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


Course news
Course schedule
Specific course webpages
Additional course policies beyond
        those on the syllabus

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 15, 2017, to add news about course grades.



Course news:

Final exams have been graded, course scores have been calculated, and letter grades have been reported to the Registrar. The distribution of course grades can be seen on the updated GEOL 1122 page showing course grade distributions .

The Powerpoint file called "The Holocene IV - Alternatives for the late Holocene" is now available as an assignment in the course schedule below.

The topics of Lectures 24, 25, and 26, on 9 to 16 November 2017, have been switched so that we will cover "Some 20th-21st Century Environmental Issues" first and then the two-part "Greenhouse effect & global warming".

We did not have time to discuss the creation story of the Naba Zid Wende, and no time in the future is planned.

Exam II has been graded and will be or was handed back on Thursday 12 October 2017.   Histograms of the scores appear below.  



Exam I has been graded and will be or was handed back on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.   Histograms of the scores appear below.   Higher scores were common among students who have been in class regularly and paying attention; low scores were common among students who were unfamiliar faces and students who sit at the sides of the room texting or otherwise not engaged in lecture.
       Last year, a student who had been sitting at the side of the room came to the first class meeting after Exam I, took a seat near the front and center of the room, and used that seat the rest of the semester.   Despite his atrocious grade on Exam I, his change of approach, combined with the syllabus's weighting of exams that favors Exam II and the final exam, led to a good grade in the course.

        Question 9 asked students to indicate whether various geologic evidence indicated a young or old age for the Earth.   Perhaps because of a slight inconsistency between phrasing in lecture and on the exam, some students said that angular unconformities indicated a young age for the Earth, and because of the inconsistency points were not deducted for those students' incorrect responses.   However, it is important that we be clear about this most important conclusion of the course: ALL geologic evidence indicates that Earth is very old; there is no evidence that Earth is young.




Because the University of Georgia will be closed on Tuesday September 12, GEOL 1122 Exam 1 will be given on Thursday September 14, 2017. The course schedule has been revised below.

Syllabi are now available for the 2017 8:00-9:15 lecture and the 2017 9:30-10:45 lecture.

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Schedule for Railsback's GEOL 1122 for Fall 2017
Lxr Date Topic or Business Reading*
Part I. Basic Materials in Historical Geology
1 8/15/17 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 8/17/17 Igneous & Metamorphic Rocks; Isotopes 35-38, 45-47; 28-29, 235-236; Cooling of magma and igneous rocks; Bodies of igneous rocks; Metamorphic rocks; Isotopes(1); Isotopes(2); Carbon isotopes; CS #1
3 8/22/17 Sedimentary Rocks, and Fossils 6-7, 38-45, 98-102, [103-126], 52-55; Weathering-to-lithification; Steno's Principles; Unconformities ; Fossils
4 8/24/17 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 8/29/17 Goals and Theories "What is Science?"; "Ways of Understanding"; A quick assignment; CS #21
6 8/31/17 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
7 9/05/17 Absolute Dating [28-29 on isotopes], 141-144; [Atoms, Isotopes]; Half-lives; A table of parents and daughters; CS #3
8 9/07/17 Age of the Earth & Geologic Time Scales 140-141, 10-13, 150-151; Lead isotope diagram; Geologic time scale; Sequences
- 9/12/17 UGA closed   - -
- 9/14/17 Exam 1   - -
Part III. Biological Evolution of the Earth
9&10 9/19/17 Explanations of Biological Evolution 156-180; 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; Alleles, Genes, Chromosomes, etc. ; WWW Life ;
11 9/21/17 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 #10
12 9/26/17 Evolution of Vertebrates I 73-77, 335-338, 341-345, 367-371; Chordate Evolution (jpg)
13 9/28/17 Evolution of Vertebrates II 399-411 (incl. ESS 16-1); Revised chart, CS #13
14 10/03/17 Evolution of Vertebrates III 396-398, 429-433, 457-458; ESS 17-1
15 10/05/17 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
  - 10/10/17 Exam II  
Part IV. Environmental Evolution of the Earth
16 10/12/17 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
17 10/17/17 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
18 10/19/17 Phanerozoic Sea Level; O isotopes 148-151; 231-235 "Possible causes of sea-level change"; O isotopes in minerals like calcite; O isotopes in glacial ice; clumped isotopes.
19 10/24/17 Climate, Cretaceous, & PETM 435-457, 460-465, CS #2
20 10/26/17 The Cenozoic; Glaciers 485-489; Cenozoic O isotope records; ["O Isotopes", Glaciers]; CS #12
21 10/31/17 Quaternary Glaciation 108-109, 489-494; [Glaciers]; North American glacial phases, Pulse of Pleistocene, Milankovitch Cycles I, II, and III, a CO2 record
22 11/02/17 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 11/07/17 The Holocene I 524-538; Later Quaternary events, Holocene events, "Changing the World"
24 11/09/17 Holocene II - Some 20th-21st Century Environmental Issues Web pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8,
25 11/14/17 Holocene IIIA - Greenhouse effect & global warming 540-546; Scripps CO2 page; Temperature from 22ka to the future
26 11/16/17 Holocene IIIB - Greenhouse effect & global warming 540-546; Scripps CO2 page; Temperature from 22ka to the future
-- - - - The Holocene IV - Alternatives for the Late Holocene Illustrations already in show available at left: Human lifestyles; Lifestyle effects; US energy consumption; World energy consumption; Human footprint data.
27 11/28/17 The Holocene V - Changing ecologies Lecture Illustration #0 , #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8; CS #20 .
28 11/30/17 Summary and Review The Land Ethic Revisited; A time line; Primate brain volumes revisited
  12/05/17 UGA operates on a Friday schedule on this day  
- R 12/07/17 Final Exam for Section 35645 (Period TR1) 8:00am-11:00am Room 200A GG
- T 12/12/17 Final Exam for Section 13799 (Period TR2) 8:00am-11:00am 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 2016.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 2 from 2016.
Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 3 from 2016.

Additional GEOL 1122 policies:

Powerpoint files of illustrations used in lecture, but not lecture outlines, will be 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.

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