Syllabus Geology 303, Introduction to Geology

Fall Semester 2004

This version was last edited: 08/20/09


Lectures in Geology Building (GEO) 2.324 (the Boyd Auditorium)


Lecture section 1:  MW 10®11 a.m. (unique numbers 54640 through 54685)

Lecture section 2:  TTh 11®12 noon (unique numbers 54690 through 54755)

Each unique number corresponds to a unique combination of lecture and lab meeting times.


Professors:   Leon E. Long, Geology Building 4.156

                           Office hours:  MW 9®10, TTh 10®11, or by appointment

                           Office phone:  471-7562

                           Home phone:  459-7838



                     Libby A. Stern, Geology Building 5.118

                           Office hours:  MW 11®noon, TTh noon®12:30, or by appointment

                           Office phone:  471-0983

                           Home phone:  236-8541



Drs. Long and Stern take turns lecturing to both lecture sections.


Textbook and lab manual (combined into a single volume):  Long, L. E., 2003, GEOLOGY:  11th ed., Pearson Custom Publishing, 598 pages


You are invited to visit the GEO 303 website:


You are already registered to attend one 2-hour laboratory session per week in GEO 2.306.  Participation in laboratory is required in order to pass the course.  There will be no labs during the first several days of class.  Labs begin on Monday, August 30.


Weights assigned         1st quiz                         18%

to grades:                    2nd quiz                        17%

                                   Laboratory grade          35%

                                   Lecture final exam         30%



The grades will be curved, but the boundaries between letter grades are determined by the instruc­tors' judgment and are different every semester.  Typically the A/B boundary is in the mid-80s, the B/C boundary is in the mid-70s, the C/D boundary is in the mid-60s, and below the mid-50s is an F.   All of these approximations are give-or-take a percentage point or so.


Absences:  Drs. Long and Stern take an understandably dim view of unexcused absences from quizzes.  Unexcused absences generally will result in a grade of zero.  Please contact Drs. Long and Stern as soon as possible if you have missed a quiz for a legitimate reason.


Upon request, UT provides appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259 or 471-4641, or open the web site:


Objectives of Geology 303


Geology 303 is a one-semester survey of the entire field of geological science.  We rec­ognize that you probably have had no formal instruction in geology.  Polls show that nearly all of you have taken high school biology, 75% or more have had chemistry, and more than half have taken physics.  We will draw upon certain elementary concepts in these other sciences, and they will be reviewed when they are dis­cussed in GEO 303.  Mathematics in this course will consist of simple arithmetic.


Geology draws heavily from these other disciplines.  The earth is complex and not many aspects of it can be studied in isolation in a laboratory.  This very complexity means also that geology includes a greater va­riety of subject material than many other sciences have.  We may classify the subject of geology into three main areas:  the configuration of the earth (the shapes, sizes, and compositions of its parts), the pro­cesses that constantly change the configuration, and the origin and actual history of the earth.  GEO 303 treats all of these cat­egories, emphasizing one or another of them differently along the way.  The lec­tures present the more theoretical subjects, and in lab you will have opportunity to look at minerals, rocks, fossils, and maps, go into the field locally in Austin, and hold discussions as part of a small group.


In addition, you are invited to participate in two optional activities, both costing no money.  They are a one-day field trip west of Austin to visit the Llano Uplift on October 5, and a brown-bag lunch discussion (time and place to be announced) of how geol­ogy fits into your larger philosophical or theological worldview.


Lecture Topics


Part I.   Introduction to the earth (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11)

Origin of the solar system and earth

Chemistry of the earth; crystals and minerals

Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks

Measurement of geologic time, earliest earth history


Part II.  History and development of life (Chapters 12, 13, and 15)

Origin of life

Stratigraphy, fossils

Processes of organic evolution

Geologic history of vertebrate animals


Part III:  Geophysics, plate tectonics (Chapters 16, 21, and 22)

Earthquakes, seismic waves

Deep interior of the earth

Continental and oceanic crust, and the mantle

Gravity, isostasy, origin of mountains

Earth magnetism

Physiographic features of the ocean basins

Continental drift, plate tectonics


Part IV:  Processes occurring at the earth’s surface:  geology and you (Chapters 23, 24, and 25)

Streams, deltas, coasts


Past and future climates

Geology of petroleum and natural gas

Population, natural resources, looking to the future


Chapters 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20 (perhaps), 26, and 27 are covered in lab.




Textbook:  Long, L. E., 2001, GEOLOGY:  11th ed., Pearson Custom Publishing, 598 pages


Material on

Dates of lectures

Reading assignment

Quiz 1

August 25 (or 26) through

Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and


September 23 (or 27)

12 through page 214 inclusive


9 lectures



Monday, September 6.  Labor Day holiday; no lecture or labs.


