Geology is broadly defined as the study of the Earth as it is the science that investigates the various parts of our planet. Geologists study the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, its climates, landscapes, oceans, and the organisms that inhabit them. Geoscientists also work to understand the processes by which each of these are formed, moved, and changed through time.
Geology is also important for mapping, locating, and extracting various natural resources including rocks and minerals. In addition, they also work to understand natural hazards to provide for hazard mitigation, improved engineering standards, and environmental safety. Geologists are also involved in investigation of the processes and patterns of environmental change in the past and present, and use these studies to understand the future of environmental change and its impact on organisms.
Here at Shippensburg University, students interested in geology can take a range of geoscience courses toward a Geoenvironmental Studies Major and/or as part of the Earth Space Science Education Major. In addition, students who major in other disciplines may also take a minor in the Department of Geography and Earth Science with a concentration in the geosciences. Numerous opportunities exist for student-faculty research in the geosciences and interested students are encouraged to contact a faculty member or their advisor to discuss potential projects (see below).
Several faculty teach courses and do research in this topical area. Faculty include:
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Earth Science Courses (ESS)
ESS 110 Introduction to Geology
Examines and analyzes the geological processes and elements involved in the mobile earth, with emphasis on earth materials, external and internal processes, and earth history. Attention given to human interaction with the geological environment. Topographic maps, fossils, minerals and rocks are used to enhance understanding and student involvement. Lab/lecture.
ESS 210 Physical Geology
Deals with basic principles of mineralogy, petrology, earth structures, and surficial processes. Comprehensive analysis of the Plate Tectonic Theory. Lab/lecture.
ESS 212 Historical Geology
Deals with origin and evolution of the geological and biological earth. Major areas include principles of historical geology, significance of sedimentary rocks, fossil records, and history of the Earth. Lab/lecture. Suggested prerequisite: ESS110 or ESS210.
ESS 214 Geology of National Parks
Presents broad overview and basic geology in limited detail of the North American continent and Hawaii, particularly as represented by the National Parks. Classroom discussion supplemented by demonstration/laboratory exercises with earth materials, models, maps, and stereo photos.
ESS 220 Oceanography
Comprehensive study of the ocean and surroundings. Main topics include origin of the ocean basins; water of the sea; physiography of the sea floor; plate tectonics; marine sediments; chemical properties of the sea; ocean circulation; waves, tides, beach, and shoreline processes; estuaries and life of the ocean. Prerequisite: ESS110 or ESS111 or CHM103 or permission of instructor.
ESS 413 Mineral and Rock Resources
Deals with metallic ore deposits such as iron, ferroalloys and nonferrous metals, mineral fuels, and other selected minerals of economic significance. Emphasis on geologic occurrence and mode of origin, geographical distribution, and importance to humans.
ESS 442 Environmental Geology
Deals with relationships between man and the geological habitat. Concerned with problems people have in using the earth and the reaction of the earth to that use in both a rural and urban setting. Stress placed on developing problem-solving skills in collecting, recording, and interpreting data through field investigations and simulation techniques. Prerequisite: ESS110.
ESS 494 Selected Topics: Sedimentary Geology & Paleoenvironments
This course deals with the concepts and principles of sedimentology, and the methods for analyzing and interpreting ancient environments for the purposes of understanding how earth systems (hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, etc.) have changed through time, understanding how rock, mineral, and other resources are distributed and located, and for understanding mechanisms of change that will impact earth systems for the future. Significant emphasis is placed on the investigation of surface processes and their impact on organisms and sediment, the range of depositional environments and their physical parameters as recorded in rocks, and various research methods used in deciphering the rock record.
Geography Courses (GEO)
GEO 224 Soils
Studies geoenvironmental aspects of soils: their nature and properties, classification and distribution, interpretation of soil surveys, and factors affecting land use decisions. Local soil types, surveys, management and conservation practices, and problems of environmental quality studied. Prerequisite: ESS110 or permission of the instructor.
GEO 226 Hydrology
Presents basic concepts of hydrology with emphasis on the relationship of water to natural and human systems. Major topics include the dynamics of surface water flow, hydrogeology, water pollution, and water resources analysis.
GEO 301 Introduction to Biogeography
Basic concepts and factors which are important in understanding the processes and influences involved in studying the distribution of terrestrial organisms over the earth will be presented. Some topics of importance include biodiversity; past and present patterns of the distribution of terrestrial organisms; the abiotic, biotic and human influences on those patterns; and a variety of factors related to the various time scales at which organisms can be studied.
GEO 306 Geomorphology
Studies physical and chemical processes that have in the past and are presently forming the landscape. Description and classification of landforms and the theoretical and dynamic aspects of landform evolution are studied. Geomorphic techniques of quantitative analysis, advanced interpretation of topographic maps and air photographs, and field work are stressed. Two hours lecture and two hours lab/week. Prerequisite: ESS110.
GEO 404 Groundwater and Hydrogeology
Examines the fundamental concepts of groundwater and hydrogeology in the context of real-world applications on the foundations of theory. Emphasis on the principles of groundwater flow, well installation, field data collection, and the analysis of physical and water chemistry as they relate to professional groundwater investigations. Grades based on exams and application-oriented assignments (problem sets). Required field trip(s) will supplement classroom material (field trip dates and times will be determined during class). Prerequisites: One or more of the following courses are suggested prior to enrolling in GEO404: ESS110 or ESS210, and GEO226 or permission of instructor.
GEO 440 Field Techniques
Studies geoenvironmental aspects of the local landscape by direct field observation. Various procedures and techniques are utilized to collect data concerning landforms, geology, soil, streams, air quality, population, transportation, housing characteristics, and land use. Instruments, maps, air photographs, and statistics are used to aid in the research, analysis, and evaluation of the field problem.
GEO 450 Geography-Geology Field Studies
One week to 10-day regional field study observing and analyzing the physical and cultural landscape. Emphasis placed upon the physical and historical geology and geography of a prescribed route including several states, regions, or international countries. Prerequisites: ESS212, ESS311, GEO103 or permission of the instructor.
GEO 522 Geoenvironmental Hydrology
Focuses upon the continental or land phase of the hydrologic cycle and includes the study of supply and the geographical distribution of water in lakes, rivers, streams, embayments, and underground water supplies and the use and/or misuse of these water resources for urban, suburban, and rural living. Consideration given to recent day knowledge, attitudes and technology concerning these water resources. Local water resources and drainage basins are used as laboratory areas for field problems and reports.
Resources and Research Opportunities :