EOSC 311 (3 cr): The Earth and its Resources

EOSC 311

Course Description

Resource issues, including land, water, energy and earth materials, are better understood with knowledge of the geological context.   In southwestern British Columbia, for example, a city planner who understands the natural flood cycle of a river is better equipped to make decisions regarding land use in a floodplain. Similarly, a Richmond city council member who understands earthquake hazards may be more inclined to support earthquake preparedness funding for local schools. This course will introduce you to these types of fundamental geological concepts in a case study context, using predominately local (BC-based) examples. The underlying principle of this course is that our most concrete learning experiences are grounded in the familiar.

This course will provide a mechanism for you to learn and experience geology with a variety of resources (books, online resources, posters) – though your best resource is outside your door!


This course is available for credit for students outside of the Faculty of Science and Applied Science. Second Year standing required. No post-high school background in Science or Mathematics is required.

Course Goals

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Explain the relationship between the origin and distribution of earth materials (rocks and surficial deposits) in terms of earth processes operating over different times scales in the greater Vancouver Region (southwestern BC).
  • Apply the knowledge of earth processes and materials of to interpret how earth processes impact other geographic regions.
  • Explain how the natural resources (e.g., water, metals, industrial minerals, fossil fuels and building materials) that impact the lives of the citizens of Vancouver and/or its economy form, and why Western Canada is so rich in these resources.
  • Articulate the relevance of the geosciences to individuals and to society.
  • Explain common methods geologists use to collect and analyze evidence.
  • Evaluate earth sciences topics presented in the media, on the basis of evidence presented and your knowledge of earth processes.
  • Navigate and use computer software and online tools with proficiency, including:
    • manipulate common software packages;
    • find, evaluate and use Internet-based sources;
    • read, visualize and interpret spatial representations of Earth science data; and
    • communicate using synchronous and asynchronous tools.


  • Activity Participation (15%): Learning activities enable you to hone your understanding and apply knowledge to “real world” situations. A variety of activity types are included in the course, including (but not limited to) course discussions, select online exercises and content summaries. Through these venues, you will be expected to demonstrate excellent knowledge of the course material, as well as the ability to think critically and profoundly about the issues arising in discussion, course readings, and in the contributions of your peers.
  • Module quizzes (15%): Summary quizzes on Modules 1 through 5, with an optional quiz available for Module 6. The Quizzes will be made available at the following the completion of the Module, on the Learning Modules Page.
  • Geo-News Analysis (10%) – Analysis of news stories (2 in total) with relevance to the learning module or your term project topic. The article should be of substantive length and selected from a reputable online news source (newspaper or magazine, no press releases or blog entries). Content should be analysed to identify and explain geological principles and processes as well as connected to the course content.
  • Field Trip Report (10%). A field trip will enable you to apply your understanding of earth processes to the “real world”. Please note, your field trip must be taken within the time period the course is in session (recalling a place you have visited is not acceptable) and cover a range of geological topics dealt with in the course. This trip may be taken with other class members, but the report must represent original work.
  • Geoscape Term Project (20%). A media-enhanced research report that describes and explains the geology and geological issues of a non-Canadian “Olympic” city. Your final product can be a PowerPoint presentation, website, blog or other type of engaging presentation format. Using the various “Geoscape” posters as a model, the report will highlight the importance of geology to the study region chosen.
  • Final Exam (30%): Arrangements to be posted. Please note you will need to apply to take the exam through the Student Service Centre.

Text and Digital Resources

Required Text

  • Clague, J., and Turner, B. 2003. Vancouver, City on the Edge, Tricouni Press Ltd, 191 pp. ISBN: 0969760140 
    Provides an overview of the geology and geological history of the Vancouver region, including how Vancouver’s geological setting and ongoing processes influence the region.

These posters are available in a digital format; some students have found it helpful to have a paper copy. Paper copies may be purchased from the Geological Survey of Canada office on Robson Street, Vancouver, BC.

  1. Geoscape Vancouver:
    Turner, R., Clague, J. and Groulx, B. 1996.  Geoscape Vancouver – living with our geological landscape.  Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3309.

  2. GeoMap Vancouver:
    Turner, R., Clague, J., Groulx, B., and Journey, J.M. 1997. GeoMap Vancouver – Geological map of the Vancouver area. Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3511, 1 sheet.

Website – Geoscape Canada:
This site has links to web versions and download locations for the current Geoscape Poster series. The posters provide examples of the type of content and format that you will look to use in your term project. Please spend some time and look over the examples at this site: http://geoscape.nrcan.gc.ca/index_e.php

Web-based Resources:
This course will use a wide range of Internet-based resources. Specific resources are assigned within the course website.

EOSC311 Textbook Order Form

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