Friday, September 10.  Last day to drop GEO 303 for a possible refund.


Monday, September 27, 7:30 p.m., GEO 2.324.  Review session for Quiz 1; participation is voluntary.


September 28 (or 29).  Quiz 1 covering first 9 lectures and text­book chap­ters mentioned above.


Sunday, October 3.  All-day field trip (approximately 10 hours) to the Llano Uplift west of Austin.  Trans­portation by air-conditioned bus equipped with restroom is free; participation is voluntary and all are in­vited.  Also in­vited at a modest expense are guests who are not stu­dents in GEO 303.


Wednesday, October 20. Last day to drop GEO 303 with a Q (= Quit with no academic penalty) except for ur­gent and substantiated, nonacademic reason approved by your dean.  Last day to change registration in GEO 303 from a letter grade to pass/fail, or the opposite.


Material on

Dates of lectures

Reading assignment

Quiz 2

September 30 (or October 4) through October 26 (or 27)

8 lectures

Chapters 12 (following page 214), 13, 15, 16, and 21 through page 431 inclusive


Monday, November 1, 7:30 p.m., GEO 2.324.  Review session for Quiz 2; participation is voluntary.


November 2 (or 3).  Quiz 2 covering lecture material since Quiz 1 (i.e., sec­ond group of 8 lectures) and corresponding chapters of the textbook.



Dates of lectures

Reading assignment

emphasized on final exam

October 28 (or November 1) through December 1 (or 2)

Chapters 21 (following page 431), 22, 23, 24, and 25


9 lectures



Thursday and Friday, November 25 and 26.  Thanksgiving holidays; no lecture.  No labs on November 23-26.






Monday, December 6, 10 a.m., GEO 2.324.  “Extended office hours” review for the final exam; participation is volun­tary.


A special time and date will be arranged for the lecture final exam with both lecture sections together.  This unified ex­amination will not occur during a period designated in the Fall 2004 Course Schedule for classes that meet MW at 10 a.m. or TTh at 11 a.m.  We anticipate Thursday, December 9, 7-10 p.m. in a large auditorium, the date, hour, and locality to be confirmed by the Registrar’s Office.




Grade in laboratory


Laboratory sessions are conducted by Teaching Assistants (TAs), who are graduate students pursuing masters or Ph.D. degrees in geological science.  Performance in the laboratory accounts for 35 percent of your total grade in GEO 303.  Grades from the lecture examinations and laboratory will be averaged and one com­bined grade will be cal­culated for the course.  Thus you will either pass or fail the en­tire course, not the lecture or labo­ratory sep­arately.


The 35 possible points in the laboratory will be distributed approximately as follows:


• 33% on a mid-term examination to be given in your scheduled laboratory period during the week of Tuesday, October 12 through Monday, October 18.


• 32% on a laboratory final examination to be given in your scheduled laboratory period during the week of Monday, November 29 through Friday, December 3.


• 35% on attendance, participation in discussions, and performance on exer­cises and short quizzes.


Quizzes and homework assignments


Your TA has the option to conduct unannounced quizzes.  There will also be home­work assignments and discussion topics to prepare.  As mentioned above, performance on such quizzes and exercises and par­ticipa­tion in lab will constitute 35% of your laboratory grade, or 12% of the course grade.


Make-up laboratories, late papers


If for any reason you must miss a laboratory session, there will be no make-up laboratory as such.  Your laboratory TA teaches more than one section, and if she or he is willing, you may make ar­rangements with your TA to attend another section in which the same material is being taught.


Homework assignments will not be accepted late.  Their solution will be discussed when they are turned in, and therefore students who submit late papers would have an unfair advantage.


Office hours, problems


Each TA will maintain office hours this semester, and will notify you of office hours and loca­tion.  If you should have problems in laboratory that cannot be handled by your Teaching As­sistant, you should contact:


Prof. Leon Long

Office phone:  471-7562

GEO 303 on the web:  Blackboard, web site, and eGradebook,


Note: the discussion below is full of computer jargon.  See the Glossary for explanations or definitions.


Course Web Site  to access:

We have a “public” GEO 303 web site accessible to the entire world.  This site holds general information and material related to the lab.  This web site is also linked within Blackboard.


UT Direct  to access:

To access Blackboard and eGradebook, you must first access UT Direct via your UT-EID.

• Web browser:  (freely available from Bevoware or from producers’ web sites)

Internet Explorer 5.2 or higher for Macintosh

Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher for Windows

Mozilla 1.4 or higher

Safari 1.2 for Macintosh

• UT-EID (Electronic IDentification—what you use to access UT Direct)


Blackboard  to access:

We have also posted material to Blackboard, a UT supported computer-based course management system that is accessible only to those enrolled in GEO 303.


