PHY 113 — Geology
Bergen Community College — Spring 2014

Instructor Dr. Fred Marton

Office S-325
Phone 201-493-7518

Office hours (subject to change)
Tuesday 1:30-2:30 pm
Wednesday 10-11 am
Friday 10-11 am

Marshak, Essentials of Geology (4th ed.), W.W. Norton & Co., 2013
Ludman and Marshak, Laboratory Manual for Introductory Geology (2nd custom ed.), W.W. Norton & Co., 2013

The purpose of this course is to give you a better understanding of science; specifically, how science continues to unravel the complex history of the Earth. Just as we interpret the history of ancient cultures through their remains at archeological sites, we can discern the history of the Earth through its remains — the rock record. We will systematically explore the origin and occurrence of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks to uncover a natural pattern (a fundamental assumption and requirement of science) that will help explain the evolution of the Earth. We will also examine those dynamic and catastrophic geologic events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to determine how they refine and define the Earth system. Through these observations and explorations we will come to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of the unifying theory of geology — plate tectonics.

Grades: Your final course grade is calculated as follows:
3 highest exams — 36% (12% each)
Lowest exam — 6%
Labs — 33%
Quizzes — 15%
TMYN — 10%

Up to 5% extra credit can be earned by completing the online Geotours exercises. No additional extra credit will be assigned. No exceptions. Students experiencing difficulty with course material are urged to contact the instructor as soon as possible.

Grade Determinations
Final ScoreLetter GradeFinal ScoreLetter Grade

Attendance/Tardiness: Students are responsible for all material as presented in class. As per BCC policy, attendance will be taken at each class. Students are urged to configure personal schedules to allow for prompt arrival so as not to disturb the instructor and classmates with late arrivals. Frequent tardiness may result in a reduction of your final grade. No excuses.

Labs: Laboratory exercises are designed to increase understanding of course material and to expose students to a variety of tools and topics in the geological sciences. Every student is required to have their own copy of the lab manual and to hand-in pages for their lab assignments. These are to be originals, not photocopies. Photocopied lab manual pages will not be accepted. Labs will generally be completed during the class and will be due two class periods after they have been assigned at the beginning of class. Labs are to be handed-in in person; emailed labs will not be accepted. Labs handed-in after the start of class will be assessed a 10% penalty. Labs handed-in after class will be penalized 25% for each class period they are late, or fraction thereof. Your answers on labs must be in your own words. If two or more labs have identical answers, all students will receive half-credit for the answers on the first occurrence and zero credit for each subsequent occurrence. Plagiarized labs will receive grades of zero. If you miss a lab for a legitimate excuse, please see me as soon as possible so that I can help you understand the material you missed. In-class lab exercises (e.g., mineral and rock identifications) are not possible to be made-up.

Exams: Exams can be a mix of true/false, multiple choice, short answer, essays, maps, or any other formats that the instructor determines to be appropriate. The final exam be cumulative. If you miss an exam, the professor must be contacted via phone/email within 24 hours of the exam in order to qualify for a makeup. In all cases, written proof of a crisis will be required and verified in order to qualify for a make-up exam. Students who fail to satisfy the above conditions will receive a zero for the exam. Make-up exams will be SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult than regular exams and may include/consist of essays, oral questions, etc., thus they are STRONGLY discouraged. Early examinations are not permitted for any reason. The first instance of cheating on any part of an exam will result in a grade of zero for that exam which will not be dropped. A second instance will result in an automatic grade of F for the course.

Quizzes: There will be regular chapter quizzes administered through Moodle ( If you do not have access to Moodle, please see your professor as soon as possible, as you are responsible for getting your logon information. Each quiz will consist of 10 multiple-choice questions, randomly-selected from a larger set, based on a specific (perhaps not covered in class yet) chapter of the textbook. Each quiz is open-book, and you will have 20 minutes to complete it, working alone. You will have two attempts for each quiz and the highest score will be kept. Make-ups will not be given. Quiz dates and topics will be announced in class and online.

Worksheets: Exercises relating to course material will be done during lectures. These worksheets can be done in groups

The Math You Need, When You Need It (TMYN): Before certain topics, you are required to complete certain modules at The Math You Need website ( and take the associated assessments. These are designed to help you with the mathematical concepts that you will encounter in the labs, in geology, and in other science courses.

Geotours: Extra credit can be earned by doing various Geotours exercises available through the textbook website ( and submitting your score electronically. In order to complete these, you will need to Google Earth software, available in on-campus computer labs and the library. You can also install it on your own computer for free from

Moodle: In addition to the quizzes this class utilizes Moodle in a number of ways. The class syllabus, lecture images, and study guides will only be available on Moodle. There are also the class grade book, and links to web resources, including the textbook companion sites. Remember, you are responsible for making sure you can access Moodle.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a grave academic offense that is taken very seriously. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, copying another person's work on exams and copying answers for labs from any outside sources. Please see the BCC Student Handbook section on Academic Integrity for a fuller discussion about types of plagiarism, consequences, and procedures, as well the the BCC Library Website's page on plagiarism,, and links therein. All instances of plagiarism will be reported to the Office of Student Life and Judicial Affairs. See below for specific penalties.

Email: The best way to contact me outside of class is through email, but please be advised that I teach multiple courses with total enrollments of 70-100 students. To make things easier on me, and thus easier on you, please include your class name and section in both the subject and body of your email. Also, please use standard capitalization, grammar, and punctuation. I, and all your professors, will thank you.

Social Media: I maintain an open Facebook Group, Bergen CC Geology, for my classes, where I post interesting articles, make announcements, and communicate with people interested in science. I also make announcements regardings class cancellations, changes in venues, etc., via Twitter @fmarton.

Cell Phone Policy: Cell phones represent a distraction not only to the instructor but to all students in the class. THIS INCLUDES TEXTING. Please be courteous to all and COMPLETELY TURN OFF your cell phone during class. Failure to do so may result in a reduction of your final grade.

Order of Topics (subject to change): Students are expected to complete the reading assignments listed below in a thorough manner before the lectures. Exams may contain questions based on the labs and reading assignments that may not be covered during lectures. Study guides/review sheets will be available on Moodle before each unit begins.


Introduction to Geology, Formation of the Earth (Prelude, Chapter 1)
TMYN: Unit Conversions & Density
Lab 1 — Setting the Stage for Learning About the Earth
Plate Tectonics (Chapter 2)
TMYN: Rates
Lab 2 — The Way the Earth Works: Examining Plate Tectonics
TMYN: Graphing
Earthquakes and the Earth's Interior (Chapter 8, Interlude D)
Lab 3 — Earthquakes and Seismology
Exam 1

Minerals (Chapter 3)
Lab 4 — Minerals
Igneous Rocks (Interlude A, Chapter 4)
Volcanoes (Chapter 5)
Lab 5 — Using Igneous Rocks to Interpret Earth History
Exam 2

Weathering (Interlude B, pp. 138-145)
Sedimentary Rocks (Chapter 6)
Lab 6 — Using Sedimentary Rocks to Interpret Earth History
Metamorphic Rocks (Chapter 7, Interlude C)
Lab 7 — Interpreting Metamorphic Rocks
Exam 3

Crustal Deformation and Mountain Building (Chapter 9)
Lab 9 — Interpreting Geologic Structures on Block Diagrams, Geologic Maps, and Cross Sections
Geologic Time (Interlude E, Chapter 10)
Earth History (Chapter 11 — Supplemental)
TMYN: Graphing (redux)
Lab 10 — Interpreting Geologic History: What Happend, and When Did It Happen?
Exam 4