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Geosciences Courses

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses


All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise specified.


513 Crystal Chemistry of Rock-forming Minerals (1st sem)
Crystal structures, site populations, compositional variations, polymorphism, structurally related physical properties, and classification of rock-forming silicates and oxides at upper undergraduate level. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 311 and 321 or equivalent. Credit, 1-2.

515 X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis
Theoretical and practical application of x-ray fluorescence analysis in determining major and trace element abundances in geological materials. Prerequisite: Analytical Geochemistry, or consent of instructor. Credit, 2. 

517 Sedimentary Geochemistry (alt 1st sem)
With lab, field trip. Applications of geochemistry to the study of modern sedimentary environments and sedimentary rocks. Geochemistry of carbonates and evaporites. Use of stable isotopes in paleoenvironmental analysis. Oxidation-reduction processes and their significance for iron formations. Geochemical transformations during burial of sedimentary sequences and the formation of petroleum. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 445 or equivalent; college chemistry recommended.

519 Aqueous and Environmental Geochemistry (alt 2nd sem)
With lab. Chemical processes affecting the distribution and circulation of chemical compounds in natural waters. Geochemistry of precipitation, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans; applications of thermodynamic equilibria to predicting composition of aqueous systems. Behavior of trace metals and radionuclides in near surface environments. Prerequisite: CHEM 111, 112 or consent of instructor. Credit, 4. 

521 Petrography (2nd sem)
With lab. Identification of minerals in thin section; common igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks in thin section; routine petrographic calculations and measurements; introduction to petrogenetic theory. Examination of selected igneous and metamorphic rocks in the field. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 321 or equivalent training; GEO-SCI 513 recommended also. Credit, 3-4. 

531 Tectonics (alt 2nd sem)
Past and present mechanisms of global tectonics, including mountain building, ocean-basin structure, continental drift, mantle processes, continental evolution, structural geology and petrology of Earth’s crust, and the tectonic history of selected key regions of the globe. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 321, 431. Credit, 4.

539 Advanced Geological Mapping (1st sem)
Complete series of operations required for publication of a geological map: field location and drawing of contacts, collection and interpretation of field notes, data reduction, drafting, and methods of reproduction. Two afternoons per week in the field. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 321, 431 or equivalent training.

541 Paleoecology
Survey of theoretical paleontology, including functional morphology, large-scale changes in diversity, taphonomic modeling, and community changes through time. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 341. Credit, 2.

551 Geometrics (alt yrs)
Design of geological experiments; collection and analysis of quantitative data in geology.

560 Geomorphology (2nd sem)
Earth surface processes and resulting landforms. Includes physical and chemical weathering, hillslope, fluvial, eolian, and coastal processes and their relationships to landforms. Field trips by arrangement. Prerequisites: at least 12 credits in geology, physical geography, or related fields; first-year courses in physics and chemistry recommended. Credit, 4.

563 Glacial Geology (1st sem)
Origin and forms of glaciers; erosional and depositional processes and recognition of erosional and constructional landforms and depositional systems. Quaternary history of New England, sea level, and isostasy. Field trips by arrangement. Credit, 4.

567 Planetary Geology (alt 2nd sem)
Geology of solar system. Emphasis on the solid bodies, age, sequence of events, composition, surficial and internal geologic processes. Geologic mapping of selected portions of Moon, Venus, and Mars using recent imagery from the space program. Consent of instructor required.

571 General Geophysics (1st sem)
Physics of the earth and the gravitational, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods of geophysical exploration. Laboratory problems and computations. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 321 and 331, or consent of instructor.

573 Environmental Geophysics (2nd sem)
Application of seismic, gravity, magnetic, and electrical methods used in geophysical exploration. Field techniques, data compilation, and basic interpretations used to support shallow subsurface studies and environmental or hydrologic programs. Lectures, laboratory and field problems. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 571.

575 Paleomagnetism
Lecture, seminar. The magnetic field recorded in rocks. Rock magnetism, description of the earth’s magnetic field, lab procedures, polar wandering paths. Application of paleomagnetism to geologic problems. Class participation required. Prerequisite: advanced standing in geology or consent of instructor.

