Welcome! Our vision for this project was to create a Canadian introductory physical geology lab manual that is more accessible and affordable for our first-year physical geology students. Since this is an open text, we can also update or modify it quickly to integrate improvements. At the University of Saskatchewan, in addition to our first-year course in physical geology that includes a lab, we offer an introductory physical geology course that does not have a lab component (primarily as a science elective for arts students). Our hope is this manual can be useful to these students too, offering them self-directed hands-on practice with geoscience problems and supplementary text resources.

We were fortunate that we didn’t have to start from zero on this project: Bradley Deline, Randa Harris, and Karen Tefend of the University of West Georgia had prepared a Laboratory Manual for Introductory Geology that we have adapted. Each chapter of this manual is broken down into introduction, overview, and exercises sections. The introduction provides learning objectives and a short vocabulary list, the overview sections provide useful background concepts, and the exercises sections are problems students will (or could) cover in physical geology course labs. Several labs also contain practice or extra questions; these are materials that don’t fit in our labs at the University of Saskatchewan but may be useful as supplemental activities for our students. Much of the content for the introduction, overview, and exercises sections of each chapter were based on Deline, Harris & Tefend’s manual, but we have extensively rewritten several chapters to align with our programming at USask (specifically the introductory chapter, the exercises on minerals and rocks, and the geological structures chapter). We have also modified the original edition to include more Canadian content and examples, and in most cases, we have changed imperial units to metric.

We are grateful to Bradley Deline, Randa Harris & Karen Tefend for creating the first edition of this text and for helping us along with our questions about the manual – it was a delight to work with the firm foundation you provided! We thank the University of Saskatchewan Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning (GMCTL) and the Department of Geological Science for financial support for this project. We are grateful to Jordan Epp at USask Teaching and Learning for his support with PressBooks and Heather Ross at GMCTL for her guidance and encouragement. We are also grateful to Todd LeBlanc for assisting Tim with test-driving the manual in labs before we started the project; his experiences provided critical insights on directions for revisions, particularly for the geological structures chapter. Thank you to our TAs and students for their feedback on the first version of this edition of the manual, we have incorporated numerous edits in this version to address their suggestions.

In the second edition of this manual, we plan to expand the chapters to include others from the first American edition by Deline et al (e.g., plate tectonics) as a resource for our students. If you find errors in the current edition or are interested in contributing images, exercises, examples of Canadian geology or other content to the next edition (or adapting the text for your own use) please let us know. Please direct comments and suggestions to Joyce McBeth at joyce.mcbeth at We hope you find the resources in this manual helpful – please let us know what you think!

Joyce McBeth, Karla Panchuk, Tim Prokopiuk, Lyndsay Hauber, & Sean Lacey

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, SK, Canada, January 2020 (v.3).


Cover image: (top) purple garnet sand along a beach at Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, photo by Scott Colville CC BY 4.0; (bottom) purple sand under the microscope Joyce McBeth CC BY 4.0.


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Introductory Physical Geology Laboratory Manual – First Canadian Edition (v.3 - Jan 2020) Copyright © 2020 by Joyce McBeth; Karla Panchuk; Tim Prokopiuk; Lyndsay Hauber; and Sean Lacey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.