Chairperson: Joe Yelderman
Graduate Program Director: Daniel J. Peppe
The Department of Geosciences offers graduate work leading to the Master of Science in geology and the Doctor of Philosophy in geology.
Opportunities for research and specialization include theses and dissertations in:
- engineering geology;
- environmental geology and urban geology;
- geochronology and paleomagnetism;
- hydrogeology and hydrology;
- human-environment interactions;
- igneous petrology and volcanology;
- multiphase, multicomponent flow and transport modeling in the subsurface;
- organic geochemistry and biogeochemistry;
- paleontology, paleobotany, invertebrate paleontology, and paleoecology;
- pedology, soil genesis, and paleopedology;
- petroleum geosciences;
- planetary sciences;
- quantitative geomorphology and Quaternary environments;
- renewable energy and biofuels;
- solid earth and applied geophysics;
- stable isotope geochemistry;
- stratigraphy, sedimentology, sedimentary petrology, and sedimentary geochemistry;
- structural geology; and
The majority of offices, laboratory, and lecture facilities used by the Department of Geosciences are housed in the Baylor Sciences Building. Additionally, many specialized laboratories are located in the Carlile Geology Research Center, which is adjacent to the Baylor Sciences Building, including laboratories for rock crushing, sawing, and thin-section preparation, as well as for environmental geology, hydrogeology, geophysics, and petrology.
The department has a variety of analytical facilities and equipment used for research and teaching. Geophysical equipment is available for work in applied seismology, gravity, magnetic, and electrical methods. Equipment includes gravity meters, a magnetometer, a conductivity meter, a resistivity meter, a 12-node multi-channel seismic system equipped with 4.5 Hz geophones, and 25 broadband seismic stations, including Nanometrics Trillium Compact sensors and Reftek 130 digitizer/recorders. The department’s Scintrex CG-6 gravity meter detects accelerations on the order of 10-8 m/s-2, and a mounting tripod allows for the measurement of vertical gradients in Earth’s gravity field.
Heavy equipment available includes a trailer mounted drill rig with mud rotary, auger, and coring capabilities, a vibracoring system, and a sub-bottom acoustic profiling system. A Cesium 137 analyzer is available for age-dating sediments and soils. Students interested in the engineering/hydrogeology aspects of geology have at their disposal digital data loggers and transducers to instrument aquifers, watersheds, and slopes. These data collection systems allow for monitoring remote sites and permit downloading of information directly to laptop computers or tablets. A Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) volumetric moisture probe allows for rapid in situ characterization of volumetric soil moisture, integral to water infiltration and recharge studies. A Guelph permeameter is available for characterization of in situ permeability. A Percival E-35VL growth chamber, a Thermoscientific RS485, and a VWR 89511-428 Forced Air Microbiological Incubator are available for algae growth experiments for biofuel research.
The department has a variety of microscopes used in advanced labs and research projects. A Leica M-420 polarizing macroscope and universal stage microscope with digital camera are available for structural petrofabric analysis. An Olympus BX51 research microscope equipped with a high-resolution digital camera and UV fluorescence is also available for thin section work. In the paleobotany laboratory a Nikon SMZ 1500 zoom stereo microscope with a Nikon DS-Fi1 5-megapixel digital camera, a Beseler CS digital photo/video copy stand with lights, a Nikon stereoscope, and a sample preparation area with air handling system are available for sample analysis and curation.
