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Department of Geology and Environmental Science

Mission Statement

Our mission is to serve two vital needs of the JMU students. First, the majors in geology present high-quality programs of specialized study focusing on Earth materials, internal and external Earth processes, analysis of Earth history and application of geology to environmental and engineering issues. In support of this mission is a commitment to foster the ability to think analytically and to communicate both within the discipline and with non-scientists. Course work and research experiences prepare the student for postgraduate study or professional careers that are subject to rapidly changing societal needs. Second, our department strives to enhance the university's general education program by offering timely and challenging courses that provide insight into Earth processes and human-environment interactions. These courses promote life-long liberal learning by fostering critical thinking and an awareness of natural science.

Goals

Provide a stimulating, intellectual environment for students in geology and environmental science that will generate interest and enthusiasm for learning and will provide a solid foundation for graduate work and careers in geology and environmental science.

Teach science as science is practiced. Since the advancement of scientific knowledge often occurs within a social context – collaboration among scientists, conferences, seminars – the goal is to develop a similar mode of operation for the geology program.

Provide high-quality, relevant general studies courses within the discipline that focus on the fundamental science in the societal context (e.g., environmental change, climate change, hazards). These courses will incorporate critical thinking and an appreciation of human-environment interactions.

Career Opportunities

  • Earth Science Teacher
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Environmental Scientist/Specialist
  • Geochemist
  • Government or Industry Geologist
  • Geological Oceanographer
  • Geomorphologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Science Museum Curator
  • Paleoclimatologist/paleoceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Soil Scientist

Co-curricular Activities and Organization

The department encourages majors and minors to participate in the student Geology Club, which sponsors field trips, camping excursions, and hosts educational activities for elementary school students. Geology majors are encouraged to apply to be laboratory teaching assistants and research assistants for faculty in the department. Majors and minors are also strongly encouraged to become members of one or more of the following geoscience organizations and to present their research at the affiliated regional or national meetings:

  • Geological Society of America (GSA)
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)

Degree and Major Requirements

There are two bachelor degrees offered in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, a B.S. in geology and a B.A. in Earth science. Both degree options have a research requirement that includes a formal presentation. The B.S. degree has two concentrations: a general geology concentration designed for students who want to take a wider range of geology elective courses and an environmental and engineering geology concentration designed for students who want to focus their geology electives toward applied environmental science.

The B.A. in Earth science prepares individuals to work in a wide range of professional public sector service careers where preparation in Earth science and communication of science to nonscientific audiences is a requirement or an asset. This includes the preparation of Earth science teachers.

Bachelor of Science in Geology

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Credit Hours

General Education 1

41

Quantitative requirement (in addition to General Education) 2

3

Scientific Literacy requirement (in addition to General Education) 2

3-4

Major requirements (listed below)

68-77

General Electives

2-11


 

120

1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.

2 The quantitative and scientific literacy requirements are met by courses required by the major.

Major Requirements

The following are core courses required for B.S. degree students.

Core Requirements

Credit Hours

Choose one of the following:

3

GEOL 110. Physical Geology

GGEOL 102. Environmental Earth

GGEOL 115. Earth Systems and Climate Change

GEOL 110L. Physical Geology Lab

1

GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth

4

GEOL 280. Mineralogy

4

GEOL 291. Geowriting and Communication

1

GEOL 300. Introduction to Petrology

4

GEOL 364. Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis

4

GEOL 365. Structural Geology

4

GEOL 399. Field Geology

6

Research Requirements

2-6

In addition to GEOL 291, choose from the following to complete the research

 

requirement. All majors must complete a minimum of two credits; Students conducting

 

research with faculty should select GEOL 497; Honors students

 

doing research with faculty must complete a minimum of six credits in GEOL 499. All

 

students must give a formal presentation to fulfill this requirement.

