Environmental Studies Program

Requirements for Concentration: 11 units including Earth Science 151, 161, and 201, 2 units of graded work at the 300-level, and not more than 1 additional unit at the 100-level. With consent of the student’s adviser, students may substitute one 200- or 300-level course in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics for 200-level work in earth science. Students may not count toward the major more than 2 courses originating in geography and cross-listed with earth science (even numbered courses at the 200 and 300-level). No more than 1 unit of field work may count toward the major. After declaration of the major, no required courses may be elected NRO.

Senior-Year Requirement: One graded 300-level course.

Independent Research: The earth science program encourages students to engage in ungraded independent research with faculty mentors and offers ungraded courses Earth Science 198, 298, and 399. The department also offers Earth Science 300-301, an ungraded research experience for senior majors. Students who complete 300-301 are eligible for departmental honors upon graduation. Students should consult the chair or individual faculty members for guidance in initiating independent research.

Field Work: Many graduate programs in earth science expect that earth science majors will have attended a geology summer field camp for which students can receive field work credit in the department. Students should consult with the chair of earth science about summer field camps. Additional fieldwork options include working with local environmental consulting companies and non-profit agencies. Students should consult an earth science faculty adviser for details.

Teaching Certification: Students who wish to obtain secondary school teaching certification in earth science should consult both the earth science and education departments for appropriate course requirements.

Early Advising: Knowledge of earth science is useful in a variety of careers. Therefore, we urge potential majors to consult with a faculty member in earth science as soon as possible to determine a course of study that reflects the interests and aspirations of the student. The earth science program also offers courses at the 100-level designed for students who may not intend to pursue earth science at more advanced levels. These courses are appropriate for students curious about the earth and its life, especially those with concerns about environmental degradation and its impact on people living in both urban and rural settings.

Postgraduate Work: Students interested in graduate study in earth or environmental science should be aware that graduate and professional schools usually require courses beyond the earth science concentration requirements. In general, students should have a year of biology, chemistry, physics and/or calculus, depending on the field of interest. Appropriate courses include Biology 105 and 106; Chemistry 108/109 or 125; Physics 113 and 114; and Mathematics 101 and 102 or 121/122. We urge students to begin coursework in other sciences as soon as possible, since this assists them in successful completion of the earth science major.

Advisers: Mr. McAdoo, Ms. Menking, Ms. Schneiderman, Mr. Walker.

Correlate Sequence in Earth Science: The Department of Earth Science and Geography offers a correlate sequence in earth science. The correlate sequence complements the curricula of students majoring in other departmental, interdepartmental, and multidisciplinary programs. Students interested in a correlate sequence in earth science should consult with one of the earth science faculty members. The requirements for the correlate sequence in earth science are five courses in the department including Earth Science 151, 161, and at least one 300-level course. Students should note the prerequisites required for enrollment in some of the courses within the correlate sequence.

I. Introductory

100. Earth Resource Challenges: Food and Farming (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Society, Environmental Studies, and Geography 100) As an introduction to earth science and geography, this course combines the insights of the natural and social sciences to address a topic of societal concern. Geographers bring spatial analysis of human environmental change, while earth scientists contribute their knowledge of the diverse natural processes shaping the earth's surface. Together, these distinctive yet complementary fields contribute to comprehensive understandings of the physical limitations and potentials, uses and misuses of the earth's natural resources. Each year the topic of the course changes to focus on selected resource problems facing societies and environments around the world. Enrollment is limited to first and second year students.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

101. Geohazards (1/2)

Geohazards explores the geological and societal causes of death and destruction by earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanoes, storms, and avalanches around the world. Students explore basic earth processes and learn how the Earth and its inhabitants interact in dangerous ways because people repeatedly fail to appreciate Earth's power. Ms. Schneiderman.

Two 75-minute periods during the first six weeks of the semester.

Not offered in 2012/13.

103. The Earth Around Us (1/2)

A series of lectures on topics such as water quality, soil erosion, global climate change, coastal development and environmental justice. A broad introduction to environmental problems and their impact on all living things. Ms. Schneiderman.

Two 75-minute periods during the first six weeks of the semester.

Not offered in 2012/13.

107. Field Geology of the Hudson Valley (1/2)

Experience 1.5 billion years of Hudson Valley geologic history from some of the classic vantage points in the region. Field trips to high points such as Breakneck Ridge, Brace Mountain, Bonticou Crag, and Overlook Mountain are supplemented by lectures and readings on the geologic history and the history of geologic studies in the valley. Mr. Walker.

