Academic Catalog

Environmental Science and Geology

Office: 0224 Old Main; (313) 577-2506
Chairperson: Mark Baskaran
Academic Advisor: Dawn Niedermiller
Academic Services Officer: John Niedermiller
https://clas.wayne.edu/esg

Geology is the scientific study of planet Earth and involves the observation and interpretation of processes that form and change our world. Some of these processes, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, proceed rapidly, often with catastrophic consequences. Others, such as erosion or mountain building can progress so slowly that their results are scarcely noticeable over a human lifetime. Each of these processes, however, can exert a profound influence on human activities and can, in turn, be influenced intentionally or unintentionally by human activities.

The courses offered by this department are designed to serve the needs of five groups of students:

  1. Those who desire a general knowledge of geology as part of a liberal education;
  2. Those who need geological information as a cognate subject in other professions;
  3. Those who wish to major in geology as part of a broad liberal arts education;
  4. Those who wish to major in environmental science;
  5. Those who plan to become professional geologists.

Introductory courses are primarily general, but they also provide a foundation in geology for the student who desires to continue an intensive program of study. Students with an interest in environmental problems will find a number of relevant courses among those offered by the Department of Geology. In addition, a variety of courses in various phases of geology is available to the general student. Intermediate and advanced courses are designed to develop the principles of geology beyond the elementary level and to give a firm technical foundation for advanced study.

Environmental Science investigates the many interconnected systems and processes that formed our world, continuously change it, and, ultimately, sustain life on it. The Environmental Science Program at Wayne State offers an interdisciplinary approach combining a strong foundation from both geological and ecological perspectives, and a broad choice of electives in its course work. This interdisciplinary program addresses human impacts on the environment, earth surface processes, and ecosystem science with an emphasis on the urban environments. It will prepare students for graduate study, or for careers in various areas of environmental science including conservation, restoration, watershed management, environmental impact assessment, air and water quality monitoring, regulatory compliance, and environmental remediation. 

 
 

BASKARAN, MARK: Ph.D., Physical Research Laboratory, India; M.S., M.K. University; B.S., V.H.N.S.N. College; Professor and Chair

BROWNLEE, SARAH J.: Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; B.A., Princeton University; Associate Professor

BURDICK, SCOTT: Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; B.S., Purdue University; Assistant Professor

HOWARD, JEFFREY L.: Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara; M.S., B.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Professor

PAPUGA, SHIRLEY: Ph.D., University of Colorado; B.A., Kalamazoo College; Associate Professor

SPERONE, FELICE G.: M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago; Lecturer

ESG 1010 Geology: The Science of the Earth Cr. 3

Satisfies General Education Requirement: Natural Scientific Inquiry, Physical Sciences

Introduction to continental drift and plate tectonic theory, geophysics and structure of earth's crust and interior; rocks and minerals; igneous and volcanic geology; work of running water, glaciers and ground water; geologic time; oceanography. One day field trip. Offered Every Term.

Course Material Fees: $15

ESG 1011 Geology: The Science of the Earth Laboratory Cr. 1

Introduction to continental drift and plate tectonic theory, geophysics and structure of earth's crust and interior; rocks and minerals; igneous and volcanic geology; work of running water, glaciers and ground water; geologic time; oceanography. Offered Every Term.

Corequisite: ESG 1010

Course Material Fees: $15

ESG 1020 Interpreting the Earth Cr. 4

Sedimentary rocks, sedimentary structures and fossils as tools for interpreting the history of the earth. Paleoecology of the geologic past and the structure of the earth are emphasized. Offered Fall, Winter.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of C or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of C

ESG 1050 Oceanography Cr. 4

Introductory course in oceanography; includes origin of the ocean basins; ocean currents, waves and tides; life in the oceans and marine ecology; food, mineral and energy resources of the sea. Offered Intermittently.

ESG 1370 Introduction to Weather and Climate Cr. 3

This course focuses on weather and climate using real-world scenarios and tutorials to engage students in learning about atmospheric processes and patterns. It will also include coverage of global climate change and the human impact on weather and climate and vice versa. Offered Winter.