 

GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research

 

GEOL 494. Internship

 

GEOL 497. Problems in Geology

 

GEOL 499. Honors in Geology

 


 

33-37

The B.S. degree in geology is designed for students who plan to obtain professional employment in geology or enter graduate school upon graduation. It is recommended that incoming B.S. degree students complete the following courses prior to enrolling in required geology courses numbered 300 and higher.

Courses

Credit Hours

CHEM 131-131L132-132L. General Chemistry I-II

8

MATH 235. Calculus I

4-8

or MATH 231-232. Calculus with Functions I-II

 

MATH 220. Elementary Statistics

3-4

or MATH 236. Calculus-II

 

Choose one of the following two sequences:

8

PHYS 140-140LPHYS 150-150L. College Physics I-II

 

with Laboratories

 

PHYS 240-140LPHYS 250-150L. University Physics I-II

 

with Laboratories

 


 

23-28

Students planning graduate study in some areas of the geosciences should consider additional courses in mathematics, physics or chemistry beyond those required for the B.S. major.

Concentrations

The B.S. degree option requires that each student complete at least 12 credit hours chosen from one of the following two concentrations.

General Geology Concentration

 

GEOL 220. Genetic Mineralogy

GEOL 340. Environmental Soil Science

GEOL 350. Paleobiology

GEOL 355. Geochemistry of Natural Waters

GEOL 377. Earth Surface Processes

GEOL 390. Laboratory Techniques in Geology

GEOL 395. Geological Perspectives in Materials Science and Engineering

GEOL 398. Topics in Field Geology (must be approved by adviser)

GEOL 400. Geology and Ecology of the Bahamas

GEOL 405. Vertebrate Paleontology

GEOL 406. Paleoclimatology and Paleocenography

GEOL 410. Engineering Geology

GEOL 415. Geological Evolution of North America

GEOL 440. Geophysics

GEOL 442. Field Geophysics

GEOL 460. Hydrogeology

GEOL 489. Quantitative Methods in Geology

Environmental and Engineering Geology Concentration

GEOL 340. Environmental Soil Science

GEOL 355. Geochemistry of Natural Waters

GEOL 377. Earth Surface Processes

GEOL 390. Laboratory Techniques in Geology

GEOL 395. Geological Perspectives in Materials Science and Engineering

GEOL 398. Topics in Field Geology (must be approved by adviser)

GEOL 440. Geophysics

GEOL 410. Engineering Geology

GEOL 442. Field Geophysics

GEOL 460. Hydrogeology

GEOL 489. Quantitative Methods in Geology

Recommended Schedule for B.S. Degree in Geology

First Year

Credit Hours

CHEM 131-131L132-132L. General Chemistry I-II

8

GEOL 110. Physical Geology

3

and GEOL 110L. Physical Geology Lab

1

GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth

4

Choose one of the following:

8

MATH 231-232. Calculus with Functions I-II (six credits)

 

MATH 235-236. Calculus I-II (eight credits)

 

General Education Courses

12


 

36

Second Year

Credit Hours

GEOL 280. Mineralogy

4

GEOL 291. Geowriting and Communication

1

GEOL 364. Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis

4

Geology elective

3

Choose one of the following:

8

PHYS 140-140LPHYS 150-150L. College Physics I-II

 

with Laboratories

 

PHYS 240-140LPHYS 250-150L. University Physics I-II

 

with Laboratories

 

General Education courses

11


 

31

Third Year

Credit Hours

GEOL 300. Introduction to Petrology

4

GEOL 365. Structural Geology

4

GEOL 399. Field Geology (summer session)

6

Geology electives

8

General Education courses

9

General Electives

3


 

34

Fourth Year

Credit Hours

Choose from the following:

2-6

GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research (2 credits)

 

GEOL 494. Internship (2 credits)

 

GEOL 497. Problems in Geology (2 credits)

 

GEOL 499. Honors in Geology (6 credits)

 

Electives

9-20


 

11-26

Bachelor of Arts in Earth Science

The B.A. in Earth science degree is designed to integrate all the Earth sciences in a systems approach to understanding the Earth. This includes incorporating and integrating subjects such as oceanography, meteorology and astronomy. The emphasis is on the preparation of individuals to work in a wide range of professional public sector service careers where preparation in Earth science and communication of science to non-scientific audiences is a requirement or an asset.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Credit Hours

General Education 1

41

Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 2

0-14

Philosophy course(s) (in addition to General Education courses) 3

3

Major requirements (listed below including cognate sciences and math)

59-63

General Electives

0-17


 

120

1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.