Six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods and one 4-hour laboratory.

Not offered in 2012/13.

111. Earth Science and Environmental Justice (1)

(Same as Geography 111) Exploration of the roles that race, gender, and class play in contemporary environmental issues and the geology that underlies them. Examination of the power of governments, corporations and science to influence the physical and human environment. We critique the traditional environmental movement, study cases of environmental racism, and appreciate how basic geological knowledge can assist communities in creating healthful surroundings. Examples come from urban and rural settings in the United States and abroad and are informed by feminist analysis. Ms. Schneiderman.

Open to freshmen only; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods; a one-day weekend field trip may be required.

Not offered in 2012/13.

121. Oceanography (1)

The world's oceans make life on Earth possible. By studying the interactions among atmosphere, water, sediment, and the deep inner-workings of the earth, we gain an understanding of where the earth has been, where it is now, and where it is likely to go. Topics include: historical perspectives on the revolutionary discoveries in marine exploration; seafloor and ocean physiochemical structure; air-sea interactions from daily and seasonal weather patterns to climate change and El Niño cycles; earthquakes and tsunamis; waves and coastal processes; and critical biologic communities unique to the marine environment. Mr. McAdoo.

Three 50-minute periods; a one-day weekend field trip is required.

Not offered in 2012/13.

131. Landscape and History of the Hudson Valley (1)

Geology controls the landscape, and landscape has a profound influence on history. Through readings drawn from history, literature, science, and contemporary observers, supplemented by writing, discussion, and field trips, this course explores the relationship between geology, landscape, and cultural history in the mid-Hudson Valley region. Mr. Walker.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

135a. Volcanoes and Civilization (1)

Few natural phenomena are more spectacular than a volcanic eruption. Volcanoes have been an important part of human culture throughout history whether in legends or in actual events. Through accounts of volcanic events, such as Plato’s account of the legend of Atlantis, recent scientific analysis of the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, or news media coverage of current eruptions, this course studies the role volcanoes have played in society as it traces the historical development of volcanological study using sources such as classical literature, nineteenth century treatises in natural science, modern scientific journals, and the popular media. Mr. Walker.

Open to freshmen only: satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Course. An optional field trip to an active volcano is possible.

Two 75-minute periods.

151a. Earth, Environment, and Humanity (1)

(Same as Geography 151) Catastrophic events such as hurricanes and tsunamis and the specter of global climate change affirm the centrality of Earth Science in a well-rounded liberal arts education. This course explores three intertwined questions: 1) How do Earth’s different systems (lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere) function and interact to create the environment we live in? 2) What are the causes of, and how can we protect ourselves from, geologic hazards such as earthquakes, flooding, and landslides? 3) How are human activities modifying the environment through changes to the composition of the atmosphere, biogeochemical cycles, and soil erosion, among other factors? While serving as an introduction to the Earth Science major, this course emphasizes those aspects of the science that everyone should know to make informed decisions such as where and where not to buy a house, whether to support the construction of an underground nuclear waste repository, and how to live more lightly upon the Earth. The department.

The course fulfills the QA requirement and several lab exercises take place in the field.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period.

161b. The Evolution of Earth and its Life (1)

An examination of the origin of the earth and the evolution of life on this planet particularly in relation to global environmental change today. Topics include systematic paleontology, evolution, the profound depth of geologic time and its ramifications for life on earth, and mass extinctions of dinosaurs and other organisms. The department.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field session.

198a or b. Special Projects in Earth Science (1/2 or 1)

Execution and analysis of field, laboratory, or library study. Project to be arranged with individual instructor. The department.

Open to first-year students and sophomores only.

II. Intermediate

201a. Earth Materials: Minerals and Rocks (1)

The earth is made up of many different materials, including minerals, rocks, soils, and ions in solution, which represent the same atoms recycled continually by geological and biogeochemical cycles. This course takes a holistic view of the earth in terms of the processes leading to the formation of different materials. The class involves study in the field as well as in the laboratory using hand specimen identification along with the optical microscope and X-ray diffractometer. Mr. Walker.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period.

211b. Sediments, Strata, and the Environment (1)

The stratigraphic record provides the most comprehensive record of Earth history available. This course explores fundamental concepts of stratigraphy, sedimentation, and paleontology with a focus on reconstructing paleoenvironments and paleoecology. The chemical and physical processes leading to weathering, erosion, transport, deposition, and lithification of sediments are considered, as is fossil identification. The course revolves around detailed field interpretation of local Paleozoic and Holocene sediments to reconstruct Hudson Valley paleoenvironments. Ms. Schneiderman.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field session. An overnight weekend field trip may be required.

