Jul 20, 2024  
2024-2025 University Catalog 
2024-2025 University Catalog

Geological Sciences

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Colleges, Departments, Programs, and Roadmaps


Jonathan A. Nourse, Chair

Jeffrey S. Marshall
Bryan Murray
Stephen Osborn
Nicholas Van Buer

The Geological Sciences Department offers diverse and modern BS and MS degree programs producing graduates who understand the science behind active Earth processes and bring quantitative problem-solving skills to the table in an interdisciplinary work environment. Our curriculum balances classroom theory, modern technology and laboratory application with field experiences that incorporate industry-standard equipment, and opportunities for faculty-mentored research. Our applied approach to learning and career training is directed by faculty who provide personal guidance specific to each student. Future geoscientists will confront a rapidly changing world with regional, national, and global issues related to strained water resources, natural hazards mitigation, shortages of mineral and energy resources, and site evaluations of infrastructure or housing projects. Their work must address the environmental challenge of maintaining quality of life while managing development in an increasingly populated world. Graduates of the Geology programs have broad capabilities and are ready to confront these new challenges as professional geologists or in post-graduate educational settings.

Students entering the Geological Sciences Department may choose between three emphases leading to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology. Each emphasis presents a comprehensive curriculum in the Geosciences with support courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Each has a different focus, enabling students to direct their own curriculum towards their main Geoscience interests. The Geology Emphasis is strongly field-oriented and offers a hands-on, traditional program focused on Earth resources and site investigations while developing excellent field and mapping skills. The Geophysics/Earth Exploration Emphasis takes a more global and quantitative approach to the Earth and Planetary Sciences, producing graduates who use modern technology to address natural hazard analysis and mitigation. The Environmental Resources Emphasis, through its interdisciplinary coursework, addresses the important need for geoscientists able to tackle the challenges posed by the world’s demand for mineral, energy and water resources in the context of environmental change.

Students may also earn a Minor in Geology through appropriately directed GSC course work. This enables students from other disciplines to pursue interests in Geology or in-depth studies that complement the student’s major. The Geology Minor program may enhance a student’s employment opportunities in a chosen profession or simply provide formal recognition of an interest in the physical world. Upper division electives in the Minor can be chosen to provide a focus in “Geotechnical Engineering”, “Earth and Planetary Sciences”, or “Hydrogeology and Water Resources”. The Geology Minor is especially advantageous to students majoring in such fields as civil and aeronautical engineering, environmental biology, geography and science education, as well as students in the College of Environmental Design.

For those planning a career as a secondary school science teacher (either middle school or high school), a Single Subject Credential in science is required. Before entering into a single subject credential program, students must demonstrate subject matter competency by either passing the appropriate state-approved examination (CSET) or completing a state approved subject matter preparation program in Geology. Subject matter preparation courses are listed within the Geology B.S. Program section (link below) following the Geology Curriculum Requirements.  Prospective teachers are encouraged to contact the Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (CEMaST) early in their academic programs at cemast@cpp.edu or 909-869-4063.

Our Master of Science degree program in Geology greatly enhances the job opportunities and career advancement for Earth scientists with BS degrees. We target both working professionals and traditional graduate students (i.e., those finishing B.S. degrees and perhaps seeking a stepping stone to a Ph.D. program). Both cohorts benefit from our diverse graduate faculty expertize while conducting thesis research on a wide variety of contemporary topics. Please see our Master’s Thesis Archive at https://www.cpp.edu/~sci/geological-sciences/masters-program/thesis-archive.shtml. Course scheduling will accommodate external work constraints; e.g., afternoon and evening classes with many laboratories and field trips offered on weekends.

Department Facilities

In addition to standard classroom, laboratory and office space, our facilities include a wide spectrum of modern equipment and instrumentation to facilitate the Geology teaching and research mission. This includes a variety of geological mapping and sample preparation equipment (Brunton compasses, laser rangefinders, GPS receivers, I-pads, digital cameras, jaw crushers, shatter box, sieve shaker), as well as equipment to facilitate Earth exploration and sampling endeavors (6-passenger Ford F-250 pickup with camper shell, 12-passenger Ford van, two Nikon Total Stations for precise surveying,  separate Philips X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence instrumentation with upgraded software, Franz magnetic separator, 15 petrographic microscopes, fluid inclusion heating/freezing stage, Seistronix 24-channel seismic refraction instrument with 3-dimensional mapping software, GSSI ground-penetrating radar with two antennas capable of imaging to depths of 10 meters, La Coste-Romberg gravity meter, Gem Systems magnetometer, eleven field-deployable digital seismometers).  Recent acquisitions include a Gemini gravity separation shaker table, Bico disc mill, Gatan Cathode-Luminescence imaging system, five Pelcon automated point counters, and a ground-based LiDAR surveying system. The hydrogeochemical laboratory is equipped with Dionex Ion chromatograph, Milli-Q ultra water purifier, water sampling equipment and water quality meters, six digital velocity flow probes, and a 14-station student computer lab with large format printer.  Mineral and rock specimen collections include a comprehensive suite of thin sections and polished sections from classic localities and the endowed Bernard Lane Paleontology Laboratory houses a wide variety of fossil specimens.


    BachelorMinorMasterRoadmap: 4-yearRoadmap: 2-year ADT


      Geological Sciences

      NOTE: For all courses that have both a lecture component and a laboratory component (e.g., GSC 2150  and GSC 2150L ), both components are corequisites; that is, they must be taken concurrently.

      F, W, Sp and Su notations indicate the quarter(s) each course is normally offered. Unless otherwise specified, the course is offered each year during the indicated quarter(s).

      Field Trip Fee is required for various courses to cover transportation costs and varies according to type of transportation used. 

      Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Index of Academic Colleges, Departments, Programs, and Roadmaps