ChairW. Peck

Geology is the study of the physical and chemical nature of Earth, the evolution and impact of life on our planet, and the global processes active both now and in the past. An understanding of geology—developed through the scientific study of minerals, rocks, and fossils—explains how past and present-day ecosystems, including the oceanic realm, have been reshaped by plate tectonics, volcanism, mountain building, climate change, evolution, and other events through time. 

Introductory courses are designed to contribute significantly to a liberal arts education and an understanding of Earth and the environment. Advanced courses provide the highest possible level of general and preprofessional training for majors.

Majors in geology or environmental geology provide students with the opportunity to pursue careers in the geological and environmental sciences, business, and education, as well as government and public service. Upon graduation, many geology majors go on to graduate study in geology, hydrology, oceanography, environmental sciences, and environmental policy and law. Other graduates go directly into a wide spectrum of employment situations, including business, environmental consulting, teaching, administration in schools and museums, and mineral resources and energy-related jobs.

The Department of Geology offers courses that deal with the processes occurring in and on the planet Earth. Topics include oceanography, ground water, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the origin and evolution and extinction of life, including dinosaurs. Students with an interest in these topics and in the environmental sciences should consider taking an introductory course in geology (see below for fall offerings).

For further details, please refer to the University Catalog and consult the department chair or other geology faculty members.



Professor Peck 

Central New York has changed dramatically throughout geologic time. A billion years ago, the area around Colgate was underneath a mountain belt the size of the Himalayas; 400 million years ago, the area was in the tropics and covered by a shallow sea. And as recently as 20,000 years ago, an ice sheet a mile thick covered Hamilton. How can we possibly know these things? The evidence is actually in the landscape all around us; we just need to learn how to read the clues left behind. And what better way to learn about these events than to be outside! This unique field-based seminar is designed to use the area around Colgate as a natural laboratory to study the geologic history of the region. The highlight of the course will be Monday afternoon fieldtrips to local areas where we will learn first-hand how to observe and interpret evidence for these and other dramatic geologic changes. Therefore, if you enroll in this seminar, you should plan to keep your Monday afternoons free from 1:20 to 5:00 PM. Evaluation will be based on semi-weekly writing assignments and a final research project on the geologic history of New York. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for a 100-level GEOL course and satisfy one half of the Natural Sciences & Mathematics area of inquiry requirement. 

Professor William Peck is a member of the geology department and has taught at Colgate since 2000. His teaching focus is on the origin of rocks and how they form deep in the crust. William’s research with students examines the plate tectonics of a billion years ago that formed the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Required co-requisite to FSEM 177, Geology Outdoors. See FSEM 177 description for details.

Focuses on Earth and its complex and life-sustaining resources, within an integrated framework including the terrestrial realm, the atmosphere, and the hydrosphere (freshwater, oceans, and glacial ice). Students develop a deeper understanding of the physical, chemical, biological and human interactions that determine the past, present and future states of Earth. Places a strong emphasis on the societal impacts of earth system science and provides a fundamental basis for understanding the world in which we seek to live sustainably.

A study of the major contemporary concepts of biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography. The nature and origin of ocean basins by global plate tectonics, sedimentation, sea water composition, water masses, oceanic circulation, waves, tides, life in the sea, and biological productivity, are all discussed. The role of human impacts and environmental change, including ocean warming and acidification, and marine pollution are stressed throughout the course.

Explores our planet's 4.5-billion year history and how geologists unearth the past through examination of minerals, rocks, and fossils. Earth's evolution is a natural experiment that cannot be reproduced, and students make use of primary observational and interpretative tools that geologists use to understand the past. Age-dating techniques, plate tectonics and origin of continental crust, mountain building events, and evolution of Earth's landscape, atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere are examined in the context of the geological evolution of North America.

Required corequisite to GEOL 190. Laboratory sessions focus on providing a familiarization with common rocks, minerals, and fossils, and geologic field techniques, with an emphasis on how these materials and techniques are used to understand Earth and its history.