21 Geology

A Brief Introduction to Geology and Geomorphology

Author: Nahgeib Miller

Description: As a child, I would go on walkabouts through any wild spaces I could find and I would marvel at the rocks supporting me as I climbed over them on my journey.

What drew me to the rocks were how they would catch the sunlight and reflect it; how there seemed to be different colours that made them up. I wondered what forces; what processes could create such awesome crystals in the rocks and what sort of history those crystals witnessed.

At that time, geology and geomorphology were foreign concepts to me and it took over 30 years of study and experience to achieve a full appreciation for those rocks I encountered on my adventures, and the crystals that made them up. My studies and vocational experience have taken me through seismology, gold research and exploration, mining inspection, construction aggregates, and academia.

There are many, including my environmental and civil engineering technology students, who do not have decades to commit to developing a working understanding of the Earth and the specific geological and geomorphological contexts they may find themselves working in. Therefore, this textbook is designed to provide a brief introduction to the concepts of geology and geomorphology, with an Ontarian perspective. It serves as a good starting point for individuals who have neither prior experience nor knowledge in geology nor geomorphology.

In order to adequately explain concepts that unfold in four dimensions (3 dimensions with time as the fourth), an electronic format is used to leverage enhanced illustrations. These illustrations include traditional 2D figures; however, videos, animations, and interactive figures are also used to help create a deeper understanding.

Analytical Methods in Geosciences

Authors: Elizabeth Johnson and Juhong Christie Liu

Description: There are no published textbooks on laboratory techniques in the geosciences at the undergraduate level. This project is creating learning modules on scientific analysis and analytical methods that will be delivered in a blended learning format.

There is a national impetus to incorporate research into the early undergraduate curriculum and to catalyze adoption of evidenced-based teaching practice in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in 2-year colleges and at the freshman and sophomore levels in 4year colleges and universities. This change is demonstrated by the emphasis on research practices and scientific skills in the new Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 as well as the upcoming work of the Board of Science Education project focusing on strengthening undergraduate students’ research experiences in STEM.

Research experiences are an effective way to engage students in STEM fields, including the geosciences. As a response to the call for increased research experiences, it is anticipated that 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities will acquire scientific analytical equipment, or will work to provide analytical opportunities at other university and government facilities for student research projects and internships. STEM students engaging in undergraduate research will need to be able to use laboratory instrumentation as well as correctly evaluate data quality, determine analytical error, and interpret data produced by these instruments.

Evidence-based teaching practices with active learning strategies will enhance the likelihood of retaining students to pursue a STEM-related degree after taking the introductory STEM courses. Pedagogically effective, yet flexible, instructional materials focused on laboratory methods and analytical techniques are needed in order to support efforts to incorporate research into the undergraduate curriculum. These materials must be presented at a level appropriate for early undergraduates who are the focus of the national initiative for recruiting STEM students.

A Practical Guide to Introductory Geology

Author: Siobhan McGoldrick

Description:  A Practical Guide to Introductory Geology is a comprehensive laboratory manual covering the physical aspects of geology, including rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, streams, structural geology, and much more. This manual provides ample background information to assist students learning remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The text has a strong emphasis on examples from western Canada, especially Alberta and British Columbia, and includes a diverse set of exercises intended to accompany the GEOL 1101 curriculum at Mount Royal University. This laboratory manual is an adaptation of Physical Geology – 2nd Edition by Steven Earle.

Geological Structures: a Practical Introduction

Authors: John Waldron and Morgan Snyder

Description: This manual is about structures that occur within the Earth’s crust. Structures are the features that allow geologists to figure out how parts of the Earth have changed position, orientation, size and shape over time. This work requires careful observation and measurements of features at the surface of the Earth, and deductions about what’s below the surface. The practical skills you will learn in this course form the foundation for much of what is known about the history of the Earth, and are important tools for exploring the subsurface. They are essential for Earth scientists of all kinds.

The course that this document supports is about doing structural geology. It’s not possible to be a good geologist (or to pass the course) just by learning facts. You have to be able to solve problems. Do your lab work conscientiously and get as much as possible done during lab sessions when instructors are available to help you.

This manual consists of both readings and lab exercises, which alternate through the text. The readings are designed to be read and understood outside the lab sessions, whereas the labs contain specific instructions and questions to be completed. Before each lab, be sure you have covered the readings that come immediately before it.

Many problems in structural geology involve thinking in three dimensions. This is the largest challenge that you will face in working with the material in this book. Different people use different strategies for thinking in 3D. Your instructors will sometimes be able to offer a range of strategies and techniques. Make use of their skills whenever you have difficulty.

This manual was written to support the course “EAS233 Geologic Structures” at the University of Alberta in Canada. The course is typically taught between January and April. During January and February it is too cold for effective geological fieldwork, so the outdoor lab (lab 9) takes place toward the end of the class.  In a warmer climate, the data collection part of this lab could be done earlier in the course.

Introduction to Oceanography

Author: Paul Webb

Description: Introduction to Oceanography is a textbook appropriate to an introductory-level university course in oceanography. The book covers the fundamental geological, chemical, physical and biological processes in the ocean, with an emphasis on the North Atlantic region.

