EES 223/225 Structural Geology and Field Geology


Course Description

Structural geology is the study of the physical evidence and processes of rock deformation including jointing, faulting, folding, and flow. These structures provide insight into the evolution of the Earth’s crust, geologic hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides), and distribution of natural resources and contaminants. This course introduces the theoretical foundations, observational techniques and analytical methods used in modern structural geology. Geologic structures are studied in the field and from published data sets and analyzed to understand fundamental processes.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course students should think like structural geologists.  Specifically they should be able to:

  • Design and complete a structural geology field investigation
  • Estimate values of basic physical properties (stress, density, etc)
  • Integrate 2D views to create 3D model of structures and be able to translate between views (map, cross-section)
  • Interpret process from observations – “How did things get this way?”
    • Use basic rock types and cross-cutting relationships to interpret geologic history – “What came first?”
    • Formulate and solve basic boundary value problems
    • Evaluate models for structural processes both to test hypotheses and to generate new hypotheses (mathematical and analog models)

Recent Class activities

Breaking Rocks: Students designed experiments to test their hypotheses concerning rock strength.  We broke 24 samples including this one from the Holyoke Basalt.  Thanks to Michele Cooke for the original inspiration for this activity.