University of Georgia - Department of Geology
GEOL 1122 - Earth's History of Global Change
Webpage for Dr. Bruce Railsback's lecture section

This is a page to provide links for topics
relevant to the course and to post updates
to the course syllabus and course schedule.

      GEOL 1122 - Historical Geology

This page was last updated on October 17, 2014, to add news about Exam 2.

Course news:

Exam 2 has been graded.  It will be or was returned on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at the end of class.  The histograms below show the distributions of grades.






Exam 1 has been graded.  It was returned on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at the end of class.  The histograms below show the distributions of grades.






Students who are not native speakers of English can receive early drafts of Railsback's Powerpoint lecture files, so that they can become familiar with new words before attending the lecture.   Students wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should send an email message to Railsback (


Selected Powerpoint lecture files are now available on eLCnew. However, no other functions of eLCnew will be used for Railsback's GEOL 3030 course. Email messages sent to Railsback via eLCnew will not be received. Send email to him at
            The availability of these Powerpoint files in no way indicates that attendance in lecture is unimportant, nor that one can do well in the course without coming to lecture. Exams in Railsback's GEOL 3030 course will continue to examine material covered in lecture, including thoughts discussed in response to student questions. These Powerpoint files are therefore not an adequate resource in preparing for exams.


Syllabi are now available for the 9:30-10:45 lecture and the 3:30-4:45 lecture.


Some histograms of grades from previous exams are shown below. There is also a page showing course grade distributions, as well as exam grade distributions, of previous years' classes.

















Persons withdrawing before the midterm withdrawal deadline will be given WPs, not WFs.

