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GEOS: A Physical Geology Lab Manual for California Community Colleges is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC-BY- SA) unless otherwise noted.
Exceptions to the CC-BY-SA License:
- Figure 1.1: Understanding Science: How Science Works. ©University of California Museum of Paleontology. Used with permission (13 November 2020). [All rights reserved].
- Figure 6.12: How Often Do Earthquakes Occur? ©IRIS Consortium. Adapted and used with permission (16 November 2020). [All rights reserved].
- Figure 18.8: “Desert Sand” ©Sepp via Sand Atlas, licensed for educational purposes or for non-commercial projects.
Permission from Google
The following images are used with permission from Google, which allows for non-commercial use.
- Figures 5.12, 5.14, 6.19, 9.3, 9.10, 9.15, 11.28, 12.6, 15.5, 16.7, 17.9, 17.10, 17.11, 17.15, 17.20, 17.21, 18.9, 18.11, 18.13, 18.14, 18.16, 18.17, 18.19, 18.20, 18.21, 18.22, 19.3, 19.12
- Figure 4.4: “Core”©xkcd.
- Figure 5.10: “Tectonics Game”©xkcd.
- Figure 6.3: “Seismic Waves”©xkcd.
- Figure 19.8: “Glacier” ©xkcd.
- Figure 10.5: “Forces on a Block on an Inclined Plane” ©Paul Inkenbrandt.
- Figure 15.1: “Folding in the Himalaya” ©Prakasam Muthus, distributed by imaggeo.egu.eu.
We are thankful for the OER work done by previous faculty. Most chapter content was extensively rewritten to align with the learning outcomes for C-ID GEOL 100L and focus on California-specific geology. Chapter content was based on,
- Physical Geology 2nd Edition by Steven Earle from Vancouver Island University. CC-BY
- An Introduction to Geology by Chris Johnson, Matthew D. Affolter, Paul Inkenbrandt, Cam Mosher from Salt Lake Community College. CC-BY-NC-SA
- Laboratory Manual for Introductory Geology by Bradley Deline, Randa Harris, and Karen Tefend from the University of West Georgia. CC-BY-SA.
Many lab activities were rewritten or adapted from Deline, Harris & Tefend.
A hearty thanks to James St. John (The Ohio State University at Newark) who has amassed a curated Flickr page filled with amazing geology themed imagery from near and far; all of which are licensed CC-BY and have incredible resolution.
To our amazing team, thank you, without your help and support this project would have been far more challenging.
- Randall Adsit, East Los Angeles College
- Cynthia Lampe, Ventura College
- Jill Lockard, Pierce College
- Robert West, East Los Angeles College
We would also like to thank our ASCCC OERI contact and Regional Lead, Suzanne Wakim at Butte College. Her unwavering patience, guidance, and support on all things OER, attributions, accessibility, and Google Docs were deeply appreciated.
This project was supported [in part] by the Academic Senate for California Community College’s Open Educational Resources Initiative (ASCCC OERI). During Fall 2020, support was also provided to Chloe Branciforte as she was on sabbatical approved by the Ventura County Community College District.
Lastly, we would like to thank our families. As we all worked (and schooled) from home, they were given (wanted or not) a front-row seat to our many Zoom calls. A special thank you to our husbands, who were our sounding boards, whether for content and/or design; we don’t take you for granite ��
How Do I Use This Lab Manual?
This manual is provided as an Open Educational Resource and can be accessed online. Key-terms have been bolded and/or hyperlinked to provide quick access to definitions and information. Where appropriate, images and links to videos and/or websites have been provided to support content and lab activities. The manual was designed to be used by California Community Colleges for Physical Geology Laboratory (C-ID, GEOL 100L or GEOL 101). The following course objectives were used during the construction of this manual.
Course Objectives for C-ID GEOL 100L
1. Practically apply the principles of the scientific method.
2. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of fundamental concepts, principles, and interactions of Earth’s systems applicable to the Geological Sciences.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the Earth through the identification and evaluation of physical mineral samples.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the Earth through the identification and evaluation of physical igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock samples.
5. Demonstrate an ability to communicate complex course concepts effectively in writing and diagrams.
6. Demonstrate the ability to read and interpret topographic and geologic maps and answer questions pertaining to geologic processes.
In February 2020, ASCCC approved our proposal (GEOS-Geoscience Equity Opportunities for Students: Making the Earth Accessible through an OER Physical Geology Laboratory Manual) to develop this lab manual. Within weeks, COVID-19 happened and we, like many of you, found ourselves rapidly transitioning our courses to be fully online. As a result, it was important we ensure the activities here could be supported and completed successfully in any modality (in-person, online, hybrid).
Within this manual we have worked to curate the most current content, websites, data, and resources available for introductory geology community college students. The twenty (20) distinct chapters provide flexibility and allow selection based on need. Not every district or school will have access to identical resources. In lieu of making assumptions on availability, we instead prompt students to “ask their instructor”, which grants the instructor the final say. Should you need additional geology imagery (samples, landforms, etc.), visit the Flickr page of James St. John (The Ohio State University at Newark). All images are licensed CC-BY and have incredible resolution. Where appropriate, California-specific geology was incorporated into each chapter, with representative material from across the state.
Lastly, if there is something you would like to see added or would like to share material you have already created, please send us an email; we are already contemplating the second edition!
This lab manual was designed for you and we hope you enjoy the California-centric material and mix of hands-on and online activities. Whether you live in southern, central, or northern California, you have access to spectacular geology; get out and explore your local region (if safe to do so). Upon completion of this course, we hope you recognize the importance of the Geosciences to our modern life and society and begin to see the incredible potential of geology.
