GEOL 1340 The Dynamic Earth

GEOL 2250 Geology for Engineers


Geology has always played one of the key roles in the survival and progress of the human race. As early as 500 thousand years ago, Homo erectus must have had some basic knowledge of the physical properties of rocks to be able to use them in the production of fire and lithic tools. The advent of metallurgy about 6.5 thousand years ago already required a fairly advanced understanding of minerals and rocks. Today, geologists face a much broader scope of practical and scientific problems, such as: ensuring that people are protected from geological hazards (tsunami waves, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, etc.); recognition, evaluation and extraction of various energy and mineral resources; prudent resource management; environmental protection; design of new materials; and even space-mission planning. These introductory-level courses will introduce you to the most fundamental concepts of geology (e.g., plate tectonics, erosion and weathering, geological time scale, etc.) and teach you about various processes at the Earth's surface and in its interior, and their bearing on the lives of people around the globe. The 1340 and 2250 courses have a comprehensive lab component that provides some hands-on experience with minerals, rocks, geological structures and maps. Download the most recent course outline here

Limestone cliffs at Steep Rock, Manitoba



GEOL 2500 Introduction to Mineralogy

GEOL 2540 Introductory Mineralogy with Essentials of Mineral Optics


Mineralogy is the scientific study of minerals. Most of what we find at or below the Earth's surface, much of the particulate matter in the atmosphere and oceans, and solid materials that make up other planets consist of minerals. There is increasing evidence that minerals played an important role in the origin of life on our planet. Biologically produced minerals ("biominerals") are vital to the existence of most known life forms, including us humans. The progress of technology, science and art would not have been possible without mineral resources such as metallic ores, clays, pigments, sand, etc. Last, but not least, minerals have been used as prototypes in the development of many advanced technological materials. Find out more about minerals from the webpage of our mineralogical Museum. These courses will familiarize you with minerals, their chemical composition, crystal structure and physical properties, as well as their distribution in the Earth's crust and mantle. In the lab, you will learn to recognize the most common minerals using their morphological and physical characteristics. The two courses have the same coverage of theory, but the 2540 lab section deals with a smaller number of minerals and covers the basics of mineral optics. Download the most recent course outline here

Galena crystals, Illinois



GEOL 2520 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology


Petrology translates as the rock science. Rocks are naturally formed assemblages of minerals and, in some cases, such non-crystalline materials as glass or organic matter. Igneous petrology deals with rocks crystallized from magmas at or below the Earth's surface (extrusive and intrusive), whereas metamorphic petrology is the study of metamorphism and its products. Given that the bulk of the Earth's crust is composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks, the thorough understanding of how these rocks originated and changed through space and time is essential for deciphering our planet's past, searching for mineral resources and tackling many other practical and scientific problems facing geologists today. The first half of this course will introduce you to the processes of magma generation, magma differentiation, igneous structures, textures and to the major types of tectonic-igneous rock associations. The second half will be concerned with processes that affect various igneous and sedimentary rocks at elevated temperatures and pressures. In the lab, you will learn to use the textural and modal characteristics of igneous and metamorphic rocks for their identification and interpretation. Download the most recent course outline here

Archean pillow basalt, Great Slave Lake


GEOL 3140 Gemology


Gem(m)ology is the science concerned with various technical and aesthetic aspects of natural and synthetic gem materials. The roots of gemology go back more than two millennia, to the classic writings of Theophrastus, Pliny and Plutarch. The scientific study of gemstones has since evolved to become a discipline integrating the elements of mineralogy, spectroscopy, archeology, crystallography, economic geology, chemistry, history, biology and materials design. In many cultures, gem production and trade have been an important component of the socio-economic landscape. By studying the provenance of gems in artifacts, we are able to reconstruct ancient trade routes and societal structures of the past. But gemology is not limited to characterization of the chemistry, physical properties and cultural value of gemstones. It also teaches us to live in harmony with nature through the appreciation of some of its most perfect creations. You can find out more about gemstones here. The primary objective of this course is to teach you the principles of gemstone identification, evaluation and certification. Other topics covered in the course include the history of gemology, gemstone deposits and synthetic gem materials. In the lab, you will acquire some hands-on experience in using different gemological tools and techniques (refractometer, dichroscope, heavy liquids, etc.) for gem identification. Download the most recent course outline here

Malachite vase in the Hermitage (St. Petersburg); emerald crystal from Muzo (Colombia)


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