Earth Science

I. Introductory

100[a] and b. Earth Resource Challenges (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Society 100 and Geography 100)

101b. 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. The department.

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

103a. 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. The department.

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

111b. 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.

[121b. 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 2007/08.

[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.

Not offered in 2007/08.

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

(Same as Geography 151) An introductory level course covering basic physical processes of the earth including plate tectonics, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and biogeochemical cycles, geologic hazards such as earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions, and human impacts on the environment including ozone depletion and acid rain. Mr. Gillikin.

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

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 and creationism, the profound depth of geologic time and its ramifications for life on earth, and mass extinctions of dinosaurs and other organisms. Mr. Gillikin.

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

Earth Science 151 or 161 are prerequisites for entry into 200-level courses unless otherwise stated.

201b. 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 wholistic 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. The department.

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

[211a. Sediments, Strata, and the Environment] (1)

Detailed study of modern sedimentary environments and their use in interpreting ancient sedimentary rocks. The chemical and physical processes leading to weathering, erosion, transport, deposition, and lithification of sediments are considered. Field interpretation of local Paleozoic, Pleistocene, and Holocene sediments are carried out through field study. Laboratories include the study of sediments in hand sample and using the petrographic microscope. Mr. Gillikin.

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

Not offered in 2007/08.

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

(Same as Geography 220)

[221a. Soils and Terrestrial Ecosystems] (1)

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

Prerequisite: one introductory course in Geology, Biology, or Chemistry.

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

Not offered in 2007/08.

224b. GIS: Spatial Analysis (1)

(Same as Geography 224)

[226a. Remote Sensing] ( 1/2)

(Same as Geography 226)

Not offered in 2007/08.

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

(Same as Geography 231) Quantitative study of the geological processes and factors which influence the origin and development of Earth’s many landforms. Topics include hillslope and channel processes, sediment transport, physical and chemical weathering and erosion, role of regional and local tectonics in the construction of marine terraces, mountain ranges and basins, and the role of climate in landscape modification. Ms. Menking.

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

Not offered in 2007/08.

251b. 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.

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

260a. Conservation of Natural Resources (1)

(Same as Geography 260)

261a. Field Geophysics: Digital Underground (1)

This interdisciplinary project-based field course examines one study area throughout the course of the semester, collecting geophysical and archival data in the beginning, compiling and analyzing the data in a Geographic Information System (GIS), and synthesizing towards the end, culminating in a presentation of the results. An array of tools including an electrical resistivity meter, a Cesium vapor magnetometer, and a ground penetrating radar, are used survey various anthropogenic and natural structures. Historical and sociological research is used to place the project in context. Topics vary from year to year, but field locations may include pre-Columbian or historical archaeological sites such as forgotten African-American burial grounds, or sites of environmental concern to both citizens and developers. Mr. McAdoo.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 251 or Physics 114 or permission of instructor for non-science majors.

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

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

The study of the processes and products of crustal deformation and of the plate tectonic paradigm. Topics include the mechanics of deformation, earthquakes, mountain-building, geophysical principles, and neotectonics. Ms. Menking.

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

Not offered in 2007/08.

[275. Paleontology] (1)

(Same as Biology 275) Examination of the evolution of life on earth as interpreted from the fossil record. Topics include methods and problems of classification of living and extinct organisms, mode and tempo of evolution, interpretations of lifestyle and paleoecology through analogies to modern communities, and significant origins and extinctions in a global paleoenvironmental context. Emphasis is placed on the fossil record of marine invertebrates; major groups of vertebrates, plants, and terrestrial invertebrates are also discussed. The department.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 161.

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

Not offered in 2007/08.

