majors must take for letter grades (the pass/no pass option is not acceptable) all the courses required in their degree program. Required courses must be completed with grades of C– or better. Exceptions for honors students are noted under Honors in Geological Sciences.

Major Tracks. Earth science is an unusually broad subject. It addresses everything from the chemical processes that make rocks and minerals to the physics behind plate tectonics and the travel of earthquake waves through the planet. It explores the history of the evolution of life revealed in fossils, and it probes the earth processes that affect how humans can survive on the surface of the planet. To address this breadth, the department offers four curricular tracks for a major in geological sciences: geology, geophysics, environmental geoscience, and paleontology.

All of the tracks require a common core of general chemistry, calculus, general geology, and physics, except that paleontology- and environmental geoscience–track students may take two terms of biology in place of two terms of physics. Beyond the core, each track requires certain additional courses and a selection of electives.

Undergraduate Research. As many as 4 credits of research can be counted toward electives in any of the tracks. To receive such credit, students must (1) submit a short letter, approved by the faculty research advisor and addressed to the head undergraduate advisor in geological sciences, stating the nature of the research and asserting that there is faculty supervision; and (2) submit a final written report to the faculty advisor describing the results of the research. Students may earn credit in this category by registering for any of the following: Research (GEOL 401), Field Studies (GEOL 406), Laboratory Projects (GEOL 408). Students who complete an honors thesis may not apply this option toward elective credits.

Geology Track
Core 55 credits
Earth’s Dynamic Interior (GEOL 101), Environmental Geology and Landform Development (GEOL 102), The Evolving Earth (GEOL 103) or Earth’s Interior Heat and Dynamics (GEOL 201), Earth Surface and Environmental Geology (GEOL 202), Evolution of the Earth (GEOL 203) 12
General Physics (PHYS 201, 202, 203) or Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253) 12
General Chemistry (CH 221, 222, 223) or Honors General Chemistry (CH 224H, 225H, 226H) 12
Calculus for the Biological Sciences I,II (MATH 246, 247) or Calculus I,II (MATH 251, 252) 8
Calculus III (MATH 253) or Statistical Methods I (MATH 425) or Earth and Environmental Data Analysis (GEOL 418) or Design of Experiments (PHYS 481) 4
Earth Physics (GEOL 315) 2
Introduction to Hydrogeology (GEOL 316) 2
Introduction to Field Methods (GEOL 318) 3
Additional Requirements 31 credits
Mineralogy (GEOL 331) 5
Introduction to Petrology (GEOL 332) 5
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (GEOL 334) 4
Structural Geology (GEOL 350), Structural Geology Problems (GEOL 351), Structural Geology Laboratory and Field (GEOL 352) 5
Field Studies (GEOL 406) 12
Electives 20 credits

Biology. Biology courses numbered 306 or higher

Chemistry. General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 227, 228, 229) or Advanced General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 237, 238, 239), Organic Chemistry I,II,III (CH 331, 335, 336), Physical Chemistry (CH 411, 412, 413), Inorganic Chemistry (CH 431, 432, 433), Chemical Thermodynamics (CH 444), Statistical Mechanics (CH 445)

Computer and Information Science. Introduction to Programming and Algorithms (CIS 122), Computer Science I,II,III (CIS 210, 211, 212), Introduction to Algorithms (CIS 315)

Geography. Climatology (GEOG 321), Geomorphology (GEOG 322), Biogeography (GEOG 323), Watershed Policy and Science (GEOG 360), Global Environmental Change (GEOG 361), Advanced Biogeography (GEOG 423), Hydrology and Water Resources (GEOG 425), Fluvial Geomorphology (GEOG 427), Long-Term Environmental Change (GEOG 430), GIScience I,II (GEOG 481, 482), Geographic Data Analysis (GEOG 495)

Geological Sciences. Geological sciences courses numbered 353, 363, 401, 403, 410, and higher (may include one course numbered 304–310). As much as 3 credits of Seminar: Current Topics in Geology (GEOL 407) may be included (pass/no pass)

