This lab course studies the nature of the Earth and its development through time. Students
examine the Earth's origins and composition, in addition to volcanoes, earthquakes, and
development of the landscape over time by such processes as weathering, mass wasting, rivers,
glaciers, wind and waves. The lab component of the course has a focus on identification and
understanding of minerals and rocks, and on the interpretation of geological features from
At the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Describe the properties of some common minerals and use them to identify minerals.
- Explain the relationships between minerals and rocks.
- Describe and identify igneous rocks and the processes involved in their formation, and the
different types of intrusive bodies and how they are formed.
- Explain the relationships between volcanism and plate tectonics, and discuss some of the
processes that occur before and during volcanic eruptions.
- Describe the various processes and products of weathering, and explain the relationships
between weathering and soil.
- Describe the processes involved in the formation of sedimentary rocks and explain how the
study of sedimentary rocks can be used to understand past environments of the Earth.
- Explain the processes of metamorphism and describe the characteristics of several different
types of metamorphic rocks.
- Identify some common sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
- Describe various methods of geological dating, use the geological time scale, apply
information about fossils to date rocks, and explain how radiometric techniques can be used to
- Discuss the compositions and characteristics of the Earth's interior and the nature of
seismic wave motion through the Earth, and explain the origin and features of the Earth's
- List the Earth's important plates, and describe their extent.
- Summarize some of the important geological advances of the 20th century that provided the
evidence for the theory of plate tectonics.
- Describe the mechanisms for plate movement and the geological processes that occur at plate
- Explain how the principle of elastic deformation applies to earthquakes; describe what
defines a rupture surface; explain the relationship between stress transfer and aftershocks;
distinguish between earthquake magnitude and intensity; and explain how communities and
individuals can be best prepared for an earthquake.
- Discuss the hydrological cycle and its relevance to surface water and groundwater; describe
stream processes; and discuss the origins and characteristics of braided and meandering streams.
- Discuss the steps that can be taken to reduce the damage from flooding.
- Explain the concepts of aquifer porosity and permeability, the water table, hydraulic
gradient, and confined and unconfined aquifers.
- Describe some of the ways that groundwater can be contaminated, and what can be done about
- Discuss the timing of some of Earth's past glaciations; explain how snow accumulates to form
ice; and describe the effects of glacial erosion and the types of deposits related to
- Explain the various factors that contribute to slope instability, and the types of events
that can trigger a slope failure.
- Describe the various types of mass wasting in terms of the materials involved and the type of
motion, and discuss some of the steps that we can take to reduce our risks from mass
- Describe how waves are formed, and how they change as they approach the shore; discuss the
origins of longshore currents and longshore drift; and explain the processes and landforms of
coastal erosion and deposition.
- Summarize the properties of greenhouse gases and their role in controlling the climate, and
explain the roles of climate forcings and climate feedbacks; and describe some of the mechanisms
and consequences of anthropogenic climate change.
- Discuss the changes in British Columbia's climate over the past several decades.
- List some of the actions that individuals can take to limit climate change.
- Summarize the Precambrian history of North America; discuss the accretion of exotic terranes
in western Canada during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic to form the Intermontane and the Insular
Superterranes; and describe the origins of the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Range.
Required text and materials
The laboratory component focuses on rocks, minerals, and topographic maps, which are packaged
and made available for students to use at home.
In order to successfully complete this course, students must obtain at least 50% on the final
mandatory examination and 50% overall.
Open Learning Faculty Member
An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is
through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary
contact information at start of course.