GY403 Structural Geology Syllabus 
Dr. David Allison


I. Course


GY403 Structural Geology



II. Catalog Description


(4 semester credits) Study of the application of deforming forces to earth materials and the structures resulting from that deformation. Prerequisites:  GY301, PH114 or permission of instructor.



III. Course Objectives


The objective of this course will be to introduce the fundamentals of structural analysis including kinematic and dynamic analytical techniques. Plate tectonics and its many relationships with structural analysis will also be covered throughout. The important relationship of geologic time with structural geology is covered within the context of radiometric dating techniques. The student will learn to recognize and classify geologic structures associated with folding and fracturing of the lithosphere. Geological contacts and primary structures are covered in detail at the beginning of the course. Fault movement analysis will be covered in lecture and lab. Meso- and micro-fabric elements associated with igneous and metamorphic processes are covered in the latter portion of the lecture. The laboratory portion will be devoted to field and office techniques used in measuring and describing geological structures, including analysis of structures with the stereonet. The student will be introduced to structural analysis with computer software. Field trips will be made to the southern Appalachian geologic province for the purpose of conducting field mapping exercises and observing mesoscopic structures. The Appalachian trip is mandatory because lab 7 is conducted at the camping site.




I plan to spend approximately two weeks per chapter during the semester. Some chapters will span less than two weeks. I will assume that you have read the appropriate chapter in advance of the lecture. The student will need a working knowledge of trigonometry in lab, therefore, a review of basic trigonometric functions (sin, cos, tan, etc.) early in the course is recommended.




Computer Skills: students will be required to download lecture and lab assignments from the instructor’s web site. In addition, a significant proportion of the laboratory and lecture assignments will need to be verified with the use of spreadsheet templates made available by the instructor on designated workstations in the department student computer lab. The stereographic projection application NETPROG is used extensively in over half of the lab assignments for plotting structure data and analyzing statistical trends. Students who have a background in CAD and/or GIS software are encouraged to use the GIS lab workstations to complete geologic map projects, and orthographic solutions to apparent dip and three-point problems.



IV. Course Topics


The following chapters will be covered sequentially during the quarter:


Nature of Structural Geology; 
Detailed Structural Analysis: Descriptive Analysis


Descriptive Analysis: Base maps and mapping procedures


Descriptive Analysis: primary contact relationships


Descriptive Analysis: secondary structures


Descriptive Analysis: Geologic time and measurement.


Kinematic Analysis: EXAM 1


Kinematic Analysis continued.


(Tannehill State Park, AL,  Field Exercise March 5-6: mandatory)


Kinematic Analysis continued


Spring Break


Dynamic Analysis


Dynamic Analysis continued; EXAM 2


Joints and Faults




Tectonite Fabrics: Cleavage, Lineation & Foliation




Presentations and Final Exam Review




FINAL EXAM: see the schedule of classes for time and date.



NOTE: The schedule of laboratory topics is included in a separate syllabus for the laboratory.



GY480 Field Geology Special Note:

Geology majors should take GY403 Structural Geology the semester before taking GY480 Field Geology. In many regards GY480 is a continuation of GY403 therefore a significant time “gap” between these 2 courses can be very difficult for students to handle. Because of the physical demands of GY480, during the spring semester before GY480 students should be spent getting in the best possible physical fitness for the long-distance hiking done at high altitudes in the latter half of GY480. The USA student recreation center contains a multitude of facilities and expertise that can help students attain this goal. The GY403 instructor may recommend specific meetings with campus recreation personnel for training- it is highly recommended that students take advantage of this resource.


V. Text


Davis, George H., and Reynolds, Stephen J., 1996, Structural Geology of Rocks and Regions, 2nd edition: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York, 776p.



VI. Procedures for Assessing Student Performance


You will be required to obtain certain materials to complete the laboratory assignments. A list of required material will be included in a separate syllabus for the laboratory. The percentage weightings for exams and assignments are as follows:


Test 1: 10%
Test 2: 10%
Final:  15%
Presentation: 5%

Attendance: 10%


Average of lab assignments: 15%

Geologic Report: 10%
Lab Practical exam: 25%

The lecture final exam will be cumulative over lecture material. The lecture exams will be composed primarily of essay type questions, with minor portions of multiple choice or true/false questions. The laboratory grade will be composed of weekly exercises, a geologic map with report, and a final laboratory practical examination. The laboratory final will be cumulative over the laboratory exercises. Final grade calculation for lecture and laboratory is adjusted to a numerical median of 72 if the median is below that value. 

