Department of Geology and Geophysics

Course Website:
GEOL 1100 — Physical Geology

4 Credits — Spring 2010

Lecture: MWF 10:00-10:50 — Classroom Bldg. 129
Laboratory: 10 sections click here for details

Instructors: Dr. Swapp Dr. Riebe
Phone: 766-2513 766-3965
Office: RM 3026 ESB RM 2008 ESB
Office hrs: M 1-2; Tu, Th 9-10 Tu, W, F 11-12

Lab Coordinator: Dr. Erin Campbell-Stone
Office Hrs: TBD ; RM 207 Geology Bldg.

Hot Links and News:
Apr 12


Go to WyoSakai and answer 25 questions to garner extra points and practice for the final exam!

Apr 4 Answer Key Test 2 White (ID A)
Answer Key Test 2 Yellow (ID B)
Mar 10 Announcement: Reading Quiz 7
Feb 24

Answer Key Test 1 White (ID A)
Answer Key Test 1 Yellow (ID B)

Jan 26

See online schedule for lecture notes

Jan 11 Go to archived lectures on WyoCast
Jan 11 Log in to WyoSakai

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

"The conflict of theories, leading, as it eventually must, to the survival of the fittest, is advantageous."---Grove Karl Gilbert (1896)

*Please hit your browser's "refresh" button
to ensure that you are seeing the latest updates!

Course Materials:

Handouts: Teacher/Student Conduct & Expectations; Syllabus; Instructions for Registering Clickers; Answer Key Test 1 White (ID A); Answer Key Test 1 Yellow (ID B); Announcement: Reading Quiz 7

Course Notes: Our lecture hall (room 129 in the Classroom Building) is in the WyoCast system, so each class will be recorded on video and audio for later review by students.  To view a lecture: 1) click “login” at the top left of the page; 2) enter your email password and ID; 3) click on “Spring 2010” in the directory window; and 4) select the folder labeled GEOL1100 and then pick the lecture you want to view. Note: the Wyocast system is meant to aid your comprehension of lectures. Please don't use it as a substitute for attendance.

Required purchases for this course:

  1. Earth: Portrait of a Planet, Stephen Marshak (2008) 3nd Ed. $124 new, $87 used at the University Bookstore
  2. Lab manual, $9 at the University Bookstore
  3. This course uses a Classroom Performance System (CPS) so you will need to purchase a CPS response pad. To be properly counted for your attendance grade, you must bring your clicker to every lecture!  Students are responsible for making sure their clickers work!  

Online Quizzes and Gradebook: We will post your grades and administer reading quizzes (worth 10% of your grade) on WyoSakai.  To participate, you must go to, create a WyoSakai account, and then join this course.  From the main Wyosakai page, click “I'm a new user, sign me up!” and follow instructions from there.  You will then need to add this course to your account. You must register by January 22 to participate in the first reading quiz!

Internal Links:

Online Schedule Part 1
Online Schedule Part 2
Online Schedule Part 3
Course Overview
Important Course Rules

Instructor information:

The lecture portion of this course will be taught by Dr. Swapp and Dr. Riebe, two faculty members from the Department of Geology and Geophysics.  The laboratory portion of this course was designed by Dr. Erin Campbell-Stone and will be taught by a group of teaching assistants (all graduate students). 

Who are these people?  Dr. Riebe is a geomorphologist who uses isotopes and geochemical data from soils and rock to quantify rates of surface processes, including weathering and erosion in mountainous landscapes.  Dr. Swapp is a petrologist who uses a variety of geochemical methods to study geological processes associated with deformation and metamorphism. Dr. Erin Campbell-Stone is a structural geologist working on subsurface characterization for carbon sequestration.


Course Overview:

Course Information: This is an SE course in the University Studies Program (USP) and satisfies the introduction to geology requirement
(i.e., 1000-level GEOL with lab) for degrees from the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

Prerequisites: None.

Description and Objectives: The study of Earth encompasses a remarkably diverse array of natural processes and spans an enormous range of scales, from the very big (the formation of stars and planets) to the very small (the formation of elements and minerals).  In a broad survey of physical geology, this course touches on everything from how minerals and rocks form to how they break down near Earth’s surface during weathering.  Why do volcanoes erupt in different ways?  How are mountains built and eroded away?  What causes tsunamis and why they are so devastating?  How do we find and use (and sometimes abuse) Earth's resources?  We’ll touch on all of these questions and many more like them in this course.  We’ll also explore how Earth has changed over the broad expanse of “deep time” and consider how it is likely to change in the near and distant future.  To enhance appreciation of the scientific method, we'll focus not just on what we know about Earth, but how we know it, and how our knowledge of Earth is sometimes imperfect and/or incomplete.

