GEOLOGY 204 – Evolution of the Earth



Lecture: 9:00-9:50 MWF  Lab: Monday 1:30-4:30
Instructor: Karla Parsons-Hubbard
Contact information:, Carnegie room 403, x58353
Office hours:  Tues 3:00-4:00 and Friday 1:30-3:00
Text: Evolution of the Earth (7th ed.), Donald Prothero & Robert Dott
Readings: Reserve readings (noted as [r] below) will be available through Blackboard. I expect chapter readings and reserve readings to be completed BEFORE the class to which they apply. I will not cover the readings in their entirety during lectures, but the readings are considered an important component of this course and you are responsible for their content.
Introduction: Evolution of the Earth is an important course for those interested in majoring in Geology and for those with an interest in the history of our planet-life system. In this class we will learn to think in terms of the time scale of our planet, which is more than 4.5 billion years old. The evidence for the evolution of Earth is found in the rocks and fossils that we see at the earth's surface. You will use the tools that you learned in introductory Geology (plus some new ones) to interpret this history from the Archean through the Pleistocene.
Labs and Field Trips: Due to field trip costs and lab expendables, there will be a laboratory fee of $10 that will be collected from each of you. The fee helps to offset the cost of renting vans and purchasing maps, etc. There will be one weekend field trip this fall. There is no better way to gain an understanding of the historical record in the rocks than to visit outcrops and interpret what you see. I strongly recommend that you clear the weekend of Sept. 22-23 to participate.
HONOR CODE: There will be three exams in this class and each exam will be closed book and notes. Whether it is an in-class or take-home exam, you may not consult references, notes, or any other person (besides me) while taking the test. I expect you to write out and sign the Honor Pledge on each exam to attest to your adherence to the Honor Code. I will not record your grade for an exam until the pledge is signed. Laboratory exercises are normally expected to be small group efforts. Consultation with classmates and reference materials is expected and encouraged. However, each student must hand in his/her own assignment (unless otherwise stated) and I expect written work to be your own understanding of the assignment and not copied from a classmate's.



Grade Break-down:


3 exams

20% each for exams I & II      40%

30% for cumulative final         30%

Lab exercises                           20%

Assigns., readings, particip.

and field trip                           10%

W Sept. 5 Introduction to historical science Huxley [r]
F Sept. 7 History of Geology ch. 1 & 2
M Sept. 10 Evolution (be sure to read chapter 3 BEFORE class today) ch. 3
M LAB Review of minerals and rocks review intro notes
W Sept. 12 Environments and life I: Climate, terrestrial systems, and their rock record  
F Sept. 14 Environments and life II: Marine systems and their rock record  
M Sept. 17 Stratigraphy  
M LAB Measuring and interpreting strata and sedimentary structures  
W Sept. 19 Stratigraphy and the relative time scale [mnemonic devices assignment]  
F Sept. 21 Absolute time: Asking a rock for a date [make sure the computer you use has pop-up blocker
turned off]. Select the Virtual Dating module on the right side of the page, then select "Isochron"
ch. 5 and online activity
M Sept. 24 Formation of the solar system and Earth ch. 6
M LAB Appalachian Basin Lab  
W Sept. 26 Co-evolution of atmosphere, hydrosphere, & life
The major chemical cycles
F Sept. 28 Plate tectonics: The structural formation of the crust ch. 7
M Oct. 1 The Archaean earth ch. 8
Cool Early Earth [r]
M LAB Structure and Paleocurrents  
W Oct. 3 The origin of life ch. 9
Origin of Life [r]
F Oct. 5 Exam I: topics through Oct. 1  
M Oct. 8 The Neoproterozoic Anbar & Knoll [r]
M LAB Fossils I  
W Oct. 10 Ediacaran to Cambrian metazoan life Grotzinger [r]
Chengjiang [r]
F Oct. 12 Cambro-Ordovician sedimentation and tectonics ch. 10
M Oct. 15 The Ordovician ch. 11
M LAB Fossils II  
W Oct. 17 Silurian tectonics & life ch. 12
F Oct. 19 Devonian tectonic developments
Option: Evening lecture at the Cleveland Museum "Seeing Beneath Mount Everest: Probing a
Breeding Ground of Destructive Earthquakes" Anne Sheehan, UC Boulder
M Oct. 29 **NO CLASS** [Geological Society of America meeting]  
M LAB Film:  
W Oct. 31 **NO CLASS** [GSA meeting]  
F Nov. 2 Life in Devonian seas  
M Nov. 5 Middle Paleozoic Life: reefs and carbonates  
M LAB Geologic map exercises: Maine & Wyoming  
W Nov. 7 Vertebrate transition to land Benton 3, p.78-101 [r]
F Nov. 9 Formation of Pangea  
M Nov. 12 EXAM II  
M LAB Field Trip: Cleveland Museum of Natural History  
W Nov. 14 Late PZ plants and tetrapods ch. 13
F Nov. 16 The Pangean continent and climate ch. 13
M Nov. 19 What happened at the end of the Paleozoic?  
M LAB Terranes Lab I  
W Nov. 21 The break-up of Pangea ch. 14
F Nov. 23 Free Day  
M Nov. 26 The early development of western N. America ch. 14
M LAB Terranes Lab II  
W Nov. 28 Dinosaurs and other Mesozoic tetrapods  
F Nov. 30 Mesozoic sea life and the Cretaceous world Motani [r]
M Dec. 3 End-Cretaceous extinction and the rise of mammals  
M LAB The development of the Canadian Rockies  
W Dec. 5 The Mesozoic-Cenozoic story of the American west ch. 15
F Dec. 7 Paleogene tectonics  
M Dec. 10 The Neogene ch. 15
M LAB Review Games  
W Dec. 12 Large faunas of the Americas & the Pleistocene world  
Thurs Dec.20 FINAL EXAM (comprehensive) 2pm-4pm