Many students’ study in geology ends in grade school when they learn the three types of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. However, the University of Rhode Island’s geology program proves time and time again to both increase and expand upon the importance of geology in the modern day that extends further than that of rock classification.

The URI geosciences department calls what they study the “center of the global ecosystem.” Department Head and professor David Fastovsky teaches many courses within this department, one of which is GEO 450, the Introduction to Sedimentary Geology.

He calls it a capstone course in the sense that the class is composed of all seniors who are majoring in the geosciences, and who are required to go on a ten-day field trip to locations such as the Grand Canyon to study the sedimentary rocks found there.

The class is designed to introduce students to how geologists recognize ancient sedimentary environments, which essentially, according to Fastovsky, helps explain the history of life on Earth.

“Rocks are an autobiography of Earth” Fastovsky explained. “It’s history is found in sedimentation.”

An example of this is the fossils geologists study to understand life before us. Currently, the class is learning about the sediments found in rivers – determining environments based on rock patterns.

The class is primarily lecture-based.  Fastovsky calls it one of his more technical classes, as he also teaches lower levels classes on topics such as Evolution of the Earth and Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs.