Course Number:
G 203
Transcript Title:
Historical Geology
Aug 11, 2022
Jul 11, 2023
Total Credits:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture / Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement:
Satisfies General Education requirement:
Grading Options
A-F, P/NP, Audit
Default Grading Options
Repeats available for credit:

MTH 95 or equivalent placement

Prerequisite / Concurrent

WR 121 or WR 121Z


G 201 or G 202 or GS 106

Course Description

Introduces historical geology which deals with geologic time, fossils, stratigraphic principles, and the geologic history of the North American continent. Includes weekly lab. G201 or G202 or GS106 strongly recommended. Prerequisite: MTH 95 or equivalent placement. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121 or WR 121Z. Audit available.

Course Outcomes

A student who successfully completes this course should be able to:

  1. Use an understanding of sedimentary rock and fossil characterization and classification to infer the past environments recorded by specific geologic areas.
  2. Analyze how relative and absolute dating have been used to construct and refine the geological time scale.
  3. Use their understanding of earth systems and biological evolution to explain major events in the geologic record.
  4. Access earth science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and compare this information with current models of earth history identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  5. Make field and laboratory based observations and measurements of landscapes, rocks and fossils, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with of current models of earth history identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  6. Assess the contributions of historical geology to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of historical geology in its historical and cultural context.

Alignment with Institutional Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)
4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Suggested Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade. The methods may include one or more of the following tools: examinations, quizzes, homework assignments, laboratory write-ups, research papers, small group problem solving of questions arising from application of course concepts and concerns to actual experience, oral presentations, or maintenance of a personal work journal.

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content

  1. Discuss the evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics
  2. Explore the geologic and fossil record for each of the major geologic eons and eras
  3. Discuss the evidence supporting the theory of evolution
  4. Describe and use the geologic time scale
  5. Explore the basic concepts involved in radiometric dating
  6. Discuss the principles used in relative dating
  7. Examine common invertebrate fossils

Topics to be covered include:

  1. Plate Tectonics (may be covered in G201)
    1. Alfred Wegener and evidence for continental drift
    2. Magnetic reversals and sea-floor spreading
    3. Using hot spots to determine plate motion
    4. Rifting and the origin of ocean basins
    5. Features associated with each type of plate boundary (divergent, convergent, transform)
    6. Ophiolites
    7. Subduction and related volcanism
    8. Continental collisions and relationship to mountain building
    9. Convection as a driving force of plate tectonics
  2. Geologic Time
    1. Uniformitarianism
    2. Principles of relative dating (horizontality, superposition, cross-cutting relations, inclusions, faunal succession)
    3. Unconformities (angular unconformity, disconformity, nonconformity)
    4. Correlation
    5. Radiometric Dating (isotopes, half-life, parent and daughter isotopes)
    6. Other absolute dating techniques (tree-rings, varves, lichenometry)
    7. Geologic time scale
  3. Stratigraphy
    1. Stratigraphic units (formation, group, etc.)
    2. Time-rock unit
    3. Evidence for changing sea level
    4. Fossils and evidence for evolution
    5. Index fossils
  4. Precambrian
    1. Divisions of Precambrian time (Hadean, Archean, Proterozoic)
    2. Formation of the Earth and Moon as members of the solar system
    3. Speculation on the conditions on the Earth during the Hadean
    4. Archean crust
    5. Origin of continents
    6. Granulite gneiss/greenstone belts
    7. Crustal provinces of North America and assembly of Laurentia and Rodinia during the Proterozoic
    8. Wilson cycles
    9. Early atmosphere
    10. Precambrian ice ages
    11. Origin of Life
    12. Indirect evidence of Life through carbon isotopes in Isua formation ~ 3.8 by ago
    13. Cyanobacteria in 3.5 by Australian cherts
    14. Stromatolites
    15. Prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells
    16. Ediacaran Fauna
  5. Paleozoic
    1. Divisions of the Paleozoic
    2. Transgressions and Regressions (Sauk, Tippecanoe, Kaskaskia, Absaroka)
    3. Orogenies (Taconic, Caledonian, Acadian, Antler, Ouachita, Allegheny/Hercynian)
    4. Assembly of Pangea
    5. Clastic wedges
    6. Cyclothems
    7. Cambrian Explosion
    8. Burgess shale
    9. Trilobites
    10. Brachiopods vs. Mollusks
    11. Foraminifera
    12. Paleozoic Reefs (archeocyathids, corals, sponges, bryozoans)
    13. Emergence of Fish (jawless, jawed, ray- and lobe-finned)
    14. Emergence of amphibians and reptiles (amniotic egg)
    15. Plants invade land
    16. Great Permian Extinction
  6. Mesozoic
    1. Divisions of the Mesozoic
    2. Orogenies (Sonoma, Nevadan, Sevier, Laramide)
    3. Breakup of Pangea
    4. Cretaceous transgression
    5. Dinosaurs, marine reptiles, and flying reptiles
    6. First birds and mammals
    7. Angiosperms (flowering and deciduous plants)
    8. K-T extinction
  7. Cenozoic
    1. Divisions of the Cenozoic
    2. Alpine-Himalayan Belt
    3. Laramide orogeny
    4. Colorado Plateau
    5. Basin and Range
    6. Pleistocene ice ages
    7. Radiation of mammals
    8. Human origins

Department Notes

Historical Geology is intended for both geology majors and non-majors, and is the third term of a year of beginning college geology. This course can be used to partly fulfill graduation requirements for the Associate Degree, and has been approved for block transfer. The text and materials have been chosen by the faculty and the emphasis of the course will be the viewpoint of the author(s). This includes the concepts of geologic time and the evolution of the Earth.

Columbia Gorge Community College Science Department stands by the following statement about regarding science instruction:

Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. Theories (such as biological evolution and geologic time scale) are developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance. As such, scientific theories can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation. “Creation science", “Intelligent design” or similar beliefs are not considered legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

The Science Department at Columbia Gorge Community College therefore stands with organizations such as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula except to reference and/or clarify its invalidity.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations in order to successfully complete this course.