Geology 333 (ESE 333) - Earth Materials and the Environment - Spring 2017

Welcome to the Geology 333 home page. Geology 333 introduces the origin, occurrence, and identification of minerals, soils, and rocks as well as the nature and origin of ore deposits. Throughout the course we discuss the environmental importance of these earth materials.
Choose from the topics below:

  • Lecture Note Summaries
  • Lab Schedule, Notes, and Exercises - Optical Microscopy and Minerals and Rocks in Thin Section - This Web page is GREAT for review associated with Labs involving the petrographic microscope (#5 - 10); Virtual Field Trip to Fithian Cyclothem (Lab #13), created by former GEOL 380 student, Rachel Vinsel
  • Course Information
  • Lecture Homework - #1 is completed; #2 is completed; #3 is completed; #4 is completed; #5 is completed
  • Wiki Project Instructions - Individual reflection and Evaluate Efforts in Wiki Project are due by 11:59 pm on Wed., May 3; Student presentation schedule and Info
  • Final Exam Information
  • Web Links

  • Announcements

    Oral Presentations - April 26, April 28, May 1 and 3

    Oral presentations will be on April 26, April 28, May 1 and 3.  Order of presentations and other presentation guidelines, distributed in Lecture on April 14, available by clicking here. If you plan a computer-aided presentation, you must e-mail a PowerPoint file to Prof. Altaner ( by 8 am on the day of your presentation. If you don’t send a PowerPoint file to Prof. Altaner by 8 am on the day of your presentation, then you won’t be allowed to give a PowerPoint presentation. Include your name and topic as the name of your PowerPoint file, e.g., Gold_Pesantez. Prepare a back-up plan in case of equipment problems. Presentations will not be rescheduled.

    Prof. Altaner will make black and white copies for you if you provide him with “copy ready” materials and copying instructions (e.g., overhead transparency or class handout) by 8 am on the day of your scheduled presentation.

    Lab Final Exam: 10 AM - Noon, Tuesday, May 2

    Detailed information about the Lab final exam (10 AM - Noon, Tuesday, May 3) is available by clicking here.

    Wiki Project Reflection - Due by 11:59 pm, May 3

    In an individual reflection exercise (due by 11:59 pm on Wed., 5/3), you will review wikis of rock and mineral resources created by fellow students. Then, you will evaluate which rock or mineral resource may represent an impending mineral or rock crisis. Detailed instructions are available on Compass.

    Evaluate Efforts in Wiki Project - Due by 11:59 pm, May 3

    AFTER your oral presentation, send a private e-mail to Prof. Altaner ( with ratings for efforts in group project (including both Wiki and oral presentation) for both you and your team member(s) on scale of 1 - 5, where 1 is no effort at all and 5 is active participation and contributing fair share. Ratings of 4 and 5 are considered acceptable. If you give a rating below 6, then please give a reason for the less than acceptable rating.

    Alternate Assignment - For Students Who Did Not Attend Starved Rock Field Trip

    Click here to access the alternate writing assignment, which is for students who did not attend the Starved Rock field trip on April 22.

    Group Picture and Virtual Field Trip Web Sites to Starved Rock Park area, IL

    Here is the group picture from the April 22 field trip to Mattheissen State Park as well as links to Web sites with excellent collections of photos from Geology field trips to the Starved Rock Park area: GEOL 380 (Environmental Geology) in spring, 2009, Illinois Valley Community College, and Ellin Bettis. Also, you can find a guidebook (written by Prof. Altaner) to a geology field trip associated with a scientific conference by clicking here.

    Wiki Group Project - Feedback on First Draft

    All groups made a good to very good effort in the first draft of their Wiki Projects. The class average was 7.1 out of 10 points and the range in scores was 5.5 - 9. Individual scores are in the Compass Grade Center and my detailed comments are in the private Discussion Board associated with your Wiki Project. I also wrote detailed comments on printed copies of the Wiki and returned them to individual students in class on Monday, March 27.

    Some of the common types of feedback on the first draft of the Wiki projects include: most Wikis need more information about the geologic formation of their ore deposit (good resources for this information are the textbooks by Craig et al., 2011, Earth Resources and the Environment and Kesler, 1994, Mineral Resources and the Environment; both are on reserve for GEOL 333 in Grainger Library), all Wikis could benefit by additional figures (some Wiki figures also need numbers, captions, and reference numbers), some Wikis need an effective title (which should be informative, interesting, and brief), many Wikis had references that needed the correct format (All references to Web sites should include a title, URL, sponsor, time and date accessed, and 1-sentence description of Web site), many Wikis need more information about relevant principles (e.g., list atomic number for elements and relevant physical and chemical properties), many Wikis need more information about the mining, processing or environmental impact of mining and processing their mineral, several Wikis need graphs of world and US production or price of their mineral over time, most Wikis need a table with the top 2 - 4 producing countries and states of their mineral (list production values and year of production data), many Wikis need values for world reserves AND resources of their mineral, many Wikis need to discuss recycling of and possible substitutes for their mineral, and almost all Wikis need to polish their formatting and writing mechanics.

