Physical Geology

Course Details

Course Number
GEOS 1134
Section Number
GEOS 1134
Fall 2012
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times
  • Lecture: 9:00-9:50 MWF
  • 11A Lab M 1:00 - 2:50 PM
  • 11B Lab M 1:00 - 2:50 PM
  • 11C Lab M 3:00 - 4:50 PM
  • 11D Lab T 1:00 - 2:50 PM
  • 11E Lab T 3:00 - 4:50 PM
Dr. Jonathan D. Price (view Profile)


Tarbuck and Lutgens with Tasa - overview of physical geology processes and products
Pearson custom lab manual - new edition with black cover - clean copy

Course Objectives

  • Students will learn about the science of the solid earth and its interactions with the hydrosphere and atmosphere.
  • Students will become acquainted with the properties of the basic materials that make up most of the solid earth: minerals and their aggregates, rocks.
  • Students will learn about the development of our planet and the processes that have reshaped it over its history, including plate tectonics, partial melting and magmatism, orogenesis (mountain building), rifting, and other deformation, weathering and erosion, and glaciation.
  • Students will understand the nature of geologic: resources: energy, minerals, ground and surface water, soil and agriculture.
  • Students will be introduced to the local geologic environment, its nature and origins, and its relationship to the greater North American continent.
  • Students will be introduced to the nature of scientific investigation and modern methods of characterizing nature. 

Course Expectations

Completion of the course requires that students successfully accumulate a passing score through the following evaluations:

  • Comprehension quizzes: 10% of the total grade
  • Two (2) hour long in-class examinations: 16% of total grade, each (total = 32%)
  • One (1) comprehensive final examination: 21% of total grade
  • Laboratory assignments/quizzes: 25% of total grade
  • Laboratory min-rock exam: 5% of total grade
  • Laboratory final: 7% of total grade

Grading Standards

In this class, the following numerical equivalents for grades are used: A = 100-90% | B = 89-80% | C = 79-70% | D = 69-60% | F = 59-0%.

Final Exam

12/10/2012 8:00 AM

Submission Format Policy

Materials may be submitted in person to your individual lab instructor.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

This is a large class that requires substantial effort on the part of your instructors.  Late work demands additional time and penalizes the rest of the class.  Late materials will be accepted for only one week following the due date and will be evaluated for discounted credit.  If you are aware of a pending absence that will interfere with an assignment due date, please complete and submit the work early.

There are no makeups for the comprehension quizzes.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance for lecture is required.  Please show up early and leave only when excused.  This lecture commences at 9  AM - this is an early hour for some - plan accordingly.  Attendance will be evaluated by a randomly-distributed sign-in sheet.  It is your responsibility to sign-in each day the sheet is available

Lab attendance is also required for completion of this class. If you fail to attend and complete more than 2 laboratory sessions, you will be either be dropped from the class or you will receive a failing grade.

Absences will only be excused through Dr. Price.  Legitimate excuses submitted prior to the lecture or laboratory assignments will be honored; those submitted after an absence will not be accommodated.

Illness is a legitimate excused absence.  If you have a fever or are exhibiting symptoms you deem contagious:

  1. email Dr. Price at jonathan.price(at) (replace (at) with @) - subject line "ill" is sufficient)
  2. go to the health center or personal physician  for an evaluation

Other Policies

Physical geology is a favorite core science class amongst college students world-wide.  Unlike other introductory science courses that rely heavily on calculations and derivations, introductory geology is largely presented in a phenomenological fashion.  Such presentation is broadly accessible, particularly to those who self-identify as mathematically or scientifically disinclined.

This course will labor to present the nature of our planet, its components and processes, as a series of well-defined observations linked by the prevailing theories of our day.  The course will also endeavor to show that geology, like the other sciences, is evolving - its practitioners constantly provide new and better observations and concurrently develop new and more encompassing theories on the basis of these observations.  And although the course is not particularly mathematical, students will be made aware that modern observations frequently push the limits of physical and chemical techniques, fully utilizing the mathematical rigor needed to make tractable such difficult and multifaceted problems.

Because the class is presented phenomenologically, it requires each student to become familiar with a few dozen rock and mineral specimens and a few hundred descriptive terms unique or limited to geoscience.  It also requires each student to explore straightforward analytical concepts in laboratory.  This may be labor intensive at times; students should budget their preparations accordingly.

In summary, because we will mostly point to, and not reconstruct or prove, phenomena, observation, and theory, this class is likely to be completed with a somewhat minimal outlay of effort for many.  Experience suggests that those students who attend lecture, read the text, participate fully in laboratory, and prepare for exams typically earn high marks; those who fail to meet these criteria do not.  However, experience also suggests that some will struggle with this class despite a dedicated effort - if you find yourself in this group, please seek additional help and resources as soon as possible.

Lastly, please note that class schedules and other information will be posted using MSU's Blackboard/WebCT system.  Students will be required to use this system to participate in the class.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at