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Blinn College • Distance Education • Natural Science • Geology - GEOL

Physical Geology GEOL-1403

  • Summer I 2013
  • Section SECTION_N02 CRN-30497
  • 4 Credits
  • 06/03/2013 to 08/06/2013
  • Modified 05/28/2013

Meeting Times

Saturday Lab Meetings (note specific dates)

  • Saturday, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus (second floor of Bookstore Building)


Saturday lab meetings are on the following dates:

June 8

June 29

July 13

July 27

Aug. 3

Contact Information

Professor: Dr. Amanda Palmer Julson


Summer office hours by appointment.


General principles of physical geology. An introduction to the origin, composition, structure and dynamics of planet Earth. Topics are explored within the general context of plate tectonic theory and include: minerals and rocks, weathering and erosion, geological time, earthquakes and volcanoes, mountain building, oceans, landforms and natural resources. Laboratory work involves the practical application of geological principles such a rock and mineral identification, geological and topographic map interpretation, and geological data analysis. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. Credit: Four semester hours.


Prerequisites: Exemption or passing score on reading section of THEA or alternative test or completion of READ 306 with a grade of C or higher.

Core Curriculum Statement

This is a Core Course in the 42-Hour Core Curriculum of Blinn College. As such, students will develop proficiency in the appropriate Intellectual Competencies, Exemplary Educational Objectives, and Perspectives.


1. Examine and analyze rock and mineral specimens and their occurrence and determine their context within the rock cycle.

2. Comprehend plate tectonic theory and evaluate its significance to geology. Relate the nature of EarthÂ’s internal structure and tectonics to geological phenomena (e.g., volcanoes, earthquakes, deformational structures, etc.).

3. Understand geologic time and the rock record, including formation of Earth and Solar System. Be able to apply principles of relative and numerical dating.

4. Recognize the role of surficial processes (water, wind, ice and gravity) and identify resulting landforms; identification and interpretation of landforms based on topographic maps.

5. Relate geology to human affairs; assess geohazard risk (earthquake, volcanoes, floods), and natural resources.


 Textbook for 10-week internet section (Bryan Campus): Essentials of Geology (3rd ed.): by Marshak, Norton & Co., 2009.

Lab Materials: Blinn College Rock Kit for Distance Education (available for purchase from Blinn Bookstore or directly from the vendor (Geoprime Minerals, 760-983-1655 or [email protected] [ask for the Blinn kit]), or can be used on-site at the Bryan Learning Center). Weekly Lab Exercises will be posted in eCampus (no separate lab manual needed).


Course Requirements

This course has both a lecture and lab components of which participation is required, this includes reading the assigned material before coming to class. Good reading habits and reading comprehension skills are important to doing well in this course.

Lab Exercises, Discussions, and Weekly Assignments: Lab exercises, discussions and weekly assignments will be due weekly on Sundays (they are submitted using the eCampus "assessment" tool). 

Campus Visits: Unlike many other internet classes, online Science courses involve visits to campus in Bryan.

Saturday On-Campus Lab Meetings   (Note: We do NOT meet every Saturday!)

Held in Rm. G-216 (second floor of Bookstore Building, Bryan Campus) starting at 10:00 a.m. The building is supposed to be unlocked for our meetings, but often isn’t; in that case I can let you in the door by my office (the second floor entrance facing the large student parking lot). PLEASE NOTIFY ME IN ADVANCE IF YOU NEED ACCESS TO THE ELEVATOR so I can arrange to meet you and open the first-floor door for you (if it is locked).

June 8: Orientation and Overview of Physical Geology

June 29:  Review for Lab Midterm Exam - Bring your rock kit to review!

July 27: Review for Lab Final Exam

Saturday On-Campus Lab Tests

Held in Rm. G-216 (second floor of Bookstore Building, Bryan Campus) starting at 10:00 a.m. sharp - BE ON TIME!

