Geology Courses | Geology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Agriculture, Life and Physical Sciences

students participating in geology courses by mapping outdoors

Course Information


Geology has two major branches. Physical geology emphasizes the study of earth materials, of features found on and in the earth, and of the processes now operating that make the earth a dynamic system. The physical geologist might study the nature of the deposits in the area of a river, the way the river erodes or transports material, and ways to predict the effects of a flood. Historical geology unravels the earth's history, past natural events, and past life on earth. Knowing the types and origins of rocks in which petroleum occurs, for example, geologists can guide oil drillers to likely sites, saving considerable cost.

What We Offer

The Geology Program has a strong program in all major geologic subdisciplines, including geomorphology, hydrogeology, structural geology, sedimentology, paleontology, petrology, mineralogy, ore deposits, geochemistry, Quaternary geology, coal geology, environmental geology, petroleum geology, and geophysics. We take a problem-solving approach to undergraduate education by using practical examples in the classroom - using geologic principles to study earth processes, energy and mineral resources, earth materials, and the interaction between people and the earth. As most classes for geology majors tend to be small (the student-faculty ratio is ten to one), you will enjoy close contact with the faculty and receive individual attention in and outside the classroom. Field trips to geological sites are regular features of our curriculum.

And That's Not All

The Region. SIUC is in a particularly interesting geologic location--a great variety of terrain lies within a few hours' drive. Field trips regularly visit such sites as the late Paleozoic sedimentary rocks of the Illinois basin; carbonate rocks of the Missouri Ozark Plateau; Precambrian crystalline rocks of the St. François mountains in Missouri; iron, barite, and lead deposits in southeastern Missouri; oil, gas, and coal deposits in southern Illinois and Kentucky; fluorite deposits in southern Illinois; sediments of the northern part of the Mississippi embayment; early Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois; Quaternary till, loess, lake, and terrace deposits; and a wide variety of Holocene fluvial sediments. Most of the surface strata are horizontal, but complex subsurface structures challenge geophysicists and structural geologists.

Professional and Student Organizations. The Geology Club is an active group of undergraduate geology students that sponsors such social and professional activities as sack-lunch lectures, an annual awards banquet, rock and mineral auctions, and field trips. The Geology Club also assists the faculty in hosting meetings of professional geological organizations, such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, and the North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America.

A local student chapter of the American Institute of Mining Engineers is also active on the SIUC campus, and a chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the national honorary society for the earth sciences, is active in the department.


  • SIUC's geology program offers course work in all major geologic subdisciplines.
  • SIUC geology undergraduates all attend a summer field camp in the Beartooth Mountains in Montana.
  • SIUC offers over 125 majors, minors, and specializations from which you can supplement your geology degree program.
  • SIUC geology undergraduates gain insight and experience by taking part in faculty research projects.
  • SIUC offers master's and doctor's degrees in geology as well as in chemistry and engineering.
  • SIUC students and faculty have extensive facilities and equipment for learning and research.
  • SIUC is situated in one of the most geologically diverse regions in the country.