3 credits - Fall 2019 - M 1:35-2:25 and W 1:35-5:25 in FD Adams 348 OR ON LOCATION

Download complete Syllabus in pdf format


Prof: Christie Rowe (christie.rowe[at]mcgill.ca, Office: FDA 402)

Caroline Seyler (caroline.seyler[at]mail.mcgill.ca; office: FDA 347)
Inga Boianju (inga.boianju[at]mail.mcgill.ca; office: FDA 401)

About this course

Hi, welcome to your first geology course (for most of you, anyway!) This course is designed to introduce students to the practice of making observations of rocks in the wild (or, in and around Montreal), teach them how to identify a few common rock types and understand how those rocks were formed, to think about the relationship between bedrock structure and the topography of the landscape, and to wade into thinking about geologic time.

This course will meet twice per week - a 50-minute lecture on Monday, and a 3h50 period on Wednesday for putting geological methods into practice. Please note that we will start on Friday September 2, which is a Monday schedule.

This course is designed to introduce students to the practice of field geology, and will involve walking to light hiking during many assignments. Any student who is concerned about access or mobility issues should contact the instructor as soon as possible to determine how we can work together to enable everyone to participate in the course. Students will want to wear sturdy shoes (which may get muddy on some days), and be prepared to work outside even if it is cold or raining. For some labs, students will need to take public transportation (or use a bicycle or other mode of personal transportation) to meet at sites around Montreal.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to make first-order field descriptions of a variety of local rocks and distinguish between primary (depositional) characteristics of sedimentary and volcanic rocks and features produced by deformation. You will learn to use a geological compass to measure primary and secondary features of rock outcrops. You will learn to read topographic and geologic maps. Along the way, you will be exposed to key concepts in geology, the history of geology, and the rich and economically important geology of Quebec.

This course will serve as a pre-requisite for the traveling field courses offered in May (EPSC 231, 330, 331).

You will need

  • BOUND field notebook with a hard cover - preferably Rite-in-the-Rain or Moleskin, 12x19 cm
  • Hand lens (loope or magnifying glass) with x5 - x10 magnification
  • Set of pencil crayons (coloured pencils) - 12 colours
  • Sharp pencils
  • Protractor and ruler (10 cm or longer)
  • Hiking shoes or boots (might get a bit muddy)
  • Warm clothes; rain jacket


Course Handbook (will be distributed in class)

Optional:Freeman, Tom, Geology Field Methods, 2010, Friendship Publications, Columbia, MO, 2010, 111 p.
Available from the instructor for $20.00 CAD (or $15 USD).

Other readings to be distributed in class as necessary.

General Information

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for more information).

In accord with McGill University's Charter of Students' Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded.

Reading and lectures for this course will be given in English, which is the most commonly used international language for science, including geology. I encourage you to use any literature or online resources to learn the terminology of structural geology in French, and I hope I will learn along with you. You are welcome to submit written work in French. I reserve the right to enlist the help of francophone colleagues as needed to assist in grading your work.


First rock description feedback only
Time Scale Quiz Must pass
Plutonic rocks and metamorphic - Grenville Field Trip 10%
Sketching 5%
Pace and Compass 5%
Folds and stereonets + Magog-Sutton field trip 15%
Champlain Sea Sediments - stratigraphic column 5%
Volcanic Rocks - Isle St Helene 5%
Geologic Maps 5%
Topographic map exercise, Mt Royal Cemetery 5%
Three Point Problems 5%
Writing checkpoint 5%
Google Mars Lab - Landforms and interpretation 5%
Cross Sections 5%
Geology of Quebec presentation 10%
Geology of Quebec report 15%


Week Date Topic Reading Field Trip Turn in today
1 Sept 4 Intro to course, Sedimentary rocks Peel St outcrop; first rock description Field notebook with rock description
2 Sept 9 Introduction to Crystalline Rocks Course handbook - rock description. Freeman 62-63
Sept 11 Assignment sheet Meet at FDA348 at 1:35 pm, prepare for rain
Sept 14 Field Trip Assignment Meet at Milton Gates, 8 am - bring food, water, raingear
3 Sept 16 Monday: NO CLASS
Wednesday: first chance to pass timescale quiz
Outcrop Sketching
Guest Prof. David Covo (Architecture)
Bring soft lead sketching pencil, colored pencils. Notebook or plain paper.
Sept 18 Walk on Mt Royal -- in case of rain, hand sample drawing in classroom. Turn in Grenville Report
4 Sept 23 Orientation and scale Freeman pages 1-10, 16-21, 64-67
Watch Chuck Bailey's video on how to measure Strike and Dip
Sept 25 Pace and compass exercise Turn in sketches
5 Sept 30 Writing development - Guest Prof Diane Dechief Assignment sheet You have confirmed your topic for semester project (see list at bottom of page
Oct 2 Second chance to pass timescale quiz
Folds and Stereonets
Freeman 48-61, Course handbook Chapter 3
Oct 5 Folds and low-grade metamorphic rocks Course handbook Chapter 3 Magog and Sutton
6 Oct 7 Finding information: Guest Prof NuRee Lee Turn in Pace and Compass exercise
Oct 9 No class No lab
7 Oct 14 Thanksgiving - no class
Oct 16 Topographic map practice Freeman 12-17, 74-75 Mount Royal Cemetery Exercise Magog-Sutton Report Due
8 Oct 21 Describing and measuring sediments Isle St Helen report
Oct 23 Sand quarry field trip; vans leave FDA courtyard at 1:35 sharp). This field trip is off-island so allow for possible traffic on the way back. Geologic Maps
9 Oct 28 Volcanic rocks Isle St Helene Diatreme - leave FDA on the metro
Oct 30 Mount Royal Cemetery Exercise Sand Quarry
10 Nov 4 Geology on topography Freeman 92-93 Three-point Problems Assignment sheet
Nov 6 Cemetery Topo Map
11 Nov 11 Topo profiles and writing Start topographic profile
Nov 13 Writing and Peer Review Three-Point Problems
12 Nov 18 Cross Sections Freeman 78-83 Turn over peer review sheets
Nov 20
13 Nov 25 Google Earth and Mars
Nov 27 Cross Sections
14 Dec 2 Geology of Quebec Presentations
Dec 3 Geology of Quebec Presentations Google Earth and Mars
Final papers due Dec 3 11:59 pm EST by email

Map of planned field trip locations (TENTATIVE; SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Topics for Quebec Geology Report

  1. Modern Saint Lawrence Estuary (present-day depositional environment)
  2. QUENTIN - Glacial geology of Quebec, e.g Champlain Sea (latest Cenozoic)
  3. DANNY - Monteregion Hills (Cretaceous)
  4. ANDREW - Saint Lawrence lowlands (Paleozoic)
  5. CAROLINE - Appalachian foreland - ophiolites (Paleozoic)
  6. CAROLINE - Appalachian foreland - Dunnage and Humber Zones (Paleozoic)
  7. INGA - Grenville Orogen (Proterozoic)
  8. CAMRYN - Labrador Trough (Archean-Proterozoic)
  9. JULIE - Abitibi region gold (Archean)
  10. CHRISTIE - Superior Province (Archean)