Geochemistry and petrology laboratories include a capillary electrophoresis unit for quantifying the concentration of common solutes in water, an automated Rigaku X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer for major and trace element analysis of soils, sediments and rocks, a Siemens D5000 X-ray diffractometer (XRD) instrument for mineral identification, an automated New Wave micro-sampling device, a CHNS Elemental Analyzer with a liquid and solid autosampler, a Malvern laser particle size analyzer, and two Thermo-Electron Delta V Advantage isotope ratio mass spectrometers, one with a gas chromatograph/combustion interface for compound-specific isotope analysis and the other with the following peripherals: Gas Bench II, combustion EA, TCEA, and a dual inlet. The Organic Geochemistry Laboratory has an Agilent 6890 gas chromatograph with 5973 Quadrupole mass spectrometer and equipment available for organic matter and “biomarker” extractions and/or petroleum sample preparation including soxhlet 132 extractors, Dionex 200 accelerated solvent extractor ASE), rotary evaporator, turbo evaporator, and a freeze dryer (lyophilizer). The Microbial Biogeochemistry Laboratory is equipped with incubators and associated equipment for cell cultures and chemical extractions as well as a Thermo Scientific LTQ XL Linear Ion Trap mass spectrometer/Dionex Ultimate 3000 HPLC system with diode array and fluorescence detectors for analyzing pigments, polar lipids, and metabolites. The Paul Marchand nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) facility includes a solid-state 300 MHz Bruker standard-bore spectrometer equipped with two (4mm and 7mm) broad-band double resonance sample probes for multidimensional and cross polarization experiments. The High Temperature Petrology lab houses a Nicolet iN10 Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer and a DXR Raman microscope with a 532 nm laser. The FTIR and Raman spectrometers are used to identify minerals and measure volatile contents in minerals and glasses.
The Geoluminescence Dating Research Laboratory utilizes a variety of luminescence technology including three automated Risø Reader systems for age-dating Quaternary deposits using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). The readers have capabilities for thermoluminescence, infrared, blue, and UV stimulation, as well as linear modulation applications. The two automated Risø TL/OSL readers (Bøtter-Jensen 1997) are used for the single aliquot measurements. One Risø TL/OSL reader is dedicated to single grain analysis. Blue light excitation (470 ± 30 nm) is from an array of 30 light-emitting diodes that delivers approximately 25 mW/cm2 to the sample position at 90% power. A Thorn EMI 9235 QA photomultiplier tube coupled with three 3-mm-thick Hoya U-340 detection filters that transmit between 290 and 370 nm will be used to measure photon emissions. Laboratory irradiations used a calibrated 90Sr/90Y beta source coupled with the Risø reader and the experimental sequences were executed using Risø TL/OSL software for MS-Windows. In addition to mounted and calibrated beta source (90Sr) on Risø Reader, the laboratory maintains four independent calibrated, automated alpha and beta irradiators that provide beta or alpha radiation exposure, for up to 20 samples sequentially, at individually prescribed periods ranging from seconds to hours. The laboratory is illuminated by the indirect and diffuse light from sodium-vapor bulbs (590 nm). This facility is equipped with ultrasonic baths; digital scales and precision preheat plates, IEC 2000 centrifuge, and automated grinders for the preparation of a variety of geological materials for luminescence analysis. A portable Na-I gamma spectrometer is also available for field measurements. Support labs include a soil-testing lab, microscope, and sample preparation facilities.
The Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory includes instruments useful for rock magnetism, paleomagnetism, and environmental magnetism studies. The laboratory includes a 2G cryogenic DC-SQuID magnetometer with an automated sample-changing device capable of performing three-axis measurements on a series of samples successively between computer inputs, a static alternating-field (AF) device, inline rock-magnetic devices including an ASC IM-10 impulse magnetizer for measuring isothermal remanence magnetization (IRM) and a Bartington MS2B susceptibility sensor and MS2 susceptibility meter, and an ASC controlled atmosphere thermal demagnetizer. All of the instruments are housed within a 14’ by 10’ two-layer magnetostatic shielded room. Outside of the shielded room, the laboratory also has a Bartington MS3 susceptibility meter, a Bartington MS2 temperature-susceptibility temperature system, a MS2C core logging sensor with a manual core track, and a Princeton Measurements Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM) available for rock and environmental magnetism studies.
The Department of Geosciences maintains state-of-the-art computational facilities in the Baylor Science Building and has access to massively-parallel computing platforms that reside in the Information Technology Services server facility. The Remote Sensing and GIS laboratory contains Windows workstations, associated servers and peripheral devices. The Beaver-Brown Applied Petroleum Studies laboratory maintains high-performance Windows workstations with dual screens and industry-grade software for analyzing subsurface well log and seismic data. The Geophysics Research Laboratory maintains a cluster of high-performance Linux and Mac workstations for geophysical data processing and analysis. Additionally, four computer laboratories are available for student use. One contains dual-boot Windows and Linux workstations with software for special applications. An extensive geology research library is housed in the Jesse Jones Science Library with a smaller reference collection located in the Baylor Sciences Building.
Physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the oceans with special emphasis on the direct and indirect relationships of humans to the oceans. Such topics as mining the sea and its floor, farming the seas, and influence of the oceans on weather are included. Field trips and laboratory exercises. May not be taken for credit if GEO 1402 has been taken.
A brief history of astronomy developments followed by a survey of the dimensions, motions, and interrelationships of bodies in our solar system. Additional emphasis is given to galaxies, stellar evolution, and cosmology.
Composition of the atmosphere, atmospheric processes, weather disturbances, and climate elements and controls. Emphasis is placed on climate classification and measurements of human inputs into the atmosphere.
The chemistry of the earth’s surface. Emphasis on the dynamic chemical and biological reactions on land, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere and their influence upon the global budgets and cycling of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Includes field trips.
Non-hydrocarbon economic mineral deposits. Origin and migration of ore-bearing fluids; mineralogy and geometry of ore bodies; relations of ore deposits to magnetism and tectonics. Field trip to Central Texas mining district.
Microscopic and field characteristics of sedimentary rocks. Emphasis on interpretation of depositional and diagenetic environments and relationships between geometry of rock bodies and sedimentary processes.
Analysis of volcanic ejecta. Mechanisms of lava and pyroclastic eruptions. Geomorphological analysis of volcanic landforms. History of volcanological studies and case studies of well-known volcanoes. Field trips.
Principles and practice of X-ray fluorescence and electron probe analysis of geologic materials. Includes extensive laboratory work.
Relationship of fossil plants and animals to their physical and biological environment. Examination of principles of paleosynecology and paleoautecology; data gathering, analysis, and techniques of interpretation.
Continuation of GEO 3341/5333. Field examination of marine environments. Individual research projects emphasize biology and geology of carbonate depositional regimes.
Development and modification of land-surface forms by atmospheric, fluvial, glacial, mass-wasting, volcanic, and tectonic agents. Emphasis is placed on the spatial aspects of landscape evolution.
Basic applied techniques in surface and ground water hydrology. Surface water hydrology will incorporate analysis of precipitation records, runoff processes, and calculation of flood hazard. Ground water hydrology will emphasize hydrogeology techniques, including simple models of ground water movement.
Hydrogeology (ground water hydrology) for geologists and engineers. Topics to be covered include evaporation and precipitation, soil moisture, principles of ground water flow, regional ground water flow, geology of ground water occurrence, flow to wells, ground water chemistry, and ground water development and management.
Concepts and methods of the geosciences applied to solving archaeological problems. Emphasis on stratigraphy, soils, climate, dating techniques, site formation, and site preservation related to both New World and Old World archaeology.
Theory and application of the wetland concepts: classification, hydrology, biochemistry, soils, vegetation, construction, regulation, and delineation. Field lab.
Fundamentals of soil genesis, classification, geomorphology, ecosystems, and environmental interpretation. Includes the role of soil biogeochemical cycles in past, current, and future global change issues. Field lab.
Recognition of natural features that affect human uses. Evaluation of natural landscapes on a scale from complete preservation to full development. Experience in urban landscapes. Includes one or more Saturday field trips.
Physical mechanisms of surface and atmospheric materials absorption, transmittance, reflection, and emittence of light measured by various remote sensing platforms. Survey various applications related to earth science, ecology, meteorology, and environmental science.
An examination through morphologic, stratigraphic, and biogeochemical proxy data of the nature of earth environments, focusing on the three most important components: Quaternary stratigraphies, Quaternary chronologies, and Quaternary environmental proxies and their interpretation.
The evolutionary history of plants as studied through the fossil record, including preservation, plant morphology and anatomy, and techniques used to reconstruct paleoenvironment and paleoecology. Weekly labs, with one weekend field trip.
Techniques used to extract geological information from three-dimensional seismic reflection data. Laboratory emphasizing interpretation of real data sets, integration of other geologic and geophysical data, and construction of subsurface maps and sections.
Theory of wave propagation in the Earth, earthquake mechanics, Earth structure, interpretation of seismograms, faults, seismotectonics, earthquake locations, magnitudes, and focal mechanisms.
