Geology 445

GEOL 445

Catalog Entry

GEOL 445. Applied Geology Field School
Credit Hours (6).

Approximately 2 months correspondence and 40 hours of field work and classroom instruction per week.

Prerequisite: GEOL 105 and either GEOL 100 or GEOL 106.

Intensive training in geologic field methods with an emphasis on mapping, data collection, and the geology of Virginia with applications to environmental and engineering concerns, and to land use planning. The Radford University campus serves as the base from which field studies are conducted. The course requires overnight excursions permitting the examination of a wide variety of geologic field conditions including field trip stops in all the geologic provinces of Virginia. Course may require transportation, food and camping fees. Course will not substitute for GEOL 441, Geologic Field Methods, for students majoring in geology.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The purpose of the course is to teach educators, civic, and engineering professionals the basics in geological methodology, the geology of Virginia, the geology of their hometowns in Virginia, and the associated environmental problems each region of Virginia presents. First-hand experience in emphasized. Topics include:

1. Review of rocks and minerals using classroom samples
2. Identification of rocks and minerals in the field
3. Topographic and geologic maps
4. Folds and faults
5. The physiography and geology of the geologic provinces of Virginia
6. Field observation of the Paleozoic stratigraphic section of the Valley and Ridge
7. The geology of the Blue Ridge at Mount Rogers
8. Use of the Brunton compass
9. Field exercise in geologic mapping at Brush Mountain
10. Classroom and field observation of landslides and karst
11. Solid waste disposal; visit to a landfill
12. Field study of folds in Giles County, Burkes Garden, and in Tazewell
13. Field study of the Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Mesozoic Basins, and Coastal Plain
14. Study of the Valley and Ridge-Appalachian Plateau boundary at Glen Lyn
15. Fossil collecting
16. Flooding and flood hazards


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course combines both classroom and field studies, with the emphasis on practical, hands-on experience. As many of the course participants are educators (middle school and high school), the course schedule is built around their academic schedules, beginning with a series of correspondence exercises during the spring from April to mid-June. In mid-June, the participants meet on the Radford University campus for approximately 5 ½ weeks of intensive classroom and field training, 5 days per week for 8 hours per day. Half-day and full-day field trips are designed to closely dovetail with the classroom lessons. For instance, as a follow-up to the rock and mineral identification lab, the first field trip will be a half-day visit to the igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks of nearby Floyd County. Full advantage is taken of the classic rock exposures surrounding Radford. The skills developed during the early part of the course are applied during a three-day field mapping project of an area near Radford in which the participants are to make a geologic map, identify and describe rock formations, measure structures, and write a complete report including a geologic history. Finally, the class takes a 5-day "Grand Virginia Tour" field trip that visits more distant localities in Virginia such as the Piedmont area of central Virginia, Cape Henry, Northern Virginia, and the Mesozoic basins near Culpeper. During the course, the class visits all the geologic provinces of Virginia, and the participants have ample opportunity to collect samples, take pictures, and take reading and reference materials in order to create educational materials that can be used in a classroom.


Goals and Objectives of Course

1. Educators will gain first-hand experience that they can share with their students.
2. Engineers and civic leaders will gain first-hand experience that will enable them to make more informed decisions especially in the field of environmental geology and land use.
3. Students' general knowledge of geology will be enhanced and updated.
4. Students will study the geology of Virginia in light of the most current interpretations of its complex history using Plate Tectonic theory.
5. Students will gain information about the local geology where the participants work or teach.
6. Students will develop resource materials that they can bring back to their professions.
7. Students will gain skills in data collection and in interpretation of geologic field data.


Assessment Measures

Graded correspondence exercises will assess the students' background knowledge of topographic maps and structural geology. Graded classroom exercises in topographic maps and stratigraphy will assess students' knowledge of map reading skills and geological theory. The field mapping report will assess students' data collecting, reporting, and interpretive skills. The final exam and the notes taken during the "Grand Virginia Tour: will assess the students' knowledge of the entire course content, especially that of the geology of Virginia.


Other Course Information

This course provides in-service training to earth science teachers; serves to retrain teachers from other disciplines leading toward endorsement in earth science; and can be taken to train new teachers at the secondary level.


  • Dietrich, R.V., 1970, Geology and Virginia, The University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA, 213 p.
  • Frye, K., 1986, Roadside Geology of Virginia, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 278 p.
  • Hatcher, R.D. Jr., Thomas, W.A., and Viele, G.W. (eds.), 1989, The Appalachian-Ouachita Orogen in the United States, The geology of North America Volume F-2, The Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO., 767 p.
  • Neathery, T.L. (ed.), 1986, Centennial Field Guide Volume 6, Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO., 457 p.
  • Schultz, A.P., Stanley, C.B., Gathright, T.M., Rader, E.K., Bartholomew, M.J., Lewis, S.E. and Evans, N.H., 1986, Geologic of Map of Files County, Virginia; Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 69, Charlotesville, VA.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

Date Action Approved By
August 2005 Reviewed and Updated Stephen W. Lenhart, Chair