2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student's chosen language (typically 232), or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures' placement test.

3 100, 200, 300 or 400-level course acceptable or consult the list of courses satisfying B.A. degree requirements at http://www/jmu.edu/registrar.

Major Requirements

B.A. degree students are expected to complete CHEM 131-131L before enrolling in required geology courses numbered 300 and higher. The following are core courses required for B.A. degree students:

Core Requirements

Credit Hours

Choose one of the following:

3

GEOL 110. Physical Geology

GGEOL 102. Environmental Earth

GGEOL 115. Earth Systems and Climate Change

GEOL 110L. Physical Geology Lab

1

GEOL 167. History and Philosophy of the Geosciences

3

GEOL 211. Introduction to Oceanography or

3

GEOL 401. Oceanography for Teachers

 

GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth

4

GEOL 291. Geowriting and Communication

1

GEOL 320. Meteorology

GEOL 367. Genesis of Solid Earth Materials

4

GEOL 377. Earth Surface Processes

3

GEOL 467. Stratigraphy, Structure and Tectonics

4

GEOL 477. Contemporary Issues in the Geosciences

3

Choose one of the following:

3

ASTR 200. General Astronomy I

 

GEOL 272. Planetary Geology

 

Research Requirements

2-6

In addition to GEOL 291, choose from the following to complete the research

 

requirement. All majors must complete a minimum of two credits; Students conducting

 

research with faculty should select GEOL 497; Honors students

 

doing research with faculty must complete a minimum of six credits in GEOL 499. All

 

students must give a formal presentation to fulfill this requirement.

 

GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research

 

GEOL 494. Internship

 

GEOL 497. Problems in Geology

 

GEOL 499. Honors in Geology

 


 

37-41

The B.A. degree option requires that each student complete at least 16 hours of cognate science credit hours with at least one course from biology, physics and chemistry chosen from:

Cognate Science and Mathematics Area

Credit Hours

Biology

4

BIO 114. Organisms

 

BIO 350. Paleobiology

 

Chemistry

4

CHEM 131-131L. General Chemistry I

 

CHEM 132-132L. General Chemistry II

 

Physics

3-4

PHYS 140-140L. College Physics I

 

PHYS 150-150L. College Physics II or GEOL 440. Geophysics

 

Math

 

The B.A. degree option requires that each student complete at least 6 credit hours of mathematics, including one of the following:

3-4

MATH 205. Introductory Calculus I

 

MATH 232. Calculus with Functions II

 

MATH 235. Calculus I

 


 

22

Recommended Minors for the Bachelor of Arts in Earth Science

The B.A. Earth science degree recommends (but does not require) that students complete a minor in a complimentary program (see list below), suitable toward the career goals of the student. Approved minors include: 

Minor

Credit Hours

Astronomy

12 1

Biology

12-16 1

Business Analytics

18-19

Chemistry

20 1

Economics

18

Environmental Information Systems

24

Environmental Management

19 1

Environmental Science

15 1

Environmental Studies

18 1

Humanitarian Affairs

18

Geographic Science

19

Mathematics

14-18 1

Nonprofit Studies

19-21

Physics

14-22 1

Political Science

19

Public Policy and Administration

19

Science, Technology and Society

18

Secondary Education

22-24

Sociology

18

Statistics

15-16 1

Urban and Regional Studies

24

Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

18

1 Credit hours for courses in the minor that are already required courses for the B.A. in Earth Science major have been subtracted from the total hours listed here.

