The material on this page is from the 1997-98 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.



Professor Creasy; Associate Professors Retelle, Chair (on leave, winter semester and Short Term) and Eusden, Acting Chair (winter semester and Short Term); Assistant Professor Ongley; Mr. Clough and Ms. Locke

Located in the northern Appalachian mountains, the College affords students excellent opportunities for study and research in the geological sciences. The curriculum utilizes this setting by stressing field-oriented and laboratory-supported inquiry into bedrock, surficial, and environmental geology. This program leads students and faculty alike to a fuller understanding and appreciation of the geological sciences.

The Surface of the Earth and Global Environmental Change (103), Plate Tectonics and Earth's Interior (104), History of Earth and Life (105), and The Hydrosphere (106) introduce students to areas of active research and current interest in earth and environmental sciences and are vehicles for acquiring a basic understanding of processes that have formed and continue to shape the earth.

Major Requirements. The major requirements include two courses at the 100 level, four courses at the 200 level (Geology 230; Geology 223; Geology 266; and Geology 210), two elective courses at the 300 level, and a geology Short Term. The program in geology culminates in a two-semester senior research experience (Geology 457 and 458) that consists of an original contribution based on field and/or laboratory investigations by the student under the supervision of a faculty committee.

Short Term units in geology offer a unique experience to students. Geologic field methods and mapping techniques are learned in a variety of spectacular settings, including the Canadian Arctic, the American Southwest, the Caledonides of Scotland, and the lakes, mountains, and coast of Maine.

For the B.A. degree a student is required to complete one year of chemistry or of physics. The B.S. degree is recommended for students planning careers in geology, environmental science, or interdisciplinary programs.

Interdisciplinary Interests. The departmental course offerings allow a maximum of flexibility to meet individual interests. Students with environmental interests are encouraged to choose a major in geology or environmental studies or a double major involving geology and another natural science such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Students contemplating a major in geology or an interdisciplinary major or double major must consult with the geology staff during their second year to plan an appropriate program of study. All programs are subject to departmental approval.

General Education. The following sets are available: any two 100-level courses, 103-210, 104-223, 104-230, 106-266. The quantitative requirement may be satisfied by Geology 103, 210, 223, 230, or 266. A student may request the Department to approve a two-course set not currently designated but must do so before registering for the set.

103. The Surface of the Earth and Global Environmental Change. The earth's surface environments are in a constant state of change resulting from the interaction of its atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. Changes on the surface occur on various time scales from brief, severe storms to glaciations lasting thousands of years. Studies of surficial processes and materials illustrate the dynamic nature of the earth and provide a key to understanding past and future environmental change. The lecture is complemented with field and laboratory study. Field experiences include day trips to the Saco River, the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, and the summit of Mt. Washington. Enrollment limited to 52. M. Retelle.

104. Plate Tectonics and Earth's Interior. Plate tectonic theory provides a model for the origin and evolution of mountain systems and of ocean basins, as well as the internal structure and composition of the earth. The lithosphere contains the evidence for plate tectonic theory in the form of the rocks of which it is composed and the ways in which they are arranged. The laboratory illustrates the tectonic history of earth's crust through interpretation of geologic and tectonic maps and rocks. Field trips include day trips to Mt. Washington, the Maine coast, and the mountainous interior. Enrollment limited to 52.
J. Eusden.

105. History of Earth and Life. The newly formed earth was a vision of Hades: molten rock, noxious gases, and cataclysmic bombardment. Today the earth is an oasis in space. The intervening 4.5 billion years are marked by incremental change, rapid transitions, and periodic catastrophes that have made earth's atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere unique. Life flourishes on earth today even though it originated in earlier, less equable times. Indeed, the evolution of the biosphere and of planet earth are interwoven. This course examines the history of earth and of life from Hadean times to the present. Laboratory includes field trips, discussion, and written assignments. Enrollment limited to 52. J. Creasy.

106. The Hydrosphere. This course focuses on the three water regimes of the planet earth: the atmosphere, the surface waters, and ground water. This portion of the earth, the hydrosphere, is studied in the light of both natural biogeochemical processes and anthropogenic perturbations, such as water and air pollution. Laboratory study of the hydrologic and geochemical cycles in each regime are integrated with field trips to water treatment facilities and nearby water systems. Enrollment limited to 52. L. Ongley.

210. Sedimentology. The study of modern sedimentary processes and environments provides geologists with a basis for comparison with ancient deposits preserved in the rock record. When viewed in light of modern plate-tectonic models, the analysis of modern sedimentary environments and reconstruction of ancient environments permit stratigraphic reconstructions at regional and global scales. Laboratory work includes studies of processes and interpretation of modern and ancient depositional systems. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. M. Retelle.

223. Rock-forming Minerals. Geochemical processes that occur in the lithosphere, such as the formation of rocks, are understood through the study of minerals. This course covers the principles of crystal chemistry and the occurrence, composition, and compositional variation of the common silicate minerals. These data and phase diagrams are used to discuss the formation of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The laboratory involves hand-specimen identification and determination of mineral composition by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Corequisite(s) or Prerequisite(s): Chemistry 107.
J. Creasy.

230. Structural Geology. The processes of mountain building and plate tectonics are understood by observing the structure and architecture of rocks. This course explores the nature and types of structures present in rocks that make up the earth's crust. Fundamental concepts and principles of deformation are examined in a variety of field settings. The laboratory introduces the techniques used in descriptive and kinematic structural analysis. Several one-day excursions and one multiple overnight field trip take place throughout Maine and the mountains of the northern Appalachians. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. J. Eusden.

266. Groundwater Hydrology. The course explores groundwater hydrology through such topics as aquifer identification, groundwater movement, aquifer tests and data analysis, contamination and remediation, groundwater supply, and well construction. Through lectures, reading, independent study, and field and laboratory exercises, the student is introduced to the geohydrologic cycle, and the effects of human interaction with this important natural resource. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Recommended background: Mathematics 105. L. Ongley.

310. Quaternary Geology. The Quaternary Period, representing the last 1.6 million years of geologic history, is characterized by extreme climatic fluctuations with effects ranging from globally synchronous glacier expansions to periods warmer than present. Records of the climatic fluctuations are contained in sediments on land and in the oceans and lakes and also in the stratigraphy of ice caps. This course examines the various climate proxy records and the dating methods used to constrain them. Fieldwork focuses on the recovery of sediment cores from local lakes, while indoor labs emphasize physical, chemical, and paleontological analyses of the sediment cores. Prerequisite(s): Geology 210. M. Retelle.

315. Glacial Geology. Glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets are presently located in high latitude and high altitude areas of the globe. However, during the height of the last ice age, ca. 18,000 years ago, major ice sheets extended to mid-latitudes from the polar regions and to lower elevations in mountainous regions of low latitudes. Lectures investigate processes of modern glaciers, evidence for former extent, and the cause of climatic variability between glacial and interglacial periods. The laboratory introduces students to glaciogenic sediments, stratigraphic analysis, glacial landforms, and field mapping. Several one-day local field trips and one overnight field trip take students to sites in Maine and northern New England. Not open to students who have received credit for Geology 215. Prerequisite(s): Geology 210. M. Retelle.

325. Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive Spectrometry. The intent of this course is for students to become proficient in geologic applications of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with an energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS). Microscopic textural analyses of rocks and minerals, X-ray microanalysis of minerals, and compositional imaging and digital image processing are techniques performed in this course. Students are trained in the use of the SEM/EDS system and a variety of sample preparation methods. Lectures focus on the theoretical aspects of electron microscopy as well as the methods and interpretations of data collected using the SEM/EDS. Students work individually or in small teams on a self-designed research or curriculum development project involving the SEM/EDS. Prerequisite(s): Geology 223. J. Eusden.

