GG 1113: Survey of Earth Science
- Why is it pretty safe to live on Hawaii but not so smart to live
on the side of Mt. St. Helens? When's the Big One coming?
is Ole Miss more likely to be destroyed by an earthquake than any
other SEC school? The answers to these and many more
questions are found in this physical geology class. Starting with
the origin of the universe and the Earth, topics proceed to the
formation of minerals and the igneous-sedimentary-metamorphic rock
cycle, through plate tectonics, mountain building, earthquakes,
volcanoes, and floods. Other topics include deserts, glaciers, coastlines,
and energy and pollution. You'll learn why the area around Starkville
looks the way it does and why our water tastes so bad! This class
teaches you why the world is how it is. Airplane trips will never
be the same once you understand what you're seeing down there! This
3 hour class can be taken with or without a 1 hour lab. Content
varies slightly depending on the instructor. The course is offered
every semester and during the summer and is taught at different
times by the entire geology faculty.
GG 1123: Earth History - The course
will formulate an understanding and working knowledge of time, events,
changes and rates of change as they relate to earth history. During
this class we shall examine the origin of the solar system and the
planet, the stratigraphic record, and the origin of life, its fossil
record and the rise of man. The course will provide a framework
with which the student can interpret details of global history from
the rock record and will demonstrate that the planet is a completely
integrated, continually evolving and dynamic system. The study of
earth history is not just a question of understanding the past it
is also concerned with creating an awareness of man's responsibility
to the planet and its future.
GG 1133: Planetary Geology - This
is an introductory course designed to investigate the geology of
the Moon and the "Earth-like" planets. Topics include
the origin of impact craters and the use of craters for remote determination
of age of planetary surfaces, volcanism, structure/tectonics, surficial
processes, planetary atmospheres and climate and the origin of planetary
magnetic fields. Additional topics are determined by time and group
interest: history of early space flight and lunar missions, Martian
meteorites, missions to Mars, possible life on Mars, geology of
the moons of the outer planets.
GG 3133: Environmental Geology
- This course is intended as an introduction to the study of the
interactions between people and the physical environment. Specific
topics of concentration are human interaction with the natural processes;
the environmental concerns in relation to human need; and utilization
of natural resources. Topics covered include natural hazards, the
interaction of humans and the environment in terms of air, land,
water, and biological pollution and in terms of environmental management
(waste disposal, etc.). Also covered are the utilization of mineral
and energy resources relative to the environment. All topics are
related to the development of regulatory processes. A one day field
trip is scheduled in order to see local examples of potential natural
hazards, waste disposal facilities, water resources and natural
resources development. This course is offered every spring semester.
GG 3603: Introduction to Oceanography
- This is a three-credit course with no lab. The course covers the
origin of the oceans starting with formation of the planet Earth.
The history of ocean exploration is presented, with the development
of the science of oceanography followed by a description of the
major ocean basins and their configuration. The course moves through
plate tectonics describing ocean evolution and destruction, the
chemical and physical nature of sea water, and the nature of ocean
sediments. Air-sea interaction and circulation leads into waves,
tides and tsunamis, and coastal environments. Marine ecosystems
and marine biology creates a pathway into ocean resources and ocean
exploitation. The course culminates with legal and ethical issues
involving use of the sea. The course is taught every odd-numbered
fall semester (i.e. fall 1999, fall 2001, etc).
GG 3613: Water Resources - This
is a three-credit course with no lab. Often described as a "baby
hydro" course, no calculus is required. The course starts with
an exploration the chemical and physical properties of water, the
hydrologic cycle, and the distribution of water across the planet.
Study of evaporation, condensation and precipitation lead to analysis
of water infiltration, runoff and evapotranspiration. Groundwater
has a major focus, including the unique settings of karst environments
and islands as well as traditional study of porous media. The course
closes with discussions of water quality and quantity, and the legal
and environmental issues surrounding water as a resource. The course
is taught every fall semester.
