Section: 0101
Fall, 2021
Plant Sciences 1158
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: Shannan Jones
Office:Geology 4104
Office Hours: Wed. 5:00 - 6:00



Lectures: Plant Sciences 1158
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, lecture PowerPoints, 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

8-30Introduction to sedimentary rocks Ch. 1
8-31Lab I: Using the Brunton Compass
9-1WeatheringCh. 2
9-3Soils and Depositional EnvironmentsCh. 2

Week 2

9-7No lab
9-8Clastic transport I: fluid driven Ch. 3
9-10Clastic transport II: gravity driven Ch. 3

Week 3

9-13Last day of add-dropCh. 4
9-13Sedimentary structures ICh. 4
9-14Lab II: Sandstone petrography
9-15Sedimentary structures IICh. 4
9-17Clastic rocks - ConglomeratesCh. 4

Week 4

9-20Clastic rocks - SandstonesCh. 5
9-21Lab III: Sedimentary Structures
9-22Clastic rocks - Mudrocks Ch. 6
9-24Chemical sedimentary rocks Ch. 13 & 14

Field Trip I

9-25 (Saturday)Field Trip I - Southern Pennsylvania

Week 5

9-27Biogenic sedimentary rocks Ch. 13 & 14
9-28Lab IV: Trace and Body Fossils
9-29Terrestrial sedimentary environments I - alluvialCh. 8
10-1Terrestrial sedimentary environments II - rivers
10-1Midterm exam I

Week 6

10-4Terrestrial sedimentary environments III - deltasCh. 8
10-5Lab V: Stratigraphic Sections
10-6Terrestrial sedimentary environments IV - deserts and eolianCh. 8
10-8Terrestrial sedimentary environments V - glacialCh. 8

Field Trip II

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

Week 7

10-11Terrestrial sedimentary environments VI - lacustrineCh. 10
10-12Lab VI: Carbonate identification - Dunham System
10-13Introducing marine clastic environments - below wave baseCh. 10
10-15Marine environments II - shorelineCh. 9

Week 8

10-18Marine environments III - Carbonate sediments and chemistryCh. 11
10-19Lab VII: Stratigraphy and Correlation
10-20Marine environments IV - Carbonate environmentsCh. 11
10-22Marine environments V - Carbonate Diagenesis and dolomiteCh. 11

Field Trip III - Overnight!

10-23 through 10-24Field Trip III - West Virginia and VirginiaCh. 17

Week 9

10-25 Environmental ReviewCh. 15
10-26Lab VIII: Evaporites
10-27Midterm exam II
10-27 Introduction to StratigraphyCh. 15
10-29 Concepts in Stratigraphy I - LithostratigraphyCh. 15

Week 10

11-1 Concepts in Stratigraphy II - Sequence stratigraphy Ch. 17
11-2Lab IX: Carbonate Petrography - Folk System
11-3Concepts in Stratigraphy III - Biostratigraphy ICh. 17
11-5Concepts in Stratigraphy IV - Biostratigraphy IICh. 16

Week 11

11-8Last day to withdraw with a W
11-8Concepts in Stratigraphy VI - Seismic Ch. 16
11-9Lab X: Chemical Index of Alteration
11-10Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - ChemostratigraphyCh. 17
11-12Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Chemostratigraphy IICh. 17

Week 12

11-15Concepts in Stratigraphy VIII - MagnetostratigraphyCh. 17
11-16Lab XI: Shaw Diagrams
11-17Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Chronostratigraphy - Geologic Time revisitedCh. 17
11-19Concepts in Stratigraphy VII - Chronostratigraphy IICh. 17

Week 13

11-22Stratigraphy review and catch-up Ch. 18
11-23Lab XII: Sieve analysis
11-24 through 26Thanksgiving RecessCh. 18

Week 14

12-1Basin analysis

Ch. 19
12-3Tectonics and sedimentation

Ch. 19

Week 15


Ch. 19
12-8Final project presentations

Ch. 19
12-10Final project presentations

Ch. 19

Week 16

12-13review, valediction

Ch. 19

Finals Week

12-16-2021, 1:30 - 3:30 AM Final Examination

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