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The University of Texas at Arlington
Graduate Catalog 2002-2004

Department of Geology |

Admission Requirements | Degree Requirements | Courses

Areas of Study and Degrees



Mathematical Geoscience

Ph.D. (See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Environmental Science and Engineering

M.S., Ph.D. (See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Earth Science Teaching

M.A. (See Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.)

Spatial Information Systems


Petroleum Geoscience


Master's Degree Plans

(Thesis and Non-Thesis Options)


John S. Wickham
107 Geoscience, 817-272-2987

Graduate Advisor, Geology

William L. Balsam

Graduate Advisor, Mathematical Geoscience

Merlynd K. Nestell

Graduate Advisor, Environmental Science and Engineering

John S. Wickham

Graduate Faculty


Balsam, Crick, K.H. Johannesson, M. Nestell, Reaser, Scotese, Wickham

Professors Emeritus

Burkart, McNulty, Smith


The Master of Science in geology provides a basic geologic background for students interested in a professional career in geology. With the thesis as a focus, the program integrates coursework and research to give the student not only a broad foundation but also a specific area of competence through participation in the research experience. Special coursework and research in geology, which lead to specialization in the areas of environmental geology or natural resource development, are available in addition to the more traditional areas of specialization.

The Ph.D. program in Mathematical Sciences is available to students interested in a more quantitative approach to earth science. Emphases in statistics or numerical and computational methods are especially useful when combined with coursework in the earth and environmental sciences. For more details on the Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences, see the section on Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs.

The M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Environmental Science and Engineering are designed for students interested in applying environmental geoscience in a multidisciplinary setting involving engineering, biology, chemistry and public policy. For more details on these programs, see the Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs section of this catalog.

The M.A. degree in science teaching is for K-12 teachers who want to increase their teaching skills and understanding of science in general and earth science in particular.

Spatial Information Systems Certificate includes instruction in the technology of acquiring, managing, analyzing, and displaying information in a spatial context. This technology is a critical component of decision-making in a wide variety of enterprises and includes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and remotely sensed data from aircraft and satellites.

The Petroleum Geoscience Certificate provides instruction in the geological principles and techniques used in the petroleum industry to explore and produce oil and gas. It is useful for professionals wishing to upgrade their knowledge and skills, and those interested in employment in the petroleum industry. The graduate courses may also be used toward a M.S. degree.


Students entering the graduate program in geology must meet the general Graduate School admission requirements. Those in the certificate programs will be admitted as Special Students and do not have to meet all the admissions requirements for the degree programs.

Applicants with degrees in geology are encouraged to have had the following courses or their equivalents as a part of a bachelor's program: mineralogy (2445), petrology-petrography (2446), paleontology (3441), computer literacy (1491), stratigraphy (3442), structural geology (3443), field geology (3387, 3388), one year of physics, one year of chemistry, one year of biology and math through calculus II.

A program of leveling coursework for students with undergraduate deficiencies will be designed by the graduate studies committee depending on the student's professional interests.

Students in the Environmental Science and Engineering or Mathematical Geoscience degree programs who want to concentrate in geoscience should also have a baccalaureate degree in Geology with extra coursework in science, math, or engineering.

Those admitted into the Spatial Information Certificate program should be computer literate, but the baccalaureate discipline is much less important.

Students in the Petroleum Geoscience Certificate should have a baccalaureate degree in geoscience, or a degree in science, math or engineering with some experience in the petroleum industry.

Masters Program Admissions Criteria

For unconditional admission, a student must demonstrate that he/she will likely be successful in the graduate program. The department admissions committee uses the following guidelines to make that judgement:

1. A B.S. degree in an Earth Science discipline with the following courses or their equivalent: Mineralogy, Petrology, Structure, Stratigraphy, Field Geology and Geophysics or Paleontology. In addition, students need a year of Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Calculus.

2. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by the Graduate School.

3. A minimum of 60% of the possible combined total score on the verbal, quantitative and analytical portions of the GRE exam.

4. Favorable letters of recommendation from the former university instructors.

These are only guidelines, and students who do not meet the guidelines in one area may be admitted unconditionally if they are strong in other areas.

Students that are unconditionally admitted will be eligible for available scholarship and/or fellowship support. Award of scholarships or fellowships will be based on consideration of the same criteria utilized in admission decisions. To be eligible, candidates must be new students coming to UTA in the Fall semester, must have a GPA of 3.0 in their last 60 undergraduate credit hours plus any graduate credit hours as calculated by the Graduate School, and must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 hours of coursework in both long semesters to retain their fellowships.

If an applicant does not meet the standards for unconditional admission outlined above, they may be considered for probationary admission after careful examination of their application materials. Probationary admission requires that the applicant receive a B or better in their first 12 hours of graduate coursework at UTA.

A candidate may be denied admission if they have less than satisfactory performance on a majority of the admission criteria described above. However, students who are nearly qualified for unconditional admission may be admitted on probationary status in which they will be required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their first 12 hours of formal courses in the program.