July 13: Lab Midterm Exam (Rock and Mineral Test)

Aug. 3: Lab Final Exam (Geologic and Topographic Maps/Geologic Problem Solving and Data Analysis Lab Test)

As indicated in the syllabus, you will need a rock kit for labs starting Week 2 (i.e., the week that starts June 9). You can purchase a rock kit from the Blinn Bookstore or directly from the vendor (see eCampus for information). There is also a rock kit available for on-site use in the Learning Center (second floor of Library Building). There is no lab manual to buy (all the lab exercises will be available online). Note also that the textbook (Essentials of Geology by Marshak) is different (and much less expensive) than the one used by the on-campus sections. The bookstore will not be open Saturdays, but they will ship items if you order by phone or online

On-Campus Exams

The Lecture Exams and Final Exam are regular paper (not online) tests administered at the Learning Center (Blinn Campus) or another college’s proctored testing center (if arranged with me well in advance); check their days and hours of operation, and plan your visit during the availability period for each test.

The lab exams are practical exams involving identification and/or interpretation of specimens or geological materials; they take place in the Geology Lab room (Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus).




This class has 3 lecture exams, 2 lab exams, 1 final exam, 15 sets of reading assignment questions, 15 lab exercises, and 15 discussion postings. Course grade is based on a total of 1000 class points. Breakdown of the point distribution and grading scheme is shown below.

Exams: The Lecture Exams and Final Exam are ordinary paper tests (i.e., not computer-based tests) to be completed at the Blinn College Learning Centers (or another college’s proctored testing center, as approved by me).  Please notify me as to which Learning Center you plan on using for your exams. Please bring a blue/green Accuscan/Advantage form, a #2 pencil, and your photo ID to these exams. Exams 1-3 may contain a variety of question formats including multiple choice, short answer, fill-in-the-blank, etc. No exam grades are dropped.

Laboratory Exams: The two Lab Exams are practical "hands-on" exams.  They will be administered at the Blinn College Bryan Campus, Room G-216 (see class schedule for dates and times). No lab test grades are dropped. There will be an extra credit group activity ONLY available at the regularly scheduled lab tests on the Bryan Campus (i.e., not available at off-campus lab test locations or alternate/make-up lab test dates).

Lab Exercises, Discussions, and Weekly Assignments: Late work for lab exercises and assignment questions (but not discussions) will be accepted the following day with a 10-point penalty. One score in each of these three categories will be dropped in calculating the averages for these components of the final grade.


Make-Up Exams:

Lecture Exams: There will be no make-ups for lecture exams or graded work. If a lecture exam is missed, the grade will be replaced with the grade (%) on the Final Exam if an acceptable excuse for the absence is presented to me in a timely manner. Excused absences include those officially recognized by Blinn College, plus a death in the family (with documentation), or an illness with a doctor’s certification. I will only allow this for ONE of the three lecture exams. An unexcused absence from an exam will result in a grade of zero.

Laboratory Exams: If a lab test is missed, you must discuss the situation with me and arrange to make up the test within one week of the test date, or you will receive a zero for the lab test.


Grading Item



Point Scale

Lecture Exams (three 100-pt exams)


1000 - 900 points = A

Weekly Reading Assignment Questions (average of scores)


899 - 800 points = B

Weekly Lab Exercises (average of scores)


799 – 700 points = C

Weekly Discussion Postings (average of scores)


699 - 600 points = D

Lab Exams (two 100-pt lab exams)


Below 600 points = F

Final Exam (20% of course grade)



Total Class Points: 



Blinn College Policies

Blinn College policies on civility, class attendance; scholastic integrity; students with disabilities; final grade appeals; and electronic devices as stated in the Blinn College Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Blinn College Catalog and specific technical program handbooks. All policies, guidelines and procedures in the Student and Faculty Handbook and the Board and Administrative Policy Manuals are applicable to this course

Civility Statement

Members of the Blinn College community, which includes faculty, staff and students, are expected to act honestly and responsibly in all aspects of campus life. Blinn College holds all members accountable for their actions and words. Therefore, all members should commit themselves to behave in a manner that recognizes personal respect and demonstrates concern for the personal dignity, rights, and freedoms of every member of the College community, including respect for College property and the physical and intellectual property of others.

