Geology 001B                                                                         West Valley College

Historical Geology                                                                     Fall Semester, 2004

Historical Geology


Instructor: Dr. Robert Lopez

Offices:            SM 47A

Phone:  408-741-2437

Office Hours:  MW 12:30 pm-1:30 pm and T 8:30am – 9:00am

Course Meets TTh 9:20am-10:45am, SM47



Course Web Page:


Text: Stanley, S.M., 1999, Earth System History: Freeman Press.

Online Resource:


Welcome to Historical Geology.  This is a three-unit course in historical geology. 
A laboratory section is offered.  By enrolling in the lab section, you can satisfy the 4-unit physical science with lab requirement!  If you are at all interested in a physical science major, the more courses with lab sections, the better.


This course provides an introduction to the evolution of earth and life with emphasis on the North American Continent.  It is designed to serve both the non-science major and those students intending to major in the earth sciences.


The text, Earth Science History, will serve as introductory material and as reading assignments for the lecture portion of the course. Supplementary material will be distributed as we go along.  The text also contains many references to Internet web sites.  I strongly recommend that you get an e-mail account, either through a private server or through the West Valley Technology Center.  Applications may be picked up at the Technology Center in the Applied Sciences building.  I will be contacting the class through e-mail, so do not be left out.


Course Themes:

1)      To learn about the composition of the Earth (Earth’s crust and interior);

2)      Evolution of Earth’s crust over time, Plate Tectonic Setting

3)      History gleaned from rocks and depositional environments

4)      The concept of Geologic Time

5)      Evolution of Life on Earth

6)      Theories on Mass Extinctions


Expected Educational Results: As a result of completing this course the student will be able to:

1. Understand the origin of the Earth.

2. Understand the reasons behind the distribution of oceans and continents, and the location of volcanic and earthquake belts; Plate Tectonics.

3. Understand how life changed as the Earth System changed.

4. Understand how different types of rocks and minerals are formed.

5. Understand the Geologic Time Scale structure and order

6. Interpret history and depositional environments by identifying rocks


Attendance: You are expected to attend each class section.  If you cannot attend a particular class, please e-mail me to let me know.  It is better to come to class late than to not come at all.  However, tests and quizzes will usually start at the beginning of class and you will have less time to answer the questions if you are late. 


Dropping the Course:  Last day to drop with a W is, November 19th.


Academic Honesty: Cheating will not be tolerated.  Anyone caught cheating will receive a letter grade of F and have their name turned over to the Dean of Students.


Tentative Evaluation: There will be four (including lecture final) midterm exams, worth 100 points each; 10 Homework exercises, worth 20 points each; five Geologic Time Scale quizzes worth 10 points each; One Field Trip/Independent project worth 100 points or a 10-page research term paper worth 100 points.  The lecture exams will have multiple choice, matching, true/false, and short-answer essay questions.  The exams will focus on material presented in lecture, which closely follow the text reading assignments.  You are responsible for the reading assignments, so expect some questions from the text readings.  NOTE: You must pass the Geologic Time Scale Quiz to pass this course.

Warning: Do not miss an exam.  If you miss an exam for any reason contact me immediately, preferably on the day of the exam and by e-mail.  Make arrangements to take the exam ASAP.  No make-up exams will be given after the exam has been returned to the class.


Approximate Grading:

400 points              Four mid-term exams

200 points              13 Homework exercises

50 points                Five Quizzes

100 points              Field Trip/Research Paper

750 points              Total


90-100 = A

80-89 = B

65-79 = C

55-64 = D

< 55 = F

Field Trip:  October 22 and October 23.  By attending the field trip, you will have satisfied the Field Trip/Research Paper portion of the course.


Emergency Procedures

                West Valley College is one of the safest campuses in California.  However, earthquakes and other incidents have been known to happen.   The college has developed an emergency procedures plan.  This document includes how to respond to emergencies that might occur on campus and in the classroom.  A copy of the Plan is available to review from the Division Office.  A condensed version in the form of a yellow colored flip chart is posted along with other emergency information on the bulletin board at the southeast corner of the classroom near the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.   


I strongly urge each of you to have basic emergency supplies in your car and have a flashlight with you when you are on campus, especially at night.  Please ask me for a list of supplies that I carry in my car if you are not sure what to have.   


EVACUATION: In the event of an evacuation, the emergency assembly area for this classroom is in the northeastern portion of parking lot 2 next to Theater Way (see map posted in classroom – yellow assembly area).      


Important phone numbers and location of emergency supplies:


life threatening emergency - regular phones


life threatening emergency - campus phones


life threatening emergency - cellular phones


student health services on campus

x2222 (741-2222)

safety escort

x2092 (741-2092)

accessible campus phone (my office)

x 2403 (741-2403)

public phone (located just outside the exit door next to the  AAS division office)


fire alarm

In hall outside of room SM47

fire extinguisher


first aid kit

1.        Right of chalk board, SM47

2.        Division Office, SM2

3.        SM40 on sink wall



Lecture Schedule; Geology 1B, Fall 2004





Sept. 2




Coarse Outline, Earth System,

Uniformitarianism, Rocks

Ch. 1, pp. 1-10

Topo Maps

Intro to Minerals


Setp. 7, 9


Earth as a System

Ch. 1, pp. 11-26

Rock Forming Minerals

Ch. 2, p. 29-40

Sed Rocks

Ch. 1 p. 1-10

Sept. 14, 16


Intro to Rocks

Ch. 2, p. 40-54

Sedimentary Rocks

Ch. 2, p. 42-51

Igneous Rocks

Ch. 2 P. 11-18

Quiz Minerals Sed Rocks

Sept. 21, 23


Diversity of Life

Ch. 3 P. 57-70

Diversity of Life

Ch. 3 p. 70-89

Sed Rocks

Ch. 3 p. 19-27

Sept. 28, 30




Environments of Life

Ch. 4 p. 91-120

Ancient Sed


Ch. 4

Oct. 5, 7


Sedimentary Environments

Ch. 5 p. 121-149

Correlation and Dating the Rock Record

Ch. 7 p. 151-169

Age Relation and Unconformity

Ch. 7

Oct. 12, 14


Evolution of the Fossil Record

Ch. 7 p. 181-191

Evolution of the Fossil Record

Ch. 7 p. 191-205

Rock Units Ch. 8

Ancient Shores

Ch. 9

Oct.  19, 21


Plate Tectonics

Ch. 8 p. 207-220

Plate Tectonics

Ch. 8 p. 220-229

Tectonic Setting

Ch. 5

Oct. 26, 28


Archean Eon

Ch. 11, p. 285-297



Ch. 6

Nov. 2, 4


Archean Eon

Ch. 11 p. 297-313

Proterozoic Eon

Ch. 12 p. 315-340


Ch. 10

Nov.  9, 11


Early Paleozoic Life

Ch. 13 p. 341-355

Middle Paleozoic Life

Ch. 14 p. 369-386


Ch. 11

Nov.  16, 18


Late Paleozoic Life

Ch. 15 p. 399-414

Paleozoic Paleogeography

Ch. 13, 14

Fossils, Ch. 11, 12

Nov.  23, 25


Early Mesozoic

Ch. 16 p. 435-452



Nov. 30, Dec. 2


Exam III

Cretaceous Life

Ch. 17 p. 465-476

Maps Ch. 14

Dec.  7, 9


Mesozoic Paleogeography

Ch. 16-17

Mass Extinctions

Ch. 13, 15, 17

North America

Ch. 15, 16

Dec. 14, 16


Tertiary World

Ch.18, 19, 20

Final Exam

9:40 AM – 11:40 AM

All Fossils Exam