220a. Cartography: Making Maps with GIS (1)

(Same as Geography 220) Cartography, the science and art of map-making, is integral to the geographer's craft. This course uses GIS to make thematic maps and to acquire and present data, including data fitting students' individual interests. In addition, we explore the culture, politics, and technology of historic cartography, and we examine techniques in using maps as rhetoric and as political tools. Throughout the course, we focus on issues of clear, efficient, and intentional communication through graphic presentation of data. Thus, the course integrates problems of graphic design and aesthetics with strategies of manipulating quantitative data. ArcGIS is used in labs for map production and data analysis. Ms. Cunningham.

Prerequisite: one 100-level geography or earth science course, or permission of the instructor.

Satisfies college requirements for quantitative reasoning.

Two 75-minute periods; one 2-hour laboratory.

221. Soils and Sustainable Agriculture (1)

(Same as Geography 221) Soils form an important interface between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. As such, they are critical to understanding agricultural ecosystems. This course studies soil formation, and the physical and chemical properties of soils especially as related to the sustainability of agricultural systems. Field trips and laboratory work focus on the description and interpretation of local agricultural soils. Mr. Walker.

Prerequisite: one introductory course in geology, biology, or chemistry.

Two 75-minute periods; one 2-hour discussion period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

224b. GIS: Spatial Analysis (1)

(Same as Geography 224) Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly important and widespread packages for manipulating and presenting spatial data. While this course uses ArcGIS, the same software as Cartography, the primary focus here is spatial analysis (calculating patterns and relationships), rather than map design for data visualization. We explore a variety of techniques for answering questions with spatial data, including overlay, map algebra (math using multiple input layers), hydrologic modeling, surface interpolation, and site selection. Issues of data collection through remote sensing and sampling are addressed. GIS involves a more rapid introduction to the software than Cartography does; it is useful to take both Cartography and GIS (preferably in that order) to gain a more complete understanding of spatial data analysis and manipulation. Ms. Cunningham.

Two 75-minute periods; one 2-hour laboratory.

226. Remote Sensing (1/2)

(Same as Geography 226) Remote sensing is an increasingly important source of data for mapping and modeling earth systems. Surface features such as elevation, hydrography, soil moisture, greenness, snow cover, and urban growth are among the many factors that are monitored and measured by satellite-borne sensors. A basic understanding of remotely sensed data is, therefore, of great value to students of geography, earth science, environmental science, and other fields. This 6-week course introduces the student to data collection from satellite sensors, the nature and structure of remotely sensed data, and methods of using and analyzing these data. The course uses a combination of lecture and laboratory to introduce and practice the methods of using remotely sensed data. Ms. Cunningham.

One 3-hour period for six weeks of the semester.

Not offered in 2012/13.

231b. Geomorphology: Surface Processes and Evolution of Landforms (1)

(Same as Geography 231) Quantitative study of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that create Earth's many landforms. Topics include weathering and erosion, landsliding and debris flows, sediment transport by rivers and glaciers, the role of climate in landscape modification, and the use of landforms to document earthquake hazards. Lab exercises emphasize fundamental skills in geomorphologic analysis such as mapping, surveying, interpretation of aerial photography, and use of Geographic Information Systems software. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period. An overnight weekend field trip may be required.

235. Water (1)

(Same as Geography 235) Sixty to 70% of Dutchess County residents depend on groundwater supplies to meet their daily needs. Industrial pollution and road salt have contaminated many of these supplies, spawning legal actions and requiring costly remediation. Ensuring adequate and safe groundwater supplies for humans and ecosystems requires extensive knowledge of the hydrologic cycle and of how contaminants may be introduced into water resources. We explore how rainfall and snowmelt infiltrate into soils and bedrock to become part of the groundwater system, learn what factors govern subsurface flow, and discuss the concept of well-head protection, which seeks to protect groundwater recharge areas from contamination. Using Vassar's teaching well at the field station we perform a number of experiments to assess aquifer properties, water chemistry, and presence of microbial contaminants. Comfort with basic algebra and trigonometry is expected. Ms. Menking.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or Environmental Studies 124.

Not offered in 2012/13.