Mathematics. Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256), Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282), Elementary Linear Algebra (MATH 341, 342), Functions of a Complex Variable I,II (MATH 411, 412), Differential Equations and Fourier Analysis I,II (MATH 420, 421), Statistical Methods I,II (MATH 425, 426)

Physics. Introductory Physics Laboratory (PHYS 204, 205, 206), Foundations of Physics Laboratory (PHYS 290), Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353), Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413), X-ray Crystallography (PHYS 427)

Geophysics Track
Core                                             60–65 credits
Requirements are the same as for the geology option, except that GEOL 311 may be substituted for GEOL 331 and 332, and Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253) is required
Additional Requirements
28 credits
Mechanical Earth (GEOL 455) 4
Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256), Several-Variable Calculus (MATH 281, 282) 12
Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353) or Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413) 12
Electives 16 credits

Chemistry. Physical Chemistry (CH 411)

Geological Sciences. Courses numbered 350–353, 363, 401, 403, and higher. As much as 3 credits of Seminar: Current Topics in Geology (GEOL 407) may be included (pass/no pass)

Mathematics. No more than 8 credits from Elementary Linear Algebra (MATH 341, 342), Partial Differential Equations: Fourier Analysis I,II (MATH 421, 422)

Environmental Geoscience Track
Core 60–65 credits
Requirements are the same as for the geology track, except PHYS 201, BI 211, and BI 212 or 213 may be substituted for that track’s physics requirement. GEOL 311 may be substituted for GEOL 331 and 332  
Additional Requirements 20 credits
Earth Resources and the Environment (GEOL 310) 4
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (GEOL 334) 4
Biogeography (GEOG 323) 4
Geologic Hazards (GEOL 353) 4
Ecology (BI 370) or Hydrogeology (GEOL 451) 4
Electives        24 credits

Biology. Courses numbers 306 and higher

Chemistry. General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 227, 228, 229) or Advanced General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 237, 238, 239), Organic Chemistry I,II,III (CH 331, 335, 336), Physical Chemistry (CH 411, 412, 413), Inorganic Chemistry (CH 431, 432, 433), Chemical Thermodynamics (CH 444), Statistical Mechanics (CH 445)

Computer and Information Science. Introduction to Programming and Algorithms (CIS 122); Computer Science I,II,III (CIS 210, 211, 212), Introduction to Algorithms (CIS 315)

Geography. Climatology (GEOG 321), Geomorphology (GEOG 322), Biogeography (GEOG 323), Watershed Policy and Science (GEOG 360), Global Environmental Change (GEOG 361), Advanced Biogeography (GEOG 423), Hydrology and Water Resources (GEOG 425), Fluvial Geomorphology (GEOG 427), Long-Term Environmental Change (GEOG 430), GIScience I,II (GEOG 481, 482), Geographic Data Analysis (GEOG 495)

Geological Sciences. Courses numbered 350, 363, 401, 403, 406, 410 and higher (may include one course numbered 304–310)

Mathematics. Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256), Several-Variable Calculus I,II (MATH 281, 282), Elementary Linear Algebra (MATH 341, 342), Functions of a Complex Variable I,II (MATH 411, 412), Differential Equations and Fourier Analysis I,II (MATH 420, 421), Statistical Methods I,II (MATH 425, 426)

Physics. Introductory Physics Laboratory (PHYS 204, 205, 206), Foundations of Physics Laboratory (PHYS 290), Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353), Mechanics, Electricity, and Magnetism (PHYS 411, 412, 413), X-ray Crystallography (PHYS 427)