583 Metalliferous Economic Geology (alt yrs)
Nature, origin, and distribution of metalliferous ore deposits in a tectonic, geochemical, and process framework. Petrological and geochemical criteria for the recognition of ore deposits, changes in character with metamorphism, mineral P-T stabilities, associations, wall rock alteration, and concentration mechanisms. Geochemistry of ore minerals and petrological affinities. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 321, 331, or consent of instructor.

587 Hydrogeology (2nd sem)
With lab. Basic principles of theoretical and practical hydrogeology. Topics include the hydrologic cycle, principles of groundwater flow, groundwater hydraulics, occurrence of groundwater in geologic materials, aquifer analysis, field methods, introduction to groundwater modeling, and chemistry of groundwater. Prerequisite: one year of geology; introductory calculus course recommended. Credit, 4.

591A Analytical Geochemistry
A review of modern analytical techniques widely used for the chemical analysis of geological samples. Topics include optical emission and absorption spectrometry, X-ray fluorescence and diffraction analysis, neutron activation analysis, and mass-spectrometric isotope dilution analysis. Emphasis on the principles of these techniques, the sources of error, and the role they play in analytical geochemistry. GEO-SCI 321 or 415 recommended. Enrollment limited.

591G Granites and Rhyolites (1st sem)
Survey of the origin of granites, which make up much of the Earth’s continental crust, and of their volcanic equivalent (rhyolites) which are erupted from the most explosive volcanoes on Earth. Topics include chemistry and physics of highly viscous magmas, their plate tectonic association, and economic importance. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 321 or equivalent.

591V Volcanology
Systematic discussion of volcanic phenomena, types of eruptions, generation and emplacement of magma, products of volcanism, volcanic impact on humans, and the monitoring and forecasting of volcanic events. Case studies of individual volcanoes illustrate principles of volcanology; particular attention to Hawaiian, ocean-floor, and Cascade volcanism.

596 Independent Study

Credit, 2-6.

597 Special Problems
Credit, 2-6.

615 Organic and Biogeochemistry
The cycling and distribution of “life elements” (C, O, N, S, P) and compounds in modern and ancient marine and terrestrial settings. Emphasis on the transfer of compounds from the biota to their surroundings. Topics include: anthropogenic influence on biogeochemical cycles, importance of microbes in geochemistry, utility of bio-markers in reconstructing paleoecosy-stems and paleoenvironments. Prerequisite: one year of college chemistry, or GEO-SCI 415 or consent or instructor. Organic Chemistry highly recommended.

617 Geochemistry Seminar
A topic of general interest for reading and discussion. Previous topics included: geochemistry of carbonate rocks; geochemistry of lakes; groundwater goechemistry. Offered at irregular intervals. Credit, 1-3.

621 Sedimentary Petrology (2nd sem)
With lab. Analysis of sedimentary structures; petrology of sandstones; heavy-mineral analysis and interpretation. Petrology of carbonate rocks. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 445 or consent of instructor.

627 Clay Petrology (alt 1st sem)
With lab. Structure and composition of clay minerals; their formation in the weathering zone; mechanisms of transport and distribution in sedimentary environments; clay minerals in paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstructions; early and late-stage diagenesis of clays in marine and nonmarine environments. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 445 or consent of instructor.

631 Brittle Fracture Analysis
Study of faults, dikes, joints, veins, solution surfaces, and other fractures using field, analytical, and numerical techniques. Principles of rock fracture mechanics used to analyze these features. Applications of fracture analysis include: contribution of fractures to the flow of fluids in the upper crust, evaluation of rock excavation stability, and assessment of seismic hazards associated with active faults. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 431 or equivalent. Credit, 4.

633 Structural Geology of Metamorphic Rocks (alt 1st sem)
Detailed structural analysis of deformed rocks with emphasis on interpretation of structural features in the field. Graphical and digital analysis of structural data. Class meets one full day per week in the field. One or two key research areas in western New England investigated. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 431 or equivalent. Credit, 4. 

658 Paleoclimatology (1st sem)
Methods used in reconstructing climate before the period of instrumental records and their application in understanding late Quaternary climatic fluctuations. Topics include dating methods, ice core studies, palynology, ocean core studies, terrestrial geological and biological studies, dendroclimatology, and historical climatology. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 354, 458, or consent of instructor.

662 Advanced Geomorphology (alt 1st sem)
Selected topics and current problems in geomorphology. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 560 or consent of instructor.

