Petroleum Geology

Courses

FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at http://www.western.edu/catalog. To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.

 CHEM 111 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY I GSC2 (3 credits)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY LAB I GSC1 (1 credits)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebook keeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Corequisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered in this course are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Prerequisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 114 - GENERAL CHEMISTRY LAB II (1 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebook keeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 GEOL 101 - PHYSICAL GEOLOGY GSC2 (3 credits)

An introductory class that emphasizes the environmental aspects of geology. The course covers the basic principles of physical geology, such as minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and origin of landscapes by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and nearshore processes. Throughout this course, focus is on the effect of geology on human society through the study of geologic hazards, energy resources, and mineral resources.

 GEOL 105 - PHYSICAL GEOLOGY LAB GSC1 (1 credits)

An introduction to identification of minerals and rocks and a discussion of their genesis followed by a study of landscapes formed by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and nearshore processes. Many of these principles are observed on local field trips. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 101.

 GEOL 201 - HISTORICAL GEOLOGY (4 credits)

A study of the interpretation of the geologic history, structure, and evolution of the Earth with emphasis on methods and concepts rather than factual information. Colorado geologic history and various principles are observed during three or four field trips. Topics and concepts such as geophysics, continental drift, and plate tectonics are integrated into discussions of Earth history. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105.

 GEOL 302 - GEOSCIENCE WRITING (2 credits)

An introduction to the proper methods and accepted formats of written, graphical, and oral communication in the geological sciences. These skills are addressed through critical evaluation and discussion of the geological literature, by writing reports, review papers and research proposals, and giving oral presentations. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above and GEOL 201. Corequisite: GEOL 310.

 GEOL 305 - MINERALOGY LAB (0 credits)

An introduction to the study of minerals. Important topics include the crystallography, crystal chemistry, and optics of important rock and ore forming minerals. Emphasis is placed on the crystal chemistry and stability of major silicate mineral groups. The laboratory emphasizes the field identification of minerals and the application of optics to the identification of minerals in thin section. Prerequisites: GEOL 101, GEOL 105, MATH 141. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 111 and CHEM 112.

 GEOL 305 - MINERALOGY (4 credits)

An introduction to the study of minerals. Important topics include the crystallography, crystal chemistry, and optics of important rock and ore forming minerals. Emphasis is placed on the crystal chemistry and stability of major silicate mineral groups. The laboratory emphasizes the field identification of minerals and the application of optics to the identification of minerals in thin section. Prerequisites: GEOL 101, GEOL 105, MATH 141. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 111 and CHEM 112.

 GEOL 310 - STRAT SEDS LAB (0 credits)

A study of the basic principles and origins of sedimentary rock units. Topics studied include sub-division of the geologic column and geologic time, depositional systems, stratigraphic nomenclature and rules, principles of correlation; including a review of modern geophysical, geochemical, and chronostratigraphic methods, biostratigraphy, and event stratigraphy. Laboratory includes measurement of sections, examination of depositional systems in the field, and surface and subsurface stratigraphic techniques, including geophysical-log interpretation and computer mapping. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of "C-," GEOL 201.

 GEOL 310 - STRAT SEDS (4 credits)

A study of the basic principles and origins of sedimentary rock units. Topics studied include sub-division of the geologic column and geologic time, depositional systems, stratigraphic nomenclature and rules, principles of correlation; including a review of modern geophysical, geochemical, and chronostratigraphic methods, biostratigraphy, and event stratigraphy. Laboratory includes measurement of sections, examination of depositional systems in the field, and surface and subsurface stratigraphic techniques, including geophysical-log interpretation and computer mapping. Prerequisites: ENG 102 with a minimum grade of "C-," GEOL 201.

 GEOL 345 - STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY LAB (0 credits)

A study of the deformation of the Earth's crust. The course begins with a study of the forces and movements within the crust which cause folding and faulting of rocks and a description of the resulting structures. These topics are followed by an analysis of the regional tectonic patterns of the Earth's surface and theories for their origin. Prerequisite: GEOL 201 with a minimum grade of "C-" and MATH 141.

 GEOL 345 - STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY (4 credits)

A study of the deformation of the Earth's crust. The course begins with a study of the forces and movements within the crust which cause folding and faulting of rocks and a description of the resulting structures. These topics are followed by an analysis of the regional tectonic patterns of the Earth's surface and theories for their origin. Prerequisite: GEOL 201 with a minimum grade of "C-" and MATH 141.

 GEOL 346 - SUBSURFACE GEOLOGY W LAB (4 credits)

An advanced undergraduate course in subsurface structural and stratigraphic methods pertinent to petroleum, groundwater, environmental, and tectonics investigations. The course applies traditional and computer-assisted techniques to subsurface problems. Students gain experience in integrating surface geology with subsurface well and geophysical data. Prerequisite: GEOL 310. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 345.