OSU engineering courses, by permission of a departmental advisor

Paleontology Track
Core 60–65 credits
Earth’s Dynamic Interior (GEOL 101), Environmental Geology and Landform Development (GEOL 102), The Evolving Earth (GEOL 103) or Earth’s Interior Heat and Dynamics (GEOL 201), Earth Surface and Environmental Geology (GEOL 202), Evolution of the Earth (GEOL 203) 12
General Physics (PHYS 201) or Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251) 4
General Biology I: Cells (BI 211) and General Biology II: Organisms (BI 212) or General Biology III: Populations (BI 213) or General Physics (PHYS 202, 203) or Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 252, 253) 8
General Chemistry (CH 221, 222, 223) or Honors General Chemistry (CH 224H, 225H, 226H) 12
Calculus for the Biological Sciences I,II (MATH 246, 247) or Calculus I,II (MATH 251, 252) 8
Calculus III (MATH 253) or Statistical Methods I (MATH 425) or Earth and Environmental Data Analysis (GEOL 418) or Design of Experiments (PHYS 481) 4
Earth Materials (GEOL 311) or Mineralogy (GEOL 331) and Introduction to Petrology (GEOL 332) 5–10
Earth Physics (GEOL 315) 2
Introduction to Hydrology (GEOL 316) 2
Introduction to Field Methods (GEOL 318) 3
Additional Requirements 29 credits
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (GEOL 334) 4
Structural Geology (GEOL 350), Structural Geology Problems (GEOL 351), Structural Geology Laboratory and Field (GEOL 352) 5
Field Studies (GEOL 406) 12
Two from Paleontology I: Paleozoic Marine Fossils (GEOL 431), Paleobotany (GEOL 433), Vertebrate Paleontology (GEOL 434), Paleopedology (GEOL 435) 8
Electives        16 credits
16 credits from any combination of the geology-track electives.
Honors in Geological Sciences

Application for graduation with honors in geological sciences must be made no later than spring term of the student’s junior year. To be eligible for graduation with honors, a student must

  1. Maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 or better in geological sciences courses or a 3.00 or better in all science courses
  2. Submit and orally present an acceptable honors thesis written under the supervision of a department faculty member and evaluated by a committee consisting of three faculty members including the supervisor. The thesis should be presented no later than three weeks before final examinations during the term the student plans to graduate

Honors students may register for 3 credits of Research: Thesis (GEOL 401) the term before they intend to graduate, and 3 credits of Thesis (GEOL 403) the term of graduation. These credits may be applied toward electives.

Minor Requirements

Students who want a minor in geological sciences begin with either of the introductory sequences: GEOL 201–203 or GEOL 101–103. In addition, a minimum of 15 credits must be earned in other geological science courses numbered 213 or 300–499. Any such geological science courses listed in the UO Catalog may be used to meet this requirement, except that no more than 8 credits in GEOL 213, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, or 310 may be applied to the minor. Undergraduate minors must take all required courses for letter grades and complete them with grades of C– or better.

Group Requirements

Fourteen geological sciences courses satisfy university science group requirements. See the Group Requirements section of this catalog under Registration and Academic Policies.

Kindergarten through Secondary Teaching Careers

Students who complete a degree with a major in geological sciences are eligible to apply to the College of Education’s fifth-year licensure program in middle-secondary teaching or the fifth-year licensure program in elementary teaching. More information is available in the College of Education section of this catalog.

Graduate Studies

The Department of Geological Sciences offers programs of graduate study leading to master of science (MS), master of arts (MA), and doctor of philosophy (PhD) degrees with opportunity for research in a wide variety of specialty fields. Course work is designed to meet individual needs, and students may pursue independent research in geobiology, geochemistry, geodesy, geomechanics, geomorphology, geophysics, mineralogy, petrology, volcanology, paleontology, stratigraphy, sedimentary petrology, structural geology, and ore deposit geology. The master’s degree program requires two years or more for completion.

Admission to the graduate program is competitive and based on academic records, scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and letters of recommendation. Nonnative speakers of English must also submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Applications are welcome from students who are interested in using their background in related fields, such as physics, chemistry, and biology, to solve geologic or geophysical problems.

Graduate students are advised by a guidance committee consisting of three faculty members. This committee meets with each student shortly after he or she arrives on campus and as often thereafter as necessary for planning purposes.


