Geology is the study of the Earth and includes a variety of topics:

  • Plate tectonics
  • Rocks, minerals, fossils
  • History of the Earth
  • Earth hazards (e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides)
  • Water (surface and ground water) – as a resource and related hazards
  • Maps and cross sections – topographic, geologic
  • Structures – folds, faults
  • Landforms and their development

Courses cover the physical (GEOL 111) and historical aspects (GEOL 242) of the Earth. In addition a focus is given to the geologic aspects of our environment and their potential impact on humanity (GEOL 225). Nonrenewable resources (GEOL 230) are surveyed to better understand the slow geologic processes under which they form, the impact on our planet of the extraction, processing, use, and disposal of these resources, and our reliance on these resources in our daily lives.

All courses include field trips, key to understanding geology. Principia is situated in an area rich with geology – on limestone bluffs that are covered with silt and other deposits from the ice age and that overlook the channels and shared floodplain of two major drainage ways in North America; just downriver from a well exposed structural feature; a couple of hours from another major structural feature that exposes igneous rocks and related minerals at the surface.

Student planning to pursue geology at the graduate level are well-prepared at Principia College by taking one year each of calculus, chemistry, and physics. All graduate schools require these courses, along with proficiency in a second language, which is a graduation requirement at Principia.