Exploration geophysics, using gravity, magnetics, heat flow, telluric currents, resistivity, and other methods of remote sensing of hidden geological phenomena exclusive of seismic exploration. Laboratory work will emphasize geological interpretation of geophysical data.
Exploration geophysics, using latest seismic techniques and well-log analyses, with emphasis on petroleum exploration.
Soil and rock mechanics. Analysis of geotechnical problems in the field and lab, report preparation, and computer evaluation of geotechnical problems.
The course covers the use of GIS to acquire primary geographic data, solve geographic problems, automate geographic analysis, and render explanations for geographic patterns and trends. Students will use the latest GIS software and data layers in a lab section.
A forum for: (a) outside speakers, (b) presentation of student research, (c) discussion of current geologic and geophysical literature, and (d) guidance in thesis preparation. May be repeated as required by the department. M.S. and M.A. students must attend at least four semesters. Ph.D. candidates must attend while in residence.
Evolution of geological thought. Required, or its equivalent, of all M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. candidates.
This 2-credit course for graduate students demystifies the process of grant writing and provides a systematic approach to preparing proposals for Federal grantmaking agencies and foundations. Eligible students are mentored through the preparation and submission of Graduate Research Fellowship Applications.
Interpretation of seismic data for the purpose of inferring stratigraphic changes and depositional environments.
May be repeated once with change of content.
Special topics in paleoclimatology, including discussions of climate change events in earth history and methods for reconstructing ancient climates including paleoclimate proxies and general circulation models. May be repeated once with change of topic.
Criteria for the recognition of clastic and carbonate depositional environments.
Special topics in geophysics. May be repeated with change of content.
Advanced standing in geology. Application of isotope geochemistry, thermodynamics, and phase equilibrium studies to the solution of geological problems.
Theory and application of stable and radioactive isotopes in geology with particular emphasis on the use of stable isotopes in solving environmental and hydrogeologic problems.
Investigate the chemical composition of organic matter in soils, sediments, and petroleum source rocks. Interpretation of biomarkers and molecular proxies. The course includes an intensive review of the requisite organic chemistry concepts and nomenclature.
Advanced study of microbial physiology as it relates to evolution of the earth system. Study of interactions between microbes and minerals using tools of organic and inorganic geochemistry. Applications to the study of earth’s climate system.
Special topics in geochemistry-petrology. May be repeated with change of content.
This course covers the various forces and types of deformation that act on the interior of the Earth and other planets, with applications to tectonic faulting and mantle flow. Topics include continuum mechanics, stress and strain, elasticity, mantle rheology, and heat transfer.
Intensive examination of igneous rocks. Format and subject material will vary from year to year, but will include descriptive and genetic aspects of igneous rocks and their relationships to tectonic settings. Laboratory and field trips.
Field experience in the American West. Designed with exercises to acquaint graduate earth science majors with the fundamentals of field geology. Offered in the field during summer sessions for three hours of credit.
Continuation of GEO 5331. Offered in the field during summer sessions for three hours of credit.
Field study of depositional systems and facies. Course participants will examine modern depositional environments varying from fluvial, deltaic, beach, and near shore systems to modern barrier and fringing reefs along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and in the Caribbean. These depositional environments will be used to interpret ancient sedimentary facies examined in the field during the last portion of the course. Offered in the field during summer session for three hours of credit.
Continuation of GEO 5333. Offered in the field during the summer session for three hours of credit.
Taxonomy, morphology, evolution, paleoecology, and stratigraphic occurrence of important microfossils. Independent field and laboratory problems may be required.
Paleobiology encompasses the study of biological processes and concepts in deep time at various spatial and temporal scales. Concepts covered in the course aim to examine empirical and modeled data on evolutionary and ecological processes, as well as explore the interplay between biological systems and environmental conditions.
Special topics in remote sensing and geomorphology. May be repeated with change of content.
Special topics in paleontology. May be repeated with change of content.
Petrography of clastic sedimentary rocks. Includes mineralogical study, provenance analysis, and diagenetic interpretation. Field trips.