Basic university requirements for graduate degrees are described in the Graduate School section of this catalog. The department sets additional examination, course work, seminar, and thesis requirements. Applicants should read the Guide to Graduate Study on the department website,, or write to the Department of Geological Sciences for details.


Graduate study in geological sciences is offered in five broad areas: volcanology-petrology-geochemistry, stratigraphy–surface processes, paleontology-paleopedology-geobiology, structural geology–geophysics, and economic geology (mineral deposits).


The department has excellent analytical and other research facilities for studies in these subdisciplines, and the volcanic and metamorphic terrane of the Northwest offers unsurpassed opportunities for field studies. Active research programs are diverse and include studies of eruption dynamics, magma volatile inventories, and magma rheology; experimental studies of igneous phase equilibria and trace element partitioning; calculations of multicomponent equilibria in aqueous systems and volcanic gases; and studies of igneous protogenesis.

Stratigraphy–Surface Processes

The stratigraphic record of tectonically active sedimentary basins indicates the dynamic interactions among basin subsidence, sediment input from eroding sources, evolution of depositional systems, and active faulting and folding that govern these processes. Research in this area combines field-based stratigraphic, sedimentologic, and geomorphic analysis with provenance studies and concepts derived from theoretical models to decipher the complex structural and climatic controls on the filling histories of active basins.

Surface processes regulate how tectonics and climate affect landscape evolution. Field observations, numerical simulations, topographic analyses, and experimental facilities are used to study sediment transport processes over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Projects incorporate links between active tectonics and structural geology, biology, geomechanics, and surface processes to address problems such as landsliding and hill-slope evolution, biological contributions to soil creep and landscape lowering, and the geomorphic implications of seismic-induced landsliding.


Studies of fossil soils, plants, and vertebrates aim to reconstruct life on land and its role in global change. Global changes of interest include Neogene paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of ape and human evolution in East Africa, environmental effects of terminal Cretaceous impact and dinosaur extinction in Montana, consequences of mass extinction and methane clathrate degassing at the Permian-Triassic boundary, and the effect of early land plants and forests on weathering and atmospheric composition during the early Paleozoic.

Geobiology focuses on the interaction of microorganisms with the geologic environment and the ways life forms affect geological processes, such as weathering and mineralization.

Structural Geology–Geophysics

Graduate work in the structural geology–geophysics area involves the study of the earth’s dynamic processes.

Seismic imaging techniques using regional arrays provide tools for understanding regional tectonics. Studies of upper-mantle and lithospheric structure beneath the Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest subduction zone are providing essential constraints, unavailable from surface geology, for detailed dynamical models of plate-lithospheric deformation.

Structural geology focuses on applying modern field and analytical techniques to solving problems in Cenozoic tectonics and active faulting. Detailed field mapping, trench logging, and geomorphic analysis are combined with seismic array data, land- and space-based geodetic data, and theoretical modeling to address problems including Oregon’s Basin and Range province and coastal deformation, active tectonics of the San Andreas Fault system, and seismic risk along the Pacific margin of the United States and southeast and central Asia.

Geophysical experiments conducted at sea investigate the nature of sea-floor spreading including the segregation, transport, and storage of melt; the rifting of oceanic lithosphere; and the spatial and temporal connectivity between magmatic, tectonic, and hydrothermal processes.

Mineral Deposits

Current research on ore deposits includes studies of porphyry copper deposits, epithermal veins, and active geothermal systems. These projects combine field mapping, petrography, and chemical analyses with theoretical chemical modeling of processes of ore fluid generation, alteration, and mineralization.

Related Research Activities

The Condon Collection of Fossils at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History maintains strong ties to the Department of Geological Sciences. Two geology professors are curators of the collection, and paleontology undergraduate and graduate students are often employed as assistants. The Condon Collection contains 60,000 specimens, including invertebrate and vertebrate fossils, paleobotanical remains, and an extensive collection of modern animals that are available to interested researchers for study.

