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Blinn College • Bryan • Natural Sciences • Geology - GEOL

Historical Geology GEOL-1404

  • Fall 2013
  • Section SECTION_B01 CRN-11146
  • 4 Credits
  • 08/26/2013 to 12/13/2013
  • Modified 08/22/2013

Meeting Times

Weekly On-Campus Meeting

  • Thursday, 9:10 AM to 11:50 AM, G-216


  • Friday, 12:00 PM to 2:40 PM, G-216


Exams are scheduled for the following dates (there are no class meetings on other Fridays):

Exam 1 - Sept. 20

Exam 2 - Oct. 18

Exam 3 - Nov. 22

Contact Information


Email is the best way to contact me!


Professor: Dr. Amanda Palmer Julson



Office Hours

  • Monday, Wednesday, 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM, H-254


Other times may be arranged by appointment.


General principles of historical geology with emphasis on changes in Earth and life through time. Topics include an overview of the rock cycle and plate tectonic theory, with emphasis on stratigraphic principles, the fossil record, evolutionary theory and paleogeographic map interpretation. Laboratory work includes basic study of rocks, interpretation of depositional environments and tectonic settings, stratigraphic sequence analysis and fossil interpretation. Three class hours and three lab hours per week.


Prerequisites: GEOL 1403 or permission of instructor.

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. Relate topics from physical geology to Earth's history (e.g., plate tectonics, rock cycle).
  2. Analyze the formation, classification and interpretation of sedimentary rocks and apply stratigraphic principles to interpret the rock record.
  3. Apply relative and absolute dating principles to interpret the geologic history of rock units.
  4. Explain evolutionary theory and relate it to changes in the fossil record through time.
  5. Identify and classify fossils (including mode of preservation) and apply them to interpret age and environment of strata.
  6. Characterize each time period of Earth's history (beginning with its origin) with regard to changes in the paleogeography, environment, and biota.



Textbook: Historical Geology, 6th Edition, Wicander & Monroe, 2009 (Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning)

Laboratory Manual: Blinn College Historical Geology Lab Manual: Prentice Hall Custom Publishing.

Course Requirements

All sections of this course regardless of location or modality will require:

  1. A minimum of three major exams.
  2. A comprehensive final.

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

Material in this section of the course will be delivered in “Blended” format; this means that part of the course content is delivered in the classroom during an on-campus meeting, and part is delivered online (through eCampus). 

Students are expected to attend the on-campus class meetings as well as to complete the online activities. Lecture (both in the classroom and online recorded lectures) will clarify and expand upon the material presented in the textbook and supplemental resources (posted in eCampus). Students should feel free to ask questions and contribute to class discussions. Lab will consist of hands-on activities intended to complement the lecture topic. Students are expected to practice the relevant observational and critical thinking skills needed to analyze and interpret specimens, data, etc. In-class question sets will be completed during each class meeting; these provide students an opportunity to check their understanding and identify any areas of weakness in preparation for major exams and lab tests. Weekly homework assignments also help students master the course content. Assistance with class work and lab skills is available at the weekly Friday Open Lab period, or during the instructor’s office hours.


The following are required components of a student's final grade.

  1. Major Exams: Three or four major exams covering the lecture material, evenly distributed  
  2. Laboratory: May be included on major exams or the instructor may give quizzes covering lab 
  3. Minor Exams/Quizzes/Homework: Given at the discretion of the instructor. 
  4. Additional Reports or Projects: Given at the discretion of the instructor. 
  5. Final Exam: Comprehensive exam covering the entire course required of all instructors.


This class has 3 lecture exams, 2 lab exams, 1 final exam, ~15 each of the following weekly items: pre-meeting online activities, collaborative in-class/lab question sets, and online homework assignments. Course grade is based on a total of 1000 class points. Breakdown of the point distribution and grading scheme is shown below.

Pre-Meeting Activities: Online assignments will be completed in eCampus prior to the weekly class/lab meeting. These may be video/question sets, discussion forums, or other activities. The deadline is 11:55 p.m. Wednesday night each week. No late work or hard copies of assignments will be accepted; missed items earn a grade of zero. ONE low score is dropped in the calculation of the average for this category.