Field, microscopic, and geochemical analysis of fossil soils (paleosols) and comparison with modern analog soils; interpretation of changes in paleoweathering processes, paleoclimate, and paleoatmospheric chemistry over 4.6 billion years of earth history based on paleosols.
Geologic history of the North American Cordillera from Precambrian to present, based on analysis of stratigraphic, structural, paleomagnetic, and paleobiogeographic constraints.
The description, interpretation, and measurement of components, features, and fabrics in soils and paleosols, at the microscopic level.
Concepts of facies analysis and spatial prediction are presented within a sequence stratigraphic context. The course is conducted as a three-week field excursion to various locations within the southwestern USA. The course emphasizes both outcrop and subsurface problem solving, and is supplemented by extensive literature review.
Instruction in advanced and specialized methods of structural analysis applied to a variety of problems in structural geology. Both local and regional structural relationships will be studied. Location of field study areas will be determined by instructor.
Instruction in the controls on sediment accumulation and distribution through time, and strategies for local and regional cyclostratigraphic correlation and associated stratal classification and interpretation.
Analytical techniques and concepts necessary for hydrogeologic research and problem solving. Areas of emphasis will include field methods, well hydraulics, and computer models of ground water systems. Occasional field trips will be required as part of the laboratory.
Lectures on the theory of analytical and numerical models applied to hydrogeological research. Laboratory exercises will involve solving hydrogeological problems, using the models discussed in lecture.
Interrelationships between geological processes and urban development. Case histories and applied field projects will be examined in surrounding urban areas.
Advanced topics in spatial statistics. Knowledge of basic statistics is expected (e.g., calculation of mean, variance, and covariance). Fundamentals of variograms. Methodologies for best linear unbiased estimates with and without drift of the mean value. Major elements and applications of Kriging and coKriging algorithms.
Special topics in sedimentary geology. May be repeated once with change of content.
Special topics in petroleum geology. May be repeated with change of content.
Special topics in structural geology-tectonics. May be repeated with change of content.
Special topics in hydrogeology. May be repeated with change of content.
Examines humans as a geologic force and how human activity has altered climate, ecosystems, glaciers, sea level, rivers, and deserts. Examines climate and planetary models to understand changes in Earth systems in the past, present, and future.
Insights into the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial controls of global monsoon circulation, and variations in the past 20,000 years and into the future.
Special topics in hydrology-engineering geology. May be repeated with change of content.
The emphasis of this course is placed on climate changes and the associated environmental variations of different timescales and their forcing mechanisms (including human impacts). Defining the current climatic dynamics and predicting the future trends, based on the changing patterns of different timescales, are the concluding parts of this course.
Special topics in environmental-urban geology. May be repeated once with change of content.
Theory and applications of gravitational, magnetic, and electrical techniques to subsurface exploration.
Seismic refraction and reflection techniques and their application to determining Earth structure.
Topics chosen from earthquake location, focal mechanism computation, surface wave dispersion measurement, 1D inversion techniques, regional tomographic inversion, receiver functions, ray theory in spherical geometry, seismic attenuation, seismic anisotropy, seismic focusing, reflected phases, stacking, and interpretations of seismic results in light of other geophysical constraints.
Exploration and production methods for hydrocarbon recovery.
A field course in which seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical, electromagnetic, well logging and ground penetrating radar techniques are used to solve problems associated with waste disposal, groundwater, and engineering characterizations.
Individual course in which students solve a geologic problem and submit a written report. Staff approval required.
Supervised directed research for students who have not yet advanced to candidacy for an advanced degree. A student may repeat this course for credit, for a maximum of 9 total hours.
Research, data analysis, writing, and oral defense of an approved master's thesis. At least six hours of GEO 5V99 are required.
Supervised research for designing dissertation project and for developing and writing a Dissertation Proposal that will be subject to review and approval by the Dissertation Committee. All coursework must be completed prior to registering for this course. A student may repeat this course for a total of 3 hours. Registration for this course is sufficient for achieving full-time status.
Required of all doctoral candidates. In no case will less than twelve semester hours be accepted for a dissertation. Students may not enroll for dissertation hours until they have been officially accepted into candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. After initial enrollment, students must enroll for at least one semester hour of dissertation every semester (summer semester excluded).