Earth Science

Undergraduate Programs

Majors

Program Locations Total Credits
Earth Science BA BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • Mankato
120
Earth Science BS BS - Bachelor of Science
  • Mankato
120
Earth Science Teaching 5 12 BS BS - Bachelor of Science
  • Mankato
120

Certificates

Program Locations Total Credits
Geomorphology and Earth Surface Processes CERT
  • Mankato
15

Minors

Program Locations Total Credits
Earth Science Minor
35

Policies & Faculty

Policies

Admission to Major is granted by the department. Minimum university admission requirements are:

  • a minimum of 32 earned semester credit hours.
  • a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 (“C”).

Contact the department for application procedures.

GPA Policy. A GPA of 2.0 or higher in a major or minor is required for graduation.

Refer to the College regarding required advising for students on academic probation. 

P/N Grading Policy. All courses in earth science must be taken for a letter grade.

Contact Information

Morris Hall 206

Office (507) 389-2617
http://sbs.mnsu.edu/earthscience/

Faculty

100 Level

Credits: 3-4

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and flooding are three examples of naturally recurring events on the Earth that ultimately influence all of our lives. This course introduces the physical features and processes of the Earth that control these events. The course has a laboratory component.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Credits: 3

An introduction to Geography and its themes of study. The course will familiarize students with where places are located in the world together with their cultural and physical features. Students will be tasked to think critically and diversely about various cultures and features of the modern world.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-08, GE-10

Diverse Cultures: Purple

Credits: 3

Survey of the processes and features of the earth's physical environment, earth-sun relationships, weather, climate, natural vegetation, soil, and landforms. Examines their interrelations and spatial distribution using North America and world-wide examples. Some coverage of human-environmental relations.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Credits: 3

Cultural aspects of interactions between people and their environment focusing on spatial patterns of population, agriculture, politics, language, religion, industrialization, and urbanization. Emphasis is placed on the processes that create the cultural landscape and on management of land and natural resources.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-05, GE-08

Diverse Cultures: Purple

Credits: 4

An introduction to the multidisciplinary field of soil science and fertility. The course will examine the basic physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils. Further topics will explore soil genesis, soil health and management, and their relationships to crop production. Field trips and lab activities will be used to explore key concepts, with emphasis on examples relevant to the soils of southern Minnesota. Guest lecturers addressing topics in soils science will present to the class throughout the semester. Local field trips included. Prerequisite: successful completion of high school chemistry or 100- or 200-level CHEM.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

Credits: 3

An introduction to the world's oceans: how they work, what they contain, how they impact everything on Earth, and how humans impact them.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Credits: 4

Physical geology is the study of how the earth works. From mountain building to soil erosion, this course provides an introduction to all the main areas of geologic study. Lecture discussions and laboratory exercises are designed for students seeking a major or minor in one of the natural sciences.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03, GE-10

Credits: 4

An examination of the development and evolution of life on earth. In addition to reviewing the range of life forms and global climates existing on earth during various times in its geologic past, we will also look at how global industrialization could lead to the earth's next period of mass extinction. Weekly laboratory assignments help illustrate principles discussed in lectures.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-03

200 Level

Credits: 4

Examination of the elemental composition and crystal structure of various common minerals. Laboratory time is spent practicing techniques of identifying crystals and minerals. The importance and occurrence of many economic minerals is also covered thoroughly in this course.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 121 

Credits: 3

Introduction to the concepts of landscape and place in a variety of geographical writings. Emphasizes works with strong regional overtones. The interaction between the physical and cultural environments is paramount. Field observation and integrating imagery into original student writing documents is also addressed.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-10

Credits: 4

An examination of the processes involved in weather formation. Students will be introduced to weather map analysis, simple forecasting and observational techniques, and weather instruments.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 2

Introduction to laboratory analyses of aqueous solutions and soils in support of civil engineering or geological applications. Includes Techniques of analysis of water and soil samples. Water analysis includes biological and chemical oxygen demand, corrosion, pH, phosphorus, chlorine, VOCs, nitrogen, hardness, turbidity, thermal measurement and flow tracing. Soil analysis includes pH, loss on ignition, redox, and fertility.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-3

An assignment that is tailored to individual needs of a student. The instructor and the student arrange the type of project for the student, such as a term paper, readings, mapping, field investigation, or computer cartography.

Prerequisites: Consent 

300 Level

Credits: 4

Study of the compositions and origins of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in a plate tectonic context. Topics include mineral optics and geochemistry. Lab portion of course emphasizes identification and study of rocks.

Prerequisites: GEOL 201

Credits: 2

An integrated, multi-disciplinary study of the Earth and the solar system. The course establishes basic concepts of astronomy, physical geography, and geology to give students a thorough understanding of the Earth and its place in the solar system. Learning outcomes partially fulfill licensure requirements for elementary educators. This course is focused on content.

Prerequisites: BIOL 100, PHYS 101 

Credits: 3

An integrated, multi-disciplinary study of the Earth and the solar system. The course builds on basic concepts of astronomy, chemistry and geology to give students an enhanced understanding of the nature and relationship among the forces that control the Earth's evolution. Learning outcomes partially fulfill licensure requirements for secondary science educators.

Prerequisites: AST 101, CHEM 201, GEOL 121 

Credits: 4

An examination of the underlying causes of natural disasters occurring over the globe. Focus will be primarily upon weather and climate related disasters. Students will also be exposed to concepts of plate tectonics and how these affect the distribution of earthquakes and volcanism over the planet.

Prerequisites: none

Goal Areas: GE-02, GE-10

Credits: 3

This course will cover elements of the structure of the earth and the variety of landforms found on the earth's surface, with emphasis upon the processes, both past and present, that act upon the surface to create the landforms now visible. Local field trips.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

Focused studies of the origins and processes of transportation, deposition, burial, and diagenesis of sedimentary materials. Lab assignments focus on sedimentary material identification and analysis. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121

Credits: 4

Study of the processes and results of rock deformation at scales ranging from microscopic to plate tectonic, and at conditions ranging from the Earth's surface to the deep interior.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

Credits: 3

Students will develop a knowledge of the similarities and contrasts in regional landscapes and cultures of the United States.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Differences and similarities in the cultural and natural environments by the world's major regions. Useful survey of world geography for educators and international relations students

Prerequisites: none

Diverse Cultures: Purple

Credits: 3

The course involves the natural and human environments of Minnesota. The physical resources, population history, and current issues are emphasized.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

This is a hands-on, exercise-based GIS for Law Enforcement course analyzing the contemporary realities of the spatial and geographic aspects of crime. Students acquire practical tools necessary to conduct effective mapping and spatial analyses of crime using GIS software. Lab activities are designed to benefit those working with public safety and emergency response systems.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

The lecture material addresses map projections, technology changes in production, basic analysis and depiction of quantitative point, line and areal data. Also, the evaluation of maps and the history of cartography from a European, Oriental, and American Indian perspective is discussed. All maps are drawn using computer assistance.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

The course will be an introduction to the analysis of spatial data using the concept of a geographic information system (GIS). Content of the course will be, to a great extent, based on the NCGIA core curriculum with assignments tailored to the data and software available within the department such as ArcGIS.

Prerequisites: none

400 Level

Credits: 1-3

This course is devoted to the study and practice of geological field investigations. Students will first learn basic field investigative methods. Students will then be appropriately versed in the geological history and importance of a region selected for in-depth study. Finally, students will participate in a field trip to a regional site of geologic importance over an extended weekend (4-6 days). Potential study sites may include Minnesota's North Shore and Iron Range, the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, the Ozarks, or the Rocky Mountains.

Prerequisites: GEOL 100 or GEOL 121 and GEOL 122 

Credits: 1

Overview of geographic work, interests, and research by guest speakers.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-4

The instructor will develop a specific course on a geographic topic, such as soils, landforms, water resources, energy, housing, population geography, or some other topic for the class.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

The characteristics of particular climates and understanding the factors that control their spatial distribution.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Study of the origin, composition, texture, morphology, and stratigraphy of glacial deposits. Topics include the geologic record of glaciation, techniques used to reconstruct histories of glaciation, glacial depositional systems, provenance of glacial sediments, influence of glaciation on soil texture, and interpretation of glacial geologic maps. Emphasis will be placed on description and interpretation of glacial features in southern Minnesota. Field trips required.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

Credits: 4

This course examines the dynamic nature of soils including the processes that control formation and degradation, anthropogenic impacts, spatial distribution across landscapes, and links among soils and other components of the earth system. A combination of lectures and hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings are utilized to explore the complex interactions between soils and landscapes.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

Meteorological principles and theory are applied to the analysis and interpretation of weather data in order to better understand the structure and evolution of synoptic-scale weather systems. Basic knowledge of mathematics will be assumed.

Prerequisites: GEOG 217 

Credits: 3

This course analyzes the distribution and concentration of plants and animals throughout the world. Emphasis is placed on the role of evolution, tectonics, and physical barriers to the distribution and migration of species. Special emphasis is placed on the role of humans in the modern redistribution of species.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

This course examines the natural processes that operate on our planet and shape the landscape presently. This will be done through a focus on applied exercises, measurements and direct/indirect observations. Through applied projects students will have an understanding of how these processes interact within a variety of Earth Systems.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

An in-depth investigation into fluvial systems including sediment transport, sediment budget analysis, channel geometry/morphology, drainage basin analysis, geomorphic evolution of fluvial landscapes, hydrology (i.e., runoff generation and channel formation, storm hydrograph and flood analysis, discharge measurements) of fluvial systems, and effects of anthropogenic modification and use of fluvial systems. Registration with completed prereqs or instructor consent.

Prerequisites: Either Geog 101 or Geol 121 and Geog 315 or 415 are recommended. Or instructor consent.

Credits: 5

An interdisciplinary investigation into Quaternary environmental/climatic change and the impact of change on the behavior and evolution of humans. This course has three segments: 1) An examination of natural systems responsible for climatic change, the impact climatic fluctuations have on Earth systems, timing of Quaternary changes, evidence of climatic/environmental change from spatially distant, climatically distinct environments; 2) Investigation into worldwide evidence of human evolution, global dispersion, and adaptation to environmental systems; 3) Introduction into various methodological approaches in Quaternary archeologic, geomorphic, and climatic studies. Focus is on proxy records used for climate/environmental reconstruction, archeologic/geomorphic field methods, geochronologic dating methods.

Prerequisites: Either GEOG 101 or ANTH 210; We strongly encourage students to take GEOG 315 before enrolling. Geol 121 can be substituted for GEOG 101 with instructor permission.

Credits: 3

Survey of natural resources emphasizing energy, minerals, soils, fisheries, and water resources. Also addresses timber, wetlands, and wildlife on public and private lands.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Examines national and international economic geographical order and trade activities. Topics include economic development, competition, international trade, and impacts on the environment and people.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Comprehensive survey of ore deposit and petroleum geology, including exploration and production technologies. Course emphasizes projects using industry data.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121, GEOL 201, GEOL 122

Credits: 3

Hypotheses and generalization related to urban functions, structure, land use, distribution, growth, and sometimes decline. Emphasis will be mostly on the United States' urban places.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Introduction to theoretical frameworks for analyzing processes of economic, environmental, and social change in rural regions. Includes basic and advanced geographical principles and techniques for studying non-urban areas. Designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for carrying out research projects on rural environments.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Spatial problems and structure of governments, focusing on countries of the world and their geographic internal order. Covers such topics as boundary problems, strategic locations, and geopolitical explanations of international and internal relations and conflicts.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Concepts and theories concerning global and national social problems and the significance of geographic analytic methods for social research. Study of factors related to variations in regional standards of living.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

Four major sets of ideas will be covered: (1) Introduction to Spatial Organization, (2) Network Analysis, (3) Allocation Methods, and (4) Urban Transportation. The emphasis is on these approaches to understanding the geography of transport by description, explanation, and normative or optimal methods.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-4

Various excursions to study physical and cultural landscapes inside and outside of Minnesota.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4-8

Geologic field mapping and interpretation in diverse settings. Course is offered by universities throughout the U.S. and elsewhere.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121, GEOL 122, GEOL 201, GEOL 320W, GEOL 330

Credits: 3

Regional geography covering the ecological and human environment of Middle and South America, including the Caribbean. Students can pick specific topics to study in detail. The geographic relations between the USA and Latin America are also covered.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Students will develop a knowledge of the environmental, cultural, historical, and economic geographies of Canada. Readings of bestselling fiction and scholarly works written by Canadians will provide a Canadian perspective on the nation's past, present, and future.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

The application of geologic data and principles to problems created by human occupancy and use of the physical environment. Lecture and laboratory topics include soil classification and conservation, hazardous waste site evaluation and remediation, and living with geologic hazards.

Prerequisites: GEOL 121 

Credits: 3

Cultural, environmental, and economic background of Europe west of Russia and Ukraine. Following a general geographic survey, the course will cover major regions and countries.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

This course introduces physical and chemical studies of hydrogeology. The main areas of discussion will include the physical and chemical attributes of aquifers, movement of ground-water and solute through soils and rocks, and reactions between earth materials and pollutants in ground-water systems. The class includes extensive use of MODFLOW and MT3D, the two most commonly usedgroundwater modeling programs currently available.

Prerequisites: CHEM 201, GEOL 121 

Credits: 3

Survey of the area of Russia and her neighbors. Examines regional patterns of the physical environment, natural resources, population distribution, cities, and economic activity. Relates people to the land.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

A survey of the physical and cultural resources and economic development of the continent with emphasis on current issues. Topics discussed will focus on Africa south of the Sahara.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

Examines the physical and human environments of eastern Asia, mainly China, Korea and Japan. The class will be assisted by visual sources and hands-on use of primary documents.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

This course covers the basic strategies for field mapping using data acquired from global positioning systems (GPS).

Prerequisites: GEOG 373 or equivalent 

Credits: 4

Comprehensive examination of GIS for manipulation and analysis of spatially-referenced data, including data structure and organization, input and output problems, data management, and strategies for analytical work.

Prerequisites: GEOG 373 

Credits: 4

This is an introductory course on theories and techniques of remote sensing. Focus will be placed on providing students with a general overview of the application of remote sensing to practical problems, and hands-on experience for image processing and analysis.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 4

This course provides students the opportunity to develop further knowledge of remote sensing. Emphasis will be placed on introducing advanced theories and techniques for digital image processing and helping students obtain independent research skills using remote sensing data.

Prerequisites: GEOG 373, GEOG 474

Credits: 3

Descriptive statistics, probability, hypothesis testing, introduction to non-parametric statistics, correlation, introduction to regression analysis, spatial statistics, and principles of data representation in graphs and tables.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-3

This offering will include a variety of selected technical topics in geography, including but not necessarily limited to manual cartographic drafting and negative scribing, photomechanical techniques in production cartography, aerial photo interpretation, and advanced coverage of digital analysis of satellite-derived remote sensor data and global positioning systems.

Prerequisites: Consent 

Credits: 3

Introduction to theoretical frameworks for spatial analysis and geographic quantitative methods. Includes basic and advanced geographic principles and techniques for studying spatial patterns. Designed to equip students with the skills necessary to carry out research projects that demand advanced statistics.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-4

This offering will include supervised project work in raster-based and/or vector-based GIS, using problems and data drawn from local or regional agencies or other professional-level organizations with whom the Geography Department maintains a relationship. Students must have completed one of the prerequisite courses, or a course or professional-level experience.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite: GEOG 373, or 473/573, or permission of instructor.

Credits: 1-4

Topics vary in physical, cultural, economic, political, and historical geography, as well as environmental conservation and geographic techniques.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 3

This course teaches students to reconstruct past landscapes and identify environmental hazards related to historical land use using GIS and remote sensing software. Applications include the identification of hazardous waste sites, wetland drainage, bluff erosion and other environmental hazards relevant to local history research, environmental consulting, archaeology, resource management, real estate, planning and civil engineering. Students will learn to use and interpret historical air photos and maps, digital imagery and LiDAR in problem-solving contexts and to report research findings in effective written, graphic and verbal presentation formats used by government agencies and private consulting firms.

Prerequisites: GEOG 373

Credits: 4

In this course, instruction is provided on foundational knowledge related to mapping and analysis of geospatial data using both open source and enterprise level Web Mapping and Web GIS platforms. Students will learn how to use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Google Maps API, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS API for JavaScript to store, retrieve, manage, analyze, and display geographical information. In addition, students will be introduced to the concepts of mobile GIS technologies and Web based 3D mapping. Web mapping and Web GIS theories and techniques are introduced through a combination of lectures, hands-on exercises, reading materials, and individual or team projects.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-4

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Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-4

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Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-10

Internships allow students to apply knowledge and skills learned through undergraduate geoscience classes to real-world problems. Students will work with faculty to secure suitable employment and when finished, students will develop a written report of professional practicum that explores the relationships that exist among collegiate lessons and workplace tasks. Evaluation will be based on the content and presentation of the report as well as consultations with the internship supervisor.

Prerequisites: none

Credits: 1-10

An applied work and learning experience. The student will provide a written internship report on professional practicum and the work supervisor will be consulted on how much the student has accomplished.

Prerequisites: Consent 

Credits: 1-3

An assignment that is tailored to individual needs of a student. An arrangement is made that the student works on a project (term paper, readings, mapping, field investigation,GIS, or related topics).

Prerequisites: Consent 

Credits: 1-5

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Prerequisites: none

500 Level

Credits: 4

Foundational knowledge related to mapping and analysis of geospatial data using both open source and enterprise level Web Mapping and Web GIS platforms. Students will learn how to use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Google Maps API, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS API for JavaScript to store, retrieve, manage, analyze, and display geographical information. Students will be introduced to the concepts of mobile GIS technologies and Web based 3D mapping.

Prerequisites: none