A deferred application decision may be granted when a file is incomplete or when a denied decision is not appropriate. An applicant unable to supply all required documentation prior to the admission deadline but who otherwise appears to meet admission requirements may be granted provisional admission.

Finally, international students must have a minimum score of 550 on the TOEFL exam. In order to have a graduate teaching assistantship, international students must also have a minimum score of 40 on the TSE.

Degree Requirements

In the first year, a degree candidate must file a plan approved by the graduate studies committee, which includes coursework for the program including undergraduate course deficiencies if any. The graduate studies committee may allow graduate course credit for undergraduate courses with written approval. Enrollment in Technical Sessions, GEOL 5199, is required each semester a student is enrolled in lecture classes.

For the M.S. thesis option, 24 semester hours of approved graduate level courses are required in addition to the thesis. A thesis proposal, written thesis and thesis defense are required.

For the M.S. non-thesis option, a minimum of 36 hours of approved graduate courses are required. Of those 36 hours, six hours are to be in Science, Math, or Engineering; the remaining 30 hours are to be in Geology. Of those 30 Geology hours, a minimum of three and a maximum of six hours are to be taken in GEOL 5381, Research in Geology.

The degree requirements for the Environmental Science and Engineering, the Mathematical Geosciences, and Master of Arts in teaching programs are described in the Interdepartmental and Intercampus Programs section of this catalogue.

The two certificate programs require 15 hours of graduate credit each with a grade point average of 3.0. The Spatial Information Systems Certificate requires a project as part of the 15 credit hours.

The grade of R (research in progress) is a permanent grade; it cannot be changed by completing course requirements in a later semester. To receive credit for an R-graded course, the student must continue to enroll in the course until a passing grade is received.

An incomplete grade (the grade of X) cannot be given in a course that is graded R, nor can the grade of R be given in a course that is graded X. To receive credit for a course in which the student earned an X, the student must complete the course requirements. A grade of X cannot be changed by enrolling again in the course in which an X was earned. At the discretion of the instructor, a final grade can be assigned through a change of grade form.

Three-hour thesis courses and three- and six-hour dissertation courses are graded R/F/W only (except social work thesis courses). The grade of P (required for degree completion for students enrolled in thesis or dissertation programs) can be earned only in six- or nine-hour thesis courses and nine-hour dissertation courses. In the course listings below, R-graded courses are designated either"Graded P/F/R" or "Graded R." Occasionally, the valid grades for a course change. Students should consult the appropriate Graduate Advisor or instructor for valid grade information for particular courses. (See also the sections titled "R" Grade, Credit for Research, Internship, Thesis or Dissertation Courses and Incomplete Grade in this catalog.)

Geology (GEOL)

Course fee information is published in the online Student Schedule of Classes at Please refer to this Web site for a detailed listing of specific course fees.

5301. ENVIRONMENTAL GEOCHEMISTRY AND GEOLOGY (3-0). Geological aspects of environmental problems. Migration of waste materials through geological systems. Geochemical control of migration of hazardous waste materials. Geophysical methods of subsurface hazardous conditions.

5302. GLOBAL TECTONICS (3-0). Plate tectonic theory and evidence, review of plate tectonic history since the late Precambrian. Prerequisite: GEOL 3442, GEOL 3443.

5304. GEOMETRY AND MECHANICS OF GEOLOGICAL STRUCTURES (2-3). Geometries of structures associated with extensional, shortening, strike-slip, diapiric, and reactivated tectonic environments. Principles of mechanics applied to the formation of these structures. Prerequisites: GEOL 3443; MATH 2325; PHYS 1444.

5306. ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY (3-0). Hydrological systems, water quality, and behavior of pollutants; atmospheric systems, air quality, and effects of pollutants; occurrence, prediction, and amelioration of natural environmental hazards including floods, earthquakes, volcanism, and landslides.

5312. SANDSTONE PETROLOGY (3-0). Petrographic examination of terrigenous clastics, including textural, compositional, and diagenetic aspects. Focus on paleogeographic, tectonic, and environmental interpretation. Prerequisites: GEOL 3442.

5313. CARBONATE PETROLOGY (2-3). Nature and composition of carbonate sediments and rocks in terms of their genesis, depositional environments, and processes involved in transport, deposition, diagenesis, and lithification. Prerequisites: GEOL 4443 or equivalent and 4345 or concurrent enrollment.

5320. UNDERSTANDING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (2-1). A practical introduction to GIS and methods of creating, maintaining and displaying spatial data using ArcGIS software. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

5321. ANALYSIS OF SPATIAL DATA (2-1). Analyzing spatial data using ArcGIS, Spatial Analyst, and 3D Analyst, topological surface analysis and modeling; 3D visualization and viewscapes; spatial statistics and data quality management. Prerequisite: GEOL 5320, GEOL 4330, or permission of instructor.

5322. GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS (2-1). Review of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System and its segments: space, operational control, and GPS receivers. Mechanics of the satellite constellation; GPS signal structure; datums and coordinate systems; precision and accuracy; error factors; absolute (point) versus relative (differential) positioning. Various positioning techniques using several types of GPS receivers; field data collection and input into GIS porgrams for data analysis and presentation. Prerequisite: GEOL 4330, GEOL 5320, or permission of the instructor.

