Environmental Science

ESC 201:  Environmental Geology 

Spring 2005

Lecture: T,Th 3:00-4:15, Trumbower 311
Laboratory:  M 1:30-4:20 p.m. Trumbower 246

Montgomery, Carla.  Environmental Geology.  6th edition.  McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math. 
ISBN: 0073661953


  1. understand the basic principles of geology including the rock cycle, plate tectonics, and the structure of the earth;
  2. understand the ways in which geologic forces such as earthquakes, volcanoes, mass movements, and glaciers shape the lithosphere of the earth;
  3. recognize the importance of water as an agent of change on the earth;
  4. describe the pathways and reservoirs of the earth’s hydrologic cycle;
  5. understand the ways that water moves through, is stored in, and isretrieved from the subsurface of the earth;
  6. understand the political issues related to water supply and usage;
  7. read and interpret geologic and topographic maps.
  8. understand and use mineral and rock identification protocols

Final course grades will be determined in the following
Exam 1: 16%
Exam 2: 16%
Cumulative final exam: 20%
Term paper (explanation): 18%
Class participation (explanation): 5%
Laboratory grade (details in the laboratory syllabus):    25%

Note the following rules about grading, exams, and attendance.

(a) Students will receive a 0 for each missed exam.  If an exam is missed due to a documented emergency, the remaining exams will each be given more weight.  There are two exceptions to this rule:  1) all students must take the final exam; 2) you may not miss more than 1 exam.  If you do not take the final exam as scheduled and/or if you miss more than 1 exam, you will receive a 0 for the exams you miss.
(b) Students will be expected to adhere to the Muhlenberg Academic Code (more information).
(c) In general, make-up exams are NOT given.  However, at the discretion of the instructor, make-up exams may be given in absolute, extreme emergencies. So, poor planning and the desire to extend vacations are two examples of UNACCEPTABLE reasons to ask for a make-up exam.  Most reasons fall into the UNACCEPTABLE category; in other words, make-up exams are the very rare exception, NOT the rule.  In any case, no student will be given more than 1 make-up exam.  You should expect to take the exams as they are scheduled.
(d) Individual students WILL NOT BE GIVEN EXTRA CREDIT PROJECTS—do not ask for them. Occasionally, the entire class may be offered the opportunity for extra credit (at the discretion of the instructor).
(e) Class attendance is mandatory. Students may miss 2 class meetings without penalty; thereafter, the class participation grade will be reduced by 10 points for each absence.  Students who arrive late to class will be counted as absent.
(f) The class participation grade will depend on the degree to which a student contributes positively to the learning environment.  Therefore, both insufficient and negative participation will lower the class participation grade.
(g) The laboratory grade will be determined as described in the syllabus.  Each laboratory meeting is absolutely critical; therefore, attendance at all laboratory sessions is imperative. If you have a conflict with one of the laboratory sessions, you must make arrangements ahead of time with the laboratory instructor.  In the case of documented life-threatening emergencies, you may make arrangements with the laboratory instructor after the fact.  Failure to attend and complete the laboratory portion of the course will adversely affect your final course grade.
(h) Final letter grades will be assigned as follows (numbers are percentages of the total number of points available).

A  94 or higher

B- 80-82


A- 90-93

C+ 77-79

D 60-69

B+ 87-89

C 73-76


B 83-86

C- 70-72

F below 60

(i) If you have a problem with the schedule or the syllabus, you must contact the instructor during the first week of the semester to discuss the conflict.  Check the dates of exams now; you will be expected to adjust your schedule to meet the demands of this course






Introduction; geology as a science; basic structure of the earth


1/20, 1/25

Principles of mineralogy; rock cycle


1/27, 2/1

Plate tectonics


2/3, 2/8

Earthquakes and the earth's interior

4; 18 (471-475)

2/10, 2/15

Igneous rocks and processes; volcanoes





2/22, 2/24

Review of weathering processes; wind and water deposition of sediments;
sediments and sedimentary rocks

11 (skim); 9 (205-210)


Metamorphic rocks and processes
Paper outline due


Geologic time

Appendix A

3/8, 3/10



3/15, 3/17

Deformation of earth's continental crust; landforms



Earth's oceanic crust; coastal processes



Mass wasting
Rough draft of paper due



Glaciers and climate

9 (197-205; 213-219)





Glaciers and climate (continued)


4/7, 4/12




Review of hydrologic cycle; evaporation, condensation,
evapotranspiration, precipitation, interception; infiltration and soil water

6 (126-127)


Groundwater, aquifers, and wells; karst topography

10 (through 245)

4/21, 4/26

Runoff and streams; flooding

6 (127-end)


Mineral and rock resources

12; 14 (352-355)


Land-use planning and engineering geology



Catch up; review for final exam

The final exam will be schedule by the registrar. You should be prepared to stay on campus through May 13 .

