Section: 0101
Fall, 2019
Plant Sciences 1172
Lectures: MWF 1:00 - 1:50
Lab: Tue 3:30 - 6:30 Geology 2107

Instructor: Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218 (M, Tu) Geology 1119 (W, Th, F)
Phone: x5-2808, x5-4379
Office Hours: Thu 12:00 - 2:00 (Geology 1119), Tue 2:00 - 3:15 (Centreville 1218)

Teaching Assistant: Liam Peterson
Office: Geology 2112
Office Hours: Monday, 2:30 - 3:30 in Geology 2107



Lectures: Plant Sciences 1172
MWF 1:00 - 1:50

Labs: Geology 2107 unless otherwise indicated
Tue 3:30 - 6:30


Field trips: Three field trips will be conducted. Students are encouraged to attend all three, however, the first two, scheduled for 9/24 and 10/14 are optional in that a student may choose one or the other. The third field trip, on 11/4-5 is mandatory. Thus, overall, students are required to participate in two weekend field trips.

Required materials for field trips: Textbook, hand-lens, mechanical pencil, colored pencils, graph paper, grain-size chart (example), field notebook, rock hammer, outdoor gear for the field trips boots or sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, water bottle, rain gear, day pack.

Optional: acid bottle, pocket knife.

Description: Description, origin, and distribution of sediments and sedimentary rocks. Two mandatory weekend field trips.

On-line materials: Laboratory assignments and associated readings will be posted on the class elms website. The syllabus and lecture notes are at It is your responsibility to print out the lecture notes and laboratory assignments before the appropriate classes.

Class description and attendance policy: Attendance won't be taken, however lecture attendance is essential if you wish to have a good outcome. Exams will be based on lecture material including material from discussions, reading assignments, and field trips. Posted web notes are intended as a synopsis of lecture material only. Readings reinforce lecture material, however lectures may depart significantly from readings.

Final grades: Your final letter grade will be based on the following elements:

Appeal of grades: You may appeal your grade on any exam prior to the posting of final course grades. In this as in all college courses, you should retained all graded items until proper grades have been recorded on your transcript.

Prerequisites: Students enrolled in GEOL342 are expected to have passed GEOL322 - Mineralogy or its equivalent at another institution with a grade of C- or better, or to have obtained specific permission from the instructor to enroll.

Grade calculation: With diligent work it is possible for each student to attain an A in this class. Grading will be based on points gained from the examinations listed above, as follows:

100-97% = A+, 96-94% = A, 93-90% = A-,
89-87% = B+, 86-84% = B, 83-80% = B-,
79-77% = C+, 76-74% = C, 73-70% = C-,
69-67% = D+, 66-64% = D, 63-60% = D-,
<60% = F

Laboratory: A short quiz based on the posted reading(s) and exercise for the laboratory (or of recent lecture material) will be given in the first 10 minutes of each session. The full laboratory time should be utilized to complete the exercises and ask questions of the teaching assistant. In some circumstances the materials (and teaching assistant) may not be available in non-laboratory times. The three scheduled petrography laboratories will be conducted in GEO 2117. Use of the petrographic microscopes requires special training and care. Exercises from the previous week are due at the beginning of the laboratory; there will be a 10% deduction of the grade for every day a laboratory is turned in past the due date. Missed laboratories may be made up only with university-approved excused absences; there will be no make up of Laboratories II (sieve) and III (pipette), which require group participation.


