Spring 2020 - EASC 408 D100

Regional Geology of Western Canada (3)

Class Number: 1431

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    TASC1 7005, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 5038, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Daniel Gibson
    1 778 782-7057
    Office: TASC 1 Room 7413
  • Prerequisites:

    /Corequsite: EASC 309 with a C- or better.



The stratigraphy, structure and historical geology of western Canada. Terrane analysis. Important mineral and fossil sites will be discussed. Students are required to attend one 4 day field trip during the course. Students with credit for EASC 305 prior to fall 1998 may not take this course for further credit.


Why study the geology of the Canadian Cordillera?
The mountains of western Canada, formally known as Canadian Cordillera, form an evolving, growing mountain belt whose origins extend back into the Precambrian. The region is a vast natural laboratory containing examples of features and processes pertaining to most facets of the Earth Sciences, supported by a wealth of geological, geochemical and geophysical information. From the "big picture" perspective, the tectonic evolution of the region provides a model of the ways in which new continental crust was, and is, being formed from mantle derived, isotopically juvenile material. The course will involve studying the stratigraphy, structure and historical geology of the Canadian Cordillera, examined from a plate tectonic perspective. Models of development of the various terranes and related entities, and their amalgamation to form the present Cordillera, will be examined in detail.

Course outline

  • Introduction: background needed to unravel Canadian Cordilleran geology.
  • Physiography, active tectonics and natural hazards.
  • Bedrock geology, including economic deposits, from westernmost Alberta Plains to eastern Pacific Ocean floor.
  • Setting of the Canadian Cordillera in North American and world geology; comparison with other active mountain belts.
  • Summary and synthesis: tectonic evolution of the Canadian Cordillera.
  • Student presentations in class of selected topics.
  • The real thing! Trans-Cordilleran field trip.


  • Midterm Exam 25%
  • Lab & Class Exercises 10%
  • Seminar Presentation 5%
  • Final Exam 45%


Note: EASC 408 will be held in conjunction with graduate course EASC 624. Graduate students will complete the same course material as undergraduates, but will be expected to address seminar and term paper topics at a more advanced level. If so desired by the student, and judged by the instructor to be appropriate to the course, either seminar or term paper topics may be related to their graduate research.

Field trip: There will be a four day field trip across the southern Canadian Cordillera. Participation in the field trip is mandatory and will be held during the latter part of the semester. It will require driving to Calgary, with a three-day geologising return to Vancouver.

Field Trip Fee: The field trip fee is $265.30. This will cover transportation, accommodation, and miscellaneous expenses. It does NOT cover food, so students should budget about $75-100 in extra expenses for this trip.



There is no formal text that deals specifically with the Canadian Cordillera, instead extensive course notes are provided that also include references for many key publications. Students will also be provided with a digital copy of the DNAG volume G-2 “Geology of the Cordilleran Orogen in Canada”. It is also recommended that student download the “Tectonic Assemblage Map of the Canadian Cordillera” (Wheeler and McFeely, 1991, Geological Survey of Canada, Map 1712A).

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html