    The final draft of the Wiki project is due by 10 am on Friday, April 21.

    Below is a schedule of rock and mineral resource assignments:

     Mineral/Rock Resource



     Manisha Balakumar, Victoria Figueroa


     Nicolaus Gamsby, Jordan Jauch


     Emma Hoffmann, Andony Landivar-Macias


     Joanna Krueger, Erin Slifer


     Wesley Pesantez, Tomasz Rutkowski

     Iron Ore

     Madeleine McGrady, Chaz Yankowski


     Tucker Bowman, Morgan Kaplan


     Michelle Frankel, Joshua Garay

     Phosphate Rock

     Hannah Blomberg, Rodrigo Fernandez Santoyo

     Rare Earth Elements

     Raymond Bizot, Lamanda Fox

    Midterm Exam - Class Results

    A = 102.5 - 90% (40% of class)
    B = 89 - 80% (10% of class)
    C = 79 - 70% (30% of class)
    D = 69 - 60% (10% of class)
    F = <60% (10% of class)
    Range = 102.5 - 56.3%
    Average score = 82.6%
    • Individual scores for Midterm Exam are in Compass Grade Center.
    • The question booklet and answer key for the Midterm Exam are on reserve in Grainger Engineering Library (1301 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana).
    Lab Notes, Lab Exercise, and Textbook by Klein and Philpotts - Bring to Lab

    Please print Lab Notes (Summary or Powerpoint versions) and Lab Exercise before each Lab. Please bring the Klein and Philpotts textbook (Earth Materials: Introduction to Mineralogy and Petrology) to all Labs through March 28.

    Lecture Notes and Textbook by Klein and Philpotts - Bring to Lecture

    Please print Lecture Notes before each Lecture class. Please bring the Klein and Philpotts textbook (Earth Materials: Introduction to Mineralogy and Petrology) to Lecture class from Feb. 1 to April 24.

    Lab Book by MacKenzie and Adams - Unavailable to Purchase

    Unfortunately the recommended Lab book (Color Atlas of Rocks & Minerals in Thin Sections by MacKenzie and Adams) is out of print and unavailable to purchase at IUB. There is one copy of this book on reserve in Grainger Engineering Library (1301 W. Springfield, Urbana), which is open from 10 am Sunday to midnight Friday and 10 am to midnight Saturday. Also, two copies of that book will be available during all Labs involving the petrographic microscope (Feb. 14 through March 28).

    Study of Minerals (Tasa Minerals) Software - Available at any ICS Computer

    Some assigned readings and one homework assignment involve Study of Minerals software, which can be viewed at any PC computer (or Mac computer running Windows 7) in one of the ICS (Instructional Computing Services) Computer Labs including: 

    English Building (Room 8, 608 S. Wright St., U) - this Lab is a general access lab and so it is never reserved for classes
    Nevada Building (1203 1/2 W. Nevada St., Urbana)
    Oregon Building (901 W. Oregon St., Urbana)
    Illini Hall (721 S. Wright St., Champaign)
    Undergraduate Library (in upper northeast corner near Room 289)
    Wohlers Hall (Rooms 70A/B, 1206 S. Sixth St., Champaign)

    Information about ICS Computer Labs, including hours, class schedule, location map, and computers is at:
    NOTE: All of these facilities, except for the English Building Lab, are used for academic classes. All or part of the facility may be reserved and unavailable for your use at times during the day, so make sure to check the schedule before going to the room.

    To do an assigned reading, you need to start the Study of Minerals program in any PC computer (or Mac computer running Windows 7) in one of the ICS Computer Labs by first clicking on the Windows icon (lower left side) and then clicking on the following links: All Programs, Class Software, GEOL 333, Tasa Minerals. It will take a minute or two for the computer to download the program. After a Mac computer boots up, it will first go to a gray screen with the Apple icon and then the Windows icon. Using the arrow keys toggle between them until the Windows icon is highlighted and then press Return. Ask an ICS student helper if you are unable to locate and start the Study of Minerals program.

    When you reach the Main Menu, you should click on the ? Help icon in the upper left side of the screen to review controls used to navigate through the program. Click on the left-pointing arrow on the bottom right side of the screen to return to the Main Menu. NOTE: At the Main Menu, you can change the nature of the program from Intermediate to Advanced using the toggle switch in the upper right side of the screen. All assigned readings are at the Advanced level unless it is indicated in the syllabus with Intermed. Click on one of the Chapter boxes to begin the text part of the program. After you finish the assigned reading or homework assignment, click on the Menu box to return to the Main Menu. Click on the Quit button to exit the program. Finally, click on the LOGOFF button (upper right side) and then click on Yes.

    Geology 333 is taught by Prof. Stephen Altaner
    27 Computing Applications Bldg. (CAB, 605 E. Springfield, Champaign), mailbox outside 156 CAB, 244-1244, e-mail:
    Office hours = Tuesday 1 - 2 PM, Thursday 11 AM - noon, or by appointment

    Lab Instructor is Haley Cabaniss
    70 CAB, mailbox in 144 CAB,
    Office hours = Friday noon - 2 PM or by appointment