Geology of American National Parks

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Geology of American National Parks


  • Course Goals

This course provides an overview of the geology of select American National Parks and adjacent regions in the context of geodynamic and geomorphologic processes. The National Parks display dramatic landscapes and geological features in nearly every of plate tectonic setting.

We will use the geology of the Parks to better understand the materials the make up the earth’s crust and the processes involved in forming and modifying landscapes in the surface environment.

The geology of the National Parks will be related to cultural aspects and environmental issues. We will also study geological hazards including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and landslides that pertain to the various parks and adjacent regions.


When you complete this course will be able to identify geologic features of the American national parks, as well as explain the plate tectonic forces and surface processes that combine to create the unique landscapes. This course will cover the following parks:


  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Mount Saint Helens
  • Crater Lake National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Great Smokey Mountain National Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park