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 2 November 2018 to add a link to a new diagram about Dansgaard-Oeschger Events for Lecture 22 and update other links.


Course news:

If the University of Georgia closes or starts classes late on Thursday 11 October 2018, GEOL 1122 will thereafter follow the course schedule on the syllabus and this page without change. In short, business on Tuesday 16 October and thereafter will be unchanged.

Exam 2 has been graded and will be or was scheduled for hand-back on Thursday 11 October 2018 at the end of class. Histograms of the grades appear below.




Exam 1 has been graded and will be or was handed back on Thursday 13 September 2018 at the end of class. Histograms of the grades appear below.




GEOL 1122 students are reminded that assigned readings on the course webpage are part of the material from which exam questions may come. For example, Question 13 of the 2017 exam came from the What is Science reading linked with Lecture 5.

Grades on the Scientific Literature Exercise for the 9:30-10:45 section were
100: 17 students     95: 4    90: 3     85: 1     80: 1     0: 4

Grades on the Scientific Literature Exercise for the 11:00-12:15 section were
100: 32 students     95: 4    90: 6     75: 1     0: 13

Links to blank copies of last year's exams now appear below. These blank versions can be used as practice exams to which students have the keys to check their work.

Syllabi are now available for the 2018 9:30-10:45 lecture and the 2018 11:00-12:15 lecture.

Exercise 1, the Scientific Literature Exercise, is due at 5:00:00 pm on 24 August 2018. A link to the exercise appears below.

Some grade distributions from 2017:


On Exam 1, higher scores were common among students who had been in class regularly and paying attention; low scores were common among students who were unfamiliar faces and students who sat at the sides of the room texting or otherwise not engaged in lecture.



Of 46 students in the Fall 2017 9:30-10:45 am section, 16 received As, 17 received Bs, 9 received Cs, 0 received Ds, 0 received Fs, and 4 withdrew.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Schedule for Railsback's GEOL 1122 for Fall 2018
Lxr Date Topic or Business Reading*
Part I. Basic Materials in Historical Geology
1 8/14/18 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 8/16/18 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 8/21/18 Sedimentary Rocks, and Fossils 6-7, 38-45, 98-102, [103-126], 52-55; Weathering-to-lithification; Steno's Principles; Unconformities ; Fossils
4 8/23/18 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 8/28/18 Goals and Theories "What is Science?"; "Ways of Understanding"; A quick assignment; CS #21
6 8/30/18 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 9/04/18 Absolute Dating [28-29 on isotopes], 141-144; [Atoms, Isotopes]; Half-lives; A table of parents and daughters; CS #3
8 9/06/18 Age of the Earth & Geologic Time Scales 140-141, 10-13, 150-151; Lead isotope diagram; Geologic time scale; Sequences
- 9/11/18 Exam 1   - -
Part III. Biological Evolution of the Earth
9 9/13/18 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
10 9/18/18 Mechanics of Biological Evolution 162-180; Alleles, Genes, Chromosomes, etc. ; WWW Life ; CS #10
11 9/20/18 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
12 9/25/18 Evolution of Vertebrates I 73-77, 335-338, 341-345, 367-371; Chordate Evolution (jpg)
13 9/27/18 Evolution of Vertebrates II 399-411 (incl. ESS 16-1); Revised chart, CS #13
14 10/02/18 Evolution of Vertebrates III 396-398, 429-433, 457-458; ESS 17-1
15 10/04/18 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 , Slide 3 , and Slide 4.
  - 10/09/18 Exam II  
Part IV. Environmental Evolution of the Earth
16 10/11/18 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 10/16/18 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 10/18/18 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 10/23/18 Climate, Cretaceous, & PETM 435-457, 460-465
20 10/25/18 The Cenozoic; Glaciers 485-489; Cenozoic O isotope records; ["O Isotopes", Glaciers]; CS #12
21 10/30/18 Quaternary Glaciation 108-109, 489-494; [Glaciers]; North American glacial phases, Pulse of Pleistocene, Milankovitch Cycles I, II, and III, a CO2 record
22 11/01/18 The Last Glacial Cycle ESS19-1 on 490-491; Last 4 my, Last 120 ka, Later Quaternary events, D-O cycles, AMOC & Bipolar Seesaw, "Changing the World"
-- - - - The Holocene I - "Changing the World"
23 11/06/18 The Holocene II - the last 11,700 years 524-538; Later Quaternary events, Holocene events, "Changing the World"
24 11/08/18 Holocene III - Some 20th-21st Century Environmental Issues Web pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8,
25 11/13/18 Holocene IVA - Greenhouse effect & global warming 540-546; Scripps CO2 page; Temperature from 22ka to the future
26 11/15/18 Holocene IVB - Greenhouse effect & global warming 540-546; Scripps CO2 page; Temperature from 22ka to the future
-- - - - The Holocene V - 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 11/27/18 The Holocene VI - Changing ecologies Lecture Illustration #0 , #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8; CS #20 .
28 11/29/18 Summary and Review The Land Ethic Revisited; A time line; Primate brain volumes revisited
  12/04/18 UGA operates on a Friday schedule on this day  
- R 12/06/18 Final Exam for Section 35645 (Period TR2) 8:00am-11:00 am Room 200A GG
- T 12/11/18 Final Exam for Section 13799 (Period TR3) 12:00pm-3:00pm 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.

The GEOL 1122 Scientific Literature Exercise.

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.

Course evaluations.

An extra-credit exercise.

A second extra-credit exercise.

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

A blank copy of Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 1 from 2017.
A blank copy of Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 2 from 2017.
A blank copy of Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 3 from 2017.
The key for Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 1 from 2017.
The key for Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 2 from 2017.
The key for Railsback's GEOL 1122 Exam 3 from 2017.

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: 0%

v. Student 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 v.




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