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GEOSC 10 - Geology of the National Parks

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


The national parks may be America's best idea, saving the finest parts of the nation for everyone to enjoy forever. What better way to learn about the natural world than to tour the parks with us? We'll explore how the mountains and valleys formed and why they often come with volcanoes and earthquakes. You'll see what really killed the dinosaurs and how we can help save their modern relatives in the parks. With film clips, slide shows, and our geological interpretations of classic rock songs, isn't it time for a road trip?


This is a fun course. Our four goals for the course are:

  • To help you become better-informed citizens on topics that may affect you in the future such as groundwater pollution, biodiversity, volcanic hazards, etc.
  • To demonstrate what is and is not believable about science--those subjects on which scientists are usually correct, versus those on which scientists have no special expertise.
  • To give you enough geological background that you will get more out of your next visit to a national park.
  • To show you enough beautiful places that you can’t wait to go out and visit some of them.

Required Materials

Typically, there are no required materials for this course. If this changes, students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.




We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 8-10 hours per week on classwork.

Major Assignments

  • 12 Class Participation Surveys (10% of total course grade)
  • 12 Weekly Quizzes (45% of total course grade)
  • 6 Exercises (25% of total course grade)
  • 1 Comprehensive Final Exam (20% of total course grade)

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
2Welcome to Science
3Plate Tectonics I: Making Mountains, & Earthquakes
4Mountain Building & Volcanism
5Mountain Building, Obduction & Tsunamis
6Tearing Down Mountains: Weathering, Mass Movement, & Landslides
7Tearing Down Mountains: Groundwater and Rivers
8Glaciers, Ice & Permafrost
9Coasts & Sea-level Changes
10Deep Time: Stratigraphy and the Sedimentary Record
11Uniformitarianism and the Age of the Earth
12Evolution & Extinction
13Biodiversity, Global Warming, and the Future
14Study Week
Final Exam