671 Advanced Geophysical Interpretation Techniques (2nd sem)
Qualitative and quantitative interpretation of aeromagnetic and gravity data. Two- and three-dimensional analyses used in the development of geologically meaningful models. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 571 or 573 and consent of instructor.

673 Earth Physics (alt 2nd sem)
Introduction to physics of the earth as determined from seismological, heat flow, gravity, and paleomagnetic data and their relationship to observed geological phenomena. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 571 and consent of instructor.

687 Advanced Hydrogeology (1st sem)
Advanced groundwater hydrology and contaminant hydrogeology. Includes the application of field techniques, analysis of field data, and use of analytical and numerical models in the investigation of groundwater problems. Introduction to Visual MODFLOW and other groundwater models, including development of conceptual models from geologic data, laying out grids handling boundaries, sources and sinks, transience, calibration and sensitivity. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 587 or consent of instructor.

696 Independent Study
Credit, 2-6.

697 Special Problems
Credit, 2-6.

697A Symbiosis (alt 2nd sem)
Genetics and biochemistry of symbiosis. Emphasis on experimental analyses of intracellular associations. Implications of the establishment of interspecific associations for the evolutionary history of life and the origins of higher taxa as documented in the fossil record. (Additional laboratory project, 1 cr.)

697B Protists (alt 2nd sem)
Genetics, biochemistry, evolution, and ecology of eukaryotic microorganisms and their descendants, exclusive of animals, plants, and fungi. Importance of algae, amebomastigotes, ciliates, slime nets, slime molds, and other major groups of protoctista in illustrating fundamental principles of genetics, chromosome structure, cell motility, mechanisms of differentiation, and sexuality. Credit, 4.

697E Evolution (alt 2nd sem)
Evolutionary history of microbes, plants, and animals as inferred from their genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, morphology, and fossil record. Emphasis on the origin of biochemical pathways, metabolic modes; appearance of higher taxa correlated with changes in the global environment through geological time, and molecular biology in the reconstruction of phylogenies.

698 Practicum in Geology
Credit, 2-6.

699 Master’s Thesis
Credit, 1-10.

701 Professional Seminar
Results of new research by students, faculty, and visitors. Credit, 1 each semester.

723 Igneous Petrology (alt 2nd sem)
Examination of the genesis and evolution of magmas in various tectonic environments of the Earth, approached through theoretically and experimentally derived phase equilibria of liquid/crystal systems, isotopic relationships, trace and rare earth element geochemistry, and case studies of naturally occurring igneous systems. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 321 or consent of instructor.

725 Metamorphic Petrology (alt 1st sem)
Introduction to phase equilibrium in mineral systems; emphasis on metamorphic reactions. Review of theoretical and experimental data and natural occurrence; their bearing on metamorphic processes and on mapping of metamorphic mineral facies. Prerequisite: GEOLOGY 521 or consent of instructor.

731 Strain and Fabric Analysis (alt 2nd sem)
Strain measurement and analysis in the field and in the laboratory. Deformation mechanisms of minerals and rocks. Interpretation of macroscopic and microscopic fabric elements. Timing of deformation, recovery, alteration, and metamorphism. Prerequisites: GEO-SCI 431 and calculus. Credit, 4.

735 Seminar in Northern Appalachian Geology (both sem)
Stratigraphy, structure, petrology, and geophysics of Northern Appalachians and current research being conducted in the region. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 431 or equivalent. Credit, 1-3.

749 Sedimentology Seminar
Deposition and diagenetic processes in terrigenous and carbonate environments and interpretation of the rock record. Credit, 1-3. 

763 Seminar in Quaternary Geology
Current work and publications in paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, isotope geochemistry, glacial and climate history. Studies of related fields, such as archaeology, early man, geochronology, palynology, plant geography, and paleontology. Consent of instructor required. Credit, 1-3.

765 Organic Geochemistry Seminar
Review and discussion of current literature in the field of organic geochemistry. Studies of related fields, such as analytical chemistry, environmental geochemistry, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, paleoecology, Credit, 1. (Mandatory Pass/Fail.)

787 Hydrogeology Seminar
Review and discussion of current research in hydrogeology, environmental soil and water sampling, groundwater chemistry, analytical and numerical modeling, isotope hydrology, fluid flow in fractured rock, surface and borehole geophysics, geostatistics, environmental monitoring and remediation, and related topics. Prerequisite: at least one 500-level course in hydrogeology. Credit, 1.