Description of term paper
Each student will complete a 8-10 page term paper during the semester.  Your grade will be based on both process and final product.  The requirements for the paper are as follows:

  1. You must meet with the instructor to discuss your topic by February 15.
  2. An outline (1-2 pages) of your paper must be submitted by March 1.  (4%)
  3. A rough draft of your paper must be submitted by March 24.  You will be expected to respond to the instructor’s comments and rewrite your paper.  (6%)
  4. Final papers are due on May 3.  (8%)
  5. References
  • Note that any idea presented in your paper that is not your own and/or is not a widely accepted principle (e.g., the law of gravity) must be referenced.  For the most part, direct quotes from sources are NOT appropriate.  You should present the ideas of others but put them into your own words.
  • References should be from the primary, peer-reviewed scientific literature.  In other words, use of the internet is fine for getting general ideas, but you must consult peer-reviewed journals (paper or on-line) and books for the majority of the information presented.  Government web sites such as epa.gov are also acceptable.  A minimum of 6 of your references must be peer-reviewed journal articles (NOT web addresses).
  • You should cite references parenthetically in your text.  For example, "…multi-species interactions had a profound effect on the bioaccumulation of DDE from soil (Kelsey and White, 2005)."  For more than two authors, use et al., for example Kelsey et al., 2005.  The full citation for the cited reference should then appear in your reference list (at the end of your paper).
  • You should use the following format in your reference list.

Article in journal:
White, J.C.; Triplett, T.  2002.  Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the sediments and fish of the Mill River, New Haven, CT. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 68:104-110.
Chapter in book:
Guerin, W. F. and Boyd, S. A.,  1993.  Bioavailability of sorbed naphthalene to bacteria:  Influence of contaminant aging and soil organic carbon content. In: Linn, D.M. (Ed.) Sorption and degradation of pesticides and organic chemicals in soil. SSSA special publication no. 32 Madison, WI, USA.
Wiswall, C. G.  1997.  Investigating earth:  a geology laboratory text.  2nd ed.  Wm. C. Brown Publishers.  Chicago. 
Unauthored report (e.g., from government agency):
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1992.  Framework for Ecological Risk Assessment; EPA/630/R92/001. Risk Assessment Forum,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C.
Web page:
Web address.  Title of page.  Date and time accessed.
Ask Dr. Kelsey

Note:  All deadlines will be strictly enforced.  A 10-point deduction will be taken for each day any portion of the paper is late.

You may choose a topic from the list below or, in consultation with the instructor, choose a topic that is not on the list.

Potential Paper Topics

  1. Karst topography:  causes, consequences, and remedies
  2. The effect of geology on biology at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
  3. Science and politics of coastal erosion and human development along coastlines
  4. The geology and environmental effects of mining
  5. The sources and behavior of pollutants in groundwater
  6. The geologic history of the Appalachian Mountains and eastern North America
  7. The use of glaciers to study climate change
  8. Mass wasting, land use, and land management
  9. Earthquakes:  geology, effects, and prediction


None.  Handouts will be provided as needed.

The laboratory portion will comprise 25% of the total course grade for ESC 201.  You should keep a separate laboratory notebook in which observations and any notes are to be kept.  Formal written reports of each laboratory exercise are to be handed in no later than one week after the exercise is completed.  Guidelines for the write up of each exercise will be distributed.

Two quizzes will be given during the semester (see the dates below). Unless other arrangements are indicated by the instructor, students will be expected to read the assignment and complete any pre-lab. activities before the activity for the day.  Students are expected to attend and participate in all laboratory exercises and field trips.  The final laboratory grade will be lowered by 10 points for each unexcused absence from laboratory. 

Date     Activities (numbers in parentheses are point values)

1/24    Minerals (Reading:  Appendix C for first 3 lab. exercises)
1/31    Igneous rocks
2/7    Sedimentary rocks
2/14    Field trip:  cave (Lost River Caverns, Hellertown, PA)  (6)
2/21    Metamorphic rocks
2/28    QUIZ:  minerals and rocks (20)
3/7    NO LAB. MEETING:  Spring break
3/14    Geologic time and fossils (10)
3/21    Topographic and geologic maps (10) (Reading:  Appendix B)
3/28    NO LAB. MEETING:  Easter break
4/4    Field trip:  slope failure; sedimentary and metamorphic formations (Easton, PA) (7)
4/11    Field trip:  glacial features (Martin’s Creek, PA) OR Principles of GIS  (5)
4/18    Field trip:  geology of sink holes (Stroudsberg, PA) (7)
4/25   Field trip:  igneous and metamophic formations (Ringing Rocks, Bridgeton Township, PA) (5)
5/2   Quiz (20)

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Academic Support Services (x3433) to obtain guidance and coordinate reasonable accommodations.  Once you have met with Academic Support Services, contact me privately to discuss your specific needs.


Students will be held to the highest standards of ethical behavior.  Plagiarism, cheating, lying and other dishonest behavior will not be tolerated.  Muhlenberg has established a strict Academic Behavior Code (A.B.C.), and students will be expected to abide by it.  All students should read the entire code, which can be obtained through the Dean of The College for Academic Life or accessed through the Muhlenberg web site (click on ‘Policies and procedures’ from the main page).

A.B.C. Summary

Students may NOT, under any circumstances, cooperate with each other on exams, papers, or homework assignments.  (Consultation on laboratory reports is occasionally acceptable, when authorized by the instructor.  However, each student must turn in his or her own report written in his or her own words).  Sources consulted for papers, talks, and other assignments must be properly cited.  Specific guidelines for citation of references will be distributed as needed, but, in general terms, follow this rule:  if you did not write the words or come up with the idea on your own, you MUST give credit to the person who did write the words or came up with the idea.  If you do not follow that rule, you have committed plagiarism.

Consequences of Violations
Students who violate the A.B.C. will be in danger of failing the course.  A grade of 0 will be assigned to the assignment in question (exam, paper, report, etc.), and the matter will be turned over to the dean for further action (suspension, dismissal, etc.).  No warnings or exceptions will be given.

Students will write and sign the following pledge on all exams, papers, and reports handed in for grading:

I pledge that I have complied with the Academic Behavior Code in this work.