360. Independent Study. Independent research under the direction of a faculty member. A detailed report is required at the end of the term. An acceptable research proposal must be submitted to and approved by the faculty member and the Chair before the student may register. Students are limited to one independent study per semester. Staff.

362. Problems in Hydrogeology and Environmental Chemistry. Uncontaminated groundwater is a vital resource. This course examines specific water quality issues emphasizing hydrogeology, water chemistry, contaminant fate and transport, and problems in groundwater remediation. Library, laboratory, and/or field research are required. Computer modeling is used as a study tool. Prerequisite(s): Geology 266 and Chemistry 107 and 108. L. Ongley.

363. Low-Temperature Aqueous Geochemistry. The chemistry of surface and ground water is controlled by geochemical processes including carbonate equilibrium and oxidation-reduction reactions. This course examines the natural limits on water quality and the impact of various point and non-point source contaminants. The laboratory includes fieldwork, water sample analysis, and computer modeling of chemical speciation. Prerequisite(s): Geology 265 or 266, and Chemistry 107 and 108. L. Ongley.

365. Special Topics. A course reserved for a special topic selected by the Department. Written permission of the instructor is required. Staff.

381. The Lithosphere. The formation and occurrence of rocks in the lithosphere are directly relatable to plate tectonic processes. Specific tectonic environments such as rift valleys or oceanic subduction zones are characterized by specific assemblages of igneous and metamorphic rocks. The course examines rock assemblages typical of global tectonic environments, the processes by which they are generated, and the methods by which they are studied. The laboratory is project-oriented and includes field studies, optical and X-ray analytical techniques, and a written report. Prerequisite(s): Geology 223. J. Creasy.

391. Seminar in Appalachian Geology. A description of the Appalachian Mountain Belt. The purpose is to understand the tectonic evolution of the Appalachian Mountains. Plate tectonic models that are particularly helpful in enhancing our understanding are discussed in detail. Students are expected to do independent work and to give oral and written reports. Fieldwork includes several day trips and an overnight traverse through the northern Appalachians of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Prerequisite(s): Geology 210 or 223 or 230. J. Eusden.

457-458. Senior Thesis. The thesis is a program of independent research conducted by the student, on a field and/or laboratory problem, under the direction of a faculty mentor. All seniors must take both courses and participate in the regularly scheduled weekly seminar. Such participation includes preparation of a thesis proposal and a thesis outline, timely submission of written results, and oral progress reports of thesis research. Students are responsible for scheduling individual meetings with their faculty committee. A final thesis document is submitted by the student at the end of the winter semester. All theses in 1997-1998 are due March 27. A public presentation and an oral defense are scheduled during reading week of the winter semester. Students register for Geology 457 in the fall semester and for Geology 458 in the winter semester. Staff.

Short Term Units

s29. The Last Ice Age in New England. This field and laboratory unit examines evidence for glaciation and deglaciation in New England. The region is rich in classical examples of landforms and stratigraphic sections from the alpine zones of Mt. Katahdin and Mt. Washington to glacial marine deposits in the coastal lowlands of Maine and glacial lacustrine settings in the interior valleys of Central New England. Surficial geologic mapping skills and techniques for stratigraphic analysis are developed through a series of field problems undertaken on several multi-day field projects. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. M. Retelle.

s31. Limnology and Paleolimnology of Maine Lakes. This unit studies the present and past environmental conditions of lake basins in Maine. Modern conditions, such as thermal and chemical stratification and hydrologic and sedimentary inputs, are monitored in a local watershed. Cores and acoustic profiles of bottom sediments are obtained to study the long term climatic history. The unit is project-oriented; students collect field data from boats, perform laboratory analysis of core and water samples, and prepare final report. Participants must be able to swim. Written permission of instructor required. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. M. Retelle.