Introduction to Petrology

Authors: Elizabeth Johnson and Juhong Christie Liu

Description: Petrology is the branch of geology that studies rocks and the conditions under which they form. This Open Educational Resources (OER) textbook uses illustrations and examples of video and interactive diagrams to guide students’ inquiries into learning the analysis of rock samples with a petrographic microscope.

Introductory Physical Geology Laboratory Manual – First Canadian Edition (v.3 – Jan 2020)

Individual chapters of the overview and exercises sections from this lab manual can be downloaded from the links below. You can also read them online, scroll down on the front page of this online open textbook and select the chapter overview or exercises you would like to read.

Includes: Downloadable PDF of all chapters,  PDF copies of individual chapters, exercises, practice exams

Physical Geology, First University of Saskatchewan Edition

Physical Geology is a comprehensive introductory text on the physical aspects of geology, including rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, mass wasting, climate change, planetary geology and much more. It has a strong emphasis on examples from western Canada. It is adapted from “Physical Geology” written by Steven Earle for the BCcampus Open Textbook Program.

Includes: Review questions, downloadable PDF files for individual chapters.

Physical Geology

Description: Physical Geology is a comprehensive introductory text on the physical aspects of geology, including rocks and minerals, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciation, groundwater, streams, coasts, mass wasting, climate change, planetary geology and much more. It has a strong emphasis on examples from western Canada, especially British Columbia, and also includes a chapter devoted to the geological history of western Canada. The book is a collaboration of faculty from Earth Science departments at Universities and Colleges across British Columbia and elsewhere.

Physical Geology Laboratory

Author: Elizabeth Johnson

Description: The purpose of this “book” is to help students practice skills to master learning objectives for physical geology laboratory. I hope you will find these materials helpful; however, they are not a substitute for attending class or help sessions. Pictures do not tell the whole story for minerals and rocks! It is very important to use other observations such as feel, hardness, and luster, which can only be done effectively in person.

Physical Geology Workbook

The Physical Geology Workbook is a companion workbook to the Physical Geology introductory textbook. It contains learning outcomes, vocabulary, and review questions that students can use to enhance their learning experiences in 100-level university geology courses. Written by Joyce McBeth.


Includes: Vocabulary, flashcards, review questions

Rain or Shine

Author: Tyson Ochsner

Description: The purpose of this book is to serve as a multi-faceted learning resource for people who want or need to learn introductory concepts of soil physics. Soil physics is a scientific discipline focused on using the principles and techniques of physics to understand:

  • the properties of the soil,
  • the processes which occur in and on soils,
  • and how those properties and processes were, are, or would be affected by changes in environment or management.

This book focuses particularly on the processes in the soil water balance and the surface energy balance and how those processes are influenced by soil physical properties.

Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography

Editor: Colby Moorberg, Editor

Description: Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography highlights freely-available online content related to soil and water conservation. This textbook is designed for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on soil and water conservation, as well as conservation practitioners. The textbook is also focused on conservation within the US, due to the unique history and policies that influence conservation in the US. The first goal for this textbook is to create an up-to-date resource for soil and water conservation students and practitioners. The second goal is to familiarize students with credible, technical resources in soil and water conservation. The third goal is to reduce the cost and increase the accessibility of textbooks for students. Cited resources include extension bulletins, government reports, technical bulletins, and more. Annotations for each citation describe the resource, provide a short summary of the resource and its contents, and include any additional contextual information when needed. This book is intended to be an extensive resource for conservation practices and information, but not an exhaustive resource. Thus, some conservation practices were omitted. If you have suggestions for topics, content, or resources to include in future editions of the book, please make you suggestions here.

Soils Laboratory Manual

Authors: Colby Moorberg and David Crouse

Description: Thank you for your interest in using the Soils Laboratory Manual for your soil science course. If you are interested in ancillary materials developed for use with the Soils Laboratory Manual, then please apply for access to the Soils Laboratory Manual Library. The library includes many resources for instructors that have been shared by those who have adopted the laboratory manual for their courses. It includes institution-specific editions of the lab manual, instructor copies, assignments, and other ancillary and supporting materials. Instructors are granted read-only access to all files in the library, which allows them to view and download files, and to subsequently edit copies of those files for their own use. The read-only access also prevents unauthorized editing of other instructor’s versions of the manual saved to the library. Instructors who develop their own editions of the manual are encouraged to share their editions and supporting materials to the community. We administer the library through Google Drive. Because of the sensitive nature of some course materials, access is limited to only instructors with proven credentials. To request access, please complete the following form: request instructor access to the Soils Laboratory Manual Library using this Google Form. Once you have been approved, we will contact you and provide access to the Google Drive folder for the Soils Laboratory Manual Library.

The Story of Earth: An Observational Guide

Authors: Daniel Hauptvogel and Jinny Sisson

Contributors: Carlos Andrade, Joshua Flores, Melissa Hansen, Ana Vielma, and Hannah Anderson




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