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Department of Geology and Geophysics
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: (307) 766-3386
Fax: (307) 766-6679

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Geology Courses & Syllabi

Doctor of Philosophy: Doctoral degree requirements include a minimum of 72 semester hours of credit at the 4000-level and above from UW or equivalent levels from another approved university. This 72-hour requirement may include graduate credits earned while working toward the master's degree in the same area, but at least 42 hours (of the 72) must be earned in formal course work and dissertation research credits. Doctoral students must take: 1) an oral qualifying examination, 2) an oral preliminary examination, and 3) an oral defense of the dissertation. Doctoral students may be required, at the discretion of the advisory committee, to demonstrate competence in research "tools", such as statistics or analytical methods. Upon completion of the oral preliminary examination, the Ph.D. student has four years to complete the degree.

Masters of Science: Only Plan A (thesis) MS programs are acceptable. The MS degree requires successful completion of 26 credits of course work at the 4000-level and above, four credits for the thesis and an oral examination. A master's thesis is required. Master's students have six calendar years to complete their degree from the beginning of the first course taken and listed on their Program of Study. Most of the MS students in the Department of Geology and Geophysics take two years to complete their degree.


Course Title

Fall   2023
5020 Fundamentals of Research (Required)  
Groundwater Flow/Transport
Isotope Geology
Advanced Igneous Petrology
Metamorphic Petrology
5190 Petroleum Geology  
Methods in Petroleum Geology
Topics in Geology (various courses)
Distinguished Lecturer Series
Seminar in Sedimentology
5280 Paleobotany  
Sedimentary Basins
Mechanics of Sediment Transport
Geochemical Analysis Methods
Surfaces and Interfaces
5444 Geohydrology  
Introduction to Geostatistics
Geochemical Modeling
Introductory Geomodeling
Environmental Data Analysis
Rates & Timescales Surf. Processes
5777 Geochemistry of Natural Waters  
5835 Exploration/Applied Geophysics  

Please contact the instructor directly for the latest syllabus if they are not available in the above list. Some syllabi may be older examples and not necessarily reflect current course policies.

*Fundamentals of Research 5020 is required for all graduate degrees.

Graduate-Level Geology Course Descriptions

GEOL 5020 Fundamentals of Research Dr. Parsekian
This course is designed to provide incoming graduate students with an introduction to "research survival skills." The purpose is threefold, and includes opportunities to gain practice in scientific communication (written, oral, web based and poster presentations), develop ideas for thesis research, and gain an introduction to the faculty and facilities housed in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

GEOL 5030 Groundwater Flow and Transport Modeling Dr. Zhang
Uses course notes developed by the instructor. Movement of groundwater in the subsurface is responsible for a variety of environmental, engineering, and geological processes of interest including heat transfer and solute transport. To evaluate them, mathematical modeling provides an essential quantitative tool. In recent years, increasing reliance is placed upon using computer simulations to make predictions of flow and transport in the subsurface, thus familiarity with the fundamental principles behind modeling is critical. This course presents an overview of the analyses of groundwater flow and solute transport using numerical modeling. The Finite Difference Method will be introduced as well as direct and iterative linear algebra solution techniques. Exercises and homework require programming with MATLAB (alternatively, Fortran or C language can be used).

GEOL 5050 Introduction to Isotope Geology Dr. Sims
Understanding of atomic structure, radioactive decay, mass spectrometry, dating techniques and applications of stable and radiogenic isotopic systems. Emphasis will be placed on evaluating dating methods in relation to particular geologic problems and possible sources of error. The use of isotopes as tracers for identifying magmatic sources and crustal contamination, water-rock interactions, and sediment provenance will be discussed. Prerequisites: CHEM 1020, CHEM 1110, MATH 2200, MATH 2205.

GEOL 5113 Remote Sensing Dr. Howell
Acquaints students with aircraft and spacecraft remote sensing of the environment, emphasizing geologic application to earth and other planetary bodies. Includes visible, infrared, ultraviolet, radio and radar sensing. The laboratory exercises are applications related to tectonics, geomorphology, paleoclimate, structure, stratigraphy, environmental geology and geologic hazards.

GEOL 5120 Tectonic Evolution of the Western Cordillera
Phanerozoic tectonic evolution of western North America viewed through the paradigm of plate tectonics. Course will involve intensive literature review, guest speakers, a possible field trip, and an in-depth regional tectonic analysis to be done by each student. Prerequisites: GEOL 2020, GEOL 2100, and GEOL 4610.