s32. Hydrogeologic and Environmental Problems in Maine's Watersheds. An important hydrogeologic or geochemical issue concerning one of Maine's watersheds is investigated. The renewal of dam permits along the Androscoggin River is an example of one such issue. What will the effects on the Androscoggin River watershed be if the permits are not renewed and the dams removed from the river? Fieldwork may include watershed reconnaissance, water and sediment sampling, acoustic profiling of lakes, ponds, and rivers, and attendance at town meetings. Laboratory work may include water and sediment analysis, map and aerial photograph examination, and data compilation and analysis. Prerequisite: any 100-level geology course. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. L. Ongley.

s33. The Water We Drink: Water Quality in Maine. The contamination of water resources is a national concern. Municipal and private water supplies frequently come from dug wells or wells drilled in fractured bedrock. Both are subject to contamination by human activity (pesticides) and natural reactions with earth materials (radon), but few people question the quality of water they drink. Recently, however, wells in southern Maine were found to contain arsenic at levels exceeding EPA limits. The extent and source(s) of contamination are not known. Students in this unit work in teams gathering basic geological and chemical data on the concentration and distribution of a variety of elements (such as arsenic) in waters from around campus, the Lewiston-Auburn area, and southern Maine. This includes fieldwork and field trips to collect, monitor, and describe samples and sample sites; laboratory analysis of samples; and preparation and presentation of a final report. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106 or Chemistry 107 or 108. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 10. J. Creasy.

s34. Field Geology in the Cordillera. A mobile course in geologic field methods and mapping to provide experience with a wide variety of rock types and structural styles in the classic localities of the Cordillera. Detailed studies are done at several sites in the Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt of New Mexico and Colorado, the Colorado Plateau of Arizona and Utah, and the Basin and Range Province. Recommended for majors. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Enrollment limited to 12. Written permission of the instructor is required. First-year students are encouraged to participate. J. Creasy.

s35. Geologic Processes of Global Change on the Hawaiian Islands. Our planet is a dynamic system characterized by complex interactions among the solid earth, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. The physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring at various temporal and spatial scales must be understood to evaluate and predict future global change. This unit examines geologic processes that contribute to global change ‹ volcanism, plate motion, and landscape development ‹ through intensive field studies in Hawaii. Students engage in a variety of field projects, keep a field notebook, and complete a case study of the human dimensions of geologic processes. Recommended background: Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Prerequisite(s): One natural-science set. Open to first-year students. S. Locke.

s36. Geology of Maine's Wilderness Lakes by Kayak. Five hundred million years of geologic history is exposed in a wilderness setting along the shorelines of lakes within the Penobscot, Allagash, and St. John rivers drainage basins. Students learn techniques of field mapping by completing several one-week geologic mapping projects in these regions. Travel to and from the base camp and mapping site is done by kayak. Students are trained in kayaking techniques, rescue and safety, and low-impact camping by certified instructors and guides who accompany the group for the entire course. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Participants must be able to swim. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 14. J. Eusden.

s39. Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak. Six hundred million years of geologic history are preserved in the spectacular rock exposures of the Maine coast. Students learn how to interpret this geologic history by completing four one week bedrock mapping projects of coastal exposures on offshore islands. Islands in Casco Bay, Penobscot Bay, and Acadia National Park are used as both base camps and field sites for these projects. Travel to and from these islands is done in sea kayaks. Students are trained in kayaking techniques, sea kayak rescue and safety, and low-impact camping by a certified kayak instructor who stays with the group for the entire Short Term. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Participants must be able to swim. Prerequisite(s): Geology 103 or 104 or 105 or 106. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. J. Eusden.

s46. Internship in the Natural Sciences. Off-campus participation by qualified students as team members in an experimental program in an actual laboratory or field project. By specific arrangement and prior Department approval only. Staff.

s50. Individual Research. Registration in this unit is granted by the Department only after the student has submitted a written proposal for a full-time research project to be completed during the Short Term and has secured the sponsorship of a member of the Department to direct the study and evaluate results. Students are limited to one individual research unit. Staff.

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