Earth and Environmental Sciences

Undergraduates in the four-year course of study in the School of Engineering and Applied Science may take courses numbered up to 4999 but may enter courses of higher numbers only if

  1. the course is expressly included in the prescribed curriculum or
  2. special permission is obtained from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

EESC UN1011x Earth: origin, evolution, processes, future
4 pts. Lect: 3. Lab: 1. Professor Maenza-Gmelch.
Students who wish to take only the lectures should register for UN1411. What is the nature of our planet and how did it form? From geochemical and geophysical perspectives we explore Earth’s internal structure, its dynamical character expressed in plate tectonics, and ask if its future behavior can be known. Students who wish to take only the lectures should register for UN1411.

EESC UN1030x Oceanography
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Hoenisch.
Explore the geology of the sea floor, understand what drives ocean currents and how ocean ecosystems operate. Case studies and discussions centered on ocean-related issues facing society.

EESC UN1201y Environmental risks and disasters
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Ekstrom
Prerequisites: high school science and math. First-years and sophomores will have priority. An introduction to risks and hazards in the environment. Different types of hazards are analyzed and compared: natural disasters, such as tornados, earthquakes, and meteorite impacts; acute and chronic health effects caused by exposure to radiation and toxic substances such as radon, asbestos, and arsenic; long-term societal effects due to environmental change, such as sea level rise and global warming. Emphasizes the basic physical principles controlling the hazardous phenomena and develops simple quantitative methods for making scientifically reasoned assessments of the threats (to health and wealth) posed by various events, processes, and exposures. Discusses methods of risk mitigation and sociological, psychological, and economic aspects of risk control and management. Discussion section required.

EESC UN1600x Earth resources and sustainable development
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Kelemen.
Prerequisites: none. High school chemistry recommended. Survey of the origin and extent of mineral resources, fossil fuels, and industrial materials, that are non-renewable, finite resources, and the environmental consequences of their extraction and use, using the textbook Earth Resources and the Environment, by James Craig, David Vaughan and Brian Skinner. This course provides an overview but includes focus on topics of current societal relevance, including estimated reserves and extraction costs for fossil fuels, geological storage of CO2, sources and disposal methods for nuclear energy fuels, sources and future for luxury goods such as gold and diamonds, and special, rare materials used in consumer electronics (e.g., “Coltan,” mostly from Congo) and in newly emerging technologies such as superconducting magnets and rechargeable batteries (e.g., heavy rare earth elements, mostly from China). Guest lectures from economists, commodity traders and resource geologists will provide “real world” input. Discussion session required.

EESC GU4001x Advanced general geology
4 pts. Lect: 3. Lab: 1. Professor Scholz.
Prerequisites: one term of college-level calculus, physics, and chemistry. A concentrated introduction to the solid Earth, its interior, and near-surface geology. Intended for students with good backgrounds in the physical sciences but none in geology. Laboratory and field trips.

EESC GU4008x Introduction to atmospheric science
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Polvani.
Prerequisites: advanced calculus and general physics, or the instructor’s permission. Basic physical processes controlling atmospheric structure: thermodynamics; radiation physics and radiative transfer; principles of atmospheric dynamics; cloud processes; applications to Earth’s atmospheric general circulation, climatic variations, and the atmospheres of the other planets.

EESC GU4009x. Chemical geology
4 pts. Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2016-2017.
Prerequisite: physical chemistry or the instructor’s permission. Thermodynamics as applied to earth systems.

EESC GU4050x Global assessment and monitoring using remote sensing
3 pts. Professor Small.
Prerequisite: Calculus I and Physics I and II. Enrollment limited to 24 students. General introduction to fundamentals of remote sensing and image analysis. Example applications in the Earth and environmental sciences are explored through the analysis of remote sensing imagery in a state-of-the-art visualization laboratory. Lab required.

EESC GU4076y Geologic mapping
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Anders.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Fieldwork on weekends in April and two weeks in mid-May, immediately following the end of examinations. Enrollment limited. Estimated expense: $250. The principles and practices of deciphering geologic history through the observation of rocks in the field, mapmaking, construction of geological cross-sections, and short written reports. Please be advised: graduating undergraduate seniors may have to miss graduation.

EESC GU4085x Geodynamics
3 pts. Lect: 3. Offered in alternate years. Professor Buck.
Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, introductory physics. An introduction to how the Earth and planets work. The focus is on physical processes that control plate tectonics and the evolution of planetary interiors and surfaces; analytical descriptions of these processes; weekly physical model demonstrations.

EESC GU4113x Introduction to mineralogy
4 pts. Not offered in 2016-2017.
Prerequisites: introductory geology or the equivalent, elementary college physics and chemistry, or the instructor’s permission. Elementary crystallography and crystal structures, optical properties of minerals, mineral associations, economic minerals. Laboratory: identification of minerals in hand specimens and use of the petrographic microscope. Lab required.

EESC GU4230y Crustal deformation
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professors Holtzman and Scholz.
Prerequisites: introductory geology and one year of calculus. Recommended preparation: higher levels of mathematics. Introduction to the deformation processes in the Earth’s crust. Fundamental theories of stress and strain; rock behavior in both brittle and ductile fields; earthquake processes; ductile deformation; large-scale crustal contractional and extensional events.