 GEOL 352 - APPLIED GEOPHYSICS W LAB (4 credits)

An advanced undergraduate course in the theoretical and practical application of physics to geology. Lectures cover seismic, gravity, and magnetic theory. Laboratory exercises and lecture problem sets emphasize the interpretation of real-world data, with application to problems in stratigraphy, structure, hydrology, environmental geology, mining, and oil and gas. Students gain proficiency in the use of several advanced analysis and modeling software packages. Prerequisite: GEOL 310. Prerequisites or corequisites: GEOL 345 and PHYS 170.

 GEOL 430 - HYDROGEOLOGY (3 credits)

A study of the occurrence, movement, and chemical properties of groundwater. Topics include the hydrologic cycle, surface-water hydrology, principles of ground water flow, and water chemistry. Laboratory exercises focus on quantitative analysis and modeling of groundwater data. Prerequisites: GEOL 310, CHEM 111, and MATH 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: PHYS 170 or PHYS 200.

 GEOL 450 - FIELD GEOLOGY (4 credits)

An emphasis on field observation, proper geologic mapping techniques on both maps and aerial photos and interpretation and synthesis of field data into a report. Different geologic terrains in Colorado or other states are examined. Ideally, this course should be taken during the Summer semester, immediately prior to the senior year. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345; or instructor permission.

 GEOL 455 - PETROLEUM GEOLOGY W LAB (4 credits)

A study of the physical and chemical processes responsible for the distribution of hydrocarbons and associated fluids in the Earth's crust and techniques for hydrocarbon exploration and resource assessment. Topics include the principle components of Petroleum Systems Analysis, including: the maturation, expulsion, and migration of hydrocarbons; hydrocarbon reservoirs; hydrocarbon seals; and structural, stratigraphic, and unconventional hydrocarbon traps. Laboratories include geochemical modeling of source rocks, geophysical log analysis and correlation, seismic interpretation, computer mapping, and a regional field trip. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and GEOL 345.

 GEOL 465 - RESEARCH IN BASIN ANALYS W LAB (3 credits)

A study of sedimentary processes and environments, including the tectonic origin of sedimentary basins. This includes the most common terrestrial and marine depositional systems and their relationships. A strong emphasis is placed on field relations and research on the sedimentary rocks of Western Colorado and the Colorado Plateau. The course is topical in nature and requires individual and/or group research projects through the study of the geologic literature, the collection of geologic data in the field, and the presentation of results. Prerequisites: GEOL 310 and CHEM 113.

 GEOL 495 - GEOLOGY SEMINAR (1 credits)

A seminar where advanced undergraduate students can develop critical reading and thinking skill through discussion and presentation of research literature. Topics are chosen from the current research literature. A student may earn a maximum of four credits under this course title. Prerequisite: GEOL 305, GEOL 310, GEOL 320, or GEOL 345.

 MATH 151 - CALCULUS I GMA1 (4 credits)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 610 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of "C-"; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. GT-MA1

 MATH 251 - CALCULUS II (4 credits)

Topics include techniques of integration, area computations, improper integrals, infinite series and various convergence tests, power series, Taylor's Formula, polar coordinates, and parametric curves. Prerequisite: MATH 151 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 PHYS 170 - PRIN OF PHYSICS I LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of college algebra is recommended. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics test score of 95 or above, or MATH 141.

 PHYS 170 - PRINCIPLES OF PHYSICS I GSC1 (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, and many-particle systems. A mathematical proficiency at the level of college algebra is recommended. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and Accuplacer College-Level Mathematics test score of 95 or above, or MATH 141.

 PHYS 171 - PRINCIPLES OF PHYSICS II GSC1 (4 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 170 dealing with electromagnetism, light, thermodynamics, and the atomic structure of matter. Prerequisite: PHYS 170.

 PHYS 171 - PRINCIPLES PHYSICS II LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 170 dealing with electromagnetism, light, thermodynamics, and the atomic structure of matter. Prerequisite: PHYS 170.

 PHYS 200 - GENERAL PHYSICS I GSC1 (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and 200. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and completion of MATH 151 preferred but may be taken concurrently.

 PHYS 200 - GENERAL PHYSICS I LAB GSC1 (0 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and 200. Prerequisites: PHYS 140 or one year of high school physics; and completion of MATH 151 preferred but may be taken concurrently.

 PHYS 201 - GENERAL PHYSICS II GSC1 (4 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

 PHYS 201 - GENERAL PHYSICS II LAB (0 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

The Moncrief Petroleum Geology Program is for students planning careers as geoscientists in the oil and gas industry, as well as careers in resource assessment, energy policy and graduate studies. Students graduating from the program receive the Bachelor of Science in Geology: Petroleum Geology Emphasis. 

