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CCOG for GS 106 Summer 2022

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Course Number:
GS 106
Course Title:
Physical Science (Geology)
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Covers minerals, rocks, volcanism, earthquakes, plate tectonics, erosion and deposition by wind, glaciers and streams, weathering, fossils, and geologic history. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 and (MTH 58 or MTH 65) or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The purpose of this course is to gain knowledge and appreciation of geology.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations to successfully complete this course.

Field Based Learning Statement 

Earth and space sciences are based on observations, measurements and samples collected in the field. Field-based learning is recommended by numerous professional Geology organizations, including the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Field-based learning improves both metacognition and spatial/visualization abilities while helping to transfer basic concepts to long-term memory by engaging multiple senses at the same time. Spatial thinking is critical to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Field work may include:

  • Developing skills in site characterization
  • Application of key terms and concepts
  • Measurement and data collection
  • Interpretation of data and observations, and fitting them to a larger context

Field work may be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or other means to field sites, carrying equipment and supplies, and making measurements in unusual or awkward positions for a length of time.  Field work may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel stress, etc.). Field work can be adapted to individual abilities.

Creation Science Statement

Regarding the teaching of basic scientific principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution), the Portland Community College Geology/General Studies Subject Area Committee  stands by the following statements about what is science. 

  • Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process.  A scientific theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth.  The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation. 
  • “Creation science,” also known as scientific creationism, is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy.  This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1004). 
  • Geology/General Science instructors at Portland Community College will teach the generally accepted basic geologic principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution) not as absolute truth, but as the most widely accepted explanation for our observations of the world around us.  Instructors will not teach that “creation science” is anything other than pseudoscience.  
  • Because "creation science", "scientific creationism", and "intelligent design" are essentially religious doctrines that are at odds with open scientific inquiry, the Geology/General Sciences SAC at Portland Community College stands with such organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geological Institute in excluding these doctrines from our science curriculum.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Explain how the Earth’s surface wears away and is renewed using an understanding of the rock cycle, plate tectonics and surface processes.
  2. Explain how geologists reconstruct the history of the Earth using an understanding of geologic dating methods and the interpretation of geologic deposits.
  3. Evaluate a geology-related problem or issue impacting our community or the environment using scientific reasoning based on field and/or laboratory and/or remote measurements and observations.
  4. Assess the contributions of geology to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of geology in its historical and cultural context.

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Geology and General Science Courses develop students’ understanding of their natural environment by introducing students to Earth, its processes, and its place in the larger scale of our solar system, galaxy, and the universe. Students learn how: • Earth is related to other terrestrial planets, • Plate tectonics drives volcanism and seismicity, • Surfaces and atmospheres evolve through time, setting the stage for the origin of life as well as mass extinctions, • Earth’s climate has changed via natural astronomical cycles interacting with the earth system’s (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere) in the past and is changing presently due to anthropogenic causes. Students gain an appreciation for geologic time and the rate of Earth processes and learn the methods used by scientists to observe and study our planet and the universe beyond. Students are introduced to the foundational concepts of how to apply quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to solve Earth and Space science problems, and they gain an appreciation for the processes that operate at these spatio-temporal scales. Students learn how internal and surficial Earth processes impact society giving them the context to better understand natural hazards, energy and resource distribution, and impact of humans on our habitat to participate in societal discussions and decisions about these topics in a responsible manner.

Course Activities and Design

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

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The instructor will choose from the following methods of assessment:  exams, quizzes, lab exercises, written reports, oral presentations, group projects, class participation, homework assignments, and field trips. The instructor shall detail the methods being used to the students at the beginning of the course.  

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

(NOTE: the topics may be chosen in any order by the instructor)  

  • Explain rock and mineral classification and identification
  • Explain how these materials form and how they are related to each other
  • Describe the major types of landscapes that make up the earth’s surface and how they are formed
  • Describe the earth’s internal structure and the processes shaping it
  • Explain the relationship between the processes that shape landscapes and those that shape internal structure.
  • Explain the relationship between the processes that shape landscapes and structure and those that form crustal materials
  • Explain how geologic histories are constructed
  • Identify the major parts of and events in the geologic calendar
  • Discuss the personal and societal relevance of these topics

Topics to be covered include: 

Geologic materials 

  • Minerals – Properties, classification, and chemistry

  • Igneous rocks – Identification and classification

  • Magmas and magmatic cooling – Volcanism and intrusion

  • Sediments and weathering

  • Sedimentary rocks– Identification and classification

  • Lithification

  • Metamorphic rocks – Identification and classification

  • Metamorphism- settings and processes

Landscapes and landscaping processes 

  • Global topography and structure

  • Topographic and geologic maps

  • Mass wasting and related landscapes

  • Streams and related landscapes

  • Glacial systems and related landscapes

  • Groundwater systems and related landscapes

  • Crustal deformation and related structures (folds and faults)

  • Earthquakes and plate tectonics

Historical geology

  • Fossils and stratigraphy

  • Relative and absolute dating techniques

  • Geologic time scale; major events in Earth history