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Blinn College • Bryan • Natural Science • Geology - GEOL

Physical Geology GEOL-1403

  • Fall 2013
  • Section SECTION_310 CRN-10750
  • 4 Credits
  • 08/26/2013 to 12/13/2013
  • Modified 08/30/2013

Meeting Times


  • Tuesday, Thursday, 7:45 AM to 9:00 AM, G215


  • Tuesday, Thursday, 9:10 AM to 10:25 AM, G215

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Sarah Laughlin


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: Essentials of Geology 11th Edition, with Mastering Essentials of Geology, 2012, Lutgens,Tarbuck, and Tasa. Pearson Publishing.

Lab Manual: AGI/NAGT Laboratory Manual in Physical Geology 9th Edition, 2011, Busch (Ed.), Pearson Publishing

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.  Besides the scheduled lecture, lab, and final exams; weekly lab assignments, scheduled quizzes, are included as part of the requirements for this course.


a. Lab Work: Lab assignments are done during the lab period and must be completed to receive credit for the lab.  Students are required to have read over the assigned lab chapter and any other posted readings before coming to lab. 


b. Quizzes: Eight quizzes will be given over the semester of which the seven best will be counted toward the quiz grade.  Quiz material will be over assigned readings from the posted material, the textbook or the lab book.


This class has 4 lecture exams, 2 lab exams, 1 final exam, 8 lecture quizzes, 1 lab quiz, and 16 lab exercises.. Course grade is based on a total of 1000 class points. Breakdown of the point distribution and grading scheme is shown below.


Lecture and Lab Exams: Students are expected to take these exams at their scheduled time. If an exam is missed, even with an “excused absence”, the student must notify me (email preferred) within 24 hours of missing the exam or they will lose the privilege to petition for a make-up exam. Do not miss a lab exam. If a make-up lecture exam is approved it may be different than those taken by the rest of the class. An essay format may be used for make-up exams. An approved make-up exam must be taken within the same week as the scheduled exam, preferably within 48 hours of missing the scheduled exam.


Lab Assignments: to obtain class points for lab assignments, lab work must be completed during the scheduled lab time. There is no formal make-up for missed labs. If a student knows they will miss a lab or has missed a lab, they need to contact me as soon as possible; they may be able to attend the lab of one of my other physical geology sections. Student will not receive class points for missed labs.


Quizzes: 8 quizzes will be given.  No make-up quizzes are given since the quizzes are taken at the beginning of lecture.


Point Distribution:


Grading Item



Point Scale

Lecture Exams (4); 100 points each


1000 - 900 points = A

Lecture Quizzes (7): 10 points each


899 - 800 points = B

Lab Quiz (1): 80 points


799 – 700 points = C

Lab Exams (2); 100 points each


699 - 600 points = D

Video Assignments (5): 10 points each


Below 600 points = F

Comprehensive Final Exam (20% of course grade)



Total Class Points: 




The Lecture Exams, Lab Tests, and Final Exam may include a variety of question formats, including multiple-choice, fill in the blank, and essay questions. All exams are closed book. Exams and lab tests will be returned in class for students to review. The exams usually are returned a week after it has been taken. No lecture or lab exams grades are dropped.

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 or exam they must notify me within one working day (24 hours of missing the class) preferably by e-mail (the phone is second option). 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 on my eCampus Physical Geology Course site, the form needs to be completed with any official written confirmation (doctor's note, court documents, funeral announcement etc.) attached to the form. If the reason for the missed class or exam is known ahead of time such as a court date or funeral I need to know before the student misses the class an alternative arrange may be able to be made at that time.

The Excused Absence Petition Form must have all the information filled; along with a statement why the student missed the class, why it should be excused, and the supporting documents should be attached it must be signed. The form must be given to me, in person, the day they return to class. (Note: doctor’s appointments should be made at some other time than scheduled exams and during the geology lab times.) I will only accept 1 Excused Absence Petition Form from any individual during the semester.


How attendance will be implemented in my class; Attendance is taken in each lecture and lab class, missing either a lecture or a lab will count as an absence. A lecture sign-in sheet will be distributed during lecture and a lab sheet will be distributed for students to sign upon completion of the lab work; it is the student's responsibility to sign each time! You must be present from the start of the lab class to the end in order to receive credit for the lab (unless a special and prior arrangement has been made with me in advance).