ESG 1500 Introduction to Environmental Science Cr. 3

Satisfies General Education Requirement: Natural Scientific Inquiry

This introductory course is focused and organized around environmental problems and issues that we face in the world today using real stories. Students will be provided the scientific background to these issues, the tools for helping to build a sustainable future, and a strong foundation in environmental science education. Offered Fall.

Course Material Fees: $20

ESG 2130 Mineralogy Cr. 4

Mineral identification using physical and optical properties. Introduction to petrographic microscope and electron microscope/microprobe. Properties and occurrences of major mineral groups and their environmental significance. Check with instructor for field trip destination; field trip to Canada frequently part of course. Offered Fall.

Course Material Fees: $125

ESG 3000 Introduction to Environmental Analysis Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Cr. 3

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a powerful tool for environmental analysis. This course is designed to introduce students to the use of GIS to analyze, explore and visualize the spatial relationships and patterns of the biological, ecological, social and physical processes that can affect the environment and human health. Offered Fall.

ESG 3100 Air and Water in Environmental Systems Cr. 3

Development of quantitative skills related to applying an understanding of the basic properties of air and water,and the dynamics of these fluids at rest and in motion, critical to addressing almost any environmental issue. Applications will include the role of air and water in environmental problems at multiple scales (and in both urban and natural settings) and integrating a systems approach. Offered Fall.

Prerequisites: (GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-) and MAT 1800-6ZZZ with a minimum grade of D-

Course Material Fees: $40

ESG 3160 Petrology Cr. 4

Classification of igneous and metamorphic rocks using macroscopic and microscopic material and textural characteristics. Occurrence and alteration of each major rock type related to tectonic settings. Offered Winter.

Prerequisites: (GEL 1020 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1020 with a minimum grade of D-) and (GEL 2130 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 2130 with a minimum grade of D-)

Course Material Fees: $125

ESG 3250 Introduction to Remote Sensing Cr. 3

This course is an introduction to the theory and techniques of remote sensing tools with emphasis on the Geospatial Sciences. It also includes discussion on image processing and analysis. Homework focus will be on learning basics of remote sensing by processing and interpreting of digital images. Offered Winter.

Prerequisites: (GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- and GEL 1011 with a minimum grade of D-) or (ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D- and ESG 1011 with a minimum grade of D-)

ESG 3300 Structural Geology Cr. 4

Description and interpretation of features which result from the origin or deformation of rock masses. Offered Winter.

Course Material Fees: $125

ESG 3400 Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Cr. 4

Processes which produce sediments, environments of deposition, changes after deposition; relationship between tectonics and sedimentation; origin of sedimentary strata; facies and correlations. Offered Fall.

Prerequisites: (GEL 1020 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1020 with a minimum grade of D-) and (GEL 2130 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 2130 with a minimum grade of D-)

Course Material Fees: $20

ESG 3600 Special Topics in Geology Cr. 2-3

Subjects of general interest to geology and environmental science majors. Topics may include: soil and groundwater pollution; petroleum geology; engineering geology; geochronology; isotope geochemistry; fate and transport of contaminants; applied geophysics; aquatic and terrestrial ecology. Offered Intermittently.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-

Repeatable for 16 Credits

ESG 3650 Field Geology Cr. 1-6

Field studies involving problems in individual geologic mapping and related techniques. Offered Intermittently.

Repeatable for 6 Credits

ESG 3800 Team Research Cr. 2

Students work in teams to design and implement a fieldwork based geologic research project. Students develop hypotheses, tests, and fieldwork plans, and they make thin sections and collect data on the scanning electron microscope, finishing with poster presentations. Offered Fall.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-

ESG 3990 Directed Study in Environmental Science and Geology Cr. 1-4

Facilitates the student’s research experience to further develop their undergraduate training in concert with their studies in the environmental science program. Offered Every Term.

Repeatable for 4 Credits

ESG 4200 Geomorphology Cr. 4

Principles underlying development of landforms by geologic agents. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: GEL 1020 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1020 with a minimum grade of D-

Course Material Fees: $15

ESG 4860 Research Cr. 3-4

Primarily for honors students. Independent laboratory and field work. Offered Every Term.

Repeatable for 8 Credits

ESG 4900 Internship in Environmental Science Cr. 2

Approved work experience for students studying in environmental science that provides entry-level, career-related experience and workplace competencies. Offered Every Term.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to students with a major in Environmental Science Honors or Environmental Science.