Research Facilities

Students may use a variety of analytical facilities and equipment including a three-component broadband (0.03–50Hz) seismic array, an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope with image analysis, x-ray diffraction, FTIR spectroscopy, stable isotope mass spectroscopy, and a geobiology laboratory.

An experimental petrology laboratory covers a range of crustal temperatures and pressures and includes equipment for doing experiments in controlled atmospheres. Two piston-cylinder apparatus with pressure-temperature capability to 35 kilobars and 1,500° C may be used to study crystalline, partially molten, and molten silicates under mantlelike conditions.

Computers are used for much of the research in the department including acquisition and processing of seismic and gravity data and numerical modeling of geophysical processes and geochemical reactions. A geochemistry laboratory is equipped with sophisticated computer programs for thermodynamic calculations of gas-liquid-solid equilibria and reaction processes important in metamorphic, volcanic gas, hydrothermal, and diagenetic systems. The Internet can be accessed through the UONet fiber-optic link. A student computer facility, equipped with PC and Macintosh computers and laser printers, is also connected to the networks.

The sedimentological and paleontological laboratories have, in addition to standard laboratory equipment, an electronic particle-size analyzer, an x-radiography unit, photomicroscopes, a Leitz Aristophot unit, a fully maintained catalog of foraminifera, an acid room, and a conodont-processing laboratory.

Financial Aid for Graduate Students

Most of the department’s graduate students are fully supported through teaching and research assistantships. More information about financial assistance and department policies for awarding and renewing teaching and research fellowships may be obtained by reading the Guide to Graduate Study on the department website,, or by writing to the department.

Geological Sciences Courses (GEOL)

101 Earth’s Dynamic Interior (4) Plate tectonics, mantle flow, and magmatism. Volcanoes, earthquakes, mountain building, generation of Earth’s crust; rocks and minerals; Earth’s internal structure. Comparison with other planets. Laboratory, lecture.

102 Environmental Geology and Landform Development (4) Landforms, surface processes, and interactions between humans and the environment. Weathering, erosion, sedimentation, ground water, streams, glaciers, deserts, oceans, and coastlines; geologic hazards. Laboratory, lecture. Roering.

103 The Evolving Earth (4) History of the Earth. Geologic time, sedimentary environments; oceans, mountains, and climate through time; stratigraphic history of North America; evolution of plants and animals. Laboratory, lecture.

110 People, Rocks, and Fire (4) Investigation of topics in geology, ecology, and anthropology relevant to contemporary global energy debates; current energy policy issues investigated through term projects. Rempel.

156 (M) Scientific Revolutions (4) For nonscience majors. Surveys several major revolutions in views of the natural and technological world, focusing on scientific concepts and methodological aspects. Multilisted with PHYS 156M. 

198 Laboratory Projects: [Topic] (1–5R)

199 Special Studies: [Topic] (1–6R) Studies of geologic topics combine background lectures with guided field trips to areas of geologic interest.

201 Earth’s Interior Heat and Dynamics (4) Processes that cause earthquakes, volcanism, mountain building, and plate tectonics. Includes Earth’s origin and internal structure, rocks and minerals, gravity and magnetics. Weekly lectures, two-hour laboratory. Hooft Toomey.

202 Earth Surface and Environmental Geology (4) Earth materials, the rock record, human interactions with surface environment. Sedimentary rocks and environments, chemical and physical weathering, mineral and energy resources, hydrogeology, ground-water contamination, surface processes, human impacts. Weekly lectures, two-hour laboratory. 

203 Evolution of the Earth (4) Origin, history, and physical evolution of the Earth; geologic time scales, development of the global stratigraphic section. Weekly lectures, two-hour laboratory. Prereq: GEOL 101 or 201. Retallack.

213 Geology of National Parks (4) Examines selected geologic features in United States national parks and the processes that form them. Focuses on parks in the western states. Blackwell.

304 The Fossil Record (4) Origin of life in Precambrian; evolution of plants and invertebrate animals; evolution of early chordates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals; speciation and extinction. Intended for junior and senior nonmajors but also open to geological sciences majors. Baxter.