How to access Blackboard:

• Use a web browser to access:

• You will be asked to provide your UT-EID and password.

• There will be a link for each course in which you are enrolled, including “2004_fall_XXXXX_GEO_303: 04F INTRODUCTION TO GEOLOGY”  Use your mouse to select this web link.  Note the number listed under XXXXX may NOT be the unique number for which you are enrolled.  For more information on how to access and use Blackboard, see this web site:

• You will need the ability to open, close, and save files and attachments, in particular a PDF reader (Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software)

• Also recommended is an e-mail account.


Uses of Blackboard in GEO 303:

Below are definitions and uses of the major subunits in the Blackboard facility.

Announcements           regarding logistics of GEO 303 (example, schedule of review sessions)

Syllabus                       an electronic copy of this document

Faculty Information    how to contact the professors

Course Documents      where we post figures from class, copies of class handouts, etc.  This is the most important domain in Blackboard.  Among other things, we will post condensed lecture notes here immediately before each quiz and before the lecture final exam. 

Discussion Board         where to raise questions related to GEO 303 (see rules for discussion below)

• Check Grades              We may use this to post grades, or we may use egradebook.


How to post to a discussion board:

• Click the discussion board button.

• You may read or add to an existing discussion by clicking on an existing “forum,” and add a new “thread” to the discussion.  You may post a message to the existing thread (this is difficult to explain in detail, but rather self explanatory if you try it).


Electronic Posting Grades

Exam, quiz, and laboratory grades will be posted either on eGradebook or the check grades section of Blackboard.  eGradebook is part of the “Class Information Pages” or CLIPS, accessible from UT Direct.  Both gradebooks are password protected with your UT-EID and password, where your grades will be available only to you and your instructors.   The egradebook web address is:


Rules for Use of GEO 303 Blackboard Discussion Boards


Blackboard discussion boards are available to all GEO 303 students, TAs, and professors.   Everyone can read anything that you post to a discussion board, and your identity, although encrypted in your username, ultimately cannot be concealed.  In a sense you are a "public figure" to be held accountable for your words and actions.  Thus normal courtesy and civility are expected of everyone.  Your peers will also think better of you if you think carefully about constructing good phraseology, spelling, and grammar before you send forth a message.  Before posting a message, it would be a good idea to run it through a spelling checker.


The following uses of the GEO 303 Blackboard discussions are FORBIDDEN:

• Dirty, obscene, or inappropriate jokes

• Anything that insults a person's race, gender, religious faith, or sexual orientation

• Reference to athletic teams or events

• Negotiation to buy or sell something

• Reference to social events (unless you would like to throw a party just for GEO 303 students)

• Appeals on behalf of any private or public do-good organization (religious, charity, fight against disease, etc.), no matter how worthy


The guiding principle here is that GEO 303 Blackboard discussion boards are meant only for the business at hand.  The Computation Center endorses (and will enforce) the "no-no" list above.  If you wish to indulge in something on that list, send a personal e-mail message.

With adherence to these minimal requests, we hope that the GEO 303 Blackboard discussion boards will become an excellent forum by which you may seek help from your peers, TAs, and professors, or mentor others.  You are welcome to ask questions, make comments, form study groups, whatever.

Address your message to the discussion board only if you intend for a large audience to read it.  If your message is intended just for an individual, use e-mail instead.

Geology has important religious implications (origins, creation, organic evolution, etc.) and political implications (utilization of natural resources, minimizing pollution, etc.), and sometimes the GEO 303 discussion boards carry some highly opinionated exchanges.  We welcome this!  However, just as the United States Senate has learned through experience that it must have rules to limit debate, so must we.  If someone violates the rules above, the message may be deleted and her/his privilege to post future messages on the board may be revoked at the discretion of Drs. Long and Stern.


Access to Computers at UT


You do not have to own a computer to access the computer-based GEO 303 resources.  All libraries and the SMF (Student Microcomputer Facility) have public computers for student use for free, but many require you to set up an IF (Individually Funded) account.  Use of the computers via the IF account is free, but other services such as printing will be charged to your IF account.

To set up an IF account Subscribe online (using UT-EID) at this site:


Consult this site for more information:


Procedure to Obtain E-mail (if you do not already have an e-mail account)


Information may be found at this web site:

Your ITAC fees support free access e-mail for all students through the UMBS (University Mailbox Service).  Consult:

To activate your mailbox, go directly to this web site:

You may access your UT UMBS e-mail account (ending with “”) with several programs including Eudora, Outlook, or Pine, or with a browser by using Webmail.  With Webmail, you can access your e-mail from any computer using a standard Web browser (Explorer, etc.) and thus any computer connected to the Internet will do.