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Schedule for Railsback's GEOL 1122 for Fall 2014
Lxr Date Topic or Business Reading*
Part I. Basic Materials in Historical Geology
1 8/19/14 Introduction; Minerals Syllabus (read it!); 31-35, Introduction to GEOL 1122; Basics of geology; More basics of geology; Minerals in perspective; Trends in silicate minerals
2 8/21/14 Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks 35-37; 44-46; Cooling of magma and igneous rocks; Bodies of igneous rocks; Metamorphic rocks; CS #1
3 8/26/14 Sedimentary Rocks, and Fossils 8-10; 142-147; 37-44; 99-102 [106-123]; 47-53; Weathering-to-lithification; Steno's Principles; Unconformities ; Fossils
4 8/28/14 Structural Geology & Plate Tectonics 178; 187-193; 202-204; Structural Geology diagram; ["Earth to scale" cross-section] Plate tectonic boundaries; Divergent plate boundaries sketches; Convergent plate boundaries sketches
Part II. Basic Principles and Geologic Time
5 9/02/14 Goals and Theories "What is Science?"; "Ways of Understanding"; A quick assignment; CS #4
6 9/04/14 Working Through Time 3-5; CS #6
7 9/09/14 Correlative and Relative Dating 142-144; Facies diagram in 3D, Movement of facies, Lecture cross-sections 1, 2, 3, and 4, Correlation ppt file, Practice cross-sections and their key; CS #7
8 9/11/14 Absolute Dating 137-139; [28-29 on isotopes]; [Atoms, Isotopes]; Half-lives; A table of parents and daughters; CS #3
9 9/16/14 Age of the Earth & Geologic Time Scales 136-137; 10-12; 145-147; Lead isotope diagram; Sequences
  - 9/18/14 Exam I   - -
Part III. Biological Evolution of the Earth
10 9/23/14 Explanations of Biological Evolution 152-158; Modern Example 1; Modern Example 2; Modern Example 3; [Modern human evolution]; Model Part 1; Model Part 2; Artificial Selection 1; Artificial Selection 2 Artificial Selection 3
11 9/25/14 Mechanics of Biological Evolution 158-172; Alleles, Genes, Chromosomes, etc. ; WWW Life ; CS #10
12 9/30/14 Precambrian Life 256-261; 269-275; Cells, [Prokaryotes], Cellular Evolution (Small printer-friendly version); Intra-cellular symbiosis; An endosymbiotic experiment; Slime Molds; Evolution of multicellularity; A summary of early evolution; CS #11
13 10/02/14 Evolution of Vertebrates I 70-73; 321-325; 327-330; 351-356; Chordate Evolution (jpg) or Chordate Evolution (pdf)
14 10/07/14 Evolution of Vertebrates II 382-390 (incl. ESS 16-1); Revised chart, CS #13
15 10/09/14 Evolution of Vertebrates III 379-380; 411-414; ESS 17-1
16 10/14/14 Evolution of Mammals & Hominids 434-437; 484-493; Hominid Cranial Sizes ; Primate Brain Structure; Primate Evolution jpeg or pdf ; A short essay; Human cognition Slide 1, Slide 2 , and Slide 3
  - 10/16/14 Exam II  
Part IV. Environmental Evolution of the Earth
17 10/21/14 The origin of the Universe, Solar System, and Earth 244-247; "In Defense of the Big Bang"; ["Spectra, Absorption, and the Red Shift"]; ["Doppler Effect & Red Shift"]; ["Gravitational Lensing"]; ["Further Evidence"]; [An isotopic-dating diagram]; ["Earth to scale" cross-section]
18 10/23/14 Evolution of the Earth II 247-256; 183-184; 284-286; 362-364; maps in cover and on 265, 289, 305, 343, 357, 358, 375, 391, 405, 415, 431, & 441; Craton Growth; "The Fall Line" and "The Fall Line in Georgia"; Phanerozoic tectonic events in eastern North America. CS #14 and 15
19 10/28/14 The Evolution of the Ocean & Atmosphere 249; 261; 275-280; 219-229; Phanerozoic environmental time line as pdf or jpeg; [Limestones and CO2]; [Bob Berner's box models]; [Soil carbonate and ancient PCO2] [Boron and ancient PCO2]; CS #16
20 10/30/14 Phanerozoic Sea Level and Climate 144-147; "Possible causes of sea-level change"
21 11/04/14 The Cretaceous and Cenozoic 440-443 [232-234 on isotopes] Isotopes; Cenozoic O isotope records; ["O Isotopes", Glaciers]; CS #12
22 11/06/14 Quaternary Glaciation 104-106; 461-470; [Glaciers]; North American glacial phases, Pulse of Pleistocene, Milankovitch Cycles I, II, and III, a CO2 record
23 11/11/14 The Last 120,000 Years 507-513; Last 4 my, Last 120 ka, Later Quaternary events, Holocene events, "Changing the World"
24 11/13/14 Holocene I - Greenhouse effect & global warming Lecture 23 outline; WWW pages on carbon dioxide
25 11/18/14 Holocene II - Some 20th-21st Century Environmental Issues 503-507; 514-519; Web pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7,
26 11/20/14 The Holocene III - Changing ecologies Lecture Illustration #0 , #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8; CS #20 .
27 12/02/14 The Holocene IV - Alternatives for the Late Holocene Human lifestyles; Lifestyle effects; US energy consumption; World energy consumption; Human footprint data.
28 12/04/14 Summary and Review The Land Ethic Revisited; A time line; Primate brain volumes revisited
- 12/09/14 Friday UGA follows a Friday schedule on this Tuesday.
- 12/11/14 Final Exam for Section 84187 8:00am-11:00am Room 200A GG
Final Exam for Section 84066 3:30pm-6:30m Room 200A GG
  - -

*Notes regarding readings:
    All readings are in Stanley's Earth System History (3rd edn), except for web pages, which are labeled "WWW", and for numbers labeled "CS", which are nunbers for stories in Creation Stories from around the World.
    Pages in brackets are suggested reading that may make lecture material easier to understand.
    Reading assignments do not include "Earth System Shift" ("ESS") inserts unless specifically noted.
    Reading assignments include all figures to which reference is made, even if the figures fall outside the page range indicated.

GEOL 1122 webpages:

How to do better in GEOL 1122 or How to study for college exams.

A little bit of advice for first-semester freshmen.

A letter that student athletes can print out and use to request that their grades by reported to an advisor in the athletic program. After filling all the blanks, they should give the letter to Dr. Railsback.

Past grade distributions in Railsback's GEOL 1122 lecture sections.

Questions asked frequently or recently by 1122 students, and the answers to those questions.

Part 1 of a glossary of terms used in Railsback's lectures in GEOL 1122.

Part 2 of a glossary of terms used in Railsback's lectures in GEOL 1122.

There's no longer a lecture on evolution of plants, but for persons trying to find one of the readings, here's the link to An Ode to Plants.

A table of possible course grades given certain Exam 1 grades.

Course evaluations.

An extra-credit exercise.

The essay questions for, and other information on, this year's final exam.

Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 1 from 2013.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 2 from 2013.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 3 from 2013.

Email to Railsback (
Railsback's main web page
UGA Geology Department web page