This manual uses the browser version of Google Earth. To familiarize yourself with this program, read through Google’s help page and play around within the program itself. Each chapter will contain bolded and/or hyperlinked key terms. Some chapters will have a “Can You Dig It” (CYDI) section, which contain topical items typically of interest to students.
Most students remain unaware of geology career options. In this manual, we have included sections in each chapter illustrating career possibilities and how to pursue those opportunities. For detailed career information read through the following.
Earning a Geology Degree
Some entry-level geology careers require a bachelor's degree, however better jobs with opportunities for advancement typically require a master's degree or PhD. A research geologist or work within a 4-year university will often require a PhD.
In California, many community colleges have an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) in Geology, which is fully transferable to schools within the California State University, and on a case-by-case basis for schools within the University of California system. Currently, courses required for the ADT include physical geology and lab (C-ID GEOL 101 or GEOL 100 and 100L), historical geology and lab (C-ID GEOL 111 or GEOL 110 and 110L), general chemistry for science majors’ sequence (C-ID CHEM 120S), calculus I & II (C-ID MATH 210 and 220 or MATH 211 and 221 or MATH 900S), and all GE electives (CSU GE-Breath or IGETC). For the most up to date information regarding transfer model curriculum visit the C-ID site. We highly encourage you to discuss careers options with an instructor and/or counselor.
While pursuing a degree, many students find important work experience and networking potential during an internship. Many of these internships are open to community college students, which means you do not need wait until you transfer to apply. Oftentimes applications require a letter of recommendation; talk with your instructor if interested. Don’t hesitate to apply, these opportunities are incredibly valuable and can provide insight into your future career.
Popular Geology Internship Programs
- American Geosciences Institute
- Geological Society of America – Geoscientists in the Parks (GIP)
- Geological Society of America – GeoCorps America
- Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
- NASA – Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
- Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
- United States Department of Interior – Bureau of Land Management (DOI – BLM)
- United States Geological Survey
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
What Does a Geologist Do?
Geologists typically study the structure, composition, and history of the Earth, some even examine other planets and bodies in the Solar System. A geologist is more than identifying rocks and minerals. They examine the natural processes affecting the Earth, explore for resources such as water, oil, and gas, study the fossil remains of plants and animals, and consider the effects of the elements, earthquakes, or volcanoes on landforms.
Most geologists divide their time among field research, where they may collect data, samples, or measure strata, laboratory work, where they analyze data, samples, conduct experiments or computer modeling, and the “office” where they write papers, reports or draft maps and diagrams showing the results of their studies. Geology is rapidly evolving and looks very different than it did even a decade ago. Modern geologists are comfortable working with technology, including social media, and commonly work in interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary teams.
Many geologists are employed by universities where they teach and/or do research, and state and federal agencies, including geological surveys, like the California Geological Survey (CGS) or United States Geological Survey (USGS). Additional career pathways are available in the private sector including mining and natural resource extraction, environmental policy, legislation, and consulting. Many of these careers require a college degree and postgraduate work (typically a PhD). If you are interested in geology, talk to you instructor for advice. We recommend completing as many math and science courses as possible. Also visit National Parks, California State Parks, museums, gem & mineral shows, or join a local rock and mineral club, or other geology-centered organization (many are open to students for free or at a reduced rate). Typically, natural history museums will have wonderful displays of rocks, minerals, and fossils, including those from your local region. Here in California, there are a number of large collections, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and the Kimball Museum of Natural History. Additionally, many colleges and universities also have their own collections/museums. If you are unsure of what your region offers, oftentimes a simple Google search (example, rock and mineral organizations nearby) will help determine what is available. Below are just a few potential career options for those with a geology degree,
- Curator of a Natural History Museum
- Economic Geologist
- Engineering Geologist
- Environmental Geologist
- Environmental Impact Report Writer
- Exploration Geologist
- Field Geologist
- Geological Consultant
- Geothermal Energy Specialist
- Groundwater Geologist
- Laboratory Assistant/Technician
- Marine Geologist
- Mining Geologist
- Park Ranger
- Petroleum Geologist
- Planetary Geologist (Astrogeology)
- Structural Geologist
- Technical Writer/Editor
- and many more!
Where Are Geologists Employed?
- Colleges, Universities and Museums
- Engineering, Construction & Consulting Firms
- Federal agencies:
- Non-profit research institutions
- State/Local agencies
- Resource Extraction
- Utility companies
Join a National, Regional, or Local Geoscience Organization
- American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
- American Gem Society (AGS)
- American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
- American Geophysical Union (AGU)
- Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
- Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG)
- Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG)
- The Clay Minerals Society (CMS)
- California Council of Geoscience Organizations (CCGO)
- California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA)
- California Well Sample Repository (CWSR)
- Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS)
- Geological Society of America (GSA)
- Geologists' Association (GA)
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- Geoscience Information Society (GSIS)
- Inland Geological Society (IGS)
- International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS/AISH)
- International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG)
- International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI)
- International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS)
- International Glaciological Society (IGS)
- International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG)
- International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS)
- International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS)
- Mineralogical Society of America (MSA)
- Mineralogical Society of Southern California (MSSC)
- National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists (NABGG)
- National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
- National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS)
- National Society of Consulting Soil Scientists (NSCSS)
- National Speleological Society (NSS)
- Northern California Geological Society (NCGS)
- Paleontological Research Institution (PRI)
- Paleontological Society (PS)
- Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists (RMAG)
- Seismological Society of America (SSA)
- American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (SME)
- San Diego Association of Geologists (SDAG)
- San Joaquin Geological Society (SJGS)
- Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM)
- Society of Economic Geologists (SEG)
- Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)
- Society of Mineral Museum Professionals (SMMP)
- Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)
- Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA)
- Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP)
- Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution