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Online Master of Science in Applied Geosciences Courses

This is a comprehensive list of courses offered in earth and environmental science studies to fulfill the requirements in the MSAG online curriculum. Not all courses are offered every year. Check current course listings for which courses are offered each semester. 

GEOL 528 Aqueous Geochemistry

Required course: Geochemistry
Offered in the fall term

This course is designed to provide graduate students with an understanding of the fundamentals of aqueous geochemistry. The chemistry of water, air, and soil will be studied from an environmental perspective. The nature, composition, structure, and properties of pollutants coupled with the major chemical mechanisms controlling the occurrence and mobility of chemicals in the environment will also be studied. Upon completion of this course, students should expect to have attained a broad understanding of and familiarity with aqueous geochemistry concepts applicable to the environmental field. Environmental issues that will be covered include acid deposition, toxic metal contamination, deforestation, and anthropogenic perturbed aspects of the earth’s hydrosphere.

GEOL 596 Geologic Field Methods

Elective course
Offered in the summer term

This is an in-person class. One week in Philadelphia is required to complete the course. Field trips are required.

This course will introduce geologic mapping tools that include the Sight Level, Brunton Transit, Theodolite, and GPS. We will review theory and concepts related to these methodologies. Instruction will emphasize traditional observation methods, hands on learning of instrumentation during site visits, interpretation of field measurements and preparation of geologic maps. This course fulfills the field methods course requirement for licensure in Pennsylvania.

GEOL 611 Field Study in Soils

Elective course
Offered in the summer term

This is an in-person class. One week in Philadelphia is required to complete the course. Field trips are required.

Soil is a natural body that exists as part of the environment where inorganic, geologic materials combine with organic materials to produce a large array of soils with varying properties. This course will begin with in-class primers on the field description of soil properties, soil classification, and land use classification, followed by weekly day-long (4-6 hours) required field trips to several locations to study the soils in-situ.

GEOL 620 Applied and Environmental Geophysics

Required course: Geophysics
Offered in the fall term

The application of geophysical investigation techniques to problems of the local and shallow subsurface structure of the earth. The application of geophysical measurements and interpretation for environmental site characterizations, locating buried structures, groundwater investigations, and identifying geotechnical hazards with emphasis on gravity methods, seismic refraction and reflection, electrical resistivity, electromagnetic methods, ground penetrating radar, and borehole nuclear logging.

GEOL 643 Sustainable Development of Water Resource Systems

Elective course
Offered in the spring term

The evaluation of technical, social, and economic constraints on the design of water supply and sanitation projects. The focus on sustainable design emphasizes how technical solutions fit within the appropriate social context. Case studies are used to demonstrate these principles across a range of examples from developed and developing countries including detailed studies from rural communities with limited resources.

GEOL 650 Environmental Due Diligence

Elective course
Offered in the fall term

Evaluation of environmental contamination and liability is an important tool during acquisition of real estate property, and a standard work product in the environmental consulting field. This course will cover the purpose and history of the Superfund law, the various classifications of Superfund liable parties, and protections against Superfund liability, specifically regarding bona fide prospective purchasers (BFPP). In the context of the BFPP liability defense the course will focus on the performance of “All Appropriate Inquiry” for the presence of environmental contamination (e.g. Phase I environmental site assessment). Our study of “All Appropriate Inquiry” will include evaluation of historical maps and other resources, aerial photography, chain-of-title documentation, and governmental database information pertaining to known contaminated sites in the area of select properties on or near campus. Site visits will be performed to gain experience and knowledge for the identification of recognized environmental conditions. Students will prepare environmental reports for select properties and will have an opportunity to hone technical writing skills.

GEOL 651 Geocomputations

Required course: Geocomputations
Offered in the fall term

Review and applications of selected methods from differential equations, advanced engineering mathematics, and geostatistics to problems encountered in geology, engineering geology, geophysics and hydrology.

GEOL 653 Hydrology

Required course: Hydrology
Offered in the fall term

Introduction to the basic principles of the hydrologic cycle and water budgets, precipitation and infiltration, evaporation and transpiration, stream flow, hydrograph analysis (floods), subsurface and groundwater flow, well hydraulics, water quality, and frequency analysis.

GEOL 654 Geomechanics: Solids

Required: course: Geomechanics
Offered in the fall term

Mechanical properties of solid and fluid earth materials, stress and strain, earth pressures in soil and rock, tunnels, piles, and piers; flow through gates, weirs, spillways and culverts, hydraulics, seepage, and Darcy's law as applied to the hydrologic sciences.