Strong Support from Alumni and Donors

Western's Petroleum Geology Program launched in 2002, thanks to a $1 million endowment from Western alumnus Paul Rady, CEO of Antero Resources. Rady followed up in 2014 with another $1.5 million gift. Another $2.5 million in gifts from legendary oilman W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Jr. of Ft. Worth, Texas, in 2005 and 2007, established the "Moncrief Petroleum Geology Program." This further strengthened the program and demonstrates the significance of Western’s efforts within the industry. Interested students and sponsors can contact Dr. Elizabeth Petrie or Dr. Bradford Burton.

Job Prospects are Outstanding

  • About half of all geoscientists are set to retire during the next 10 years. Companies WILL replace them.
  • A hiring boom was experienced in the late 1970s and early '80s within the petroleum, mining, environmental, engineering, government and academic geology areas. As these individuals retire, job opportunities for college graduates are expanding.
  • In recent years, a hiring boom has brought career opportunities at all levels. This translates into a 10 percent to 20 percent rise in salaries for professional geologists with less than two years' experience. During the past 10 years, the number of people enrolling in geoscience programs has been steady, and according to AGI (American Geological Institute www.agiweb.org), only about 15 percent of those who enroll actually enter the geologic professional pipeline.  This means there are far fewer graduates than their are positions to fill.

Who Should Pursue a Degree in Petroleum Geology?

Geology is fundamentally a field science. We collect information about natural systems and use this information to understand geologic process, to explore for natural resources and to guide environmental stewardship. Working as a geologist requires strong skills in spatial thinking, visualization and creativity, along with a sound foundation in the basic physics, chemistry and mathematics, all of which provide you with an ability to take large, sometimes fragmented datasets to understand natural processes.

In addition to the field aspects of our work, many professional geologists are model natural systems, requiring some interest in working with technology, computer programming, database management and geospatial database management. Good writing and skill at communicating complex ideas, both to your peers and to laymen, improves a geology major's chance of professional success.

In addition to this broad spectrum of skills, geologists, unlike many other scientists, must consider the importance of "deep" time. Many natural changes occur at very slow rates, often requiring a geologist to consider problems over time scales much larger than the human experience.

Wired for the 21st Century

The Petroleum Geology program is housed in Hurst Hall, one of the most technologically sophisticated science buildings in Colorado. Instruction occurs in the GIS/Petroleum Geology lab. The lab has thirteen student stations for highly interactive instruction and uses the most up-to-date industry software and data sets. In recent months, the petroleum industry has made investments in Western’s program totaling more than $2,000,000.

  • Platte River Associates, Inc. BasinMod petroleum-systems modeling.
  • IHS Petra well-log correlation, petrophysics and mapping.
  • IHS Kingdom ©, 2D/3D seismic interpretation and modeling​.
  • Geo-Logic Systems LithoTectTM seismic-depth conversion and cross-section balancing.
  • GeoTools QuickDip statistical curvature (SCAT) dipmeter analysis.
  • Midland Valley Move 2D/3D Kinematic Modeling balanced cross-section modeling.
  • N.G.A. GMSys interactive gravity and magnetics modeling.
  • Schlumberger Petrel E&P Software Platform: Subsurface 2D/3D analysis and modeling.

The Moncrief Petroleum Geology program at Western:

  • Provides students a solid academic foundation.
  • Combines classroom and field study with current industry technology.
  • Fosters professional contact with industry geoscientists.
  • Promotes industry internships for early career reinforcement.
  • Mentors students toward relevant graduate programs.
  • Offers Western's Petroleum Geology Research Program, in which undergraduates engage in applied and fundamental research. Funding sources provide summer research experiences.

Why study Petroleum Geology at Western State Colorado University?

In addition to the strengths of the Moncrief Petroleum Geology Program, Western is amid an extraordinary natural laboratory. Students gain a strong background in basic geology, with an emphasis on critical thinking and visualization. The local outdoor environment provides a wide range of opportunities for unique field experiences and undergraduate research opportunities. Combined with a comprehensive technology experience, and our emphasis on written and oral communication, our students are generally highly qualified for entry-level work in industry or for continued study in graduate programs throughout the country.

Interested in the latest news on the state of salaries for geologic professionals?  The 2011 article by Larry Nation, AAPGs Communication Directory can be found at http://www.aapg.org/explorer/2011/04apr/salary0411.cfmThe 2014 article by Vern Stefanic, managing editor of the AAPG EXPLORER can be found at http://www.aapg.org/publications/news/explorer/details/articleid/8464/salaries-rise-and-experience-really-pays.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Petroleum Geology Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family.

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