[ Login ]


GEOL& 208 Geology of the Pacific NW • 6 Cr.




Examines the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest, focusing on geologic processes important to its evolution. Students use evidence from rocks, landforms, and maps to reconstruct the geological story of the region. Fulfills laboratory science course requirement at BC.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Scientific Skills
    • Apply the scientific method to understanding local geology.
    • Distinguish between observation and interpretation, and hypothesis and theory.
    • Efficiently communicate results of research to other students in the class; such as through presentations, written assignments, etc.
    • Recognize and use prefixes in metric measurements
    • Demonstrate the ability to read and interpret topographic and geologic maps, aerial photographs and cross sections to understand the geologic history of the northwest.
    • Apply critical thinking skills to interpreting geologic evidence
    • Make observations of geologic materials through descriptions and sketches
    • Maintain accurate and effective field notes.
    • Discuss basic terminology, principles and concepts of geology that apply to the Pacific Northwest.
  • Geologic Knowledge
    • General
      • Describe the accomplishments of important geologists in the study of northwest geology, e.g. J Harlan Bretz.
      • Identify the major geology agencies in Washington State and discuss their role in society.
    • Plate tectonics
      • Explain the theory of plate tectonics, including the ability to:
        • Identify the major layers of the earth and list their basic characteristics.
        • Define plate tectonics.
        • List the three major types of plate margins.
        • Synthesize the types of geologic activity and materials formed at each type of plate margin.
        • Explain how oceanic and continental crust is formed at plate boundaries and describe the basic characteristics of both types of crust.
      • Illustrate the present plate configuration of the Pacific Northwest and discuss the type of geologic activity it creates.
      • Apply modern plate tectonic concepts to understanding past plate tectonic activity in the Pacific Northwest.
      • Discuss the future evolution of the Pacific Northwest as predicted by current plate tectonic models.
    • Rocks and Fossils
      • Describe the relationship between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in the rock cycle.
      • Identify common igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks (particularly those common in the Pacific Northwest) using appropriate identification flow charts (in class and in the field).
      • Use rock composition and texture to interpret the geologic history of rocks in the lab and in the field (i.e., learn to “read the rocks”).
      • Explain how paleogeographic reconstruction and paleoclimatic inferences can be made from rocks, and apply these abilities to interpreting the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest.
      • Define fossil and explain how they can be used to help determine depositional environments.
      • Identify common fossils found in the Pacific Northwest using fossil identification charts.
    • Geologic Time
      • Describe the way which geologists subdivide rock units.
      • Define the basic principles of relative dating and apply them place geologic events in chronological order.
      • Interpret chronology of geologic events using relative dating principles and geologic cross sections
      • Explain how radiometric dating is used to determine the absolute age of rocks and list the commonly used radioactive isotopes, the types of material they are used to date, and their limitations.
      • Discuss the other major types of absolute dating (e.g. dendrochronology, varves, lichens)
      • List, in correct order, the major divisions of the geologic time scale, including the ages of the major boundaries.
    • Geologic History
      • Identify the major geographic features (rivers, mountains, etc.) of the Pacific Northwest.
      • Distinguish between and discuss the geologic history of the major geologic provenances in Washington.
      • Define terrane and explain the importance of terranes in the development of the Pacific Northwest (including examples).
      • Discuss the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest from the Precambrian to the present. Include a discussion of the following for each major historical time period:
        • Major rock formations and rock-forming processes that occurred during that time period.
        • Plate tectonic configurations, plate tectonic “events’, and the formation of major geologic provenances and mountain ranges.
        • Dominant fossils (life forms), evolutionary developments and major extinctions and their geologic significance.
        • Climatic variations, including ice ages and other types of climate change.
        • Major economic deposits.
      • Identify the major geologic hazards found in the northwest. Discuss why these hazards occur, and what has been or can be done to prevent loss of life and prope

Footer Navigation

Contact info

Bellevue College
3000 Landerholm Circle SE Bellevue, WA 98007-6484 U.S.A.
Work: (425) 564-1000