Courses for Undergraduate
and Graduate Credit
GG 4203/6203: Paleontology - In
this course we examine the nature of fossil invertebrate life on
Earth. We shall describe and document the major groups of organisms
that occur as fossils and discuss the mechanisms through which change
occurs in life over time. Study will focus upon morphology, classification,
evolution and ecology. We shall also examine current themes and
trends in paleontological thought.
GG 4063/6063: Development of Fossil Fuel
Resources - The purpose of this course is to familiarize
the student with the basics of the geology of fossil fuel development.
This includes topics typically found in "Petroleum Geology'
and "Mining Geology." After an overview of all fossil
fuel resources, petroleum and coal are discussed in detail. Origin,
migration and accumulation of petroleum is discussed with detail
given to the petroleum reservoir. Aspects of mining are covered
by utilizing the specific example of coal. Coal origin and how deposits
are evaluated are discussed in some detail as well as various mining
processes and requirements. Environmental aspects of both petroleum
and coal extraction are touched upon. A local field trip is conducted
to observe coal mining operations and any petroleum operations in
the area. This class is offered in odd numbered spring semesters.
GG 4114/6114: Mineralogy - The
course begins with hands-on experience in the X-ray diffraction
lab (Mud Lab) and the acquisition of a mineral "fingerprint."
The goal of this class is to understand that fingerprint. Crystallography
is covered with reference to explaining the similarities and differences
in mineral fingerprints. A later section on crystal chemistry provides
more details. A major portion of the class is a systematic study
of minerals, mineral families, and their geologic occurrence, significance,
and use. There is at least three hours of laboratory work per week
including field trips to the Mud Lab and the other analytical facilities
at MSU. The study of minerals in thin section (optical mineralogy)
is introduced at the end of the semester. This class is a geology
student's organic chemistry.
GG 4123/6123: Petrology - Petrology
is an in-depth study of igneous and metamorphic rocks and processes.
The course begins with plutonic and volcanic rock nomenclature,
the use of phase diagrams to understand the crystallization of laboratory
melts and magmatic differentiation. The knowledge of laboratory
systems will be applied to understanding the geology of layer mafic-ultramafic
intrusions, ocean ridge volcanism, subduction zone volcanic arcs
and batholiths, hot spots and volcanic flood provinces. The laboratory
is designed to give students experience in hand sample identification
and basic proficiency in the use of the polarizing light petrographic
microscope. The metamorphic portion of the course is somewhat abbreviated
but provides for the description and naming of metamorphic rocks,
the fundamental processes of metamorphism and metamorphic phase
diagrams and the use of metamorphic petrology in illuminating the
geology of subduction and collision zones.
GG 4133/6133: Geochemistry: This
is a survey class that introduces students to the broad topic of
geochemistry. Radiometric techniques are introduced by a discussion
of atoms and isotopes before particular systems and techniques (such
as K-Ar, Ar-Ar, Rb-Sr, and U) are covered. Another topic is stable
isotope systematics and application of O, C, and S isotopes to geologic
investigations. Classic low-temperature aqueous geochemistry and
the concepts of mass-balancing and open and closed systems are also
reviewed. Over the course of the semester students will read and
discuss a large number of papers that apply geochemistry techniques
and ideas to current research questions.
GG 4133/6133: Clay mineralogy
and X-ray diffraction analyses: This class investigates the nature
of clay minerals and their importance in geologic and soil science.
The first half of the class is a discussion of clay mineralogy and
chemistry. Shale mineralogy and the role of clay minerals in sandstones
and energy exploitation are topics. The second half of the class
concerns the importance of clays in the composition and reaction
of soils. Topics include the relationships between clays and organic
matter and fertilizer and pesticide. Extensive hands-on laboratory
work is included.
GG 4304/6304: Sedimentary Rocks
I (Principles of Sedimentary Deposits I) - Only 9% of the Earth's
crust is sediment or sedimentary rocks, but most of the geologic
resources humans need come from that thin coating. This class begins
with a discussion of water and wind as agents of sediment transport.
