Historical Geology

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2012
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

Lecture: MWF, 10am -10:50am, BO 100



Dr. Jesse Carlucci (view Profile)


Earth System History
by Steven M. Stanley, 3rd ed
: Historical Geology, Interpretations and Applicat
by Poort and Carlson, 6th Ed

Course Objectives

The objectives of Historical Geology are to give the student a comprehensive survey of the history of life, and major events in the physical development of Earth. Most importantly, this class addresses how processes like plate tectonics and climate interact with life, forming an integrated system. The first half of the class focuses on concepts, and the second on a chronologic overview of major biological and physical events in different geologic periods.

Course Expectations

Grading scheme

Quizzes 10%

Lecture mid-term 15%

Lecture final 20%

Essay 20%

Labs 35%

The quizzes will be held in the first 15 minutes of class, and I will let everyone know the subject the week before.

Review sheets for the lecture midterm and final will be passed out the class period before the exam. Each will include a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and essay-style questions.

Grading Standards

A = 100-90% | B = 89-80% | C = 79-70% | D = 69-60% | F = 59-0%



Submission Format Policy

Essay Format (DUE Dec 7)

The essay should have introduction and conclusions sections. All sources of information must be cited in the body of the text and listed in a reference list at the end of the essay. Citation consists of the author's name plus the publication date. e.g. Jones (2001) or (Jones, 2001). You should use several references in writing the essay (at least half-a-dozen) and most of these must be from scientific journals.


Web sites are not usually appropriate sources for college level essays. Do not use web sites as sources of information for your essay. However, you are encouraged to use the Midwestern Library on-line resources to research your essay. An essay that makes extensive use of web sites as primary sources is not acceptable.


The following journals are good sources and many of them can be accessed on-line:


Semipopular journals: Scientific American; American Scientist.


Research journals: Paleobiology; Journal of Paleontology, Lethaia; Science; Nature; Palaeoecology, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology; Palaios.


Illustrations should be included where appropriate and may be photocopied or scanned directly from a scientific journal or text book. However, the source of the information should be indicated in the figure caption (e.g. from Jones, 2001). You may also use images from the web, but include the site information.


Length. The text (excluding title page and references) of the essay should be 6-8 pages (double spaced) in length; 12 point font; margins should be 1 inch, except for left (1.5 inches). There is no limit on the number of illustrations.


Check that your essay is free from basic grammatical, spelling and typographic errors before handing it in.


Essay topics. The essay can be on any topic in the history of the earth and life. In order to assist you in choosing a subject, a list of potential topics is included below. However, you are free to come up with your own topic if none of these are appealing. It is a good idea to clear your essay topic with me prior to writing.


1. Detailed look at one mass extinction in the fossil record.

2. Ecology of dinosaurs

3. Physiology of dinosaurs (“warm-blooded” or “cold-blooded”)

4. Evolution of flight in birds.

5. Evolutionary history of land plants.

6. Fossil evidence for early life in the Precambrian.

7. Composition and significance of the Ediacaran fauna.

8. Geological history of reef-building organisms.

9. Ice ages through geological time

10. Composition and significance of the mid-Cambrian Burgess Shale fauna.

11. The Supercontinent Cycle.

12. Changes in the composition of marine communities during the Phanerozoic.

13. Human evolution.

14. The Cambrian explosion of invertebrates.

15. Emergence of life onto land.

16. Controls on sea level over geological time

17. Human impacts on the biosphere (global warming; recent extinctions, etc.).

18. Origin and evolution of mammals.

19. The significance of a major figure in the development of geology or paleontology

as a science (e.g., Steno, Hutton, Smith, Darwin, etc.).

20. How the retreat of glaciers affected topography.

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

For lab assignments and the essay, the late penalty is 5% per working day (25% per week) without a proper excuse. No assignments or essays will be accepted after the last day of classes.

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 is required for both lecture and lab.  Absences can only be excused by contacting me in advance, prior to lecture or laboratory assignments.  Absences presented after the class is over will not be accommodated except in rare circumstances. I reserve the right to drop any student from the class who has more than 3 unexcused absences.

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