Undergraduate Courses

We have a summary of the Geology undergraduate degree options, but for full details see CWU's on-line undergraduate course catalog.

Quarterly Course Offerings for 2020-2022 provides a detailed listing of which quarters all Geology classes will be offered.

Four Year Plan documents are available for students working toward

For Quarterly Calendars, Class Schedules, and General Education Requirements, see the Registrars Office.

Current and Recent Classes

If you are looking for graduate course information see the Graduate Courses page.

GEOL 101. Introduction to Geology

An introduction to geology emphasizing the origin and nature of the common rocks, plate tectonic theory, earthquake and volcanoes, and geologic time. Course will be offered every year (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).

GEOL 107. Earth's Changing Surface

The role of natural geologic processes in shaping the earth’s surface; includes hydrologic cycle, rivers and flooding, landslides, coastal processes, and climate cycles. Four hour lecture per week plus required field trips. Course will be offered every year (Fall, Winter, Spring).

GEOL 108. Earth and Energy Resources

Exploration of the earth’s mineral and energy resources, how they are formed, harnessed, and the environmental impacts of their extraction and use. Course will be offered every year (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).

GEOL 188. Geology and Environmental Geology Field Trips

Afternoon and weekend field trips to introduce students to the geology and environment of the Pacific Northwest as well as the breadth of study options in the geological sciences. May be repeated up to 3 credits. Grade will either be S or U. Course will be offered every year (Fall, Spring).

GEOL 201. Climate and Water

Students examine Earth’s climate system and water resources to develop their skills in geoscience data analysis and interpretation, make connections to societal concerns, and explore academic and career pathways in the geosciences.

GEOL 202. Natural Hazards and Tectonics

Students examine earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, and other tectonic hazards to develop their skills in geoscience data analysis and interpretation, connect these phenomena to societal concerns, and explore academic and career pathways in the geosciences.

GEOL 203. Earth History

Students examine the evolution of Earth and life over time to develop their skills in geoscience data analysis and interpretation, connect these phenomena to societal concerns, and explore academic and career pathways in the geosciences.

GEOL 210. Introduction to Geologic Field Methods

Introduction to geologic field investigation, emphasizing geologic mapping. Class comprises two weeks in the field during summer or as arranged by the instructor; credits are carried during the subsequent academic year quarter. Extra fees required. Course will be offered every year (Fall).

GEOL 302. Oceans and Atmosphere

Introduction to Earth’s climate and the hydrologic cycle through study of the ocean-atmosphere system. Chemical and physical changes will be studied over time scales ranging from millions of years to days. Will include a field trip. Course will be offered every year (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer)

GEOL 304. Geological Sciences Seminar

Guest speakers and discussion on topics relevant to research and careers in the geosciences. May be repeated for 6 credits. Grade will either be S or U. GEOL 304 and GEOL 504 are layered courses; a student may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 306. Communicating Geoscience

Exploration of effective communication skills in the geosciences. Includes readings from the primary and popular literature, writing, making figures, and oral presentation. Emphasis on peer review and revision.

GEOL 320. Rocks and Minerals

Identification, classification, and evolution of common igneous and metamorphic rocks. Includes recognition and interpretation of rocks in typical field exposures. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week plus required field trips.

GEOL 346. Mineralogy

Physical, chemical, and crystallographic properties, and occurrence of minerals. Examination and description of hand specimens and crystal models. Theory and practice in optical mineralogy and X-ray diffraction. Four lectures and three hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 351. Pacific Northwest Geology

Fundamentals of geology applied to the Pacific Northwest. Case studies in lecture will build toward extended field experiences. Two lectures per week. Field trips required.

GEOL 360. Structural Geology

Introduction to the basic principles of rock deformation with an emphasis on the geometry, styles, and mechanics of faulting and folding and the stereographic projection and analysis of geologic structures. Three lectures and four hours laboratory per week. Field trips required.

GEOL 370. Stratigraphy

Origin of sedimentary rocks, physical processes and stratigraphic principles. Identification of sedimentary rocks. Recognition of depositional environments represented in the geologic record. Field trip required.

GEOL 371. Paleobiology

Using fossils in the geologic record to explore evolution and extinction, ancient ecology and environments, and the geographical distribution of plants and animals. BIOL 371 and GEOL 371 are cross-listed courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 377. Regional Natural History

Classroom study of the natural history of a selected region as preparation for a one- or two-week field trip. Emphasis will be on developing background skills to undertake a field exploration over the quarter (winter, spring, summer) break. Subtitles will identify the selected geographical region (e.g. Baja California Natural History). GEOL 377 and BIOL 377 are cross-listed courses. May be repeated for credit under a different subtitle (region).

GEOL 382. Earth Resources and Pollution

Human impact on the Earth through use of its resources, including pollution and remediation strategies. Two 2-hour lecture/lab sessions per week.

GEOL 384. Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate Interactions

The characteristics and circulation of Earth’s ocean and atmosphere are examined in the context of investigating the Earth’s energy balance and climate. Both natural and anthropogenic causes of climate variability are explored.

GEOL 386. Geomorphology

Descriptive and interpretive examination of the Earth’s landforms, and the processes and factors that shape these features over space and time. Four lectures and three hours laboratory or field trips each week. GEOG 386, GEOG 486, and GEOL 386 are cross-listed courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 388. Field Trips

Intensive study of geological phenomena on field trips up to two weeks in length. Three days field work for each credit. Extra fees required. Course may be repeated for areas of significantly different geologic content. Grade will either be S or U.

GEOL 392. Lab Experience Teaching Physical Geology

Undergraduate experience working as a teaching assistant in lower division geology courses. May be repeated for up to two credits.