Changes in Course Requirements

Since all classes do not progress at the same rate, the instructor may wish to modify the above requirements or their timing as circumstances dictate. For example, the instructor may wish to change the number and frequency of exams, or the number and sequence of assignments. Students will be given adequate notification of such changes. Although course requirements may be modified, they will still preserve the original course objectives and spirit.




Missed exams\ lateness penalty\attendance:


The reason for producing a syllabus is to give students advanced notice of exams and assignment due dates. Translation: there is no excuse for turning in lab assignments late. You will receive a "0" if you do not turn in your lab assignment by the due date. If you have a legitimate excuse for missing an exam (i.e. medical problem), you will be permitted to complete a make-up during the last week of classes provided that you show me a signed certificate from a physician stating that it was impossible for you to make the exam. The make up exam will consist of essay questions.

Attendance of course lecture and laboratory meetings is required. Attendance will be taken by the instructor with a seating chart at the beginning of class. If you are late and miss the seating chart roll you will be counted absent. Please sit in the same location after the 1st week of class. I will keep track of your attendance as a percentage of possible days in attendance. For example, if a MWF class meets a total of 45 times, and you missed 8 classes according to the seating chart roll your attendance score will be (45-8)/45*100=82%. I will not take attendance during the 1st week of class.




Classroom/Laboratory Rules and Etiquette


  1. No active Laptop/Cell phone/Calculator computers are allowed during lectures. Notes are to be taken with pen and paper.
  2. No food is to be consumed during lecture or labs. No disposable drink containers are allowed- liquids must be contained in spill-proof containers.
  3. Door code combinations are to be shared only among current students. Do not give access codes to students not enrolled in the current class.
  4. Department computer resources are to be used only by Earth Science majors for class assignments. Do not give out computer passwords to non-majors.
  5. Do not use the faculty podium computers in classrooms unless specifically cleared by your instructor.
  6. If food/drink is consumed in the classroom during off hours please dispose of the trash in trash cans.
  7. If you remove lab specimens from the classroom please return them to their proper place.




Honor Policy


Unless explicitly stated otherwise in course assignments, all assigned work in this course is to be completed by students independently. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are academic matters; accordingly, no credit will be given for work in which they are involved. In addition, incidents of this nature may be reported to other appropriate authorities for further disciplinary action. See Student Academic Conduct Policy:




Disability Policy:


If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please notify the instructor/professor and provide certification from Special Student Services. (OSSS is located in Room 270 of the Student Center (460-7212). The USA non-discrimination policy link that includes a disability statement is below:




Classroom Disruption Policy


Disruption of lectures or labs will not be tolerated. This includes habitually arriving late for class or disrupting class with cell phones or personal conversations. For more information regarding what constitutes class disruption see:



VII. Instructor for the Course & Policies


Instructor: David Allison 
Office: Room 344 LSCB 
Office Hours:




This course is usually provided a student assistant for the laboratory whose main function is to assist students completing the laboratory exercises, and to assist the instructor in grading. The student assistant, if available, will be announced during the first lab. It is recommended that students take advantage of the knowledge available from the laboratory teaching assistant.






It is the responsibility of the student  to examine the rocks and minerals and other materials that are assigned in this course. You may do this during the lab periods and\or outside of normal university hours. (The room is left unlocked at all hours). Everything you are assigned in the labs is testable.



VIII. Bibliography


Davis, George H., and Reynolds, Stephen J., 1996, Structural Geology of Rocks and Regions, 2nd ed. : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York, 776p.



NOTE TO GEOLOGY MAJORS: Every semester the Earth Sciences Department designates a specific week as advising week. This is the period designated for you and your advisor to meet and discuss your progress and future courses. Please take advantage of this designated time- your advisor may refuse to advise you at other times. Be aware that you should meet with your advisor every quarter so that the departmental secretary can mark you from the registration "hold" list. It is your responsibility to make an appointment with your advisor, and to make sure that he/she marks you off of the registration "hold" list after you have been advised. If you are on the hold list you will not be able to register with phone registration. You can check with the departmental secretary each semester to determine the dates of advising week.
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