GEOL 5140 Advanced Igneous Petrology Dr. Myers
This course will examine a variety of petrologic and petrographic tools useful for unraveling the petrogenesis of igneous rock suites. The course will cover geochemical modeling, but will concentrate on what can be learned from phase equilibria and application of modern petrographic techniques. Ideally, these results would be combined with more standard geochemical modeling techniques to place quantitative constraints on petrologic processes.

GEOL 5150 Metamorphic Petrology Dr. R. Frost
Lectures on field occurrence, macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of metamorphic rocks, followed by lectures on application of physical chemistry to genetic study of metamorphic rocks. Laboratory devoted to the study of suites of metamorphic rocks from classical areas. Prerequisites: GEOL 2020 and 4490; graduate standing or consent of instructor.

GEOL 5160 Regional Tectonics
The study of orogenic belts worldwide including both external and internal zones. Cross-section preparation is emphasized as well as geometric analysis. Foreland fold-and-thrust belts—some case studies: Canadian Rockies, Helvetic Alps, and other examples. The course includes lectures, readings, and a cross-section project. Prerequisite: GEOL 4610.

GEOL 5190 Petroleum Geology Dr. Mallick
Principles governing the exploration for hydrocarbons; characteristics of reservoirs and traps; origin, migration and accumulation of hydrocarbons; subsurface evaluation techniques. Prerequisites: GEOL 2100, 4610. Dual listed with GEOL 4190.

GEOL 5191 Methods in Petroleum Geology
Lectures and laboratory exercises designed to give the student experience in working with various kinds of subsurface geoscientific data in relation to the exploration for and production of hydrocarbons.

GEOL 5200 What's New in Science & Nature? Dr. Cheadle
A 1hr weekly session where we examine what's new and exciting in the latest editions of Science and Nature. The aim is to learn about the latest developments in the broad field of Earth Sciences and to keep up to date with what is being published in Science & Nature. Each week, I will distribute all relevant abstracts from the current issues and we will choose one for presentation the following week.

GEOL 5200 Topics in Geology Various instructors
Provides a detailed study at a graduate level of a particular topic in geology. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in geology and geophysics and permission of the instructor.

GEOL 5211 Seminar in Structural Geology Dr. John
Selected topics in structural geology and tectonics. On-going research among undergraduate and graduate students is emphasized. Prerequisite: GEOL 4610 or equivalent course.

GEOL 5212 Sedimentology Seminar Dr. McElroy & Dr. Heller
Seminar in selected topics in sedimentary geology. The course is designed to bring, and keep, graduate students up to date with the current literature and new, unpublished ideas. There will be visiting lecturers and presentations of student and faculty research. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

GEOL 5217 Geodynamics Dr. Cheadle
This course examines the fundamental physical processes necessary for the understanding of plate tectonics and a variety of other geological phenomena. It provides a solid grounding for future study and research covering plate tectonics, stress & strain, elasticity, isostasy & the flexural strength of the lithosphere, gravity, and thermal processes.

GEOL 5330 Sedimentary Basin Dr. Heller
Course covers the fundamental controls on basin formation and filling in different tectonic settings. Subject matter includes basin analysis, subsidence analysis, subsidence mechanisms, interaction of tectonic and eustastic controls on basin development and modeling of basin formation. A significant project involving basin analysis and quantitative modeling of basin formation will be undertaken.

GEOL Transport Mechanics Dr. McElroy
Erosion, transport, and deposition of sediments are examined from a first-principles basis. Physical processes are derived from fluid dynamics, statistical mechanics, and mass conservation. These topics are then used to explore landscape and seascape evolution, morphodynamics, and stratigraphic construction.

GEOL 5340 Tectonics & Sedimentation
Lectures, seminars, and field observations on the relations between tectonism and the sedimentary record. Topics will include a review of plate tectonic theory, characteristics of major types of sedimentary basins, techniques for evaluating tectonic activity from evidence in the sedimentary record and large-scale tectonosedimentary elements. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, GEOL 2100, and GEOL 4610, or consent of instructor.

GEOL 5410 Geochem Analysis Methods Ms. Dewey
Lectures and laboratories in analytical methods used in geochemical studies. Particular emphasis given to sampling and sample preparation, inductively coupled argon plasma emission, atomic absorption analysis. Other analytical methods are also treated. Prerequisite: GEOL 4490.

