Earth and Planetary Sciences Classes

Here are some Earth and Planetary Science classes that contain elements of natural history. For a complete list of Earth and Planetary science courses, please see the class schedule on for the current quarter. 


EART 5/L – California Geology (Fall)

An introduction to physical geology emphasizing the minerals, rocks, volcanoes, mountains, faults, and earthquakes of California. In-class field trips to study the caves, rocks, and landforms of the campus and the Monterey Bay area. Discussion-1 hour. Concurrent enrollment in 5L required for majors and minors.

EART 7 – History of Life (Fall)

An examination of the major events in the history of life, from the origin of life approximately four billion years ago, to the wave of extinctions that has decimated plants and animals around the globe over the past 30,000 years.

EART 10/L – Geologic Principles (Spring)

Introduction to the scientific study of Earth, the materials composing it, and the processes shaping it.  Topics include minerals and rocks, Earth's internal structure, plate tectonics, earthquakes and volcanoes, oceans and the atmosphere, the formation of landscapes and global change

EART 11 – Earthquakes (Every Other Winter)

Causes and effects of earthquakes. How do we measure, mitigate, and try to predict earthquakes? Plate motion, frictional faulting, earthquake triggering, wave propagation, earthquake damage, related hazards, and other social effects. Hazard reduction through earthquake forecasting and earthquake-resistant design. Class includes one full day weekend field trip to local faults.

EART 20/L – Environmental Geology (Winter)

Introduction to aspects of geology which affect and are affected by humans. Addresses a broad range of topics including resource management, geologic hazards, air and water issues, population and land use, energy costs and effectiveness, and global change,  all from a unique geological/environmental perspective. Lectures include strategies for mitigating these issues. Includes a one-day field trip. Concurrent enrollment in 20L required for majors and minors.

EART 65 – Natural History of Dinosaurs 

Explores the origin, evolution, and extinction of dinosaurs with emphasis on paleobiology and paleoecology. Covers fundamental paleontological and evolutionary principles, dinosaur anatomy and behavior, the hot-blooded/cold-blooded debate, dinosaur-bird relationships, diversity, and exploits of the great dinosaur hunters. One and a half hour of discussion each week.

EART 100/L – Vertebrate Paleontology

Introduction to vertebrate history, with an emphasis on vertebrate relationships and the co-evolution of organisms and environments. Specific topics include vertebrate origins, systematics and classification, adaptive revolutions, mass extinctions, and the rise and fall of dinosaurs.

EART 101/L – The Fossil Record (Fall)

An introduction to paleobiology; the use of fossil evidence to pose and solve evolutionary and geologic questions.

EART 104 – Geologic Hazards (Fall)

The recognition, evaluation, and mitigation of geologic hazards: earthquakes and faulting, tsunamis, volcanism, landslides and mass movements, and flooding.

EART 109/L – Elements of Field Geology (Fall, Spring)

Basic tools and techniques used in geologic fieldwork. Preparation, analysis, and interpretation of geologic maps. Nine to 10 days of weekend field trips required, including a six-day geologic mapping exercise.

EART 116 – Hydrology (Every Other Winter)

Introduces processes involving water on and near Earth's surface, including meteorology, water properties, surface flows in steams and runoff, flood analysis, ground water, water budgets, sediment transport, erosion, and water quality.

EART 120/L – Sedimentology & Stratigraphy (Spring)

Stratigraphic principles used in classifying sedimentary rocks. Fundamentals of sedimentary mechanics. Analysis and interpretation of facies and depositional systems. Introduction to seismic facies and basin analysis. Course includes four Saturday field exercises. Students are billed a materials fee.

EART 140/L – Geomorphology (Winter)

An introduction to the evolution of the Earth's landscape, with emphasis on the processes responsible. Review of climatic and tectonic forcing followed by detailed discussion of weathering, glaciers, hillslopes, wind, rivers, and coastal processes with emphasis on their geographic distribution. One single day and one three-day field trip

EART 142 – Engineering Geology for Environmental 

Introduction to the formation, composition, and classification of soils; the chemical interaction of soil and groundwater; and basic soil mechanics: stress-strain behavior, effective stress concept, consolidation, soil testing methods. Applications to problems including slope stability, landslides, liquefaction, subsidence, soil creep, debris flows

EART 146 – Groundwater (Every Other Winter)

Explores saturated and unsaturated fluid flow below Earth's surface, well hydraulics, and recourse evaluation and development. Introduces modeling, field techniques, geochemistry, and contaminant transport and remediation.

EART 148 – Glaciology 

Introduction to the role of snow and ice in the dynamics of the earth surface system. Snow deposition and metamorphosis. Heat and mass balance at snow and ice surfaces. Flow of glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. Methods of climate reconstruction. Ice age theories.

EART 150/L – Structural Geology (Fall)

Structural analysis of faults, folds, and maps. Use of stereographic projections. Cross section construction and balancing from field data.

EART 188A – Summer Field (Summer)

Three weeks of summer field study in geologically complex regions in the White-Inyo Mountains of eastern California. Activities include geologic field mapping on topographic and photographic base maps, stratigraphy, petrology, and structure analysis.