EOSC 311 · The Earth and its Resources

An introduction to the Earth with emphasis on its industrial and aesthetic resources. Rocks, minerals, gold, diamonds, sediments, fossils, oil and gas, canyons, and volcanoes and the processes that create them. Not for credit in the Faculties of Science and Applied Science. No background in Science or Mathematics is required. [3-0-0] Prerequisite: Second-year standing.

Course Availability & Schedule

Course Syllabus

 Distance education offered

 Non-specialist course


Lucy Porritt


No purchased textbook; course uses a combination of open textbooks and online resources.

Lecture Topics

Week Topic
1 Understanding Geology.  This module introduces you to the course, your classmates and geology as a science and a profession. You will be encouraged to get to know your classmates and the course subject matter and challenged to begin to understand what the geosciences mean to you.
2 What's in my cell phone? In this module, we investigate the earth materials used in cell phones and other modern gadgets, where in the world they come from and the geological processes that formed deposits rich enough in these elements for us to economically extract them. 
3 What's the fuss about fossil fuels? This module focuses on the origin and distribution coal, oil and gas, drawing examples BC, and other parts of Canada. We will explore the geological processes and the geological time taken to create these rich resources and consider why burning them has such a large impact on our climate. 
4 Water, what is it good for? This module focuses on water as an erosional and depositional force, both in its liquid and solid form. We consider surface and near-surface geological processes, how sediments are formed and transported, and how landscapes are shaped by water. We will also consider water as a resource, for drinking, agriculture and as a source of hydro-power. 
5 Bling bling - who wants a diamond ring?  The last of our modules looks at the Earth's interior processes, the immense pressures and temperatures that form diamonds, and the volcanic processes that bring them to the surface. This extremely rare sequence of geological events brings diamonds to the surface, with this geological knowledge in mind we will discuss their value and significance. 
6 Geology and My Majors Project. In the last week of the semester you will be expected to focus on your term project (started earlier in the semester) where you will be discussing some aspects of geological resources related to your majors.