GLY 3315*/3200: The Solid Earth*/Mineralogy

[*as of Fall, 2000!]

4 credit hours

Instructor: Dr. Jeff Ryan

Office: SCA 507

Labs: SCA 508, SCA 117, CHE 323


Meeting times: T-R, 12:00 to 3:20 PM

Meeting Place: CHE 325.

Please note that in this class, lab and lecture are not treated as separate entities, as they were in your introductory courses. Activities and class lectures will be interwoven (with reasonably generous breaks!) in both sessions each week. It is thus criticially important that you make a point of attending each class session! Also, we WILL be using the Internet as part of this course, both for additional text materials, and for homework exercises, so you will need to set up a USF computer account! See me about this if you have questions.

Link to Official Class Syllabus for GLY 3200, Fall 1999

Required Textbooks

Perkins -- Mineralogy

MacKenzie and Adams -- A Color Atlas of Rocks and Minerals in Thin Section

For mineral identification purposes, I strongly suggest that you purchase a rock and mineral guidebook. A number of good ones are available. If you want my assessments of any of them, just ask!

Additional Information Resources:

Resources Page of the Mineralogical Society of America (this includes links to an online Xray diffractometer, movies of minerals in thin section, 3-D crystal structures, and more!)

Class website for Petrology, University of British Columbia (This is a neat site, with many high-quality pictures of minerals and rocks in thin section.)

Class website for Mineralogy and Optical Mineralogy, University of Idaho (relatively no-frills site, but good links to other neat places)

Mineralogy and Petrology Research on the Web (A big links page to all sorts of places!)

Basaltic Volcanism on the Terrestrial Planets (a volume produced by the scientific community on the characteristics of basaltic rocks from all the major tectonic settings on the Earth, and on other planets. Now pretty old, but a grest place to get some fundamental information on how basaltic lavas form and change. An online book that has long been out of print)

Other Required Materials:

A hand Lens: Preferably a 10X pocket magnifying lens. I recommend a Hastings Triplet, which gives distortion-free magnification. The Coddington doublet magnifiers are also acceptable, but are less clear around the edges. A decent lens runs about $25-$40, but it is a long-term investment for a geologist - the one I bought for mineralogy (in 1979!!) still goes to the field with me every summer. Where to buy these? The Nature Company, World of Science. Or, we can order them for you.

Colored Pencils: you will be doing a bit of sketching in this class, and color helps.

Ruler, Protractor: again, for sketching.

NOTE: all this stuff we're asking you to buy for Mineralogy, you will need in the vast majority of the upper-level Geology courses that are to come!


MINERALOGY, strictly defined, is the Study (logia, from Greek) of minerals. The origins of the discipline of mineralogy date back hundreds of years to the first systematic studies of mineral deposits (De Re Metallica, by Agricola). The development of mineralogy as a field of inquiriy has been strongly influenced first by economic imperatives (the study of ores and gemstones) and in modern times by materials science. From the perspective of a geologist, however, mineralogy is a critical discipline because minerals are the constituents that make up rocks. The Earth and all the other terrestrial planets are composed of rocks, so Mineralogy is at its essence an examination of the "building blocks" of the solid Earth. This term we will show you how geologists use minerals to understand the chemical compositions and evolution of rocks (the primary subject matter of Petrology, which y'all will do next term), and use Mineral Assemblages to make inferences about the structure and makeup of the Earth's interior.

Two key disciplines provide the major tools that we will use in Mineralogy:

Crystallography, which is the the study of crystalline structures. The aspects of crystallography used in mineralogy are the techniques of mineral identification (i.e., the use of physical, chemical, optical or crystallographic properties as a tool to recognize minerals), and Crystal Chemistry (how chemical constituents can bond to create crystalline solids). Over 30% of our class time will be spent on mastering these essential "nuts and bolts" aspects of mineralogy.

Geochemistry is essentially the principles and tools of Chemistry applied to studies of the earth. Pretty much every field in geology makes some use of geochemistry. In Mineralogy, we will become familiar with two aspects of geochemistry:

1) Phase equilibria - how mineral assemblages in rocks develop via melting, crystallization and other processes, and how they change as a function of changing pressures and temperatures.