      Civility Notification Statement. If a student is asked to leave the classroom because of uncivil behavior, the student may not return to that class until he or she arranges a conference with the instructor; it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for this conference. 

      This statement reflects step one in a possible four step process.  The Incivility Protocol is detailed in the Blinn College Student Handbook.

Attendance Policy

The College District believes that class attendance is essential for student success; therefore, students are required to promptly and regularly attend all their classes. A record of attendance will be maintained from the first day of classes and/or the first day the student’s name appears on the roster through final examinations. If a student has one week’s worth of unexcused absences during the semester, he or she will be sent an e-mail by the College District requiring the student to contact his or her instructor and schedule a conference immediately to discuss his/her attendance issues. Should the student accumulate two weeks’ worth of unexcused absences, he or she will be administratively withdrawn from class.

There are four forms of excused absences recognized by the institution:

  1. observance of religious holy days—The student should notify his or her instructor(s) not later than the 15th day of the semester concerning the specific date(s) that the student will be absent for any religious holy day(s);
  2. representing the College District at an official institutional function;
  3. high school dual credit students representing the independent school district at an official institutional function; and
  4. military service.

Other absences may be considered excused at the discretion of the faculty member with appropriate documentation.  A student enrolled in a developmental course is subject to College District-mandated attendance policies. Failure to attend developmental classes shall result in removal from the course as defined by the College District.

It is the student’s responsibility to officially drop a class he or she is no longer attending.  To officially drop a class the student must obtain the class withdrawal form from Enrollment Services, complete the class withdrawal form, secure the required signatures, and return the completed form to Enrollment Services. The last day to drop with a Q is according to the Academic Calendar.

Scholastic Integrity

Blinn College does not tolerate cheating, plagiarism, or any other act of dishonesty with regard to the course in which you are enrolled.  The following text defines the faculty member’s responsibility with regard to the scholastic integrity expectation for this and all courses at Blinn College.

It is the responsibility of faculty members to maintain scholastic integrity at the College District by refusing to tolerate any form of scholastic dishonesty.  Adequate control of test materials, strict supervision during testing, and other preventive measures should be utilized, as necessary, to prevent cheating or plagiarism.  If there is compelling evidence that a student is involved in cheating or plagiarism, the instructor should assume responsibility and address the infraction.  Likewise, any student accused of scholastic dishonesty is entitled to due process as outlined in Blinn College Board Policy FLB (Local).  The Scholastic Integrity Policy is located in the Blinn College Student Handbook. In a case of scholastic dishonesty, it is critical that written documentation be maintained at each level throughout the process.

Students with Disabilities

Blinn College is dedicated to providing the least restrictive learning environment for all students. Support services for students with documented disabilities are provided on an individual basis, upon request. Requests for services should be made directly to the Office of Special Populations serving the campus of your choice.  For the Bryan campus, the Office of Special Populations (Administration Building) can be reached at (979)209-7251.  The Brenham, Sealy and Schulenburg campuses are served by the Office of Special Populations on the Brenham campus (Administration Building Room 104) and can be reached at (979)830-4157.  Additional information can be found at

Final Grade Appeal

If a student wishes to appeal a final grade in a course, Blinn College Board Policy FLDB (Local), Course Grade Complaints, outlines the timeline for the appeal and the four steps in the appeal.  This policy is located in the Blinn College Student Handbook.

Electronic Devices

All the functions of all personal electronic devices designed for communication and/or entertainment (cell phones, pagers, beepers, iPods, and similar devices) must be turned off and kept out of sight in all College District classrooms and associated laboratories.  Any noncompliance with this policy shall be addressed in accordance with the College District civility policy (administrative policy).  This information is contained in Blinn College Board Policy FLB (Local).

