GEOL 388
Field Studies II: The Natural History of the Galápagos Islands

Summer I 2004
CCC 1100 6:00 - 7:15

Instructor: Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: x5-4084
Office Hours: By appointment

Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Phone: x5-2808
Office Hours: By appointment

Course web site:


Text: Jackson, Michael. 1995. Galápagos , A Natural History. University of Calgary Press, 315 pp. This book is available on-line at:

Other readings will be web-based or provided in class.

Emphasis: The Galápagos Islands represent the intersection of Geology, Botany, Ecology, Zoology, Oceanography, evolutionary sciences, and the history of Science. Thus, they are arguably the most intellectually stimulating place on Earth. The object of this program is to provide students with a hands-on experience there; having first provided the informational background necessary to optain the maximum benefit from the field experience. Toward that end, GEOL 388 is divided into classroom and field components, as described below.

COURSE ORGANIZATION: There are two basic components:

  • Nightly weekday evening meetings (Cambridge Community Center (CCC) 1100. 6:00 to 7:15) 6-1 through 6-14.
  • Galápagos Islands tour: 6/16 - 6/26.

CREDIT: Three credit hours. Counts as CORE Physical Science non-lab by default.


    • Classroom exam (50%)
    • Travelog (50%)

      Grade scale: 90, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; <60, F. "+" and "-" grades are given to the top and bottom two-point range, respectively, within each grade.

  • Exam: The exams will cover all lecture, readings, and discussion material and will include both objective and written components. Scores will not be curved.

  • Travelog: Your grade for the excusrion, itself, will be based on the scope, depth, accuracy, and general quality of the travelog that you will submit after our return from Ecuador. This document will cover a specific topical area that we encouter during the trip. Topics will be assigned prior to our departure. It is to be a personal narrative of your experiences dealing with the topic and should read more like a diary entry or letter to a friend than like a research paper. (Note, research will be limited to resources available during the excursion.) . The travelog will be due a week after our return. One letter grade will be subtracted fromyour travelog score for every day that it is late without prior arrangement of valid excuse.

  • Participation: Although there is no participation score, per se, enthusiastic participation is essential. Indeed, failure to participate and "pull one's weight" fully during the tour will adversely effect your colleagues as well as yourself. Additionally, responsible foreign travel requires a level of self-discipline. We therefore reserve the right to impose grade penalties for non-participation or irresponsibility. For example, we will deduct a letter from your final grade for every unexcused failure to participate in daily tour activities, or instance of showing up for one in an impaired state. For egregiously irresponsible or dangerous behavior, or behavior that reflects badly on the University, we will simply flunk you and/or send you home at your expense. (Mwahaha)


  • 6-1 Introduction; the Career of Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the HMS Beagle
    • Jackson, pp xv - xvii, 253 - 256.
    • Darwin, C., 1839. The Voyage of the Beagle. Ch. 17.

  • 6-2 Synopsis of Geology and Introduction to Plate Tectonics.
  • 6-3 Volcanoes and other processes shaping the Galápagos landscape
  • 6-4 Oceanography and the climate
    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 27 - 32.

  • 6-7 On the Origin of Species: The principles of evolution, speciation, and island biogeography
    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 33 - 55.
    • Darwin, Charles. 1883. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Second Edition, Volume I, Introduction.

  • 6-8 The living landscape: The Botany and Ecology of the Galápagos
    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 5 - 100.

  • 6-9 The community of terrestrial animals
    Readings: Jackson, pp 101 - 121, 166 - 193, 202 - 203, 209 - 222.


    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 101 - 121, 166 - 193, 202 - 203, 209 - 222.

  • 6-10 The community of marine organisms
    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 109 - 112, 121 - 125, 127 - 163, 196 - 202, 203 - 207, 223 - 238.

  • 6-11 The human Galápagos : The history of settlement and conservation
    • Jackson, Jackson, pp 1 - 8, 239 - 252.

  • 6-14 - EXAM :-(......
    - Final preparations

  • 6-16 to 6-26 - Galápagos excursion

    * The instructors reserve the right to revise this schedule as they deem appropriate.