In-Class/Lab (On-Campus) Work: One or more collaborative in-class/lab question sets are completed for each lecture/lab period from each student. Students should come prepared with lab worksheets posted in eCampus (new material is available each Monday for the upcoming week). ONE low score is dropped in the calculation of the average for this category.

Points may be deducted for coming late or leaving early. If a student misses the on-campus meeting, a score of zero will be given if the absence was unexcused. For excused absences, the missed item(s) will not be factored into the student’s average. Students are nevertheless responsible for covering the missed material even though credit is not awarded; the Friday Open Lab period (1:00-3:00 p.m.) is the best time for this.

Homework Assignments: Question sets are assigned weekly (posted in eCampus); they may be worked on collaboratively, but each student will submit their own assignment for grading through eCampus. The deadline each week is Sunday at 11:55 p.m. No late work or hard copies of assignments will be accepted; missed items earn a grade of zero. Correct answers are made available in eCampus each Monday following the deadline. ONE low score is dropped in the calculation of the average for this category.

Lecture Exams: There will be three lecture exams during the semester, plus a comprehensive final exam. Exams can include multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, short answer and essay questions. No exam grades are dropped. NOTE THAT EXAMS ARE SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY AFTERNOONS, 12:00-2:40 p.m. in Rm. G-216. The specific format of the exams will be explained further in class.

A student unable to attend the Friday exam for any reason will be allowed to take a make-up exam at the Bryan Learning Center; it will be different from the exam taken by the class, and will not have any bonus credit opportunities.

Laboratory Tests: The lab exams are practical exams involving identification and interpretation of specimens. There will take place during the on-campus meeting as indicated on the class schedule. No lab test grades are dropped. 

Final Exam: The Final Exam counts for 20% of the course grade (per college policy). It consists of new questions (i.e., not questions from previous exams) and covers the entire semester.


Grading Item



Point Scale

Lecture Exams (3 @ 100 points each)

300 pts

1000 - 900 points = A

Lab Tests (2 @ 100 points each)

200 pts

899 - 800 points = B

Weekly Pre-Meeting Activities (average) 

100 pts

799 – 700 points = C

Weekly In-Class Questions (average)

100 pts

699 - 600 points = D

Weekly Homework Assignments (average)

100 pts

Below 600 points = F

Final Exam (20% of course grade)

200 pts


Total Class Points: 

1000 pts


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

Missed Classes and Exams:

If a student misses a class, theymust notify me within one working day (24 hours of missing the class) preferably by e-mail. A student may petition to have an absence excused if I have been notified of the missed class. An Excused Absence Petition Form will be available in eCampus. The form needs to be printed out, completed with any official written confirmation (doctor's note, court documents, funeral announcement etc.) attached to the form, and given to me on the first day you return from absence. If the reason for the missed class is known ahead of time (e.g., a court date or funeral) I need to know before the student misses the class.

Upon excusing the absence, any grades from the missed class will not be counted in calculating the average for graded work. Incomplete or late forms will not be considered. I will only grant ONE excused absence appeal per individual. Additional missed classes will result in zeroes for graded items on those days unless a conference is arranged with me (in my office) to discuss the matter.

Students who miss an exam for any reason will be required to complete an alternate exam at the Bryan Learning Center; it will be different from the exam taken by the class, and will not have any bonus credit opportunities. This exam will be available for one week following the scheduled exam date; after this time a grade of zero will be given for any uncompleted exams.


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes



(Assigned Reading)

Pre-Class Meeting Activity (due in eCampus 11:55 p.m. the night before class meeting)

Online Lectures



 (Thurs 9:10-11:50 a.m.)


Friday, Rm. G-216

12:00-2:40 p.m.


Weekly Assignment

(due in eCampus Sunday, 11:55 p.m.)



