GEOL 125: Earth History: A Planet and its Evolution
(fulfills GE requirement for Natural Sciences, category IV)
updated 8/18/05 by deh

Fast Links to other pages:
 1.   Course syllabus  8.   Fall '03 Field Trip Pictures
 2.   Study guides  9.   Grand Canyon Trip Photos
 3.  Sample Exam Questions 10.   Cool Earth Science Web Sites
 4.   Lab info 11.   Dept. of Earth Science
 5.   Slide Shows 12.   Fall '02 Field Trip Pictures
 6.Field Trip Pictures: Owens Valley (Summer '02) 13.   About Grades
 7. Fall '04 Field Trip Pictures

Professor Hammond

 Fall 2005


Office: ZHS 325B

Telephone: x05837

office hours: MWF 10-12

Lecture (ZHS 159)

MWF 9- 9:50 AM (42502R)

Lab, 2hrs (ZHS B56, Choose one)

T 12- 1:50 PM (42504R)
T 2- 3:50 PM (42501R)
W 10- 11:50 AM (42505R)
W 12- 1:50 PM (42507R)
Th 8-9:50 AM (42503R)
Th 10- 11:50 AM (42456R)

Synopsis of Course: Our planet has a history extending back over 4.5 billion years. The objective of this course is to use basic principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics to decipher this history using clues written in the rock record. A weekly laboratory section will develop skills in observation and analysis of data. A field trip will be required to visit rocks in their habitat. Through this effort you will gain an appreciation of the processes that have shaped our planet. An emphasis will be placed on observational phenomena and differentiating between competing hypotheses. I will assume that students may have had minimal exposure to science in high school and have not previously taken a college science course. We will discuss questions such as: Where did the Earth come from? How and why does our planet differ from others? Why do earthquakes occur? Why did life emerge from the sea? Why did the dinosaurs die? Will California fall into the Ocean? Will our climate change?

Requirements (grading percentage is in parentheses):

Lecture. In lecture, there will be 2 mid-term exams (20% each) and 1 final (25%).

Lab. In the laboratory section, an exercise or experiment will be completed each week. These are designed so that each assignment can be finished and submitted during the laboratory period, if the student has read the background material prior to coming to lab. There will be lab mid-term and final exams (total for lab = 25%).

Field Trip. There is one required field trip, a one day trip that is offered on either Saturday or Sunday. Any student missing the required field trip must see me to discuss the possibility of writing a term paper on a topic of mutual interest (10%).

Text: There will not be a commercial textbook for this course, but a draft manuscript that covers the material is available in the bookstore. It will be supplemented by website exploration and handouts supplied in class. The manuscript is: Hammond, D. E., Earth History: A Primer, USC Bookstore Course Notes, 198 pp.

Academic Accommodations: Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30am-5:00pm Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is 213-740-0776.


I. An Overview of Physical Science
A. Scope of Earth Science
B. Phun with Physics
C. Chemistry Review
D. Dimensions to Consider

II. Making a Planet
A. Objects in the Sky: Galaxies, Stars, and Planets
B. Synthesizing Elements
C. The Solar System
D. The Big Bang and Cosmology

III. Tools for Reading the Record
A. Minerals and Rocks
B. Measuring Time
C. Seismology
D. Tectonics
E. Magnetism
F. An Example: California Geology
G. Life, Evolution and the Fossil Record

IV. Episodes in Earth History
A. Making an Atmosphere, Oceans, and Continents
B. Hadean, Archean, and Proterozoic
C. Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic
D. Climate and Climate History
E. Cenozoic Evolution and Humans

Biographical Sketch of Professor Hammond: Professor Hammond is a Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences. He has previously taught general education courses in introductory geology, oceanography, and environmental geology. His research interests include geochemistry, oceanography, environmental chemistry, and global change. These interests have taken him on expeditions to 6 continents and on research cruises around the world. When he is not in the laboratory, he can be found backpacking in the Sierras or learning the laws of soccer.


California Granite: Mt. Whitney from the Bighorn Plateau