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


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 to interpret how earth processes shape 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.


You have two choices for how you will be assessed in this course, with and without a field trip report:

Activity participation 15% Activity participation 15%
Module quizzes 15% Module quizzes 15%
Geo-news  analysis 10% Geo-news  analysis 10%
Geoscape Report 20% Geoscape Report 20%
Field trip report 10% Field trip report No report required
Final exam 30%* Final exam 40%*

*Note: you must pass the final exam to pass this course.

Further explanation of each of these is below. You must inform the instructor of the course of your choice by the end of Module 3 (you will be asked to state your choice on quiz 3. If you do not choose, the default is Option 1.

  • 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, such as 3 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 each of the six modules. The lowest grade will be dropped when calculating the average.
  • Geo-News Analysis (10%) – Analysis of the geological principles and process important to understanding specific news stories (2 in total). The news 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.
  • Geoscape Term Project (20%). A media-enhanced research report that describes and explains the geology and geological issues of a major urban area outside of Canada. Your final product can be a digital poster, 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. Note: the instructor reserves the right to limit which cities/areas are selected.
  • Field Trip Report (Option 1, 10% or Option 2, 0%). A field trip enables 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 others, but must represent original work.
  • Final Exam (Option 1, 30% or Option 2, 40%): You must pass the final exam in order to pass this course. 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, John J., Turner, Bob, Clague, J.J. Vancouver, City on the Edge: Living with a Dynamic Geological Landscape, Gordon Soules Book Pub. (April 2003).
    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.

The posters below are available as digital files; some students have found it helpful to have a paper copy. Paper copies can 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. The link to download this file will be available in the course website.
  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. The link to download this file will be available in the course website.

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