Geology 111 - Planet Earth: Introduction to Geology

Planet Earth

Rachel Bernard

M/W/F | 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM

Amherst College
Beneski Museum of Natural History Room 107

How well do you know the planet on which we live? In this course we will explore Earth from its core to its surface, from the mountains to the deep ocean basins, from the past and present to the future. The  earth is an evolving and dynamic system, changing on time scales that range from seconds, to millennia, to eons: volcanos erupt, earthquakes vibrate the globe, continents separate and collide, and mountains rise only to be worn away and rise again. What physical processes drive this dynamism? How does the restless nature of Earth impact our residency? Studying active geologic processes will provide us with a  means to decode the history of Earth as written in rocks; analyzing the rock record allows us to test  hypotheses about the formation and continual modification of the planet. With a geologic understanding of your home planet, students will emerge from the course with an expanded notion of what it is to be human. This is a science course designed for all Amherst students. 

Three hours of class and two hours of lab in which the student gains direct experience in the science through examination of earth materials, field trips, and projects.

Fall semester: Assistant Professors Bernard and Victor Guevara; Spring semester: Professor Tekla Harms

How to handle overenrollment: If overenrolled, priority will be given to seniors and first-year students, followed by sophomores, then juniors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: lectures (both synchronous and asynchronous); lab work in a collaborative, group setting; field trips that involve observation of rock outcrops in the out-of-doors, with some hiking; in-class quizzes and/or exams; modest quantitative analysis; and a collaborative, integrated final project that includes independent analysis of a novel problem. Each of these modes of learning relies heavily on visual analysis. Attendance is a critical element of success. The course does not assume any prior knowledge of earth science.

Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.