Your principal objective in this course is to acquire a foundational knowledge and understanding of geology and geophysics.  If you achieve this objective, you will be well poised to tackle additional coursework in geology and the other natural sciences.  You'll have a sense of the great antiquity of the universe and a greater appreciation for the world around you. You'll more fully understand how Earth as a system is central to the many great challenges that humans must tackle over the next century as resources dwindle against a backdrop of changing climate.  In the face of these challenges and changes, your new knowledge and understanding of the Earth will help you make better decisions for you, your family, your community and the world, and thus serve you (and those around you) for years to come, wherever your career leads you.

Course Requirements, Assignments and Grading Standards: This course requires learning facts and concepts.  You will be tested (and graded) on your comprehension of readings and lecture materials in ten reading quizzes, two 50 minute exams and one 2 hour final exam (see schedule).  The online quizzes will be announced one week prior to the due date.  Attendance and participation will be recorded with the CPS response clickers.  One half of the lab component of your grade will be based on quizzes related to the last week’s lab, as a check on your comprehension of the material.  Grading for the course will be on a standard percentage scale (90s = A, 80s = B, 70s = C, 60s = D) unless the average score for the whole course is less than 75%, in which case a “curve” may be introduced at the end of the semester.  Individual exams will not be “curved.”  The instructors reserve the right to change the grading policy in extenuating circumstances.  Table 1 shows the relative importance of each component of your grade.

If you attend and participate in more than 80% of the lectures, you will receive all 10 of the available attendance points.  If your attendance or participation at lecture is less than 80%, you will receive 0 of the available 10 pts.

Table 1. Points available for graded performances in GEOL 1100, Spring 2010

Graded Performances Available Points
lab assignments (13 @15 pts each) 195
lab quizzes (13 @15 pts each) 195
attendance & participation at lecture 10
reading quizzes (10 @10 pts each) 100
test 1 125
test 2 125
final exam 250
Total 1000


Return to Top

Important Rules (please be sure that you read and understand them!):

Disability Statement:  If you have a physical, learning, sensory or psychological disability and require accommodations, please let us know as soon as possvible. You will need to register with (and provide documentation of your disability to) University Disability Support Services (UDSS) in SEO, room 330 Knight Hall.

Attendance and Late Policy: University-sponsored absences are cleared through the Office of Student Life.  The policy for make-up tests and late lab assignments is as follows: Make-up dates for tests are not part of the schedule, and, if necessary (due to University-sponsored absences only), should be arranged in advance and must occur within one week of a student’s return from an excused absence.  To receive credit, students must complete all make-up work by the last day of class.  It is the student’s responsibility to approach the instructor to request a makeup exam. 

Although our lecture hall (room 129 in the Classroom Building) is in the WyoCast system, we strongly recommend that you to resist the urge to skip class and simply watch lecture online.  The Wyocast system is meant to aid your comprehension of lectures and should not be used as a substitute for attendance.  Rather, its best uses are for review of lectures on complicated topics and for students who legitimately can’t make it to class due to illness, inclement weather, or University-sponsored excuse.  Note: If you do not show up at lecture often enough, you will not receive any of the available attendance/participation points (see details above).  Also please note that the instructors are not responsible for any malfunctions in the Wyocast system.  To the contrary, if you don't come to lecture and cannot view the lecture online due to some technical difficulty, you, the student, are still responsible for understanding any material we cover in class.

Conduct: University Regulation 29, change 1, states that the instructor can “establish reasonable standards of conduct”… “which should be made known at the outset” of each course.  In this course the standard of conduct is as follows: We expect regular attendance & participation and respectful interactions at each meeting.  That means no sleeping, iPods, video games, and/or networking/texting/talking on phones, PDAs, PPCs, PCs, Macs, facebook, myspace, or anything else in class.  We expect you to show respect to your fellow students and your instructors by refraining from talking during class. If you fail to meet these standards of conduct we will ask you to leave the lecture hall. Also, please download and read A&S—Students and Teachers Working Together. It has guidelines for syllabi, attendance, classroom deportment, phone and email protocol, office hours, and how to make appointments outside of office hours. Additional regulations can be viewed on the Office of the General Counsel website.