Introduction to Earth History and Plate Tectonics (Ch. 1 and 3)

Discussion: Introduction


Syllabus Quiz (due 8/28)

Review Basics of Geology

Rock Cycle and Tectonic Cycle (8/29)


Week 1 Assignment

(due 9/1)



Earth Materials and Geologic Time (Ch. 2 and 4)

Discussion: Rockhounds (due 9/4)

The Geologic Record and the Geologic Time Scale

Rocks and Minerals,  Geologic Time (9/5)


Week 2 Assignment

(due 9/8)



Sedimentary Rocks

(Ch. 6)

Discussion: Sedimentary Rocks (Earth Revealed video)

(due 9/11)

The Wilson Cycle and the Rock Record

Sedimentary Rock Classification and Interpretation (9/12)



Week 3 Assignment

(due 9/16)





Interpreting Geologic  History – Stratigraphy (Ch. 5)

Discussion: Exam 1 Review List (due 9/18)


Stratigraphy and Geologic Maps (9/19)


(Ch. 1-6)

(Sept. 20)

Week 4 Assignment

(due 9/22)



Solar System History (Hadean) (Ch. 8, pt. 1)

Discussion: Extraterrestrial Real Estate (due 9/25)

Time Line of Early Earth History

Space Rocks and Space Stratigraphy (9/26)


Week 5 Assignment

(due 9/29)



Precambrian (Archean and Proterozoic) (Ch. 8. pt. 2 and Ch. 9)

Discussion: Rare Earth Hypothesis (due 10/2)

Time Line of Precambrian Earth History

Precambrian Rocks

And Lab Review: Rock Identification and Interpretation (10/3)


Week 6 Assignment

(due 10/6)



Fossils and Evolution (Ch. 7; also Appendix B)

Discussion: Lab Midterm Review List (due 10/9)

Introduction to the Fossil Record


Reading the Rock Record (Oct. 10)


Week 7 Assignment

(due 10/13)




Fossils and Paleoenvironments (Ch. 5 (p. 79-86); Ch. 6 (p. 102-111); Ch. 12 (p. 219-221)

Discussion: Exam 2 Review List (due 10/16)

Fossil Classification and Preservation

Taphonomy and Taxonomy (10/17)


(Ch. 7-9)

(Oct. 18)

Week 8 Assignment

(due 10/20)



Early-Mid Paleozoic Earth and Life (Ch. 10 and 12)

Discussion: Before the Dinosaurs video (due 10/23)

Time Line of Early-Mid Paleozoic Earth History

Paleozoic Marine Fossils and Communities (10/24)


Week 9 Assignment

(due 10/27)



Late Paleozoic Earth and Life (Ch. 11 and 13)

Discussion: Fossil Identification (due 10/30)

Time Line of Late Paleozoic Earth History

Paleozoic Terrestrial Fossils and Communities (10/31)


Week 10 Assignment

(due 11/3)




Mesozoic Earth and Life

(Ch. 14-15)

Discussion: Dinosaurs(due 11/6)

Time Line of Mesozoic Earth History

Mesozoic Fossils and Communities (11/7)


Week 11 Assignment

(due 11/10)



The Terminal Cretaceous Event (Ch. 15, p. 297-298)

Discussion: Exam 3 Review List (due 11/13)

The Geologic Record of Impacts

NEOs and Impacts in Earth History (11/14)


Week 12 Assignment

(due 11/17)



Cenozoic Earth and Life

(Ch. 16-18)

Discussion: Lab Final Review List (due 12/4)

Time Line of Cenozoic Earth History

Cenozoic Fossils and Communities/Lab Review (11/21)


(Ch. 10-15)

(Nov. 22)

Week 13 Assignment

(due 11/24)





Hominid Evolution

(Ch. 19)




(no class meeting 11/28)


Week 14 Assignment

(due 12/1)



Review of Earth History

(Ch. 1-19)


Review for Final Exam

LAB FINAL Reading the Fossil Record (12/5)


Week 15 Assignment

(due 12/8)



FINAL EXAM – Tues., Dec. 10, 7:45-9:45 a.m.