ESG 4998 Honors Thesis Cr. 3

Preparation of an Honors thesis on a subject of general interest to environmental science and geology majors. Satisfactory completion assures Honors graduation, providing performance in preceding Honors courses at Honors level; to be taken under direction of Environmental Science and Geology faculty. Offered Every Term.

Restriction(s): Enrollment limited to students with a class of Senior.

ESG 5000 Geological Site Assessment Cr. 4

Geologic methods for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. Application of geostatistics to site characterization. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-

ESG 5120 Environmental Geochemistry Cr. 4

Survey of some of the geochemical interactions which take place in Earth environments (water, soils, atmosphere, etc.) brought about by natural and human-induced chemical processes. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: CHM 1000-6XXX with a minimum grade of D- and (GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-)

Course Material Fees: $20

ESG 5150 Soils and Soil Pollution Cr. 4

Physical, chemical and mineralogical properties and classification of soils. Behavior of pollutants in soils and methods for reclamation. Offered Spring/Summer.

Prerequisites: CHM 1220 with a minimum grade of D- and CHM 1230 with a minimum grade of D-

Course Material Fees: $40

ESG 5210 Environmental and Applied Geophysics Cr. 4

Introduction to geophysical methods used in characterizing the Earth’s subsurface for environmental, engineering, and exploration applications. Students will learn the basics of near-surface seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical resistivity, and electromagnetic methods and data analysis. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: (4 of (GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-), PHY 1230 with a minimum grade of D-, and PHY 1240 with a minimum grade of D- or 2 of PHY 2170 with a minimum grade of D- and PHY 2180 with a minimum grade of D-) and MAT 2010 with a minimum grade of D-

Course Material Fees: $40

ESG 5360 Hydrology and Water Resources Cr. 4

A lecture-laboratory combination, with field trips, emphasizing the practical and applied aspects of hydrology and water resources management. This course looks at how water movement, storage and transformation on the Earth’s surface is influenced by landscape characteristics, including human modifications of those characteristics, and weather. This course also explores those processes and modifications in a real-world context. While we introduce belowground aspects of the water cycle, this course focuses on surface water. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: MAT 1800 with a minimum grade of D-

Course Material Fees: $55

ESG 5420 Mathematical Methods in Earth Science Cr. 4

An introduction to mathematical methods in Earth Science focusing on an introduction to programming in Matlab, using statistical methods, Monte Carlo, and building towards finite difference numerical methods. Offered Every Other Year.

ESG 5450 Hydrogeology Cr. 4

Characteristics and behavior of groundwater in earth materials. Principles of groundwater flow and solute transport. Introduction to numerical models and methods. Offered Every Other Year.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- and MAT 2010-6XXX with a minimum grade of D-

ESG 5510 Environmental Fate and Transport of Pollutants Cr. 4

Basic principles of chemical behavior in the environment; sources, fate, and transport of contaminants. Offered Winter.

Prerequisites: (CHM 1220 with a minimum grade of D-, CHM 1240 with a minimum grade of D-, CHM 1230 with a minimum grade of D-, or CHM 1250 with a minimum grade of D-) and MAT 2010-6XXX with a minimum grade of D-

ESG 5600 Special Topics in Environmental Science and Geology Cr. 4

Subjects of general interest to Environmental Science and Geology majors. Topics may include: mapping, soil and groundwater pollution; petroleum geology; engineering geology; mathematical methods in Earth Science; Biogeochemical cycling in aquatic system; or others. Offered Intermittently.

ESG 5610 Special Topics in Environmental Science and Geology Cr. 1

Topics may be related themes such as current events, a specific area of geology or the Earth or Environmental Sciences, or the development of professional skills relevant to careers in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Offered Every Other Year.

Repeatable for 3 Credits

ESG 5620 Special Topics in Environmental Science and Geology Cr. 2

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies (EPA). The City of Detroit has faced many environmental issues, where several decades of industrialization resulted in a vast impairment of natural resources in urban ecosystems. Moreover, these environmental issues are more likely to occur in low-income and communities of color in the city. Offered Intermittently.