Course Policies

How Attendance Policy Works in This Class:

For internet classes, this means that if a student fails to log into eCampus for ONE WEEK they will receive a warning from the College regarding unexcused absence from the class; after a SECOND WEEK with no logons (not necessarily consecutive) they will be dropped from the course (unless the situation has been discussed in advance with and approved by me).


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes




Reading Assignment
(Textbook Chapters)


Lab Exercise (eCampus)

Due Dates  Weekly Questions, Discussions, and Lab Exercises


Deadlines are always 11:55 p.m. Sunday


Campus Visits
Testing Center for Exams 1-3 (available Thursday-Monday)


Lab Meetings in Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus for Lab Meetings/Tests

Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon


Tests at Testing Center on a Blinn Campus or other approved facility







The Earth in Context (Ch. 1)


The Way Earth Works (Ch. 2)

Planetary Geology  and Plate Tectonics Lab

Week 1 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due June 9 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through June 10)


Answers available June 11


Orientation Meeting June 8
(Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus)

Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon







Patterns in Nature: Minerals (Ch. 3)

Rock Groups (Interlude A)

Up From the Inferno: Magma and Igneous Rocks (Ch. 4)

The Wrath of Vulcan: Volcanic Eruptions (Ch. 5)


Minerals and Igneous Rocks Lab

Week 2 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due June 16 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through June 17)


Answers available June 18







A Surface Veneer: Sediments and Soils (Interlude B)


Pages of Earth’s Past: Sedimentary Rocks (Ch. 6)

Sedimentary Rocks Lab

Week 3 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercise due June 23 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through June 24)


Answers available June 25







Metamorphism: A Process of Change (Ch. 7)


The Rock Cycle (Interlude C)



Metamorphic Rocks Lab

Week 4 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercise due June 30 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through July 1)


Answers available July 2

Review for Lab Midterm

***bring rock kit***

June 29

 (Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus) Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon


*EXAM 1 (Ch. 1-6 Weeks 1-3) available June 27-July 1

*At Testing Center on a Blinn Campus or other approved facility






Deep Time: How Old is Old? (Ch. 10)

Geologic Time Lab

Week 5 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercise due July 7 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through July 8)


Answers available July 9







A Violent Pulse: Earthquakes (Ch. 8)


Crags, Cracks and Crumples: Crustal Deformation and Mountain Building (Ch. 9)

Earthquakes, Geologic Maps and Structures Lab

Week 6 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due July 14 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through July 15)


Answers available July 16

Lab Midterm: July 13
(Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus)

Rock and Mineral Identification and Interpretation Lab Test


Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon






Unsafe Ground: Landslides and Other Mass Movements (Ch. 13)

Running Water: The Geology of Streams and Floods (Ch. 14)

A Hidden Reserve: Groundwater (Ch. 16)

Topographic Maps, Streams and Groundwater Lab

Week 7 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due July 21 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty July 22)


Answers available July 23

*EXAM 2 (Ch. 7-10, Weeks 4-6) available July 18-22


*At Testing Center on a Blinn Campus or other approved facility






Dry Regions: The Geology of Deserts (Ch. 17)


Amazing Ice: Glaciers and Ice Ages (Ch. 18)

Landforms in Extreme Climates Lab

Week 8 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due July 28 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through July 29)


Answers available July 30

Review for Lab Final

July 27

(Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus)

Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon







Restless Realm: Oceans and Coasts (Ch. 15)

Shoreline Landforms and Processes Lab

Week 9 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercises due Aug. 4 (accepted late with 10 pt. penalty through Aug. 5)


Answers available Aug. 6


Lab Final: Aug. 3
(Rm. G-216, Bryan Campus)

Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 noon

Geologic and Topographic Maps and Geologic Problem Solving and Data Analysis Lab Test










Week 10 Questions, Discussion and Lab Exercise due Aug. 6



*EXAM 3 (Ch. 13-14 and 16-18, Weeks 7-8) available Aug. 1-5




*At Testing Center on a Blinn Campus or other approved facility