Search Continuing Education

GEOL 1010 Introduction to Geology

Instructor Contact:

Dr. Alan Lester


Instructor Bio:

Alan Lester has served as Senior Instructor, Research Associate, and Undergraduate Academic Advisor in the Department of Geological Sciences, CU-Boulder.  Currently, Alan divides his time between various duties in Geological Sciences, Continuing Education, Honors Department, and working as an airline pilot (see below!).

A native of Oregon, Alan moved to Colorado in 1985.  (B.S. from the University of Oregon and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, 1993).

Alan has done research in a variety of geological sub-disciplines including mineral structures, paleomagnetism, isotope geochemistry, and igneous petrology; all of which have been directed at understanding the origin and subsequent evolution of the Rocky Mountains.  Presently, Alan is working on science outreach projects (sharing science with public and public schools) and on the history and philsophy of science, partly through CU’s Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science.

A recipient of multiple university-wide teaching awards, Alan’s focus for over 25 years has been on teaching at the undergraduate level.

Both Alan and his wife Melissa are rock- and mountain-climbers. They combine their interest in geology with visits to climbing areas all over the western United States; sometimes adding to the adventure by flying small airplanes to their destination.
Alan is a commercial and ATP-rated (airline transport) pilot and flight instructor.   In 2007 Alan reduced his full-time position at CU-Boulder in order to fly 50-80 seat regional jets for United Airlines through SkyWest Airlines affiliate.  If you are ever on one of the smaller United Airlines jets, listen for the pilot names–you might have your geology professor as your pilot!

About the Course:

Geology is the study of the earth. It examines the solid earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. In this course you will be introduced to a scientific approach that recognizes a complex and dynamic interplay between these different realms. We now have considerable knowledge regarding the processes which continuously shape our planet and we have a coherent model (plate tectonics) for explaining the forces which raise mountains, create ocean basins, and generate spectacular, and sometimes deadly, events such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

This course meets MAPS and Arts and Sciences core curriculum requirements for natural science.

Required Texts:

Carlson, Plummer, and Hammersley, 9th Ediion, “Physical Geology: Earth Revealed”

(8th edition is suitable, but certain page numbers may not match with assignments)


There are a total of 7 assignments, each worth 10 points.

Exam 1 covers material associated with Textbook Chapters 1-8, and is worth 15 points.

Exam 2 covers material associated with Textbook Chapters 9-17 and 19, and is worth 15 points.

The exams are multiple choice and they can be taken at home via computer link to Desire 2 Learn System.  Exams are NOT proctored, and it is OK to use a textbook and/or notes, but be careful–there is a time-limit, making it virtually impossible to look up answers for every question.  So be careful— open book and multiple-choice sounds pretty easy, but this is not the case!

A standard grading scheme is used, 90-100 is the A-range; 80-89.5 is the B-range; 70-79.5 is the C-range, etc.

(Minus and Plus grades are class dependent; but generally will be the lower 1/3rd or upper 1/3rd of a given range)

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.