Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
G 291
Course Title:
Elements of Rocks and Minerals
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the study of rocks and minerals that includes their classification, origin and identification. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 95 or equivalent placement test scores. Recommended for persons interested in rock and mineral collecting, mining and prospecting. Includes weekly lab. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Elements of rocks and minerals is an introductory, one-term course for nonmajors in geology. The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the occurrence and mechanisms of formation of common rocks and minerals and to enable students to identify these materials in the field. This course can be used to partly fulfill graduation requirements for the Associate Degree, and has been approved for block transfer. The text and materials have been chosen by the faculty and the emphasis of the course will be the viewpoint of the author(s). This includes the concepts of geologic time and the evolution of the Earth. Alternative theories are of course welcome to be discussed, but the emphasis of the course shall be as stated above.

Intended Outcomes for the course

A student who successfully completes this course should be able to:

  1. Use an understanding of rock and mineral characterization and classification to infer the geologic processes which formed individual rock and mineral specimens.
  2. Analyze the development, scope, and limitations of plate tectonics and utilize plate tectonics to explain the occurrence and associations of common rocks, minerals, and economic deposits.
  3. Access earth science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and compare this information with current models of rock and mineral forming processes identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  4. Make field and laboratory based observations and measurements of rocks and minerals, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with current models of rock and mineral forming processes, identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
  5. Use scientifically valid modes of inquiry, individually and collaboratively, to critically evaluate the economic and environmental benefits and risks of rock and mineral utilization both to themselves and society as a whole, and effectively communicate the results of this analysis to their peers.
  6. Assess the contributions of mineralogy and petrology to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of the study and utilization of rocks and minerals in its historical and cultural context

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented in a combination of lecture/discussion and laboratory exercises. Other educationally sound methods may be employed such as guest lectures, field trips, research papers, and small group work.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade. The methods may include one or more of the following tools: examinations, quizzes, homework assignments, laboratory write-ups, research papers, small group problem solving of questions arising from application of course concepts and concerns to actual experience, oral presentations, or maintenance of a personal work journal.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Distinguish between rocks, minerals and gems
  2. Describe the major types of materials that make up the Earth's crust and explain how each material relates to the rock cycle
  3. Describe and use the properties involved in mineral identification
  4. Classify commonly occurring minerals
  5. Classify commonly occurring igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks
  6. Understand the effect of atomic structure on the properties of minerals
  7. Discuss the role of plate tectonics in the formation of minerals and rocks
  8. Explore the various mechanisms for creating ore deposits
  9. Describe the interaction of light with gems
  10. Examine the sources and used of industrially strategic minerals and metals