251. Global Geophysics and Tectonics (1)

What can physics and simple math tell us about the earth? By utilizing an array of techniques, geophysicists gain an understanding of the processes that shape our planet. Reflection and earthquake seismology give us insight into deep earth structure, plate tectonic mechanisms, mountain building, basin formation, and hazard mitigation. Variations in the earth's gravitational field yield information on density contrasts beneath the surface, from the scale of mountain ranges to buried artifacts. Heat flow variations are useful in determining regional subsurface thermal structure, fluid advection, and climate variation. Laboratories are designed to use the skills required in most geology related fields. They involve the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) software, and construction of simple computer models. Mr. McAdoo.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

Not offered in 2012/13.

254. Environmental Science in the Field (1)

(Same as Biology, Environmental Studies, and Geography 254) The environment consists of complex and often elegant interactions between various constituents so that an interdisciplinary approach is required to understand how human interactions may affect it. In this course, we study a variety of aspects of a specific environment by considering how biological, chemical, geological, and human factors interact. We observe these interactions first hand during a weeklong field trip. Some of the questions we may consider are: How does a coral polyp create an environment that not only suits its particular species, but also helps regulate the global climate? How has human development and associated water demands in the desert Southwest changed the landscape, fire ecology, and even estuary and fisheries' health as far away as the Gulf of California? How have a variety of species (humans included) managed to survive on an island with the harsh environment of the exposed mid-ocean ridge of Iceland? The course is offered every other year, and topics vary with expertise of the faculty teaching the course.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

260a. Conservation of Natural Resources (1)

(Same as Geography 260a)

Not offered in 2011-12.

269. The Geophysics of Slavery and Freedom (1)

(Same as History and Africana Studies 269) Working with local community groups, this project-based field course examines the history of African Americans in Dutchess County by uncovering forgotten graveyards from the 18th and 19th centuries. We use geophysical surveying of graveyards with social history to give students hands-on experience in original research, data analysis, and public presentation. During the course of the semester, the class uses both field geophysics and historical archives to map lost gravesites and to understand the historical and social context of these communities. Students gain fieldwork experience at the gravesite using high-tech tools including an electrical resistivity meter, a cesium vapor magnetometer, and a ground penetrating radar, in concert with visiting local archives to analyze primary documents including census records, deeds, newspapers and journals as well as church records. By the end of the semester, the quantitative and qualitative data is synthesized for a community presentation and final report. A new site is chosen for each class—field locations may include pre-Columbian or historical archaeological sites such as forgotten slave-era burial grounds and potters fields. Students from across the curriculum are welcome. Mr. McAdoo and Mr. Mills. Fall 2012- The small but thriving black community in East Fishkill and Beacon, NY, founded the AME Zion Church on Baxtertown Road, which is thought to have been a ‘station’ on the Underground Railroad. While many of the community members were purportedly buried in the nearby Osbourne Hill cemetery, local oral histories recall some burials at the Baxtertown site. Mr. McAdoo and Mr. Mills.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 5-hour field period and one 75-minute classroom period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

271. Structural Geology: Deformation of the Earth (1)

Structural geology explores the deformation of Earth’s crust caused by the movement of its tectonic plates and the resulting structures that are produced at scales ranging from the microscopic to the mountainous. It underpins the oil and gas industry and mining because fossil fuels and precious metals are commonly associated with folds and faults. It is also important in earthquake and landslide hazard prediction. Lab exercises emphasize the fundamentals of geologic mapping, how to use geometric principles to predict what lies in the subsurface from surface observations, and how rocks behave under varying conditions of stress. Many exercises occur in the field. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 151 or 161.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory/field period. An overnight weekend field trip may be required.

Not offered in 2012/13.

277a. Biogeochemistry (1)

Global change is intricately linked to the global carbon cycle, which in turn is linked to other nutrient cycles such as nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur. A deep understanding of biogeochemical cycling at both large and small scales is essential to understanding global climate change. This course utilizes biogeochemical cycling in small water bodies, such as Lake Minnewaska, Sunset Lake and the Casperkill to exemplify these cycles. We investigate how biological (e.g., primary production, respiration), anthropogenic (e.g., urbanization, pollution) and geological processes (e.g., rock weathering) influence these chemical cycles. We attempt to determine if these systems are a sink or source of atmospheric CO2 and whether the cycles change through time (diurnally & throughout the semester) or longitudinally along the stream. We also determine if these lakes are a sink for anthropogenic pollutants. The course consists of seminar sessions based on the textbook as well as primary literature, and field and laboratory work. Mr. Gillikin.

