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 Friday, December 9, 2016, to add news about the final exam and course grades.

Course news:

Final exams have been graded, course scores have been calculated, and letter grades have been reported to the Registrar. Scores on final exams ranged from 129 to 200 out of 200 in the morning section and from 33 to 183 out of 200 in the afternoon section. The distribution of course letter grades is available from the GEOL 1122 page showing course grade distributions .

Exam 2 has been graded and was handed back at the end of class on Thursday, October 13, 2016.




Exam 1 has been graded and was handed back at the end of class on Thursday, September 15, 2016.





Old News:

Syllabi are now available for the 2016 9:30-10:45 lecture and the 2016 3:30-4:45 lecture.



Final exams for fall 2015 have been graded, and the grades have reported to the UGA Registrar.   The distribution of course grades is available from the GEOL 1122 page showing course grade distributions, as well as exam grade distributions, of previous years' classes

Exam II has been graded.  It will be or was returned on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, at the end of class.  The histogram below shows the distribution of grades.


Exam I has been graded.  It will be or was returned on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, at the end of class.  The histogram below shows the distribution of grades.




Selected Powerpoint lecture files are now available on eLCnew.  However, no other functions of eLCnew will be used for Railsback's GEOL 1122 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 1122 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.


The following is a grading rubric to guide determination of the GEOL 1122 participation grade arising from recounting of creation stories:

i. Student coherently recounts the story, to the story's end, in no more than 120 seconds: 100%

ii. Student recounts much of the story but does not reach the story's end in 120 seconds, or gives an incoherent presentation of the story that reaches the story's end: 60%

iii. Student reports that he or she is unprepared to recount the story: 20%

iv. Student is not present, or tries to recount the story but gets through only little of the story, or gives a strikingly incoherent or inappropriate recounting of the story: 0%

With regard to the Academic Honesty Policy of University of Georgia, if a student is called upon and is given notes or text by another student, this will be treated the same as sharing answers on an exam, which would be a violation of that policy.

Part iii is included so that the everyone can avoid Part iv.




If the distinction between WP and WF is relevant, 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 2016
Lxr Date Topic or Business Reading*
Part I. Basic Materials in Historical Geology
1 8/11/16 Introduction; Minerals Syllabus (read it!); 31-35; Introduction to GEOL 1122; Basics of geology; More basics of geology; Geologic time scale; Minerals in perspective; -ide and -ate minerals; Non-silicate minerals; Trends in silicate minerals
2 8/16/16 Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks 35-38, 45-47; Cooling of magma and igneous rocks; Bodies of igneous rocks; Metamorphic rocks; CS #1
3 8/18/16 Sedimentary Rocks, and Fossils 6-7, 38-45, 98-102, [103-126], 52-55; Weathering-to-lithification; Steno's Principles; Unconformities ; Fossils
4 8/23/16 Structural Geology & Plate Tectonics 186-201, 209-211; Structural Geology diagram; ["Earth to scale" cross-section] Plate tectonic boundaries; Plate tectonics and Earth dynamics; Divergent plate boundaries sketches; Convergent plate boundaries sketches
Part II. Basic Principles and Geologic Time
5 8/25/16 Goals and Theories "What is Science?"; "Ways of Understanding"; A quick assignment; CS #21
6 8/30/16 Working Through Time 3-5; CS #6
7 9/01/16 Correlative and Relative Dating 146-148; Facies diagram in 3D, Movement of facies, Lecture cross-sections 1, 2, 3, and 4, Correlation ppt file, An optional stratigraphy exercise and its solution, Practice cross-sections and their key; CS #7
8 9/06/16 Absolute Dating [28-29 on isotopes], 141-144; [Atoms, Isotopes]; Half-lives; A table of parents and daughters; CS #3
9 9/08/16 Age of the Earth & Geologic Time Scales 140-141, 10-13, 150-151; Lead isotope diagram; Geologic time scale; Sequences
  - 9/13/16 Exam I   - -
Part III. Biological Evolution of the Earth
10 9/15/16 Explanations of Biological Evolution 156-162; 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 9/20/16 Mechanics of Biological Evolution 162-180; Alleles, Genes, Chromosomes, etc. ; WWW Life ; CS #10
12 9/22/16 Precambrian Life 268-272, 281-287, 304-311; 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 9/27/16 Evolution of Vertebrates I 73-77, 335-338, 341-345, 367-371; Chordate Evolution (jpg) or Chordate Evolution (pdf)
14 9/29/16 Evolution of Vertebrates II 399-411 (incl. ESS 16-1); Revised chart, CS #13
15 10/04/16 Evolution of Vertebrates III 396-398, 429-433, 457-458; ESS 17-1
16 10/06/16 Evolution of Mammals & Hominids 454-457, 509-519; Hominid Cranial Sizes ; Primate Brain Structure; Primate Evolution jpeg or pdf ; A short essay; Human cognition Slide 1, Slide 2 , and Slide 3
  - 10/11/16 Exam II  
Part IV. Environmental Evolution of the Earth
17 10/13/16 Evolution of the Earth 257-266, [191], 297-299, 345, 350-352; 379-381; maps in cover and on 277, 297-299, 303, 317, 319, 359, 372, 375, 391, 411, 423, 434, 451, 461; Craton Growth; "The Fall Line" and "The Fall Line in Georgia"; Phanerozoic tectonic events in eastern North America. CS #16
18 10/18/16 The Evolution of the Ocean & Atmosphere 259-272, 287, 227-243; 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 #14 and 15
19 10/20/16 Phanerozoic Sea Level and Climate 148-151; "Possible causes of sea-level change"
20 10/25/16 The Cretaceous and Cenozoic 435-457, 460-465, [231-234 on isotopes] Isotopes; Cenozoic O isotope records; ["O Isotopes", Glaciers]; CS #12
21 10/27/16 Quaternary Glaciation 108-109, 485-494; [Glaciers]; North American glacial phases, Pulse of Pleistocene, Milankovitch Cycles I, II, and III, a CO2 record
22 11/01/16 The Last 120,000 Years ESS19-1 on 490-491; Last 4 my, Last 120 ka, Later Quaternary events, Holocene events, "Changing the World"
23 11/03/16 The Holocene I 524-538; Later Quaternary events, Holocene events, "Changing the World"
24 11/08/16 Holocene II - Greenhouse effect & global warming 540-546; Lecture 23 outline; WWW pages on carbon dioxide
25 11/10/16 Holocene III - Some 20th-21st Century Environmental Issues Web pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7,
26 11/15/16 The Holocene IV - Changing ecologies Lecture Illustration #0 , #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8; CS #20 .
27 11/17/16 The Holocene V - Alternatives for the Late Holocene Human lifestyles; Lifestyle effects; US energy consumption; World energy consumption; Human footprint data.
28 11/29/16 Summary and Review The Land Ethic Revisited; A time line; Primate brain volumes revisited
  12/01/16 Student questions and professor answers
on inexplicable 31st class day
- 12/08/16 Final Exam for Section 13799 8:00am-11:00am Room 200A GG
Final Exam for Section 29576 3:30pm-6:30m Room 200A GG

*Notes regarding readings:
    All readings are in Stanley and Luczaj's Earth System History (4th edn), except for linked web pages and for numbers labeled "CS", which are numbers 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.

A second extra-credit exercise.

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

Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 1 from 2015.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 2 from 2015.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 3 from 2015.

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