Field trips (including a visit to an operating open pit lignite
mine) help illustrate sedimentary structures and facies. Clastic,
carbonate, and evaporite rocks are examined in lecture and in several
extensive core and petrographic (the study of rocks by light microscope)
projects which emphasize the relationship between the rocks and
GG 4403/6403: Gulf Coast Stratigraphy
- The purpose of this course is to familiarize the student with
the stratigraphy in the Gulf Coast region. This will include field
experience in addition to formal instruction. The structural and
tectonic setting of the Gulf of Mexico Basin is introduced followed
by events leading to the present-day gulf coast. The major tectonic
events and depositional events of the northern Gulf of Mexico Basin
are discussed in a manner as to "build-up" the geology
from Pre-Triassic to late Quaternary. Two field trips are an integral
part of this course. One trip is a four day trip to central Texas
where the Llano Uplift provides a "window" into the geologic
past of the gulf coast. A local one-day trip provide exposure to
gulf coast stratigraphy in this area. This class id offered in even-numbered
GG 4133/6133: Paleoecology - This
course examines the principles of paleoecology. It requires that
you be conversant with the basic literature concerning paleontology,
sedimentation, diagenesis and stratigraphy. Using these data we
shall seek ways in which we can understand the fossil record from
the perspective of life and its relationships to habits and habitats.
Palaeoecology is an applied science and is intended to supply paleoenvironmental
data that would otherwise not be possible. It shows how biological
communities have changed through time, and helps us to understand
the ways in which modern communities are susceptible to change.
GG 4153/6153: Engineering Geology
- The purpose of this course is to introduce the history, definitions,
methods and applications of engineering geology to the types of
fixed engineering projects likely to be addressed in practice. The
study should be able to understand economy of engineering projects
through their life cycle from conception through design, construction,
operation and decommissioning. This involves sufficient understanding
of the opportunities, and hazards from the earth science perspective.
Emphasis will be placed on developing conceptual skills in this
course, rather than the learning of technique.
GG 4333/6333: Geowriting - In
order to insure adequate written communication skills, the college
requires students to take a course emphasizing discipline specific
writing. Students learn to develop themes citing observational evidence
to arrive at logical, well-reasoned interpretations. There is relatively
little lecture in this course. Instead, students learn by writing,
aided by instructor critiques. A variety of assignments, give experience
working with diverse data sets, while learning the subtleties of
scientific terminology usage.
GG 4413/6413: Structural Geology
- Structural Geology (alias folds & faults) is the study of
rock deformation, from the microscopic to the regional scale. The
course begins with a physical discussion of stress and strain. These
concepts are then applied to the various types of faults and folds,
the fabrics and offsets produced and the implications for regional
tectonics. The purpose of the lab is to develop the student's sense
of 3-dimensional geometry of folds and faults, to practice a variety
of graphical methods (e.g. orthographic and stereographic projections)
for analyzing positions, trends and depths to different structures
and ultimately to read geologic maps to glean important deformational
information. In addition to its importance from an academic perspective,
a knowledge of structural geology is critical to applied fields
such as petroleum and mineral exploration, hydrogeology and engineering
GG 4443/6443: Sedimentary Deposits II
- The purpose of this course is to familiarize the student with
the manner in which sedimentary environments can be identified in
the rock record. The primary tool used in paleoenvironmental analysis
of sedimentary deposits is the "facies model." Each facies
model is defined by a unique set of characteristics with respect
to lithology, architecture, stratigraphy and geography. These characters
can then be used to recognize a finite number of possible models,
each of which is diagnostic of a particular depositional setting.
The course will establish the criteria necessary for understanding
each facies model and illustrate the models with examples from both
Recent and ancient sedimentary settings.
GG 4433/6433: Subsurface Methods
- The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with methods
and the use of those methods in subsurface geological investigations.