A UMBS e-mail account limits the amount of information (messages and attachments) to 10 MB.  If your “inbox” contains more this amount, future incoming mail will be returned to the sender.  If you send a critical e-mail message to a course instructor when your mailbox is full, that person will be out of touch, unable to respond to you.


GEO 303, Computers, and You:  a Glossary of Terms

(This is intended for inexperienced computer users.)


Note:  if a term appears in italics, look for a separate heading to describe that term.


Adobe Acrobat Reader:  This free software allows you to view and print PDF files, a common format of web documents.  Download from:


Bevoware:  UT’s free software bundle that includes many basic utilities such as e-mail, anti-virus, printer drivers, browsers, etc.    Consult:


Blackboard:  a web site for UT courses restricted to enrolled students by UT-EID.


Browser, or Web browser:  a software application used to locate and display web pages.  Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are the two most popular browsers to access the World Wide Web on the Internet.  However, UT Direct, recommends Explorer, Mozilla, or Safari.


Byte:  a unit quantity of information in a computer; pronounced "bite."


CLIPs:  Class Information PageS, a web site with information about courses you are enrolled in, including eGradebook accessible with UT-EID.



eGradebook:  a web site where you can access your grades for this class using your UT-EID.



E-mail:  electronic mail, software that permits you to send and receive messages, composed at a computer keyboard, with anyone else who also has an e-mail address, anywhere in the world.  E-mail may be ad­dressed to a group of users as a mail list, or just to a specific person.


Eudora:  free software used to read, send, or manage e-mail.


Floppy disk (also, diskette):  3.5-inch wide (easily portable) disk, inserted into a computer, used to store information (only the disk inside the protective plastic case is actually "floppy").


Hard drive:  a computer's internal information storage disk with very large capacity.


Hardware:  physical part of a computer operating under the guidance of software.


HTML:  HyperText Markup Language, the normal file format of the web.


http:  the prefix of most web site addresses, denoting the use of HTML.


IF account:  individually funded user number that permits you to use the University's network services.  The IF account is free (for use of computers in the SMF), but your IF account will be billed for services such as TELESYS (UT’s dial-up by modem service), printing, and data storage.



Internet:  worldwide information system accessible through your personal computer.


Internet Explorer:  software used with the Internet to "browse" — move about freely on the WWW.


Logging in, logging out:  start-up procedure to activate, or shutdown procedure to deactivate a computer.


M:  "mega" or 1 million.  (More accurately, for computers it is 220, or 1,048,576.)


MB:  Megabyte, or approximately 1 million bytes.


Macintosh:  brand of computer manufactured by Apple Computer, Inc. that runs a unique Macintosh operating system.


Mailbox:  an account on a server, such as the University Mailbox System (UMBS), that receives e-mail messages addressed to you and holds them until you pick them up with a reader such as Eudora, Webmail, or Outlook.


Modem:  device attached to a computer and a telephone line, facilitating transfer of information by phone.


Operating system:  a computer program that runs all other programs.  Operating systems perform basic tasks such as recognizing input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers.  Common operating systems include Windows, Macintosh, DOS, Linux, and Unix.


Password:  short secret code that identifies you as the only authorized user of a particular piece of com­puter-stored information, for example messages in your mailbox.  Each computer (SMF, TELESYS, etc.) requires a different password.


PC:  personal computer, referring to any computer intended generally for home use, but more commonly referring specifically to computers running the Windows operating system.


PDF: computer file in the Portable Document Format that is universally readable, but usually cannot be edited.  Adobe Acrobat Reader is a common free PDF reader.  Other software is needed to create PDF files.


RAM:  random access memory, the amount of memory available almost instantly in your computer during usage.  Information content in RAM "evaporates" when the computer is turned off, in contrast to per­manent storage on the hard drive.


Server:  computer that sends and receives data throughout a network accessible to users.  The data may consist of files, e-mail, web pages, news articles, etc.


SMF:  Student Microcomputer Facility, pronounced "Smerf."  Located on the second floor of the Flawn Academic Center, UT campus.  Also a computer named SMF.


Software:  set of instructions that direct the functioning of a computer's hardware.


TELESYS:  high-speed modem system that provides dial-up access to UT's Computation Center and other computers on and off campus.  Cost is $10/month, or $45 for the fall semester.


UT Direct:  The directory of secure web sites accessible with your UT-EID.


UT-EID:  UT Electronic IDentifier that allows you to use secure services that require you to identify yourself.  To gain access to the service (such as Blackboard) you must also use a personal password.  Consult:


VRC:  VaRsity Center, the location of the Help Desk of the Computation Center.


Web, or WWW, or World Wide Web:  a system of Internet servers displaying documents in the form HTML, which supports multimedia formats (web pages).  These documents are viewed with a web browser.


Windows:  the most common computer operating system used on PCs (written by Microsoft)