281b. Stable Isotopes in Environmental Science (1)

(same as Chemistry 281b) Stable isotopes have become a fundamental tool in many biogeoscientific studies, from reconstructing past climates to tracking animal migration or unraveling foodwebs and even to study the origin of life on Earth and possibly other planets. This course highlights the applications of stable isotopes in biological, ecological, environmental, archeological and geological studies. Students learn the fundamentals of stable isotope biogeochemistry in order to understand the uses and limitations of this tool. This course starts with an introduction to the fundamentals of stable isotope geochemistry and then moves on to applied topics such as paleoceanography and paleoclimatology proxies, hydrology, sediments and sedimentary rocks, biogeochemical cycling, the global carbon cycle, photosynthesis, metabolism, ecology, organic matter degradation, pollution, and more. The course content is directly related to Earth Science, Geography, Biology, Environmental Studies, and Chemistry. A Saturday field trip may be required.

290a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

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.

Permission of instructor is required.

III. Advanced

Prerequisite: 2 units of 200-level earth science; see specific additions or exceptions for each course.

300-301. Senior Research and Thesis (1)

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.

Permission of instructor is required.

[311b. 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 session.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[321a. Environmental Geology] (1)

This course explores the fundamental geochemical processes that effect 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 classroom/laboratory/field session.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[331a. Paleoclimatology: Earth’s History of Climate Change] (1)

This course discusses how Earth’s climate system operates and what natural processes have led to climate change in the past. We examine the structure and properties of the oceans and atmosphere and how the general circulation of these systems redistributes heat throughout the globe. In addition, we study how cycles in Earth’s orbital parameters, plate tectonics, and the evolution of plants have affected climate. Weekly laboratory projects introduce students to paleoclimatic methods and to real records of climate change. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 201, 211, and 231 or permission of instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field session.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[341b. Oil] (1)

(Same as Geography 341 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 instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field session.

By special permission.

Not offered in 2007/08.

356b. Environment and Land Use Planning (1)

(Same as Geography 356 and Environmental Studies 356)

361b. Modeling the Earth (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 361) Computer models have become powerful tools in helping us to understand complex natural systems. They are in wide use in the Earth and Environmental Sciences with applications in climate change research, prediction of groundwater and contaminant flow paths in sediments, and understanding the role of disturbance in biogeochemical cycling, among other applications. This course introduces students to conceptual modeling with the use of the Stella box-modeling software package. Taking readings from the scientific literature, we create and then perform experiments with simple computer models. Students also learn how to code their conceptual models in the programming language Fortran, one of the most widely used languages in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Ms. Menking.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory session.

381b. Volcanology (1)

Volcanic eruptions vary from peaceful flows to violent eruptions that have wide-spread climatic and economic impacts. This course focuses on three areas of volcanic research: (1) the compositional and tectonic variations that influence the type of volcanism present, (2) geochemical and geophysical methods used to predict volcanic activity, and (3) the impact of eruptions on climate, ecology, and society. Coursework includes individual research projects involving historical eruptions, current avenues in volcanological research, and preparation of a one-day field trip with a field guide. A two-week field trip is under consideration for spring break, otherwise weekend field trips will be required. Ms. Goeke.

Prerequisites: ESCI 201 and permission of the instructor.

[383a. Topics in Vertebrate Paleontology] (1)

(Same as Biology 383) Examination and discussion of selected aspects of vertebrate evolution through geologic time, and methods by which vertebrate paleontologists reconstruct extinct species and communities from the (often incomplete) skeletal fossil record. Topics may include vertebrates’ initial transition from water to land; major evolutionary innovations within reptiles and mammals; extinction and radiation in response to global and regional paleoenvironmental shifts; and human origins and evolution.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field session. An overnight weekend field trip may be required.

Not offered in 2007/08.

385a. Seminar in Carbonate Biogeochemistry: Biological Records of Environmental Change (1)

Skeletons left behind by carbonate secreting organisms can be used as an archive of environmental change. Much of what we know about past climates is based on records derived from coral, mollusk, crustacean or plankton skeletons. In addition, biogenic carbonates can also give time-resolved records of anthropogenic pollution. This course highlights the application of geochemistry of biologically produced carbonates to paleoceanography and paleoclimate studies. Students learn the fundamentals of carbonate geochemistry and biomineralization in order to understand the uses and limitations of this tool. A full research project is carried out during the seminar in which locally-collected samples are analyzed. Mr. Gillikin.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field session.

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.

Permission of instructor is required.