GEOL 5444 Geohydrology Dr. Zhang
This course uses the course notes developed by the instructor, supplemented by Groundwater Science by Charles Fitts. It provides an introduction to the basic principles of groundwater hydrology, including fluid and porous media properties, hydrostatics and hydrodynamics, Darcy's law in homogenous and heterogeneous media, aquifer system analysis, mass balance analysis, groundwater flow equations and their solutions with classical analytical methods (e.g., Thiem solution, Theis solution, superposition of flow solutions in space and time). Most exercises and homework problems can be solved by hand, using Excel, or write small MATLAB codes.

GEOL 5446 Introduction to Geostatistics Dr. Zhang
This course uses the course notes developed by the instructor, supplemented with reading assignments. Geoscientists routinely face interpolation problems when analyzing spare data from field observations. Geostatistics has emerged as an invaluable tool for characterizing and estimating spatial phenomena. In this class, both the basic principles of geostatistics and its practical applications in the geosciences will be presented. Topics include Ordinary Kriging, Co-Kriging, and stochastic simulations (unconditional and conditional). Exercises and homework problems can be solved by hand, using Excel, MATLAB or a geostatistical software package.

GEOL 5460. Introductory Geomodeling Dr. Humphrey
Introductory course in numerical modeling in the geosciences, offering insight into the generalities of modeling. Develop, simple geo-models, which allow hands on experience constructing and testing computer models. As a minimum, develop one extensive Finite Difference model and one minimalistic Finite Element model; other techniques will depend on student interests. Prerequisites: at least one calculus and one physics course, and senior or graduate standing.

GEOL 5525 Environmental Data Analysis Dr. Riebe
Explores fundamentals of environmental data analysis including the display and description of data, uncertainty propagation, statistical significance and power, t-tests, ANOVA, time series, serial correlation, multiple regression, and sample collection strategies. Includes computer-based lab section and a term project involving real-world problems in data analysis. Learning goals include: (i) become proficient in processing and displaying scientific data; (ii) develop skills in performing and interpreting statistical analyses; and (iii) understand the role of uncertainty in Earth and environment sciences and its implications for resource management.

GEOL 5660 Microstructural Analysis Dr. R. Frost
The use of microscope in the interpretation of natural strain in rocks is emphasized. Lectures and extensive laboratory exercises are the principle components of the course. Microfabric analysis using the universal stage is introduced. Prerequisites: GEOL 4610 required, GEOL 5150 recommended.

GEOL 5720 Ore Deposits Dr. R. Frost
Teaches principles of economic geology of ore minerals. Lectures cover geochemistry of ore minerals and environments in which various ore minerals are found. Labs include identification of ore minerals in hand sample and under microscope and methodology of economic geology. Dual listed with GEOL 4720. Prerequisite: GEOL 2010.

GEOL5760. Rates and Timescales of Surface Processes Dr. Riebe
Explores methods for quantifying rates and timescales of weathering, erosion, soil formation, nutrient cycling, and other surface processes. Focus includes cosmogenic nuclides, tracer thermochronometry, U-series disequilibrium, fallout radionuclides, and optically stimulated luminescence. Course features a mix of instructor-driven lectures on fundamentals and student-driven discussion of cutting-edge research from recent literature. Prerequisites: GEOL2150 or GEOG 3010 or GEOL 4880 and MATH 2205 and CHEM 1020 and PHYS 1100.

GEOL 5777 Geochemistry of Natural Waters Dr. Eggleston
Physical chemistry of solutions applied to natural waters. Chemistry of rock weathering, controls on major, minor, and trace element contents of natural waters. Problems of introduced pollutants. Prerequisites: GEOL 2010, CHEM 1060. Dual listed with GEOL 4777.

GEOL 5835 Applied/Exploration Geophysics Dr. Cheadle
Discusses the fundamentals of Applied or Exploration Geophysics, encompassing lecture, laboratory classes and discussion of case histories. It covers the Seismic Refraction, Seismic Reflection, Gravity, and Magnetics methods. The course provides a solid grounding about the exploration of the Earth's subsurface for mineral and hydrocarbon resources, and environmental issues.

GEOL 5850-5862 Independent Research Topics Max. 6 credits

GEOL 5960 Thesis Research Max. 24 credits

GEOL 5980 Dissertation Research Max. 48 credits

Contact Us

Department of Geology and Geophysics
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: (307) 766-3386
Fax: (307) 766-6679

Geology & Geophysics Logo

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