Mathematics in Geology

Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 quarters

Taught by

This interdisciplinary, introductory-level program will explore topics in physical geology and applied precalculus mathematics. It is designed for students with a desire to have a broader and deeper understanding of the Earth, of mathematical concepts and functions, and of applications of math to earth sciences. The study of lab and field sciences and mathematical problem-solving through rigorous, quantitative, and interdisciplinary investigations will be emphasized. We expect students to finish the program with a strong understanding of the scientific and mathematical concepts that help us investigate the world around us.

In fall quarter geology we will study fundamental concepts in Earth science including geologic time, plate tectonics, and earth materials. Winter quarter geology will focus on Earth processes including soil development, nutrient cycling, and climate change. In both quarters our precalculus material will focus on families of mathematical functions, including polynomial, trigonometric, exponential, and logarithmic functions. Pattern identification and conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas will be emphasized along with applications to geological sciences. Additional math topics will include symmetry and geometry (with applications to mineral structure), and introductory concepts in probability and statistics. Quantitative reasoning and statistical analysis of data will be emphasized throughout the program and students will participate in weekly geology-content-based workshops focusing on improving mathematical skills. Fall quarter we will focus on skill-building in the laboratory and math workshops with the goal of doing meaningful field-lab work later in the year. Students will conduct group projects, including library research and writing, with opportunities for fieldwork.

Program Details

Fields of Study

geology mathematics

Preparatory For

environmental sciences, geosciences, and mathematics. This program will provide good background for more in-depth science programs such as Introduction to Natural Science or Models of Motion.


Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First winter class meeting: Tuesday, January 10th at 9am (Sem II E1107)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$275 in fall for overnight field trips.


2016-11-30Winter fee cancelled.
2016-05-23This program now accepts enrollment for all class levels (Fr-Sr).
2016-04-11Fees added.