Repeatable for 6 Credits

ESG 5650 Applied Geologic Mapping Cr. 4

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a powerful tool for analyzing spatial datasets, and for this reason it can be applied to many geological problems. This course will provide students the necessary skills to use GIS with an emphasis on geological applications. It will focus on geologic aspects of GIS analysis such as spatial analysis, geologic mapping, topographic analysis, and the importation and interpolation of aerial photos/satellite images and field data. Offered Winter.

Prerequisites: GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of C or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of C

ESG 5700 Environmental Law and Policy Cr. 3

This course provides an overview of the protection of environmental interests and needs in the American legal system, from a stable climate to safe drinking water. It begins by introducing students to the American legal system with foundational subjects of property law, tort law, constitutional law, and administrative law. It then surveys the major federal environmental statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and laws regarding waste and remediation. Finally, the course explores environmental rights, including the public trust doctrine, state and federal constitutional rights, and the human right to a healthy environment. Offered Winter.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate or Undergraduate level students.

ESG 6100 Seminar: Environmental Science and Geology Cr. 1

This course will expose students to current research topics as they listen to scientists giving seminars on their current research. This can help students in many ways including helping them to: i) refine their research interests; ii) network with the speakers to refine potential areas of Ph.D. study; iii) identify supplemental research areas outside their own subfields, possibly leading to cross-fertilization of research ideas; and iv) broaden their knowledge base in Geology and Environmental Science. Offered Fall, Winter.

ESG 6160 Applied Remote Sensing Cr. 3

This course focuses on remotely sensed data for geospatial applications. It is desirable for students to have prior knowledge in the basics of remote sensing, mapping, and GIS, and have experience with geospatial software, particularly ArcGIS, but it is not necessary. Students will develop a strong understanding of the tools and techniques used to display, process, and analyze remotely sensed data. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to develop analytical workflows to derive products and extract information from remotely sensed data for a broad range of applications. To assess the course learning, an independent final project for each student will be assigned in which students will demonstrate their ability to apply new skills to a real-world situation of personal or professional interest. Offered Yearly.

ESG 6165 Biodiversity Changes in the Anthropocene Cr. 4

This course is a study of the Anthropocene—what scientists argue is our current epoch in geologic time—emphasizing changes in Earth’s biodiversity as a result of human activities. Following an introduction to the Anthropocene, how it can be defined, and key ecological principles of biodiversity, we will explore the history and context for various types of human-influenced change. We will then survey seven human drivers of biodiversity change—from climate and chemical changes to habitat alteration and resource use and finally species transport (including modern pandemics) and invasion. We will wrap up the course examining past, present, and future tipping points, shifting baselines, goals and targets for management, and attitudes. Through this course, you will be challenged to consider both domestic and global (indigenous and western) perspectives of biodiversity change and issues concerning environmental justice. Emphasis will be placed on biodiversity shifts as influenced by humans. Offered Yearly.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.

Equivalent: BIO 6165

ESG 6170 Spatial Statistics and Analyses for Environmental Applications Cr. 3

Students will gain an understanding of spatial analysis methods and learning practical skills in using GIS and spatial analysis to discover features of spatial distribution. The class covers the methods of spatial analysis including measuring aspects of geometric features and identifying spatial patterns of geospatial objects that are represented as points, lines, networks, areal data, and 3-D surfaces. The material will be presented in readings, lectures, lab assignments, and a final project. Offered Yearly.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.

ESG 6180 Environmental DNA for Ecosystem Monitoring and Conservation Cr. 4

This course is a study of environmental DNA principles, approaches, and applications to study anthropogenic change in the environment. Following an introduction to the field of eDNA, challenges and limitations, early landmark studies, and applications in a variety of ecosystems and types of research questions, we will shift our focus to the technical background for designing an eDNA study—including how eDNA samples are collected, processed, and analyzed— and wrap up with considerations of the future of DNA metabarcoding. Emphasis will be placed on eDNA as a tool for studying environmental changes caused by humans. Offered Yearly.

Prerequisites: BIO 3070 with a minimum grade of C

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.