5323. REMOTE SENSING FUNDAMENTALS (2-1). The electromagnetic spectrum and the interaction of EM waves with matter; various types of sensing devices; spectral and spatial resolution parameters; airborne and satellite sensor platforms; aerial photographs and false-color images. The sequence of data acquisition, computer processing, and interpretation; sources of data; the integration of remote sending data with other data types in GIS. Prerequisite: GEOL 4330, GEOL 5320, or permission of the instructor.

5324. GEOGRAPHIC DATA ANALYSIS PROJECT. Acquisition, processing and analysis of a set of spatial data selected by the student with the approval of an advisor. A written report of the results is required. Prerequisite: GEOL 5320, 5321, 5322, 5323.

5344. DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS: TERRIGENOUS CLASTICS (3-0). Depositional processes, physiographic and environmental components, and facies characteristics and relationships of alluvial, eolian, deltaic, clastic shoreline, shallow siliciclastic sea and deep sea clastic depositional systems. Emphasis on interpretation of ancient analogs. Prerequisite: GEOL 4443 or equivalent.

5345. PETROLEUM GEOLOGY (2-3). Origin, generation and migration of petroleum; reservoirs, seals and traps; the subsurface environment; properties of petroleum; exploration and production methods; use of seismic lines and well logs; types of petroleum basins; reserves and resources.

5348. MARINE GEOLOGY (3-0). Geologic processes of the oceans. Sedimentation in the oceans including biologic processes that relate to sediment production, chemistry of seawater, geochemical cycles in the oceans. Origin of seafloor topography. Seafloor spreading.

5365. TOPICS IN GEOLOGY (2-3). Topics offered depend on student and faculty interest. Such topics might include identification of fossil fragments in thin section; magmatic processes; plate tectonics and sedimentary basin evolution; stratigraphic paleontology; sedimentary or volcanogenic ore deposition; geostatistics; geophysical archeology; and various advanced subjects in sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, geophysics, geochemistry, volcanology and petrology. May be repeated for credit when topic changes.

5370. SEDIMENTARY SYSTEMS (3-0). Carbonate and clastic depositional systems, recognition of facies, systems tracts, diagenetic overprint, shelf to basin profiling, and sequence stratigraphic analysis.

5371. PETROLEUM GEOCHEMISTRY AND BASIN MODELING (3-0). Basic concepts of petroleum geochemistry, interpretation of geochemical data, maturation of kerogen. Basin evolution processes controlling petroleum generation and accumulation, subsidence histories, porosity evolution overpressure generation, thermal histories, hydrocarbon expulsion and migration.

5372. STRUCTURAL GEOMETRY AND TECTONICS OF PETROLEUM FIELDS AND INTRODUCTION TO WELL LOG INTERPRETATION (3-0). Techniques of structural modeling and restoration to the reliability of structural interpretation; structural styles of thin skinned, basement involved, strike-slip and reactivated systems. Introduction to the various types of well logs, and the quantitative and qualitative information obtained.

5373. RESERVOIR CHARACTERIZATION (3-0). Reservoir characterization, field development, risk assessment and economic evaluation of prospects.

5374. SEISMIC INTERPRETATION (3-0). Introduction to the methods of acquisition and processing as they relate to the interpretation of seismic records. Structural and stratigraphic interpretation methods and pitfalls using two and three dimensional seismic data.

5407. ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS (3-3). Geophysical techniques applied to solving environmental problems. The course will cover fundamentals in geophysics and include a practical field problem. Prerequisite: a physics course and a course in geochemistry or geophysics or permission of the instructor.

5409. APPLIED GEOPHYSICS (3-3). Geophysical Techniques used to determine the presence and extent of deposits of minerals and the subsurface structure of selected localities from field methods. Prerequisites: GEOL 3443 and a course in physics, or permission of the instructor.

5483. GEOARCHAEOLOGY (3-1). Geological, geochemical and geophysical techniques employed in the study of archaeological sites and materials. Also listed as ANTH 5483.

The following research course will be graded either P/F/R or A/B/C/D/F/R as designated by the instructor at the beginning of the semester or session. Only three hours of research course credit may be applied to the degree.

5181, 5281, 5381. RESEARCH IN GEOLOGY. Independent study in various areas of research including paleontology, stratigraphy, tectonics, structural geology, sedimentology, geochemistry, petrology, geophysics, and volcanology. May be repeated for credit. Graded R.

5190. GEOSCIENCE INTERNSHIP. Work in geoscience for a commercial concern at least 20 hrs/wk for 3 months. Requirements include writing a resume, learning how to interview and function on the job, and a report describing the work. Prerequisite: graduate admission to geology.

5199. TECHNICAL SESSIONS (1-0). Forum for presentation of results of graduate students and faculty research. Required each semester of all graduate students.

5398, 5698. THESIS. 5398 graded R/F only; 5698 graded P/F/R.


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