GEOL 656 Fate and Transport of Pollutants

Elective course
Offered in the spring and summers terms

This course covers basic groundwater flow and solute transport modeling in one-, two-, and three-dimensions. After first reviewing the principles of modeling, the student will gain hands-on experience by conducting simulations on the computer. The modeling programs used in the course are MODFLOW (USGS), MT3D, and the US Army Corps of Engineers GMS (Groundwater Modeling System).

GEOL 658 Geostatistics

Required course: Geocomputations/Elective
Offered in the spring and summer terms

Statistical analysis of data from geological, geotechnical, and geohydrologic sources.

GEOL 661 Environmental Groundwater Hydrology

Required course: Groundwater Hydrology
Offered in the spring term

This course is designed to introduce the major definitions and concepts regarding groundwater flow and contaminant transport. The theory underlying concepts, including mathematical derivations of governing equations used to model groundwater flow and contaminant transport, will be discussed and applications to environmental problems addressed. Upon completion of this course, students should expect to have attained a broad understanding of and familiarity with groundwater flow and contaminant transport concepts, and to have acquired the skills necessary to pursue work in flow and transport modeling.

GEOL 668 Geomechanics: Fluids

Required course: Geomechanics/Elective
Offered in the spring term

Static and dynamic mechanical properties of fluid in earth materials, as applied to the hydrologic sciences; Principles of fluid mechanics and hydraulics applied to open channel flow in earth materials; flow through gates, weirs, spillways, and culverts; Applications of Darcy's Law to subsurface flow and seepage.

GEOL 670 Engineering Geology: Rock Mechanics

Required course: Engineering Geology
Offered in the fall term

This course focuses on the rock mechanics aspects of Engineering Geology. The theme is characterization of the geologic environment for engineering and environmental investigations.  Covered are the various exploration tools and methods, including: collection and analysis of existing engineering data; interpretation of remotely sensed imagery; field and laboratory measurements of material properties; measurement and characterization of rock discontinuities; rock slope stability analysis; stress, strain and failure of rocks and the importance of scale; rock core logging; cock mass rating; rock support and reinforcement; rock excavation, blasting, and blast monitoring and control.

GEOL 671 Engineering Geology: Surficial Materials and Processes

Elective course
Offered in the spring term, odd years

As the human population continues to grow, the environment and earth's resources become
more important. This course will concentrate on the occurrence and distribution of earth’s
surficial materials and their engineering and environmental properties. The engineering
classification, testing, and use of the earth materials will be emphasized. The geohazards of
surficial processes will also be studied in the context of geologic history and the planning and
use of the geologic environment.

GEOL 680 Interpretation of Near-surface Geologic Structure for Engineering and Environmental Geology

Elective course
Offered in the spring term, even years

The course introduces the basic principles of structural geology and their applications to engineering and environmental site characterization and includes the mechanisms for the deformation and failure of the earth’s crust, folded and faulted structures, and the orthogonal and stereographic solutions to characterize near-surface geologic structure. It also includes the construction and interpretation of geologic maps, geologic cross sections and block diagrams. Emphasis is placed on the graphical representation of subsurface data, including the use of selected computer programs, and the integration of the data to solve problems encountered in engineering and environmental projects.

GEOL 699 Project Design

Required course
Offered in the spring term

This course is designed to prepare Master of Science in Applied Geosciences students to undertake their capstone exercise. In this course, we discuss how to identify an appropriate research project, how to design a research plan, and how to prepare a detailed proposal. By the end of the course, each student is expected to have completed a capstone proposal.

ENVS 541 Modeling Geographic Objects

Elective course
Offered in the fall term

This course offers a broad and practical introduction to the acquisition, storage, retrieval, maintenance, use, and presentation of digital cartographic data with both image and drawing based geographic information systems (GIS) for a variety of environmental science, planning, and management applications. Its major objectives are to provide the training necessary to make productive use of at least two well-known software packages, and to establish the conceptual foundation on which to build further skills and knowledge in late practice.

ENVS 681 Modeling Geographic Space

Elective course
Offered in the spring term

This course explores the nature and use of digital geographic information systems (GIS) for the analysis and synthesis of spatial patterns and processes through cartographic modeling. Cartographic modeling is a general but well-defined methodology that can be used to address a wide variety of analytical mapping applications in a clear and consistent manner. It does so by decomposing both data and data-processing tasks into elemental components that can then be recomposed with relative ease and with great flexibility.

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