Main Topics of Geology

Origin, composition, and internal structure of the earth

  •  Process of the formation of the solar system.
  • Accumulation, heating, and differentiation of the earth.
  • Composition and characteristics of the core, mantle, and crust.
  • Seismic wave characteristics of the core, mantle, and crust.

Geological time, relative dating and radiometric dating

  • Age of the earth.
  • Rates of geological processes.
  • Relative dates based on cross-cutting relationships.
  • General principles of radiometric techniques for dating rocks.

Evolution of the theory of Plate Tectonics

  • Alfred Wegener’s theory and its reception in the early 20th century.
  • Contributions of Hess, Vine-Matthews-Morely, and Wilson.
  • Evidence in support of the theory, including mantle convection, magnetic. polar wandering, ocean floor bathymetry, sea-floor magnetic patterns, mantle plumes, and the Hawaiian Islands.

Plate Tectonics

  • Distribution and nature of the major plates and current plate motions.
  • Geology of plate boundaries.
  • Geological features and processes at spreading ridges.
  • Geological features and processes at subduction zones.
  • The origin and nature of transform faults.
  • The plates of our region, their motion, and boundaries.


  • What is a mineral?  what is not a mineral?
  • Types of bonding in minerals.
  • Mineral groups and their characteristics.
  • Arrangement of tetrahedra in silicate minerals.
  • Ferromagnesian versus non-ferromagnesian silicates.
  • Ways in which minerals can form.

The Rock Cycle

  • How the rocks of the crust are continually being recycled through processes such as uplift, erosion, transportation, deposition, burial, lithification, metamorphosis,  melting, and cooling.

Intrusive Igneous Rocks

  • Magma sources (mantle at spreading ridges, subduction, partial melting of crustal rocks).
  • Variations in magma compositions and evolution of magmas.
  • Bowen’s reaction series (significance to magma crystallization and to partial melting).
  • Types of plutonic bodies (dykes, sills, stocks, etc.).
  • Emplacement of plutons.

Volcanoes and volcanic rocks

  • Magma sources (mantle at spreading ridges, subduction,  mantle plumes).
  • Variations in magma characteristics (viscosity, gas content).
  • Types of volcanism (spreading ridge, mantle plume, subduction zone).
  • Types of volcanic rocks and deposits (lava, pyroclastic, lahar).
  • The 1980 eruption at Mt. St. Helens. 
  • Volcanism in BC.

Sedimentary rocks

  • Weathering, erosion transportation, deposition, lithification parts of the rock cycle.
  • Clastic versus chemical sedimentary rocks.  
  • Continental versus marine sedimentary environments.
  • Sedimentary structures (bedding, graded bedding, cross-bedding, ripples, etc.).
  • The Nanaimo Group (timing, depositional environment, rock types, deformation).

Metamorphic rocks

  • Agents of metamorphism (heat, pressure, water).
  • Regional versus contact metamorphism.
  • Metamorphic textures (slaty cleavage, schistose, gneissic, marble, etc).
  • Effects of different metamorphic grades on different protoliths.


  • Plate movement and elastic deformation.
  • Earthquakes and plate tectonics.
  • Richter magnitude and Mercalli intensity.
  • Significance of harmonic amplification and liquefaction.
  • Earthquakes in B.C.
  • The 1700 Juan de Fuca earthquake

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