Students may also propose a minor that is not listed above to their adviser for approval.

Recommended Schedule for B.A. Degree in Earth Science

First Year

Credit Hours

Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century

9-12

GEOL 110. Physical Geology

3

and GEOL 110L. Physical Geology Lab

1

GEOL 167. History and Philosophy of the Geosciences

3

GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth

4

MATH 205. Introductory Calculus I

3

CHEM 131-131L. General Chemistry I

4


 

27-30

Second Year

Credit Hours

GEOL 211. Introduction to Oceanography

3

GEOL 291. Geowriting and Communication

1

GEOL 320. Meteorology

3

GEOL 367. Genesis of Solid Earth Materials

4

GEOL 377. Earth Surface Processes

3

Foreign language courses 1

1-8

General Education courses

12


 

27-34

Third Year

Credit Hours

GEOL 467. Stratigraphy, Structure and Tectonics

4

Choose one of the following:

3

ASTR 220. Astronomy

 

GEOL 272. Planetary Geology

 

Cognate science and mathematics

9-12

General Education courses

9


 

25-28

Fourth Year

Credit Hours

GEOL 477. Contemporary Issues in the Geosciences

3

Cognate science

3-4

Choose one from the following:

2-6

GEOL 491. Geological Research Literature

 

GEOL 494. Internship

 

GEOL 497. Problems in Geology

 

GEOL 499. Honors in Geology

 

Geology electives

4-6

Electives

12-20


 

24-39

1 Foreign language at the intermediate level.

Teaching Licensure

Students interested in becoming teachers must meet specific curriculum requirements in their major as part of the undergraduate academic degree. The B.A. in Earth science includes state course requirements in astronomy, meteorology and oceanography, to total no less than 32 hours in the Earth sciences (including geology) and a minimum of 16 hours total in physics, chemistry and biology.

In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, Earth science majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must be admitted to the pre-professional program in secondary education at the undergraduate level and complete the graduate level Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

It is critical that students seeking teaching licensure consult regularly with both their education adviser and their major adviser to support their progression through the programs.

For a full description of the program in secondary teaching, refer to the Department of Middle, Secondary and Mathematics Education, in addition to the College of Education section of the catalog.

Minor Requirements

Geology Minor

The requirement for a minor in geology is a minimum of 18 credit hours of geology approved by the student's geology adviser.

Geophysics Minor

The minor in geophysics is designed to provide adequate training for professional work or graduate school in geophysics in the broad sense. No more than 10 credits from the geophysics minor may be used to double count with a major. The requirements for the geophysics minor are a minimum of 21 credits, including at least one semester each of geology, mathematics and physics, distributed as follows:

Required Courses

Credit Hours

Choose one of the following:

 

GEOL 110 and GEOL 110L. Physical Geology and Lab

4

GEOL 210. and GEOL 110L. Applied Physical Geology and Lab

4

PHYS 140. and 140L. College Physics I and Lab

4

PHYS 240. and 140L. University Physics I and Lab

4

Complete all of the following:

 

GEOL 440. Geophysics

3

GEOL 442. Field Geophysics

3

MATH 238. Linear Algebra with Differential Equations

4

MATH 248. Computers & Numerical Algorithms

4

Choose one of the following elective courses: 1

3-4

ASTR 220. General Astronomy II

 

CHEM 331. Physical Chemistry I

 

GEOL 410. Engineering Geology

 

GEOL 460. Geohydrology

 

MATH 237. Calculus III

 

PHYS 260. University Physics III

 


 

21

1 Additional elective courses permitted upon approval from minor adviser.

Note for geology majors: The geology major requires a sequence of math and physics courses (see major program for details). The following sequence of courses will satisfy the major requirements and is strongly recommended for students interested in geophysics. In particular, MATH 236 is a prerequisite for several courses included in the geophysics minor.

MATH 235-236. Calculus I & II

PHYS 240-250. Physics I & II ( and Lab)