You are on page 1of 2

MOUNTAINS,

RIVERS, AND GLACIERS


GEO 095July 2 to July 27, 2011 Dr. Devin McPhillips Office hours: by appointment Class schedule: MTWTh, 9-11:45 am dmcphill@uvm.edu Course Goals: This course introduces the dynamic Earth. Its goal is to provide you with the tools to understand how mountains work. In the process, it ought to afford you an understanding of Earths atmosphere, crust, and mantle as well as their interactions. Course Evaluation: Your grade will be determined based on weekly quizzes, two brief classroom presentations, and one written composition. On Mondays, we will discuss geology in the news, and you will have a chance to earn small but significant extra credit for bringing in relevant news stories. Quizzes (48%): Quizzes each Monday are designed to keep you up to date on the material during this necessarily fast moving class. (first Monday is knowledge survey, not for a grade.) Presentations (20%): Each of you will participate in two 5-7 minute presentations to the class. In small groups, you will analyze and present the results from a recent scientific article. You will make one presentation independently, describing the important features of a landscape as seen in a topographic map, geologic cross-section, or Google Earth panorama. Evaluation will be based on accuracy, clarity, and organization. Paper (32%): Write a five-page paper with citations that analyzes the sequence of geologic events that formed a landscape of your choice. Include an image or other representation of the landscape. Or, choose another geologic topic of interest to you. Attendance: According to the Classroom Code of Conduct, students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled classes. Excused absences are allowed for athletic, religious and medical reasons, according to UVM Policy. You are responsible for everything noted in class, including changes in quiz dates. Textbook: (tentative!) Essentials of Geology, 3rd Edition, by Stephen Marshak. W.W. Norton & Company, 2009, ISBN-13: 9780393932386, ISBN-10: 0393932389. Weekly Topics: In general, each class will be divided between lecture and more hands-on activities. Each week will be focused on a particular theme. Week 1. Plate Tectonics. This week emphasizes the big picture. The motion of continental and oceanic plates is the most important control on the formation of mountains. We will examine the physical and chemical structure of the Earth and consider how solid rock moves. Specific topics include maps and GPS, isostasy and gravity, and structure and petrology.

Week 2. Climate, Weather, and Weathering. Why are there seasons? Why are there Ice Ages? We will look at the changing conditions at Earths surface and their causes at both long and short timescales. Then we will transition to the role surface conditions play in breaking down rocks and forming soil. Specific topics include the solar system and Milankovitch cycles, the long-term climate record, weather patterns and El Nino, chemical weathering and the carbon cycle. Week 3. Hillslopes, Rivers, and Glaciers. How does water cut through rock? This week focuses on what happens at Earths surface. How do rivers and glaciers work? What evidence to they leave behind? Specific topics include superposition and sedimentology, the mechanics of hillslopes, rivers, and glaciers, and the formation of landscapes. Week 4. Tectonic Geomorphology. How does the interplay between behavior of surface processes and tectonics shape the landscape in active mountains? We will focus on a few specific examples, perhaps the Andes and the Himalaya. Specific topics include the measurement of rates in nature and the example landscapes.