This includes use of computer programs. This is a laboratory oriented
class with several projects utilizing various types of subsurface
data. Data utilized includes direct access and indirect accessed
information. Direct accessed information is from geologic maps,
drilling, and coring. Indirect accessed information is from borehole
and surface geophysical methods including electrical, gravity, and
magnetics. Projects require interpretation and presentation of data
by construction of maps and cross-sections, as well as written reports.
This class is offered in even-numbered fall semesters.
GG 4503/6503: Geomorphology -
This is a three-credit class with no lab. The course opens with
a discussion of the processes that create landforms on the earth,
such as weathering, water flow, wind, gravity and ice. A progression
then follows through the major landforms: mass movement, fluvial
landforms, eolian features, periglacial and glacial landforms, karst
areas, and coastal zones. Landforms have a substantial impact on
human activity, and the interaction of people with landforms is
also investigated. The role of landform evolution, and its utility
to determine paleoclimate, is the final focus of the course. The
course will be offered in the spring of 2002, and then switch to
an every even-numbered fall semester rotation starting in fall 2002.
GG 4613/6613: Physical Hydrogeology
- The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the
physical components of hydrogeology at the advanced undergraduate
and the beginning graduate level by providing the fundamentals in
a manner that can be understood and used. Theoretical aspects are
provided for the purpose of understanding application of the course
material, with the application of the course material being emphasized
rather than the derivation of theory.
GG 4623/6233: Applied Geophysics
- This is a three-credit course with no lab. The course has two
parts, an initial Planetary Geophysics component, and a subsequent
Exploration Geophysics component. In the Planetary section, the
earth's situation in space introduces a presentation on the composition
and structure of the planet. Phenomena such as seismology, density
distribution, heat flow and magnetism are studied. The Planetary
section ends with a review of plate tectonics and crustal evolution
as viewed from first principles. The Exploration section reviews
the basic tools of exploration geophysics, including seismic analysis,
gravity techniques, magnetic methods, electrical survey, radioactive
study, and borehole approaches. Practical applications, legal considerations,
and environmental policies are also presented. The course is taught
every even-numbered spring semester (i.e. spring 2000, spring 2002,
GR 8403: Field Methods in Geoscience (Hydrology)
- This is primarily a field based class emphasizing various field
methods utilized in ground water. After initial introductory
instruction emphasizing various requirements for conducting field
work, actual field exercises are conducted. These include drilling,
well installation, sampling, and conducting aquifer tests. A final
report providing the field data and interpretation of the data in
proper written form is required. This class is offered in
even-numbered fall semesters.
GG 8713: Eastern Regional Geology
- The purpose of Eastern Regional is to provide a detailed examination
of the building of North America east of the Mississippi. The course
takes an in-depth look at the pre-Cambrian assembly of the North
American Craton, the building of the Appalachian and Ouachita orogenic
belts and their associated clastic wedges as well as the development
of the continental interior basins. This course will examine the
most recent research data and require a familiarity with aspects
of mineralogy and petrology, structural geology, paleontology and
economic geology. As such, this course is a capstone course designed
to "bring it all together."
GG 8993: Special Topics in Geology: Karst
Processes - This is a three-credit course with no lab.
The course is an in-depth study of karst (dissolutional) processes
and the landforms and hydrology that results from those processes.
The course studies the basic principles of bedrock dissolution,
and advances into the hydrology that dissolution produces in the
subsurface. Karst landform development and evolution includes the
unique minerals and sediments found in caves. Water quality and
quantity issues are different in karst compared to traditional landscapes,
and these issues are analyzed in detail, along with the consequences
of human use of karst lands. Related issues such as island karst
and pseudokarst are also examined. The course is taught every
odd-numbered spring (i.e. 2001, 2003, etc.).
Picture credits: "Research" pictures
are from us. Mineral pictures are from "Simon and Schuster's
Guide To Rocks & Minerals," edited by Prinz et al., 1978.
Astronomical pictures are from NASA (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/).
Other pictures are from the USGS (http://www.usgs.gov/).