Princeton University Freshman Seminar FRS135 & FRS124 (2015-2017)

State of the Earth: Shifts & Cycles (in Spain*)

See also:
Earth's Changing Surface & Climate — in California (2007-2009)
Earth's Environments & Ancient Civilizations — in Cyprus (2011-2013)
Earth: Crops, Culture & Climate — in Italy (2019-2022)
Rise and Fall: Geodesy, and the History of Roman Floods (2024-2026)

In this Freshman Seminar, you will combine field observations of the natural world with quantitative modeling and interpretation to answer questions like: How have Earth and human histories been recorded in the geology of Princeton, the Catskills, and Spain, and what experiments can you do to query such archives of the past? In the classroom, through problem sets, and around campus, you will gain practical experience collecting geological and geophysical data in geographic context, and analyzing these data using statistical techniques such as regression and time series analysis, with the programming language MATLAB. During the mandatory week-long term break trip to France and Spain, you will engage in research projects that focus on the cycles and shifts in Earth's shape, climate, and life that occur now on timescales of days, and have been recorded in rocks over timescales of millions of years. The classroom component of this Freshman Seminar will have graded (bi)weekly assignments built around on-campus data collection, data preparation or analysis, and scientific programming. A significant part of your assessment comes from writing assignments that teach you to communicate your scientific results, and culminate in an original research paper and an oral presentation for an audience of peers, Freshman Seminar alumni, and invited guests from the university community.

This is a science class: students should come prepared with an aptitude for, and a willingness to learn, the quantitative aspects of scientific inquiry. Scientific writing and computer programming are integral parts of this seminar and its assessment. We teach and require the use of LaTeX!

Department of Geosciences Professors Adam Maloof and Frederik Simons are veterans of the Freshman Seminar program: see Earth's Changing Surface & Climate, which was built around field work in California, and Earth's Environments & Ancient Civilizations, which conducted geoarcheological field work in Cyprus.

Student Feedback

Some Student Work

Paleosols at Dune du Pilat Acrobat PDF file
Finding Caves Using Relative Gravimetry Acrobat PDF file
Stories Told by Grottes de Bétharram Speleothems Acrobat PDF file
The Pierson-Moskowitz Model for iPhone Wave Spectra Acrobat PDF file
Chronometers and Climate Change in Zumaia Acrobat PDF file
Ground Penetrating Radar and Sedimentology at Dune du Pilat Acrobat PDF file
Coastal Wave-field Analysis using iPhones Acrobat PDF file
Orbital Pacing of Environmental Change at 60 Ma in Zumaia Acrobat PDF file
Ground Penetrating Radar of the Dune du Pilat Acrobat PDF file
Deciphering the Origin and Behavior of the Dune du Pilat Acrobat PDF file
Measuring Ocean Dynamics on the Coasts of France and Spain Acrobat PDF file
Magnetic Susceptibility as a Metric for Late Paleocene Environmental Fluctuations in Zumaia Acrobat PDF file

(*) And France!
Frederik Simons
Last modified: Wed Mar 20 22:15:52 EDT 2024