[ Login ]


GEOL 103 History of Earth • 6 Cr.




Surveys the geologic history of the earth, including the history of life on earth. Students learn to interpret rock and fossil evidence. The course is designed for non-majors includes laboratory work. Fulfills laboratory science course requirement at BC.


Fulfills laboratory science course requirement at BC.


After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Scientific Skills
    • Evaluate scientific information using the scientific method
    • Distinguish between observation and interpretation, and hypothesis and theory.
    • Express lab results with proper number of significant figures
    • Construct and interpret different types of graphs and charts
    • 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.
    • Apply critical thinking skills to evaluate public issues and current events involving geology
    • Make observations of geologic materials through descriptions and sketches
    • Critically analyze scientific hypotheses using observations and data provided
  • Geologic Knowledge
    • General
      • Define geology
      • Explain the significance of the theory of plate tectonics.
      • Describe and illustrate the general structure of the earth.
      • Describe the relationship between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in the rock cycle.
      • Describe the accomplishments of important geologists, e.g. James Hutton, Alfred Wegener, and Charles Lyell.
      • Recognize important geologic terminology, particularly those terms that are used in the media.
      • Derive geologic information from different types of maps and aerial photographs.
      • Construct and interpret geologic maps and cross sections
      • Interpret geologic history using aerial photographs.
    • Minerals and Rocks
    • Explain differences between and define elements, minerals and rocks
    • Distinguish between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
    • Identify common igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks using appropriate identification flow charts.
    • Use rock composition and texture to interpret the geologic history of rocks (i.e., learn to “read the rocks”).
    • Describe the role plate tectonics plays in the formation of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
    • List examples of the common types of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
    • Construct detailed descriptions of sedimentary rocks.
    • Compare the common types of environments in which sediment is deposited, and list the characteristics of the sediments found in each environment.
    • Identify and interpret common sedimentary structures.
    • Explain how paleogeographic reconstruction and paleoclimatic inferences can be made from rocks
    • Earth’s Structure and Plate tectonics
      • Identify the major layers of the earth and list their basic characteristics.
      • Cite the evidence for the old hypothesis of Continental Drift, and explain why the hypothesis failed.
      • Define plate tectonics.
      • List the three major types of plate margins.
      • Describe the basic tectonic setting of the Pacific Northwest.
      • 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.
      • Calculate plate velocities using hot spots and/or magnetic stripes.
      • Apply modern plate tectonic concepts to understanding past plate tectonic activity.
    • Geologic Time
      • Distinguish between uniformitarianism and catastrophism.
      • Distinguish between relative and absolute time, and explain how they are used in conjunction to determine the age of rocks.
      • 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
      • Distinguish between different types of unconformities and explain how rock formations are correlated.
      • Explain how radiometric dating is used to determine the absolute age of rocks.
      • List the commonly used radioactive isotopes, the types of material they are used to date, and their limitations.
      • Calculate absolute ages using radiometric dating principles.
      • 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.
      • Explain how the geologic time scale was created.
      • Place human concept of time in context of geologic time.
      • Correlate rock formations based on lithology, biostratigraphy, etc.
    • Paleontology
      • Define fossil and explain how they can be used to help determine depositional environments.
      • Identify common fossils using fossil identification charts.
      • Interpret fossils assemblages to determine the age of rock units.
      • Explain how living things are classified and list the major Kingdom of living things.
      • Distinguish between the major phylum, by using physical characteristics of living things.
    • Evolution & Extinction
      • Define the theory evolution and discuss the historical development of the theory.
      • Discuss the geologic and biologic evidence for evolution.
      • Explain the genetic basis for evolution and show how natural selection works in conjunction with genetic variation
      • List examples of speciation
      • Discuss the relationship between plate tectonics and biological evolution
      • Explain the ways in which organisms live, eat, and move around, and their relationships to each other within an ecosystem.
      • Explain the record of extinction in the geologic record. List some examples of causes of extinction.
    • Geologic and Biologic History of the Earth
      • Interpret geologic maps and cross sections to understand the geologic history of the earth.
      • Explain the current hypothesis for the formation of the universe, solar system, earth and moon.
      • List the basic characteristic of our solar system, including basic properties of the planets.
      • Explain the methods geologists have used to determine the age of the earth, and identify the problems with some of the methods.
      • Discuss the origin and evolution of the atmosphere and oceans.
      • Explain the current hypothesis for the origin of life on the earth. List evidence that supports this hypothesis.
      • Discuss the geologic history of the earth (with an emphasis on North America) from the Precambrian to the present. Include a discussion of the following for each major time period:
        • Major rock formations and rock-forming processes
        • Major plates, plate tectonic “events’, the formation of major geologic provenances and mountain ranges
        • Dominant life forms, evolutionary developments and major extinctions
        • Atmospheric and oceanic composition and characteristics, including ice ages and other types of climate change
        • Major economic deposits
      • Define and discuss the importance of transgressions and regressions.
      • Define terrane and explain the importance of terranes in the development of Washington State.
      • Describe the geologic evolution of the west coast of North America during the Phanerozoic. Cite evidence for this geologic story.
      • Discuss the evolutionary history of the genus Homo.
      • Apply knowledge of geologic history to understand the future geologic and biologic change (e.g. greenhouse warming, rising sea level, mass extinctions)



Footer Navigation

Contact info

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