2) Analytical Geochemistry - the techniques used for measuring the bulk chemical compositions of rocks, the abundances of trace elements, and isotope ratios.

Geochemistry will pervade most of what we do in this class, and analytical geochemistry will get special attention during a few of our activities this term.

The Form of the Course

Each session will include both "lecture" material (actual lectures, or class discussion sessions) and associated hands-on "lab" activities. Both lecture and lab content will be very "tools" oriented, as the goal of this class is for you to be able to Time will be alotted in each session for less formal "tutorial" work, where you can go through things one-on-one with me and/or the teaching assistant.

Evaluated Activities:

1) Mineral Identification/Description: Over the course of the term, we will present to you ~100 common minerals, as found in hand sample, as constituents of rocks, and in thin sections for microscopic examination. Our goal is to get y’all to the point that you can recognize many of these minerals on the spot, or at least via a few simple tests. The only way to do this is to look at a lot of different samples of them, so we’ll provide you with many trays of samples and many thin sections to examine. While we will spend some class time talking about them, introducing the samples to you, and providing y'all some examination/tutorial time to work on them, learning them will ultimately be your responsibility! I will be available during my post-class office-hours for "skull sessions" with y’all on this, and your TA is also available, but this will, in part, always be "homework" of a form.

You’ll be evaluated on this effort via the "samples of the week": a short quiz consisting of one or two samples related to assigned mineral sets, which you will have to answer a couple questions about. There will be 10 quizzes given, at a rate of one per week after the second week: none of them will require more than 15 minutes to do. On these quizzes, there will be NO PARTIAL CREDIT GIVEN - your answer must be correct to get credit for the quiz!! Successful completion of this requirement will entail correctly completing eight (8) of these quizzes, so you can afford to miss (or choose not to take) a couple of them.

You will have the option to make up your no-credit quiz results in the last weeks of the term. On this make-up quiz, partial credit will be given where appropriate. You may choose to retake any quiz that you tried but didn't get right, but you MAY NOT re-take quizzes that you DID NOT take when first offered! Extenuating circumstances (emergencies, medical, etc.) will be considered case by case, but only if a satisfactory excuse is presented at the time of the missed quiz.

As you will see, this aspect of the class will be a BIG HELP on your tests, so spend some time with it!!

16% of your Final Grade.

Archive of 'Sample of the Day' Mineral Lists.

2) Examinations: We will have two exams, one at the midterm, and one during finals week. The exams will be investigative - i.e., you will use the "tools" for understanding minerals and rocks that we shall train you in to do these tests. As such, both of the exams will be, after a form, "take home tests" - you will have PLENTY of time to work on them!! Details on the first test will be provided directly; the second test will be discussed shortly after the first one is due.

Each 20% of the Final Grade,

40%, total, of the Final Grade.

3) Hands-on Exercises in Class: These will generally be short exercises, to be finished on the day assigned, though a couple may be more involved undertakings that carry across several sessions. All will be practicals oriented toward developing the skills of mineral identification, and the interpretation of igneous and/or metamorphic rocks. Point values will vary for each exercise.

To encourage y'all to go back and correct your mistakes on these exercises (which will be essential if you're going to succeed on the tests!), I'm offering some limited "grade forgiveness": you will have the opportunity to correct your errors and hand in the exercises again for re-grading. If you get it right on the second go, you'll get 50% of the points you lost! [NOTE: Material sets for in-class activities will be maintained for three (3) weeks after the activity for make-up purposes, after which "the bus is gone." And, NO POINTS may be made up on exercises that are not handed in on time!]

24% of the Final Grade.

4) Homework exercises on the Web: These will be assigned periodically, with due dates in the next class session (generally they will be assigned over the weekend!). The quantitative stuff that we do will mostly happen here, along with some of what we do in petrographic microscopy.

15% of the Final Grade

Link to Web Exercises directory

5) Field Trip: There will be an extended field exercise for this class, which will occur over a four-day block somewhere in the vicinity of October 14-19. The trip is REQUIRED (and generally they're a lot of fun!), and students who attend WILL HAVE A DISTINCT LEG-UP on their final exam, so you should really try to go, even though it is only worth 5% of the Final Grade!



Link back to Jeff Ryan's Homepage

Link back to USF Geology Homepage