EESC GU4300x The Earth’s deep interior
3 pts. Lect: 3. Offered in alternate years. Professor Ekstrom.
Prerequisites: calculus, differential equations, one year of college physics, and EESC GU4950 or its equivalent. An introduction to properties of the Earth’s mantle, fluid outer core, and solid inner core. Current knowledge of these features is explored, using observations of seismology, heat flow, gravity, and geomagnetism, plus information on the Earth’s bulk composition.

EESC GU4600x Earth resources and sustainable development
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Kelemen.
Prerequisites: none. High school chemistry recommended. Survey of the origin and extent of mineral resources, fossil fuels, and industrial materials, that are nonrenewable, finite resources, and the environmental consequences of their extraction and use, using the textbook Earth Resources and the Environment, by James Craig, David Vaughan and Brian Skinner. This course provides an overview, but includes focus on topics of current societal relevance, including estimated reserves and extraction costs for fossil fuels, geological storage of CO2, sources and disposal methods for nuclear energy fuels, sources and future for luxury goods such as gold and diamonds, and special, rare materials used in consumer electronics (e.g., “Coltan,” mostly from Congo) and in newly emerging technologies such as superconducting magnets and rechargeable batteries (e.g., heavy rare earth elements, mostly from China). Guest lectures from economists, commodity traders and resource geologists will provide “real world” input. Required recitation session.

EESC GU4701y Introduction to igneous petrology
4 pts. Offered in alternate years. 
Prerequisite: introductory geology or the equivalent. Recommended preparation: EESC GU4113 and knowledge of chemistry. Compositional characteristics of igneous and metamorphic rocks and how they can be used as tools to investigate earth processes. Development of igneous and metamorphic rocks in a plate-tectonic framework.

EESC GU4885y The chemistry of continental waters
3 pts. Lect: 3. Offered in alternate years. Professor Anderson.
Recommended preparation: a solid background in basic chemistry. Introduction to geochemical cycles involving the atmosphere, land, and biosphere; chemistry of precipitation, weathering reactions, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and groundwaters; students are introduced to the use of major and minor ions as tracers of chemical reactions and biological processes that regulate the chemical composition of continental waters.

EESC GU4924y Introduction to atmospheric chemistry
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Fiore.
Prerequisites: PHYS UN1201, CHEM UN1403, Calculus III, or equivalent or permission of instructor. EESC UN2100 preferred. Physical and chemical processes determining atmospheric composition and the implications for climate and regional air pollution. Atmospheric evolution and human influence; basics of greenhouse effect, photolysis, reaction kinetics; atmospheric transport of trace species; stratospheric ozone chemistry; tropospheric hydrocarbon chemistry; oxidizing power, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, mercury cycles; chemistry-climate-biosphere interactions; aerosols, smog, acid rain. Discussion section required.

EESC GU4925x Principles of physical oceanography
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Abernathey and Gordon.
Recommended preparation: a solid background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Physical properties of seawater, water masses and their distribution, sea-air interaction influence on the ocean structure, basic ocean circulation pattern, relation of diffusion and advection with respect to distribution of ocean properties, ocean tides and waves, turbulence, and introduction to ocean dynamics.

EESC GU4926y Principles of chemical oceanography
3 pts. Lect: 3. Not offered in 2016-2017.
Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission for students without one year of chemistry. Course open to undergraduates with one year of chemistry. Recommended preparation: a solid background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Factors controlling the concentration and distribution of dissolved chemical species within the sea. Application of tracer and natural radioisotope methods to large-scale mixing of the ocean, the geological record preserved in marine sediments, the role of ocean processes in the global carbon cycle, and biogeochemical processes influencing the distribution and fate of elements in the ocean.

EESC GU4930y Earth’s oceans and atmosphere
3 pts. Lect: 3. Professor Abernathy.
Recommended preparation: a good background in the physical sciences. Physical properties of water and air. Overview of the stratification and circulation of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere and their governing processes; ocean-atmosphere interaction; resultant climate system; natural and anthropogenic forced climate change.

EESC GU4947y Plate tectonics
3 pts. Lect: 3. Instructor to be announced.
Prerequisite: A course in solid earth geology or geophysics. Prepares students for research and oral exams with cross-disciplinary analysis of the plate-tectonic cycle. Driving forces and mantle convection, plate kinematics, magmatism, structure, thermal and chemical evolution of mid-ocean ridges and subduction zones, continental rifts and collisions, and hot spots. Includes literature readings of great debates, and emphasizes integration of geophysical, geological and geochemical observations and processes.

EESC GU4949x Introduction to seismology
3 pts. Lect: 3. Offered in alternate years. Professor Waldhauser.
Prerequisites: Solid Earth dynamics (UN3201 or equivalent), differential equations (APMA E3102, E4200, or equivalent). Methods and underpinnings of seismology including seismogram analysis, elastic wave propagation theory, earthquake source characterization, instrumentation, inversion of seismic data to infer Earth structure.