287a. Paleoecology and Global Change (1)

(Same as Biology 287) Paleoecology is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding ancient ecosystems and environments. It focuses not only on fossils, but also on the fact that fossils were once living organisms, part of a complex ecosystem. They influenced and were influenced by the organisms around them, the environment they lived in, and changes in climate and geography. This course focuses on fossil organisms in the context of global environmental change at a variety of timescales and investigates a few key time periods in earth history. The class includes a review of necessary geological concepts and an introduction to important paleontological and ecological principles, including fossilization, evolution, taphonomy, and taxonomy. Field trips and laboratories focus on the importance of using a variety of approaches to understand paleoecology.

Prerequisites: Earth Science 151 or 161, or a 100-level biology course.

Two 75-minute periods and one 4-hour laboratory.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

297. Readings in Earth Science (1/2)

Contemplating Time

Deep time, the concept of geologic time recognized by Persian polymath Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Chinese naturalist Shen Kuo in the 11th century and developed further by James Hutton during the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment, has been called the single greatest contribution of geology to science. The concept provides a critical link between earth science and environmental change. Using reading and reflection, the aim of this course is to help students develop a feeling for the enormity of Earth???s duration in relation to human life spans. Students contemplate the nature of time from geoscientific, religious, and literary perspectives. Reading works by Loren C. Eiseley, Mircea Eliade, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Jay Gould, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shunryu Suzuki, and Elie Wiesel, among others, we consider subjects such as the two great metaphors of time, arrows and cycles, in relation to natural and anthropogenic environmental change. The class meets weekly for contemplative practice and is suitable for students at any level. Ms. Schneiderman.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Execution and analysis of a field, laboratory or library study. The project, to be arranged with an individual instructor, is expected to have a substantial paper as its final product. The department.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Research and Thesis (1/2)

Critical analysis, usually through observation or experimentation, of a specific research problem in earth science. A student electing this course must first gain, by submission of a written research proposal, the support of a member of the earth science faculty with whom to work out details of a research protocol. The formal research proposal and a final paper and presentation of results are required parts of the course. A second faculty member participates in the final evaluation. The department.

Yearlong course 300-301.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

301b. Senior Research and Thesis (1/2)

Critical analysis, usually through observation or experimentation, of a specific research problem in earth science. A student electing this course must first gain, by submission of a written research proposal, the support of a member of the earth science faculty with whom to work out details of a research protocol. The formal research proposal and a final paper and presentation of results are required parts of the course. A second faculty member participates in the final evaluation. The department.

Yearlong course 300-301.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

311. Continental Margins (1)

From oil to fisheries to mining operations, the continental shelf and slope environment house most of our offshore resources. Additionally the margins of the continents are hazardous, where earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, turbidity currents, and storm waves challenge those who work and live there. This class investigates these processes and how they are preserved in the geologic record. Mr. McAdoo.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 251 or 211 or 271 or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

321. Environmental Geology (1)

This course explores the fundamental geochemical processes that affect the fate and transport of inorganic and organic pollutants in the terrestrial environment. We link the effects of these processes on pollutant bioavailability, remediation, and ecotoxicology. Mr. Walker.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 201, or Chemistry 108/109, or Chemistry 110/111.

One 4-hour period/laboratory/field session.

335. Paleoclimatology: Earth's History of Climate Change (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 335) In recent decades, record high temperatures and extreme weather events have led scientists and policy makers to grapple with the fact that human activities are affecting the climate system. At the same time, scientists have come to realize that climate is capable of dramatic shifts in the absence of human intervention. The science of paleoclimatology seeks to understand the extent and causes of natural climatic variability in order to establish the baseline on top of which anthropogenic changes are occurring. In this course we examine the structure and properties of the oceans and atmosphere and how the general circulation of these systems redistributes heat throughout the globe, study how cycles in Earth's orbital parameters, plate tectonics, changes in ocean circulation, and the evolution of plants have affected climate, and explore the different lines of evidence used to reconstruct climate history. Weekly laboratory projects introduce students to paleoclimatic methods and to records of climatic change from the Paleozoic through the Little Ice Age. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: 200-level work in Earth Science or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

340. Arctic Environmental Change (1)

Not offered in 2012/13.

