PHSC 205

Earth System History

Spring 2008


Assignments Powerpoints Links/Resources

Comments about the final exam

Some mnemonics:

Can One Student Drop Corny Moose Poop Pronto?  Timmy Just Crapped Prickly Nuggets.

Noticeable Pancakes Can Just Take Plenty (of) Chocolate Pieces Melted Down (and) Served Over Cherries

No Person Could Jump Two People Per Minute.  Dan Said One Could Protect Another

Caring Old Skinner Delightfully Makes Peach Pie (for) The Jolly Children Playing Nearby.

No Person Can Justify Torture Purely Crazies (cause) Pain.  Masochism Dominates Sickos Or Creeps.

Instructor:  Dr. Jerry Skinner, Capwell Hall 208, 945-8404. email: or

Class Meetings: T-Th 2:00 - 3:15 pm in Capwell Hall 212.  Compressed schedule meeting time:  2:15-3:15 pm.

Office Hours:  Office hours: M 11-12 & 1-2, T 11-12, R 11:30-12:30, F 11-12.


CoverStanley, Steven M.  Earth System History, 2nd ed.  W. H. Freeman and Company, NY.  567 pp.  ISBN 0-7167-3907-0

Other assigned readings which will be provided to you.



Course Description (from the College Catalog):  PHSC 205 Earth Systems History: Introduces the geological history of biodiversity and the influence of changing Earth systems on the evolution of the biosphere. Topics include planetary formation, origin of life, atmospheric evolution, plate tectonics, and macro-evolutionary history. 3 hours lecture and discussion, 3 credits.

Course Policies:

Attendance, Exams, and Assignments
Please attend all lectures and read assigned materials beforehand.  Participation will be considered in the final grade.  Makeup exams will only be given for extraordinary circumstances.  Quizzes cannot be made up.  Late assignments will not be accepted.

Standing Assignment:  Each week you will visit the Earth System History website at where you will review Key Terms, Online Quizzes, and Chapter Objectives for the current chapters.

Grading Policy:

Two exams @100 pts  = 200 pts
Comprehensive final = 100
Weekly quizzes @10 pts = 100
Participation 2 @ 25 pts =   50
Assignments = 100
Paper = 100
GRAND TOTAL  = 650 pts.

Grading scale:

    B+ 87-89.9 C+ 77-79.9 D 60-69.9
A > 93.0% B 83-86.9 C 73-76.9 F < 60%
A- 90-92.9 B- 80-92.9 C- 70-72.9    

Week    Topic Read
JAN   14 Course business;

Earth as a System

  21 Rock-forming minerals and rocks

Diversity of Life



  28 Environments of Life

Exam 1

4 Correlation and Dating of the Rock Record 6
  11 Evolution and the Fossil Record 7
18 Plate Tectonics 8
  25 Major Chemical Cycles 10
MAR 3 Spring Break Week  
  10 The Archean Eon of Precambrian Time 11
  17 The Proterozoic Eon of Precambrian Time

Exam 2

  24 The Early Paleozoic World 13
APR 7 The Middle Paleozoic World

The Late Paleozoic World



  14 The Early Mesozoic World

The Cretaceous World



  21 The Peleogene World

The Neogene World

Papers due April 24



  28 The Holocene World 20
MAY 5 Finals Week   


Paper:  You will select a research paper topic from a list provided to you or you may pose your own topic subject to approval.  The paper must be 3-5 pages in lengths and 1) summarize the scientific details of the topic, and 2) provide a summary of the current hypotheses regarding the question.

Format instructions

  • Times New Roman font, 12 point

  • 3-5 pages, double-spaced

  • APA format (

  • Minimum elements: 

    • Introduction

    • Discussion

    • References-minimum two references from peer-reviewed scientific journals and two textbooks.

  • You may be asked to give a brief summary of your topic in class.

The Fine Print:

Keystone College does not discriminate in any of its programs on the basis of disability. While there is not a deadline for the disclosure of a disability by a student, in order to facilitate the documentation and accommodation processes, students are encouraged to voluntarily and confidentially disclose any disability requiring an accommodation prior to the beginning of class.  This disclosure should be made to Robert Iannuzzo, Vice President of Enrollment, Keystone’s Section 504/ADA Coordinator.  Students who disclose a disability, and who are seeking an accommodation, ultimately will be expected to provide documentation verifying the disability.

Academic Honesty – Division of Natural Science and Mathematics
All students are subject to the College's policy and procedure on academic dishonesty: see page 79 of the Keystone College 2006-2007 catalog. 

The Natural Science and Mathematics Division recognizes that any form or degree of academic dishonesty challenges the principles of truth and honesty which are among the most important founding principles of science and mathematics discovery.  Keystone College treats academic dishonesty as a serious violation of academic trust.  It penalizes all students found to have engaged in such behavior.
Academic honesty within the College and the Natural Science and Mathematics Division must be a cooperative enterprise of faculty, students and administrators. Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to the following:

  • The illegitimate use of study materials or electronic devices in any form during a quiz or examination.

  • Copying answers from the quiz or examination paper of another student

  • Plagiarizing or falsifying materials or information used in the completion of any assignment which is graded or evaluated as the student's individual effort. Plagiarism includes submitting as one's own the ideas or work of another, including the laboratory data, written materials or the computer files of another, regardless of whether that information is used verbatim or in paraphrased form.  The same applies to anything derived from the Internet, including research papers purchased online. 

  • Obtaining, through theft, bribery, or collusion, or otherwise improperly securing an examination paper prior to the time and date for the administration of the examination. Also, use of an examination paper previously administered (e.g., during an earlier term) without the consent of the instructor who authored the examination.

  • Impersonating a candidate at an examination or availing oneself of such an impersonation in any traditional or online class. 

  • Intentionally interfering with any person's scholastic work, for example, by damaging or stealing laboratory experiments, computer data files or library materials.

  • It is presumed that material submitted by a student for an assignment is original to that assignment and, therefore, submitting the same work for more than one course without the consent of the instructors of each course in which the work is submitted is considered dishonest.  Submission of previously graded work from prior assignments is considered dishonest.

  • Aiding or abetting any act of academic dishonesty including but not limited to such offenses as described above.