Geology

Geology is an integrative science that shapes our understanding of the planet through study of the Earth’s processes. The field of Geology encompasses a variety of topics, including earth materials, earth history, fossils, climate, ground and surface water, natural hazards, and environmental science. Guilford geology students are involved in hands-on field experiences, inquiry-based laboratory work, and undergraduate research. The geology major serves as a foundation for graduate study, professional geology, teaching, environmental science, environmental law, resource management and geography.

DEGREES OFFERED

The Geology and Earth Sciences major is offered for either the Bachelor of Arts degree or the Bachelor of Science degree. Students pursuing either an A.B. or B.S. in geology may also opt for a track in environmental geology.

Geology Majors

A.B. in Geology & Earth Sciences

The A.B. degree allows more flexibility for students interested in working in the environmental field, teaching, law, museums and technical writing. For graduate studies in geology, the B.S. is generally required.

The major requires a minimum of 48 credit hours (12 courses).

GEOL 121 Geology and the Environment or GEOL 141 Oceanography - 4 credits
GEOL 122 Historical Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 311 Optical Mineralogy - 4 credits
GEOL 312 Petrology - 4 credits
GEOL 335 Structural Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 415 Paleontology - 4 credits
Two elective lab courses - 8 credits

Related Field Courses: Students must take one course in mathematics (above the 110 level), plus three more courses from among the following or others as approved by the department:

Any MATH course above MATH 110 - 4 credits
CHOOSE THREE COURSES (12 credits)
CHEM 111, CHEM 112, MATH 112, MATH 115, MATH 121, MATH 122, EDUC 410, EDUC 420, PHYS 211, PHYS 212, PHYS 121, or PHYS 122

Total credits required for A.B. degree in Geology and Earth Sciences – 48 credits

Students will work with their advisors to select the electives and related field courses that are most useful for their individual goals.

B.S. in Geology & Earth Sciences

The B.S. degree is designed for students who intend to pursue graduate study in the earth sciences or are seeking employment in fields such as geology, environmental science, geography, oceanography, paleontology, hydrology, or geophysics. This track requires a number of related field courses expected by the profession for technical work and for graduate study.

  The major requires a minimum of 60 credit hours (15 courses).

GEOL 121 Geology and the Environment or GEOL 141 Oceanography - 4 credits
GEOL 122 Historical Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 311 Optical Mineralogy - 4 credits
GEOL 312 Petrology - 4 credits
GEOL 335 Structural Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 415 Paleontology - 4 credits
Two elective lab courses - 8 credits
Summer Field Camp - 4 credits
Related field courses (included within the major)
CHEM 111 Chemistry Principles I - 4 credits
CHEM 112 Chemistry Principles II - 4 credits
MATH 121 Calculus I - 4 credits
MATH 122 Calculus II - 4 credits
PHYS 121 Classical and Modern Physics I or PHYS 211 College Physics I - 4 credits
PHYS 122 Classical and Modern Physics II or PHYS 212 College Physics II - 4 credits

Total credits required for B.S. degree in Geology and Earth Sciences – 60 credits

Environmental Geology Track

Students pursuing either an A.B. or B.S. in geology may opt for a track in environmental geology. This track provides a strong background in geology but is designed for students interested in environmental consulting or pursuing graduate study in an environmental field.

GEOL 121 Geology and the Environment or GEOL 141 Oceanography - 4 credits
GEOL 122 Historical Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 223 Hydrology - 4 credits
GEOL 340 Images of the Earth - 4 credits
CHOOSE TWO COURSES (8 credits)
GEOL 311 Optical Mineralogy (Prerequisite: CHEM 111)  - 4 credits
GEOL 312 Petrology (Prerequisite: CHEM 112) - 4 credits
GEOL 335 Structural Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 415 Paleontology - 4 credits

CHOOSE TWO ELECTIVE LAB COURSES (8 credits)
GEOL 230 ENVS 330 Environmental Pollution - 4 credits
GEOL 416 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy - 4 credits
Additional requirements for A.B. track in Environmental Geology

Any MATH course above MATH 110 (4 credits)
Three courses from: CHEM 111, CHEM 112, MATH 112, MATH 115, MATH 121, MATH 122, EDUC 410, EDUC 420, PHYS 211, PHYS 212 or others as approved by the department (12 credits)
Total credits required for A.B. track in Environmental Geology – 48 credits

Additional requirements for B.S. track in Environmental Geology

Summer Field Course - 4 credits
CHEM 111 Chemical Principles I - 4 credits
CHEM 112 Chemical Principles II - 4 credits
MATH 121 Calculus I - 4 credits
MATH 122 Calculus II - 4 credits
PHYS 121 Classical and Modern Physics I or PHYS 211 College Physics I - 4 credits
PHYS 122 Classical and Modern Physics II or PHYS 212 College Physics II - 4 credits
Total credits required for B.S. track in Environmental Geology – 60 credits

Geology Minor

Earth Science

The earth science minor is designed for students who would like to gain significant experience in the geological sciences. This minor is suitable for students from every division on campus, including humanities, social sciences, arts and business and policy studies. For instance, an English major might go on to become a technical writer or editor; an art major might be interested in clay and glaze mineralogy or gemology; social scientists may wish to study GIS and mapping techniques; and pre-law students could go on to study environmental law. Majors in the other sciences, including physics, chemistry and biology, could all find the skills learned in the minor useful to their future careers. The most important and rapidly growing fields of science are those that are appearing at the intersections of scientific disciplines.