Academic Honesty: University Regulation 6-802, revision 2, defines academic dishonesty as “an act attempted or performed which misrepresents one’s involvement in an academic task in any way, or permits another student to misrepresent the latter’s involvement in an academic task by assisting the misrepresentation.”  This pertains to aid from classmates as well as former students of the class and anyone else.  Note that it also pertains to students who witness acts of academic dishonesty; by failing to inform the instructors of such a witnessed act, the witness is guilty of assisting in the act.  UW has well-defined procedures for judging cases of suspected academic dishonesty, and serious penalties may be assessed to offenders.  Please do not cheat and avoid any behavior that might be misconstrued as cheating.  Note this means that the work you turn in must always be your own.  If we catch you with more than one clicker in class we will treat it as an act of academic dishonesty and you will receive a score of zero for the attendance/participation part of your grade.  Note also that use of calculators, phones, PDAs, PPCs and anything else that gives you an unfair edge over your classmates is prohibited during tests and quizzes.

Contacting Us/E-mail Policy:  Contact your TA with questions about labs.  Contact Dr. Riebe and Dr. Swapp for information about tests, quizzes, lectures and the structure of the course.

The most effective way to contact us with simple questions is by e-mail.  We will respond as quickly as possible, but it may be take us up to 24 hrs on weekdays or 48 hrs on weekend to get back to you.  In any case, do not wait until the last minute to ask us a question!  For example, do not expect a response if you send us a question at 11 PM about a test the next day!   We expect your questions to be coherently written, with correct spelling and good grammar.  We don’t have time to interpret messages written in shorthand with excessive abbreviations.  If you have a complicated question, it may be best for all if you come see us in office hours, call, or come talk to one of us after class.

From time to time throughout this course, we will use e-mail to contact you at your address with organizational information and announcements.  Hence it is very important for you to check your email regularly; we suggest that you check it at least once per day.

Changes in the Syllabus:The instructors reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus (especially the schedule and the readings) as the course proceeds.  Such changes will be announced in class with plenty of lead time.  Substantive changes to the syllabus shall be communicated by E-mail. 

Please check this course website (
often for updates to the “live” version of the schedule.

Additional Rules, Guidelines, and Expectations: Please refer to the syllabus and the College of Arts and Sciences Statement on Student/Teacher Conduct.

Return to Top

Live Schedule:

We recommend that you check this schedule often so that you can check for updated reading assignments and find out about quizzes. Readings should be completed before class on the day listed.

Return to Top

Week Day Date Topic/Lecture Notes Readings Handouts & Cool Links
1 M Jan 11 Introduction; Why geology? (warning: 38 MB)   Syllabus; Teacher/Student Conduct & Expectations; Instructions for Registering Clickers
1 W Jan 13

Big Bang to Big Universe 1:
A Sense of Scale

Ch 1

Basic Chemistry and Physics: Periodic Table of the Elements; Physical Constants; SI units;
Cool pictures: NASA images;
Scale: A sense of scale

1 F Jan 15

Haiti's Earthquake

Big Bang to Big Universe 2:
The Lives of Stars

Ch 1 and 2

Stars: Sizes of Stars movie; star becomes white dwarf; Galaxy movie; star death and birth
Solar System Facts and Pictures: Eight Planets Solar System Tour;

2 M Jan 18 no class    
2 W Jan 20

Big Bang to Big Universe 3:
Big Bang and the Anatomy of Earth

Ch 1 and 2

Big Bang: Doppler effect Movie; Doppler sound (wmv); very deep space movie

The solar system: birth of the solar system movie; the moon is born movie (very cool); Birth of the Earth Moon System;

The Solid Earth: NASA Mission to Planet Earth; Composition: Continental Crust; Natl. Geophysical Data Center

2 F Jan 22 Geologic Time: It’s all Relative Ch 12.1-12.7

Geologic Timescale from Geological Society of America
Geologic Timescale from US Geological Survey

3 M Jan 25 Geologic Time: It’s Absolute Ch 12.8-12.10, Ch 13

Geologic Clock Movie;
Radioactive Decay Systems;
relative dating (interactive movie)

3 W Jan 27

ONLINE QUIZ 1: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Drifting Continents and Spreading Seas

Ch 3, Interlude A

Himalaya (India/Asia plate boundary)
Andes (subduction of the oceanic crust)

3 F Jan 29 The Way the Earth Works: Plate Tectonics Ch 3, 4 rifting
San Andreas Fault
4 M Feb 1 The Way the Earth Works: Plate Tectonics Ch 4  
4 W Feb 3

ONLINE QUIZ 2: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Patterns in Nature: Minerals 1

Ch 5

interactive periodic table explorer
mega crystals in Mexico
more mega crystals (all things mineralogical)