Lecture and exam schedule:

Date TopicReading
Week 1

8-26Introduction to sedimentary rocks Ch. 1
8-27Lab I: Using the Brunton Compass
8-28WeatheringCh. 2
9-30Soils and Depositional EnvironmentsCh. 2

Week 2

9-3Lab II: Sandstone petrography
9-4Clastic transport I: fluid driven Ch. 3
9-6Clastic transport II: gravity driven Ch. 3

Week 3

9-9Last day of add-dropCh. 4
9-9Sedimentary structures ICh. 4
9-10Lab III: Sedimentary Structures
9-11Sedimentary structures IICh. 4
9-13Clastic rocks - ConglomeratesCh. 4

Week 4

9-16Clastic rocks - SandstonesCh. 5
9-17Lab IV: Trace and Body Fossils
9-18Clastic rocks - Mudrocks Ch. 6
9-20Chemical sedimentary rocks Ch. 13 & 14

Field Trip I

9-21 (Saturday)Field Trip I - Southern Pennsylvania

Week 5

9-23Biogenic sedimentary rocks Ch. 13 & 14
9-24Lab V: Carbonate identification
9-25Midterm exam I
9-27Terrestrial sedimentary environments I - alluvial fansCh. 8

Week 6

9-30Terrestrial sedimentary environments II - riversCh. 8
10-1Lab VI: Evaporites
10-2Terrestrial sedimentary environments III - deltasCh. 8
10-4Terrestrial sedimentary environments IV - deserts and eolianCh. 8

Week 7

10-7Terrestrial sedimentary environments V - glacialCh. 8
10-8Lab VII: Stratigraphic Sections
10-9Terrestrial sedimentary environments VI - lacustrineCh. 10
10-11Introducing marine clastic environments - below wave baseCh. 10

Field Trip II

10-13 (Sunday)Field Trip II - Western Maryland

Week 8

10-14Marine environments II - shorelineCh. 9
10-15Lab VIII: Stratigraphy and Correlation
10-16Marine environments III - Carbonate sediments and chemistryCh. 11
10-18Marine environments IV - Carbonate environmentsCh. 11

Week 9

The true situation - 10/21, with delays.
10-21Marine environments II - shorelineCh. 12
10-22Lab IX: Shaw Diagrams
10-23Marine environments III - Carbonate sediments and chemistryCh. 15
10-25 Marine environments IV - Carbonate environments, Marine environments V - Carbonate Diagenesis and dolomiteCh. 15
10-25 via PanoptoIntroduction to Stratigraphy, Concepts in Stratigraphy I - LithostratigraphyCh. 15

Week 10

10-28Concepts in Stratigraphy II - Sequence stratigraphy Ch. 17
10-29Lab X: Chemical Index of Alteration
10-30Catch-up and intro to BiostratigraphyCh. 16
11-1Midterm exam II

Field Trip III - Overnight!

11-2 through 11-3Field Trip III - West Virginia and VirginiaCh. 17

Week 11

11-4Last day to withdraw with a W
11-4Concepts in Stratigraphy III - BiostratigraphyCh. 16
11-5Lab XI: Sieve analysis
11-6Concepts in Stratigraphy IV - Well logging Ch. 17
11-8Concepts in Stratigraphy V - Seismic Ch. 17

Week 12
From this point onward, a realistic schedule that accounts for prior delays.

11-11Concepts in Stratigraphy VI - Chemostratigraphy, Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - MagnetostratigraphyCh. 17
11-12Lab XII: Folk System
11-13Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Magnetostratigraphy, Concepts in Stratigraphy V - Seismic Ch. 17
11-15Concepts in Stratigraphy V - Seismic , Concepts in Stratigraphy IV - Well logging Ch. 17

Week 13

11-18Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Chronostratigraphy - Geologic Time revisited Ch. 18
11-20Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Chronostratigraphy II

Ch. 19

Week 14

11-25No class this day

Ch. 19
11-27 through 29Thanksgiving RecessCh. 18

Week 15

12-2Basin analysis

Ch. 19
12-4Tectonics and sedimentation

Ch. 19
12-6Final project presentations

Ch. 19

Week 16

12-9Final project presentations as needed, catch-up and review

Ch. 19

Finals Week

12-12-2017, 1:30 - 3:30 AM Final Examination

The instructor reserves the right to modify this schedule at his most trivial whim.