The minor in earth science is not available to geology and earth sciences majors.

The minor requires a minimum of 16 credit hours (four courses).

GEOL 121 Geology and the Environment or GEOL 141 Oceanography - 4 credits

CHOOSE TWO COURSES (8 credits)
GEOL 122 Historical Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 223 Hydrology - 4 credits
GEOL 242 Natural Science Seminars - 4 credits
GEOL 311 Optical Mineralogy - 4 credits
GEOL 312 Petrology - 4 credits
GEOL 340 Images of the Earth: GIS and Remote Sensing - 4 credits
GEOL 415 Paleontology - 4 credits
GEOL 450 Special Topics - 4 credits

CHOOSE ONE COURSE (4 credits)
GEOL 335 Structural Geology - 4 credits
GEOL 416 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy - 4 credits
IDS 437 Barrier Islands: Ecology & Development - 4 credits
IDS 461 Nothin' But Disasters - 4 credits
IDS 472 Environmental Planning - 4 credits

Other advanced geology or geology-related IDS courses may also be approved

Total credit hours required for Earth Science Minor – 16 credits

The minor’s entry point is GEOL 121 or 141. Then students may select from a number of geology lab courses and finally take a specially designated capstone course.

Geology at Guilford

Why Geology at Guilford?

Geology, the study of the Earth, includes a variety of topics such as earth history, fossils, rocks and minerals, climate, ground and surface water, natural hazards and environmental science. Guilford geology students are involved in hands-on field experiences, inquiry-based laboratory work, and undergraduate research. Upon graduation our students pursue many diverse career options both within the sciences and in related fields. Many go on to graduate study, either immediately after graduation or after gaining work experience. Some alumni now have successful careers as professional geologists in the environmental and oil industries, while others are employed in research labs or in academia, and still others are in teaching, environmental science, environmental law, resource management and geography.

Few students have had much exposure to geology before entering college; many of our majors “discover” geology during their first or second year, often after taking one of our introductory courses as their lab science requirement. Many students choose to major in geology because they love the subject, are interested in the environment, and wish to take advantage of the numerous opportunities to study geology beyond the traditional classroom.

Field Study and Research

Hands-on experience with real-world outcrops is critical to learning geology, and we make work in the field a significant component of our courses from the introductory level to senior research. Students gain experience identifying and analyzing rocks and outcrops and develop skills working with field instrumentation. In addition to our core courses, we offer opportunities for students to study geology abroad in regions such as the East African Rift Valley, the Andes, and the Galapagos Islands.

We also encourage students to engage in research projects with us or through internship experiences. Our students have worked with local agencies to study the use of enhanced wetlands for stormwater treatment, conducted geologic studies on the nearby Guilford Courthouse Military Park, and investigated the water quality of the campus lake. Others participate in internship opportunities with other organizations; recent projects include studying fossil assemblages with researchers at the University of Florida, analyzing impacts on stream water quality with various state and federal organizations, and working with the National Park Service to establish baseline geologic data in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. These learning experiences also offer the opportunity for students to present their scientific research at regional and national scientific meetings.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

The Guilford Geology program is inherently experiential; all students participate in outdoor field labs. Upper level courses include multi-day academic trips providing the opportunity to develop observational and analytical skills in the field. We encourage our students to study abroad and to engage in research and internship opportunities. 

Study Abroad

Geology majors have many options to study abroad. Many of our students attend programs offered by our affiliate, the School for Field Studies; they travel to locations such as Bhutan, Australia, and Costa Rica. Other students opt to participate in summer and semester programs led by faculty of the Guilford Geology program and other Guilford professors. These programs take place in Tanzania, Ecuador ,the Galapagos Islands, Munich, and Italy. 

Summer Field Experience

To complete a B.S. degree in Geology, all students must complete a 4 credit summer field camp at an accredited university. The summer field experience provides our students an unparalleled opportunity to hone their observational and analytical skills and to apply and integrate the knowledge they have gained in their upper level geology courses. This intensive experience is typically completed in western states such as Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. Some students opt for international field camps held in Canada or Ireland; additional opportunities to study in regions such as Argentina, Turkey, and Africa are also available.

At Guilford, we work with individual students to help them identify the program that will best suit their particular interests.

Student Research

Geology students are encouraged to pursue undergraduate research, either as an independent study, crafted in collaboration with a professor, or as a senior thesis. Recent majors have engaged in research that investigates the relationships between soil quality and the wine industry in North Carolina, others have investigated the impacts of wastewater residuals on ground and surface water quality, and the impacts of storm water runoff on our campus lake and stream.

Our students regularly participate in the prestigious National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates, which include opportunities throughout the country and can vary from fossil research in Florida to fluvial studies in Colorado. Students pursuing research on and off campus can present their work on campus at the annual Guilford Undergraduate Symposium, as well as at regional and national professional meetings.

Internships

Many Geology students engage in internship opportunities which can be developed in partnership with the department and completed as an elective for the major. For example, a recent graduate completed an internship with the United States Geological Survey to conduct fundamental geologic research in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Several students have landed positions with the National Park Service to study invasive species, while others have conducted water quality research for state transportation agencies or state parks. Students also have opportunities for internships in the private sector, including consulting and engineering firms.

Geology Faculty