4 F Feb 5 Patterns in Nature: Minerals 2 Ch 5 download Earth's Core software (gems and minerals): cool, free, and SAFE
5 M Feb 8 Up from the Inferno: Magmas and Igneous Rx 1 Interlude B, Ch 6  
5 W Feb 10 Jeopardy Game (ppt 9 MB)  

earth accreti0n visualization
video daily double: creation of the moon
differentiation visualization
liquid outer core visualization

5 F Feb 12 LECTURE EXAM 1    
6 M Feb 15 Up from the Inferno: Magmas and Igneous Rx 2 Ch 6  
6 W Feb 17 Volcanic Landscapes and Processes 1 Ch 9

Pyroclastic flow
lava lake
pillow lava

6 F Feb 19

ONLINE QUIZ 3: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Test Recap; Volcanic Landscapes and Processes 2

Ch 9 cinder cone
shield and caldera
lava stream
7 M Feb 22 Volcanic Landscapes and Processes 2 Ch 9  
7 W Feb 24 Volcanic Landscapes and Processes 3 Ch 9

Answer Key Test 1 White (ID A)
Answer Key Test 1 Yellow (ID B)

7 F Feb 26

ONLINE QUIZ 4: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Weathering & Sed Rocks 1

Ch 7 see lecture on WyoCast
8 M Mar 1 Earthquakes 1 Ch 10  
8 W Mar 3 Earthquakes 2 Interlude D  
8 F Mar 5

ONLINE QUIZ 5: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Earthquakes 3

Interlude D

tsunami generation mechanism (1)
tsunami generation mechanism (2)
tsunami generation mechanism (3)
tsunami damage 1
tsunami damage 2
tsunami propagation

9 M Mar 8 Sedimentary Rocks 2 Ch 7  
9 W Mar 10 Metamorphic Rocks 1 Ch 8 Announcement: Reading Quiz 7
9 F Mar 12

ONLINE QUIZ 6: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Metamorphic Rocks 2

Ch 8  
10 M Mar 15 spring break Ch 14, 15 Chapters 14 & 15
10 W Mar 17 spring break Ch 14, 15 Chapters 14 & 15
10 F Mar 19 spring break Ch 14, 15 Chapters 14 & 15
11 M Mar 22

ONLINE QUIZ 7: you must take it before 5 PM

Metamorphic Rocks 3

Ch 14, 15


11 W Mar 24 Jeopardy Game (15 MB)  

cinder cone
pyroclastic flow

11 F Mar 26 LECTURE EXAM 2 none  
12 M Mar 29 Structural Geology 1 Ch 11  
12 W Mar 31 Structural Geology 2 Ch 11  
12 F Apr 2 no class none  
13 M Apr 5 Water and the Hydrologic cycle Interlude F, and p. 803 (Box 23.1) Answer Key Test 2 White (ID A)
Answer Key Test 2 Yellow (ID B)
13 W Apr 7 Water 2 Interlude F, and p. 803 (Box 23.1)  
13 F Apr 9

ONLINE QUIZ 8: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Landscapes and Mass Movements

Ch 16 Japan slide
14 M Apr 12

Mass Movements 2

The Anatomy of Rivers 1

Ch 17 Sultan landslide
14 W Apr 14

The Anatomy of Rivers 2

River overheads

Ch 17

bedload transport

Platte River

river system

bedload transport (saltation)

river meandering

14 F Apr 16

ONLINE QUIZ 9: you must take it before 10:00 AM


Ch 19

15 M Apr 19


Ch 22

glacial advance and retreat
15 W Apr 21

Oceans and atmosphere

Ch 18

Ch 20.1-20.4, 20.7

15 F Apr 23

ONLINE QUIZ 10: you must take it before 10:00 AM

Pleistocene Glaciations: Orbital Forcing of Climate


Ch 22.7-22.9

Milankovitch cycles
16 M Apr 26

A Geological Perspective on Global Change

Ch 13 (redux); Ch 23.1-23.5

Pleistocene glaciations
16 W Apr 28 Human Impacts on the Earth System Ch 23.6-23.7 arctic sea ice (how it may change over time)
16 F Apr 30

Jeopardy Game*


none *go to the resources page on WyoSakai to download the game



May 3

Final Exam (Comprehensive) administered from 10:15-12:15 in Classroom Building Room 129



Note:  The timing of the final exam is dictated by the University:  Students who have two final exams at the same time or more than two final exams in one day and who wish to ask for an exception must complete the Final Exam Conflict form (available from the Office of the Registrar) no later than April 27.  If you can’t take the final at the appointed time for some other reason, you should drop the class. A document identifying exam rooms will be published approximately 30 days prior to the first day of final exams. 

Return to Top