Contact information

Course logistics

Student success

Success in Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) courses like Geology of California (GEOL 20) depends on a student's preparation and participation as well as on the format of the course.

Course materials

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course a student is expected to be able to:

Spring 2011 course schedule


Lesson topic(s)



10-Jan:17-Jan Orientation websites discussion board post
17-Jan:24-Jan California's plate tectonic setting 1 plate boundary exercise
24-Jan:31-Jan Rocks and minerals in California 2 topographic map reading
31-Jan:7-Feb Dating and depicting California's geology 3 & 4 Rb-Sr Isochron
7-Feb:14-Feb Volcanism in California 5 volcanic hazard assessment
14-Feb:21-Feb California's deserts 6 groundwater contamination
21-Feb:28-Feb Basin and Range and Mojave provinces 7 outline 1
28-Feb:7-Mar Sierra Nevada 8 snowpack monitoring
7-Mar:14-Mar Klamath Mountains 9 abstract 1
14-Mar:21-Mar Surface and groundwater in California 10 River Discharge
21-Mar:28-Mar Great Valley 11 landfill siting
28-Mar:4-Apr Spring Break—no class --- ---
4-Apr:11-Apr Coast Ranges 12 landslide hazard assessment
11-Apr:18-Apr Earthquakes and seismic hazards in California 13 Earthquake!
18-Apr:25-Apr San Andreas fault system 14 outline 2
25-Apr:2-May California coast 15 shoreline property assessment
2-May:9-May Transverse Ranges and Continental Borderland 16 abstact 2
9-May:16-May Penninsular Ranges and historical overview 17 & 18 flood insurance rate maps
16-May:19-May final exam all ---


Grades will be based on total scores for:

There will be no alternate or "extra credit" assignments. The final grade will be computed from the total of 400 points, and will be scored as follows: > 90% = A; 80-89% = B; 70-79% = C; 60-69% = D; and < 60% = F. The instructor reserves the right to adjust these percentages if such an adjustment is warranted by the distribution of scores in the class, but under no circumstances will a student who earns <65% or fails to submit any of the writing assignments be assigned a "satisfactory" (A, B, or C) grade.

A student should expect to spend about 9 hours per week reading, taking notes on the text, and working on their activities and homework assignments. Preparation of the writing assignments will require about an additional 12 hours during the course of the semester.

Attendance, withdrawal, and incomplete policies

Regular participation and punctual submission of assignments are required for satisfactory completion of this course. If a student incurs two unexcused "absences" (fails to submit two assignments on time without notifying the instructor) the instructor has the option of dropping the student from the class. If a student incurs four unexcused "absences" the instructor will drop the student from the class. A student may withdraw before the end of fourteenth week (25-Apr-2011) and is responsible for notifying the admissions office and completing all necessary forms. Arrangements for an incomplete contract must be made with the instructor, and an "I" grade will only be issued in the case of an unforeseen personal or family emergency.

Make-up policy for missed work

Although our class schedule will be the same throughout the semester (new assignments will be posted on Monday mornings by 9:00 AM and be due by the following Monday at 9:00 AM) I realize that, occasionally, a student will have unforeseen problems or simply "space out" and miss turning in an assignment in on time. The key to avoiding this problem is to complete your assignments well ahead of the Monday due dates. If you do end up missing a deadline, however, do not start the assignment in Etudes and contact me before 9:00 AM the next day. I will re-open the missed assignment for a short period (typically two days) and suspend the accompanying review for the same period. Each student will be allowed two such "excused" make-ups, after which the late assignment policy given below will apply. Because of the tight schedule for turning in final grades, the final exam may not be made up.

Late assignment policy

Except for the excused make-ups mentioned above, late assignments will not be accepted for full credit. If you find yourself having to turn a third or fourth assignment in late you probably should carefully consider whether you have the time or inclination to give this course the attention it requires. Nevertheless, it is better to submit work late than not at all. So, if you are going to be late with a third or fourth assignment contact me before 9:00 AM on the Tuesday immediately after the original due date and I will arrange to extend the submission period for one or two days. Such assignments will be penalized 10% of their original values for each day (or part of a day) they are late.

Academic integrity

Students are encouraged to collaborate with one another as they work on their weekly reading assignments and exercises by posting questions to the discussion board, sending one another private messages, and using the class chat area. I expect that a student will work independently, however, when he or she submits exercise results, takes quizzes and the final exam, and writes his or her outlines and abstracts. If I find evidence that any student is not living up to this code of academic integrity (for example, because he or she submits a writing assignment identical or nearly identical to another student's) I reserve the right to drop that student from the class unless it is after the fourteenth week, in which case he or she will receive an F grade regardless of accumulated points.