GEOL 415. Earthquake Geology and Neotectonics

Geomorphology, stratigraphy, and structural geology applied to the study of active faults and folds in a variety of tectonic settings. Relation of seismicity and geodetic measurements to geologic structure and active tectonic processes, including case studies of selected earthquakes. Three hours lecture and four hours laboratory per week. GEOL 415 and GEOL 515 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 423. The Cryosphere

Components of the cryosphere (ice sheets, mountain glaciers, ice shelves, global snow cover, sea ice extent, and permafrost/frozen ground) will be examined, including anticipated changes in the cryosphere due to changing climate. GEOL 423 and GEOL 523 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both. Course will be offered on even numbered years (Winter).

GEOL 425. Environmental Geochemistry

Global geochemical cycles, influences of rocks and soils on water chemistry, behavior of isotopes and trace elements. Includes class project studying local environmental geochemistry topic. Three lectures plus one three-hour lab per week. GEOL 425 and GEOL 525 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 432. Field Geodesy

Training in field geodetic techniques, including scientific application of two or more precision surveying instruments: geodetic GPS, differential GPS, and electronic distance meter. Three hours a week and field project, or one-week field course. GEOL 432 and GEOL 532 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 434. Petroleum Geology

Petroleum geology delivers a comprehensive introduction to the application of geology in the oil and gas industry, including the origin and occurrence of petroleum, application of geology in exploration and production, and the evolution of the industry in the context of global demand. GEOL 434 and GEOL 534 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 441. Climate Variability & Climate Change

Examine past, present, and future changes in climate, and the factors that contribute to climate change over various timescales. GEOL 441 and GEOL 541 are equivalent courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 445. Hydrogeology

Study of the occurrence and movement of ground water using geology, hydrology, and geochemistry, with an emphasis on practical problems in water management. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week. GEOL 445 and GEOL 545 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 453. Seismology

Elasticity theory, the wave equation, ray theory, diffraction, waveform modeling, travel time inversion. Data analysis. Three hours lecture per week plus four hours of scientific computing lab. Offered alternate years. GEOL 453 and GEOL 553 are equivalent courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 456. Geodynamics

Study of plate tectonics and mountain building processes that shape Earth. Lab includes introduction to Matlab software for analysis and visualization. Required field trip. GEOL 456 and GEOL 556 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 470. Fluvial Geomorphology

Advanced course covering hydrologic and geomorphic processes in rivers. Exploration of current geomorphic research, practical experience in field techniques, and geomorphic models. GEOL 470 and GEOL 570 are layered courses, students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 472. Coastal Geomorphology

Advanced course exploring coastal geomorphic processes. Practical experience in field techniques and design. Required 4-day field trip. GEOL 472 and GEOL 572 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 474. Quaternary Geology

Study of geological processes affecting Earth’s most recent history. Course emphasizes marine and continental quarternary environmental change, glacial epochs, paleoclimatic methods, and dating techniques. GEOL 474 and GEOL 574 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 475. Petrography and Petrogenesis

Petrogenetic, hand specimen, and thin section study of igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks. Three hours lecture and four hours laboratory or field work per week plus required field trips. GEOL 475 and GEOL 575 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both. Offered in alternate years.

GEOL 476. Advanced Sedimentology

Sediments, sedimentary rocks, and advanced lab and field techniques for students interested in conducting research or working in sedimentology-related fields. Required field trips. GEOL 476 and GEOL 576 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 477. Tsunami Geology and Geophysics

Course will cover the current science of paleotsunami research, an overview of modern survey observations, the basic physics of tsunami generation and propagation, and introduce students to tsunami modeling methodologies. GEOL 477 and GEOL 577 are cross-listed; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 478. Volcanology

Study of volcanoes and associated deposits, styles of eruption, physical and chemical controls on eruption mechanisms, and volcanic hazards and hazard mitigation. Three hours lecture and four hours laboratory per week plus required field trips. GEOL 478 and GEOL 578 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both. Offered in alternate years.

GEOL 483. Isotope Geochemistry

Covers principles of isotope geochemistry and applications to studies of geological processes such as hydrologic cycling, volcanic petrogenesis, and climate change. Three hours lecture per week plus required laboratory work and field trips. GEOL 483 and GEOL 583 are layered course; students may not receive credit for both. Offered in alternate years.

GEOL 484. Geochronology

Principles, analytical methods, and interpretation of several of the most widely applied geochronological methods. Computer-based data analysis of problems in igneous and metamorphic petrology, structural geology, sedimentary geology, geomorphology, paleoseismology, and planetary science. GEOL 484 and GEOL 584 are layered courses; students may not receive credit for both.

GEOL 487. End of Major Review

Students must be familiar with the language of geology and possess certain basic geologic skills. Coordinates student participation in program assessment activities and provides a structured avenue for student input into program goals. Grade will either be S or U.

GEOL 489. Geologic Field Methods

Emphasis is placed on observation and recording of lithologic and structural features, measurement of stratigraphic and structural sections, applications of various survey methods, and plotting geologic data on topographic and aerial photographs in the field. The class will be offered during summer break, or as arranged by the instructor. Credits will be carried in concurrent or immediately adjacent academic year quarter. Extra fees required. Permission of instructor. Course will be offered every year (Summer).

GEOL 493. Field Methods in Environmental Geology

In this two-week field course, students will apply field methods in environmental geology to a local or regional environmental geology research question. Permission by instructor. Course will be offered on on odd numbered years (Spring).

GEOL 495. Senior Research

Senior student research mentored by research faculty. May be repeated for up to 12 credits.