Equivalent: BIO 6185

ESG 6190 Environmental Microbiology Cr. 4

This course is a study of microbial diversity, approaches, and anthropogenic change in the environment. Following an introduction to the field of environmental microbiology, emerging global issues, and exploration of microorganisms in various habitats, we will focus on recent advances in characterization of microorganisms, pathogen transmission (including modern day pandemics), indicators of ecosystem health, and risk assessment. Through this course, you will also develop an understanding of how environmental microbiological samples are collected and processed, analyze how to track microbial sources and transport, and evaluate how microbiota interact with pollutants and ecosystems. Emphasis will be placed on microbiotic changes in the environment as influenced by humans. Offered Yearly.

Equivalent: BIO 6195

ESG 6250 Fluvial Geomorphology Cr. 3

This course is an introduction to the physical processes that shape rivers. The focus will be on wadable streams; however, many of the concepts will be applicable to larger rivers, such as the Missouri, Mississippi, Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. River restoration is a thriving industry, and professionals who understand the mechanics of rivers and sediment transport will be in great demand. Students will learn how the dimension, pattern and profile of a river will adjust to changes in hydrology and sediment supply. Students will apply equations to predict flow, velocity and sediment yield and transport, in addition to calculating stable channel dimensions and the extent of departure from stability. Students will learn the value of field measurements and how such observations can help reconstruct the historic disturbances to the fluvial system. Lastly, the role that humans and climate change play in river adjustment will be discussed. Offered Every Other Winter.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.

ESG 6300 Emerging Organic Contaminants in Global Environment Cr. 4

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), also known as emerging contaminants, involve major scientific and political issues. Contaminants of emerging concern can refer to a variety of different compounds, including but not limited to pharmaceuticals, personal care products, disinfection by-products, and some pesticides. Many of these chemicals have been detected in global air, water, sediment, soil, and biota. In this hybrid class, students will be in an active learning community and be exposed to real-world examples. Through this course, students will become familiar with common CECs, analytical methods, their source/occurrence, environmental behaviors, and potential treatment methods. Using the knowledge you have learned in this course, you will be asked to develop a research proposal for one class of CECs that is important in your field or of your interest. This course will prepare graduate students for professional work in environmental sciences, consulting, and management. Offered Fall.

ESG 6320 Coastal Geology and Processes in the Great Lakes Cr. 3

Waves and currents are the dominant forces shaping the shoreline. Students will learn how waves form and undergo transformation from deep water to the shoreline. Emphasis will be placed on a general understanding of these processes and their quantification with equations and numerical models. The geology and morphology of the shoreline will dictate its response, and student will spend a significant amount of time learning about the varying types of shorelines (till, dunes, bedrock, gravel/cobble, etc.), how they formed and their response to wave attack. Students will also learn how anthropogenic encroachment and climate change affect the coastal response, in addition to an introduction to coastal field methods. The material in this course will benefit students seeking employment as a coastal geologist, environmental engineer or environmental scientist. Offered Every Other Winter.

Restriction(s): Enrollment is limited to Graduate level students.

ESG 6400 Isotopes: Applications in Geological and Environmental Sciences Cr. 4

Our current understanding of our Earth and its environment are revolutionized by the applications of radioactive and stable isotopes of a large number of the first 95 elements in the Periodic Table. These isotopes, because of their suitable geochemical and nuclear properties, serve as tracer and chronometers to investigate a variety of topics that include chronology of rocks and minerals, paleoclimate, and paleo-environment, erosion and weathering of rocks and minerals, material transport within and between various reservoirs of earth processes. The major objective of this course is to introduce fundamental principles behind dating of Earth material that includes sediment, carbonate, aerosols, glaciers, groundwater/water masses, etc. Further, the foundations of fractionation of stable isotopes in the environment will be laid. Using isotopes as a powerful tool, a large number of applications in solving environmental problems (during Anthropocene) will be presented. Offered Yearly.

Prerequisites: ((PHY 2130 with a minimum grade of D- and PHY 2140 with a minimum grade of D-) or (PHY 2170 with a minimum grade of D- and PHY 2180 with a minimum grade of D-)), (CHM 1220 with a minimum grade of D- and CHM 1230 with a minimum grade of D-), and (GEL 1010 with a minimum grade of D- or ESG 1010 with a minimum grade of D-)

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