341. Oil (1)

(Same as Geography and Environmental Studies 341) For the hydraulic civilizations of Mesopotamia, it was water. For the Native Americans of the Great Plains, it was buffalo. As we enter the twenty-first century, our society is firmly rooted both culturally and economically in oil. This class looks into almost every aspect of oil. Starting at the source with kerogen generation, we follow the hydrocarbons along migration pathways to a reservoir with a suitable trap. We look at the techniques geologists and geophysicists use to find a field, and how engineers and economists get the product from the field to refineries, paying particular attention to environmental concerns. What is involved in the negotiations between multinational corporations and developing countries over production issues? What are the stages in refining oil from the crude that comes from the ground to the myriad uses seen today, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers, not to mention gasoline? We also discuss the future of this rapidly dwindling, non-renewable resource, and options for an oil-less future. Mr. McAdoo, Mr. Rashid.

Prerequisite: one 200-level Earth Science course or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

351. Volcanology (1)

Volcanoes are an important window into the workings of the earth's interior. They are also spectacular landscape features: serene in repose, and often violent in eruption. This course addresses the physical aspects of volcanoes, including such topics as the generation of magmas, styles of eruptions, products of eruptions, tectonic controls on the formation of volcanoes, and methods for predicting eruptions and mitigating the hazards associated with volcanic activity. An optional field trip to an active volcano is possible. Mr. Walker.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 201.

One 4-hour period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

361. Modeling the Earth (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 361) Computer models are powerful tools in the Earth and Environmental Sciences for generating and testing hypotheses about how the Earth system functions and for allowing simulation of processes in places inaccessible to humans (e.g. Earth’s deep interior), too slow to permit observation (e.g., erosion driven uplift of mountains ranges), or too large to facilitate construction of physical models (e.g., Earth’s climate system). Taking readings from the scientific literature, we create and then perform experiments with simple computer models, using the STELLA iconographic box-modeling software package. Topics include the global phosphorus cycle, Earth’s radiative balance with the sun and resulting temperature, the flow of ice in glaciers, and the role of life in moderating Earth’s climate. Toward the end of the semester, students apply the skills they have acquired to a modeling project of their own devising. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in the natural sciences.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

381a. Seminar in Environmental Investigation and Remediation(1)

Contamination of environmental media (soil, water, soil gas, etc.) may result from a variety of human activities and represents a threat to the usability of property, the vitality of ecosystems, and the health of humans. This course explores the complimentary topics of environmental investigations and contaminant response (e.g., “remediation”). Students are familiarized with the concept of investigation techniques, appreciate the limitations of contaminant delineation, and gain a basic understanding of a broad range of remedial actions (both their potential and their limitations). This course relies on actual contaminated sites to represent respective topics, permitting the students to comprehend the realities of imperfect decision-making. Students are responsible to work both independently and in groups during the semester. Mr. Ciminello.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour period.

385b. Stable Isotopes in the Earth and Environmental Sciences(1)

Stable isotopes are fundamental tools used in the Earth and Environmental Sciences to investigate past climates, track animal migration routes, unravel food webs, and study the origins of life on Earth, among other applications. This course highlights the uses of stable isotopes in ecological, climatic, environmental, and geological studies and also discusses the limitations and scientific abuses of these tools. Students learn the fundamentals of stable isotope biogeochemistry, including the differences between stable and radiogenic isotopes and the processes that fractionate (separate) common stable isotopes among different biogeochemical reservoirs. Readings derive from the primary literature and are adjusted to cover topics of interest to students. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, biogeochemical cycling, uplift of mountain ranges, paleodiets of fossil organisms, and climate change. Ms. Peek.

Prerequisite: One 100-level earth science or chemistry course.

One 4-hour period.

387. Risk and Geohazards (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies and Geography 387) The world is becoming an increasingly risky place. Every year, natural hazards affect more and more people, and these people are incurring increasingly expensive losses. This course explores the nature of risk associated with geophysical phenomena. Are there more hazardous events now than there have been in the past? Are these events somehow more energetic? Or is it that increasing populations with increasingly disparate incomes are being exposed to these hazards? What physical, economic, political and social tools can be employed to reduce this geophysical risk? We draw on examples from recent disasters, both rapid onset (earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones), and slow onset (climate change, famine) to examine the complex and interlinked vulnerabilities of the coupled human-environment system. Mr. McAdoo.

One 4-hour period.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 121, 151, or 161.

Not offered in 2012/13.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Execution and analysis of a field, laboratory, or library study. The project, to be arranged with an individual instructor, is expected to have a substantial paper as its final product. The department.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.