791-795 Seminars
Credit, 1-3.

796 Seminar
Credit, 1-6.

797 Special Problems
Credit, 1-3.

821 Petrology Seminar
Discussion of literature from the fields of igneous and metamorphic petrology and related aspects of mineralogy. Credit, 1-3.

831 Structural Geology Seminar
Review and discussion of current literature in the fields of structural geology and tectonics. Prerequisite: at least one graduate course in structural geology. Credit, 1-3.

892P Seminar in Planetary Geology (both sem)
Discussion of recent literature concerning the geology of the terrestrial planets and moons. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Credit, 1.

891-895 Seminars
Credit, 1-3.

896 Independent Study
Credit, 1-6.

897 Special Topics
Credit, 1-3.

899 Doctoral Dissertation
Credit, 10.


530 Population and Environment
Population-resource relationships in context of social science theory and debates over sustainability, theories of population change, political economy of resources, institutional factors in resource management and carrying capacity concepts applied to conditions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

560 Geomorphology (2nd sem)
Earth surface processes and resulting landforms. Includes physical and chemical weathering, hillslope, fluvial, eolian, and coastal processes and their relationships to landforms. Field trips by arrangement. Prerequisites: at least 12 credits in geology, physical geography or related fields; first-year courses in physics and chemistry recommended. Credit, 4.

596 Independent Study (both sem)
For development of special student interests, research projects, and work related to the Master of Science degree. Credit, 1-6.

592B The Human Impact on the Natural Environment
Cultural and historical geography, cultural ecology, political ecology, and environmental history used to explore the diverse, regionally variable, and historically dynamic processes and conditions that have shaped past and present human impacts on the environment. Topics include the roles of indigenous land use and colonial settlement in the environmental history of New England and New Zealand, the destruction and conservation of tropical rain forests in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and Himalayan environmental change and conservation.

594S Indigenous Peoples and Conservation
Indigenous peoples’ conservation values and practices and their importance for global conservation. Emphasis on indigenous knowledge, cultural values, sacred places, community management of natural resources, and the role of indigenous peoples in the establishment and management of new kinds of inhabited national parks and protected areas.

604 Geographic Theory and Analysis (1st sem)
Advanced survey of the development of theoretical and analytical approaches in geography emphasizing philosophy of science and current approaches and methodologies. Practical discussions and exercises in framing research projects, and proposal, grant, and thesis writing. Students lead discussions in their areas of specialization. Primarily for entering graduate students in Geography.

626 Spirit of Place (2nd sem)
The meaning of place in our lives. Why some people are attracted to particular kinds of environmental settings, while others are drawn to very different kinds of places. How those who think seriously about places—ranging from the sacred to the profane—have attempted to capture or describe a “sense” or “spirit of place” in their writings and research.

660 Rethinking Economy
Theories of globalization and post-Fordist models of industrialization, examined from critical theoretical and epistemological perspectives. Alternative models of economy, including collective, household, and community forms. New possibilities for economic politics.

662 Advanced Geomorphology (alt 1st sem)
Selected topics and current problems in geomorphology. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 560 or consent of instructor.

666 Water Resource Policy (2nd sem)
Public programs for management of land/water interface—common law doctrines, flood insurance, wetlands, coastal zone management.

670 Housing and Urban Development
Seminar on the analysis of contemporary urban development issues from a geographical perspective and survey of recently published work in the field. Topics include changing urban systems and structures, transportation, housing, and social and economic factors. Students carry out individual or group research projects. Topical focus varies each year.

688 Field Methods and Analysis
The design and implementation of geographic field research programs, collection and storage of data, and preliminary data analysis techniques. Includes matters of problem definition, data needs, choice of research methods, logistics and management, and organizing for analysis and writing. Prerequisite: GEOGRAPH 604 or consent of instructor.

692W Visual and Graphic Thinking (2nd sem)
Themes dealing with the visualization of knowledge from a visual, graphic, and spacial perspective, including spatial intelligence, creative thinking, analytical graphics, multidimensional thinking, and visual explanations of complex phenomena. Various preexisting frameworks presented and used to generate new models and ways of approaching information.

697 Special Topics
Credit, 1-3.

699 Master’s Thesis
Credit, 10.

792 Seminar
Credit, 1-6.

896 Independent Study
Credit, 1-6.