305 Dinosaurs (4) Overview of the past and present biodiversity of vertebrate animals, including ourselves, dinosaurs, and what ruled the ocean when dinosaurs roamed the land. Baxter.

306 Volcanoes and Earthquakes (4) Mechanisms that cause earthquakes and volcanoes, relation to plate tectonics, associated hazards, examples in Oregon and the western United States. Bindeman.

307 Oceanography (4) Characteristics and physical, chemical, and biological processes of the world’s oceans. Includes sections on origin of the oceans, plate tectonics, and human use and misuse of oceans. Sutherland.

308 Geology of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest (4) The region’s geologic and tectonic history and the plate tectonic processes responsible for its evolution. Blackwell.

310 Earth Resources and the Environment (4) Geology of energy, mineral, and water resources and environmental issues related to their use. Topics include fossil fuels, metals, nuclear waste disposal, and water pollution. Reed.

311 Earth Materials (5) Chemical and mineralogical composition of rocks, sediment, and soil. Properties of common minerals; origin of rocks; microscopic study of rock textures; environmental issues. Prereq: GEOL 101, 102 or 201, 202; coreq: CH 221 or 224. Blackwell.

314 Principles of Paleontology (4) Survey of the methods, theories, and major ideas common to all areas of paleontology, and the relation of paleontology to other areas of geological and biological study. Prereq: GEOL 103 or 203. Offered alternate years. 

315 Earth Physics (2) Physics of basic Earth processes. Application of physics to analysis of convection in Earth, plate tectonics and lithospheric deformation, movement of magma or water through Earth. Prereq: MATH 112, PHYS 201 or equivalent. Hooft Toomey.

316 Introduction to Hydrogeology (2) Examines the role of water in geologic and environmental processes. Topics include the water cycle, groundwater flow, and contaminant transport. Prereq: PHYS 201 or equivalent; coreq: MATH 252 or equivalent. Jin.

318 Introduction to Field Methods (3) Introduction to geologic mapping and related field skills, rock descriptions, cross sections, and structures. Lectures, laboratories, mandatory field trips. Prereq: GEOL 101–103 or GEOL 201–203.

331 Mineralogy (5) Crystal chemistry, systematic study of rock-forming silicate, and selected other minerals, mineral optics, and x-ray diffraction. Lab work with hand samples and petrographic microscopes. Prereq: GEOL 201, 202 or GEOL 101, 102; CH 221 or 224; coreq: CH 222 or 225.

332 Introduction to Petrology (5) Origin and classification of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Microscopic study of rocks in thin section. Prereq: GEOL 331. Wallace.

334 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4) Sedimentary processes; characteristic properties of sedimentary rocks and their use in interpreting depositional environments; principles of lithostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy. Pre- or coreq: GEOL 101–103 or 201–203; GEOL 311 or 332. Dorsey.

350 Structural Geology (3) Description, analysis, and origin of geologic structures including faults, folds, and tectonites. Focus on kinematic and dynamic analysis of deformation of earth materials. Prereq: GEOL 318; GEOL 311 or 332. Weldon.

351 Structural Geology Problems (1) Exercises in solving structural geology problems using orthographic and stereographic projection techniques. Problems emphasize calculating stress and strain from structural markers. Coreq: GEOL 350. Weldon.

352 Structural Geology Laboratory and Field (1) Collection and interpretation of field and map data for structural analysis. Includes field trips, map and cross-section generation, and some computer-based exercises. Coreq: GEOL 350. Weldon.

353 Geologic Hazards (4) Examines geologic hazards, including both the physical processes that cause them and society’s attempt to mitigate them. Prereq: GEOL 101 or 201. Watkins.

363 MATLAB for Earth Scientists (2) Introduction to MATLAB software package, providing data analysis, mathematical modeling, and computer visualization tools and techniques vital to the work of Earth scientists. Pre- or coreq: MATH 251.