Lecture Topic

Lab Topics


Course Overview – CIS, Class Policy, Information (Quizzes, Exams, Grading, Etc), eCampus

Introduction to Geology (Text  Chap 1)

Lab 1 – The Rock Cycle

Mineral Properties (Text  Chap 2)

Lab 2 – Minerals, Lab Manual Chap 3(eCampus)


Mineral Properties (Text  Chap 2) (Quiz 1 Chap 1,2)

Lab 2 – continued

Igneous Rocks  (Text  Chap 3)

Lab 3 – Igneous Rocks, Lab Manual Chap 5



Volcanic Hazards (Text  Chap 4) (Quiz 2 Chap 3-4)

Lab 3 – Continued

Sedimentary Rocks (Text Chap 6)

Lab 4 – Sedimentary Rocks, Lab Manual Chap 6



Lecture Exam 1   Text Chap 1-4, 6   Sept. 17th

Video Assignment: Deadliest Volcanoes

Weathering and Soils (Text  Chap 5)

Lab 4 – Continued


Metamorphic Rocks (Text  Chap 7)  (Quiz 3 Chap 5-7)

Lab 5 – Metamorphic Rocks, Lab Manual Chap 7


Mass Wasting (Text Chap 8)

Lab 6 – Mineral and Rock Review


Lab Exam 1 Grp 1 – Rocks and Minerals Oct. 1st

Lab Exam 1 Grp 1 – Rocks and Minerals Oct. 1st

Geologic Time (Text  Chap 18)

Lab 7 – Geologic Time, Lab Manual Chap 8 (eCampus)


Plate Tectonics (Text Chap 15)  (Quiz 4  Chap 8, 15, 18)

Lab 8 – Plate Tectonics, Lab Manual Chap 2 (eCampus)

Lecture Exam 2  Text Chap 5, 7, 8, 15, 18 Oct. 10th

Video Assignment: Death Valley


Crustal Deformation (Text Chap 17)

Lab 9 – Structural Geology, Lab Manual Chap 10 (eCampus)

Earthquakes  and Earth’s Interior (Text Chap 14)   (Quiz 5  Chap 14, 17)

Lab 9 – Continued


Video Assignment: Deadliest Earthquakes

Lab 10 – Earthquakes, Lab Manual Chap 16 and


Mountain Building (Text Chap 17)

Lab Quiz – Geologic Time, Structural Geology, and Plate Tectonics and Earthquakes Oct.  24th


Topographic Maps Lecture

Lab 11 – Topographic Maps, Lab Manual Chap 9


Origin and Evolution of the Ocean Floor (Text Chap 16)

Lab 11 – Continued


Running Water (Text Chap 9)  (Quiz 6  Chap 9, 16,17)

Lab 12 – Surface Water, Lab Manual Chap 11


Lecture Exam 3   Text  Chap 9, 14, 16, 17 Nov. 7th

Video Assignment: Hawaii


Ground Water  (Text  Chap 10)


Lab 13 – Ground Water, Lab Manual Chap 12


Shorelines  (Text  Chap 13)   (Quiz 7 Chap 10,13)


Last day to drop class with a Q ( Fri., Nov. 15th)

Lab 14 – Shorelines, Lab Manual Chap 15



Deserts  (Text  Chap 12)

Lab 15 – Deserts, Lab Manual Chap 14  (eCampus)

Glaciers (Text  Chap 11) (Quiz 8 Chap 11,12)

Lab 16 – Glaciers, Lab Manual Chap 13(eCampus)


Lecture Exam 4    Text  Chap 10-13   Nov. 26th

Topographic Map Review (eCampus)


Holiday: No Class

Holiday: No Class


Global Climate Change (Text  Chap 20)

Video Assignment: Human World

Lab Exam 2  Grp 1 –  Topographic Maps Dec. 5th

Lab Exam 2  Grp 2–  Topographic Maps Dec. 5th


Final Exam

Thursday, December 12th, 7:45-9:45 am, Room G215