The surface of Earth today, an amalgamation of moutain ranges, basins, and the hydrosphere, records an integrated history of processes that act on a range of time scales spanning 17 orders of magnitude. The central question treated in this Freshman seminar is: How does Earth's surface evolve in response to internal (e.g., tectonic and magmatic), surficial (e.g., weather, climate, and anthropogenic effects) and external (e.g., extraterrestrial) forcing? The seminar provides students with practical experience making geological and geophysical observations, and in particular, focuses on quantitative analysis of observables such as topography, gravity and weather. The classroom seminar is complimented by a mandatory week-long field trip to the Western United States. During this trip, students will develop research projects that involve geological and geophysical mapping of the interplay between recent volcanic explosion craters, changing climate, and anthropogenic demands on water resources in the Mono Lake region. All costs of the fall break trip are covered by the University.
This seminar is not a comprehensive introduction to the geological sciences, but rather a look at a select few processes of import to understand changes to the Earth's surface in space and time. While certain fundamental principles of geology will be explained in class and through reading assignments, the emphasis is on how You can be a Natural Scientist with a background of nothing but high school math and physics, a keen observational sense, a knack for spatial and quantitative analysis, and a careful and precise way with words.
[Next taught: FALL 2008, Th 1:30-4:20 pm, Guyot Hall 177]
This course presents a treatment of the physical processes that shape Earth's surface, such as solar radiation, deformation of the solid Earth, and the flow of water (vapor, liquid, and solid) under the influence of gravity. In particular, the generation, transport, and preservation of sediment are studied as diagnostic tools to link processes with the geologic records of Earth history and modern environmental change [Next Taught: SPRING 2009, T Th 1:30-2:50 pm, Guyot Hall 16].
This seminar examines the history of global change on Earth. Topics include the relationship between paleogeography, sea level and climate, the character and geometry of Earth's ancient magnetic field, the evolution of Earth's spin vector, the interpretation of global sea level variability, the deconvolution of periodic and stochastic forcing in sedimentary records, and the large-scale events and processes that affected global change and the evolution of life. In Spring 2010, this seminar will focus on SEA LEVEL [SPRING 2010, Time - TBA, Guyot Hall 213].