399: Special Studies [Topic] (1–5R)

401 Research: [Topic] (1–21R)

403 Thesis (1–6R) Geological sciences honors students only. R thrice for maximum of 6 credits.

405 Reading and Conference: [Topic] (1–21R)

406 Field Studies: [Topic] (1–6R)

407/507 Seminar: [Topic] (1–5R)

408/508 Laboratory Projects: [Topic] (1–6R)

409 Practicum: [Topic] (1–6R)

410/510 Experimental Course: [Topic] (1–5R)

414/514 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (4) Advanced principles of igneous and metamorphic petrogenesis. Gibbs phase rule, phase diagrams, mineral thermodynamics; magma geochemistry and rheology; metamorphic facies, geothermometry and geobarometry. Prereq: GEOL 332; CH 223 or 226H.

416/516 Sedimentary Petrology (5) Petrologic properties, classification, origin, and occurrence of sedimentary rocks. Laboratory work emphasizes microscopic examination of sandstones and limestones. Prereq: GEOL 332, 334. Retallack. Offered alternate years.

418/518 Earth and Environmental Data Analysis (4) Tools-based instruction in data analysis for earth and environmental scientists. Topics include descriptive statistics, visualization, uncertainty analysis, hypothesis testing, regression, time series, and directional data. Prereq: MATH 246 or 251.

420/520 Geocommunication (3) Scientific writing and presentations for the geological sciences. Focus on writing scientific papers and proposals, preparing oral and visual presentations. 

425/525 Geology of Ore Deposits (5) Porphyry copper–molybdenum, epithermal, massive sulfides in volcanic rocks, and base and precious metals in sedimentary rocks. Geologic setting, alteration and ore mineral assemblages, and geochemistry of ore formation. Prereq: CH 223; GEOL 332. Reed.

431/531 Paleontology I: Paleozoic Marine Fossils (4) Biostratigraphy, evolution, and paleoecology of life on Earth: Paleozoic and some Mesozoic marine invertibrates. Laboratory exercises on fossil specimens. Prereq: GEOL 103 or 203. Offered alternate years.

433/533 Paleobotany (4) Evolution and ecology of plants and microbes from the origin of life to global warming. Laboratory exercises and field trip to collect plant fossils. Pre- or coreq: GEOL 103 or 203. Retallack.

434/534 Vertebrate Paleontology (4) Evolution of vertebrates, including humans, based on fossil evidence. Physical and other evolutionary constraints are addressed, and lab exercises provide practical experience. Prereq: GEOL 103 or 203.

435/535 Paleopedology (4) Soil formation; mapping and naming fossil soils; features of soils in hand specimens and petrographic thin sections; interpretations of ancient environments from features of fossil soils. Prereq: GEOL 311 or 332.

438/538 Geobiology (4) Studies how microorganisms interact with geological environments at scales from enzymes to global element cycles. Jin.

440/540 Sedimentary Basin Analysis (4) Evolution of sedimentary basins, emphasizing tectonic controls on basin formation and filling. Interpretation of subsidence mechanisms and sedimentary processes through analysis of the stratigraphic record. Pre- or coreq: GEOL 334, 350. Dorsey.

441/541 Hillslope Geomorphology (4) Hillslope processes and landforms; includes hillslope hydrology, overland flow erosion, weathering and soil formation, soil creep, landslides and related hazards, glacial and periglacial processes, effects of land-use practices and fire, and landscape evolution. Offered alternate years.

451/551 Hydrogeology (4) Study of the origin, motion, and physical and chemical properties of ground water. Emphasizes quantitative analysis of flow and interaction with geologic materials. Prereq: CH 223, MATH 253, GEOL 316.

452/552 Neotectonics and Quaternary Geology (4R) Interpretation of active structures from deformed Quaternary sediments and surfaces using case histories. Field project uses air photos and field techniques. Prereq: GEOL 334, 350. R once for maximum of 8 credits. Offered alternate years.

453/553 Tectonics (3) Tectonic processes and examples. Global kinematics of plates and the forces that drive them. Continental deformation in compressional, shear, and extensional settings. Prereq: GEOL 350 and calculus. 

455/555 Mechanical Earth (4) Introduction to continuum mechanics. Includes stress and strain, friction, elasticity, viscous fluids, constitutive laws, equations of motion, and deformation of the earth. Prereq: GEOL 315, PHYS 202, or equivalent; MATH 256. Humphreys.

462/562 Environmental Geomechanics (4) Application of fluid and solid mechanics to understanding processes in the earth and environmental sciences. Prereq: GEOL 455. Offered alternate years

463/563 Computational Earth Science (4) Practical techniques for scientific computing. Topics include root finding, curve fitting, interpolation, integration and differentiation, optimization, differential equations. Prereq: MATH 253; GEOL 363 or equivalent. Rempel.

466/566 Geodynamics (4) Introduction to the process of the earth’s physical workings. Includes rheology, bending of lithosphere, viscous flow, and heat transport. Prereq: MATH 256 or equivalent; GEOL 455.

467/567 Fault Mechanics (4) The physics of faulting throughout the earthquake cycle. Topics include fault friction, seismic rupture, earthquake triggering, and other fault zone processes. Prereq: GEOL 315, MATH 253. 

468/568 Introduction to Seismology (4) Introduction to observational, theoretical, and computational seismology. Includes review of earth structure, source representation, ray theory, and seismic wave phenomena. Prereq: MATH 256 or equivalent; GEOL 455. Toomey.

471/571 Thermodynamic Geochemistry (4) Introduction to geologic application of classical chemical thermodynamics. Gibbs free energy and its temperature, pressure, and composition derivatives; fugacity, activity, and chemical potential. Solutions, ideal and nonideal. Prereq: GEOL 311 or 332, CH 223, MATH 253. Wallace. 

472/572 Aqueous-Mineral-Gas Equilibria (4) Aqueous chemistry applied to natural waters (geothermal, diagenetic, continental brines). Equilibrium calculations applied to aqueous-mineral-gas systems. Prereq: CH 223; MATH 252. Reed.

473/573 Isotope Geochemistry (4) Introduction to nuclear physics and isotope systematics; techniques of isotope analysis; applications of stable and radioactive isotopes in geochronology and as tracers of geological processes. Bindeman.

503 Thesis (1–16R)

601 Research: [Topic] (1–16R)

602 Supervised College Teaching (1–16R)

603 Dissertation (1–16R)

605 Reading and Conference: [Topic] (1–16R)

606 Field Studies: [Topic] (1–6R) Geologic fieldwork principally in connection with graduate thesis or dissertation. Emphasis on individual problems. Prereq: thesis or dissertation advisor’s consent.

607 Seminar: [Topic] (1–5R)

608 Laboratory Projects: [Topic] (1–3R)

609 Practicum: [Topic] (1–3R)

610 Experimental Course: [Topic] (1–5R)

619 Electron Beam Analysis (4) Electron probe microanalysis and scanning electron microscopy for analyzing minerals and advanced materials. Instrumental functions and beam-specimen interaction. Correction procedures for quantitative x-ray analysis. X-ray and back-scattered image analysis. Prereq: GEOL 311 or 332; PHYS 203 or equivalent. Donovan.

620 Advanced Igneous Petrology (3) Igneous rocks of the ocean basins, continental margins, and stable continental interior including basalts, calcalkaline series, and granites. Content varies according to research interests. Prereq: GEOL 414/514, 471/571 or equivalents. Wallace.

650 Advanced Structural Geology: [Topic] (3R) Quantitative analysis of structures, focusing on faults and fault-related structures. Problems involve stress and strain inversion from map and field data. Prereq: calculus, GEOL 350. R twice with instructor’s consent for maximum of 9 credits. 

692 Volcanology (3) Products and processes of volcanism, origin of magmas, eruptive mechanisms, and relation of volcanism to orogeny and tectonic processes.