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DEPARTMENT OF GEOSCIENCES

SPRING 2015


Undergraduate

CEE 311/CHM 311/GEO 311/ENE 311Global Air PollutionStudents will study the chemical and physical processes involved in the sources, transformation, transport, and sinks of air pollutants on local to global scales. Societal problems such as photochemical smog, particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and stratospheric ozone depletion will be investigated using fundamental concepts in chemistry, physics, and engineering. For the class project, students will select a trace gas species or family of gases and analyze recent field and remote sensing data based upon material covered in the course. Environments to be studied include very clean, remote portions of the globe to urban air quality.Mark A. Zondlo
CHM 333/ENV 333/GEO 333Oil to Ozone: Chemistry of the Environment(STN)The chemical background of environmental issues. Topics include energy and fuels, global change, ozone, air pollution, chemistry of natural waters, pesticides, and heavy metals.François MorelAnne M. Morel-Kraepiel
GEO 103Natural Disasters(STL)An introduction to natural (and some society-induced) hazards and the importance of public understanding of the issues related to them. Emphasis is on the geological processes that underlie the hazards, with discussion of relevant policy issues tied to reading recent newspaper/popular science articles. Principal topics: Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, hurricanes, floods, meteorite impacts, global warming. Intended primarily for non-science majors.Allan M. RubinLaurel P. Goodell
GEO 202Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate(STL)An introduction to the ocean, atmosphere, and climate from the perspective of oceanography. Covers coastal processes including waves, beaches, tides and ecosystems; open ocean processes including atmospheric circulation and its impact on the surface ocean, the wind driven circulation, and surface ocean ecosystems; and the abyssal ocean including circulation, the cycling of chemicals, and ocean sediments and what they tell us about the climate history of the earth. The final part of the course will cover humans and the earth system, including a discussion of ocean resources and climate change.Jorge L. SarmientoDanielle M. Schmitt
GEO 362/ENV 362Earth's Climate History(STN)This course examines the nature and causes of major events in Earth's 4-billion year climate history, ranging from Snowball Earth to the "equable" climates, lasting hundreds of millions of years, when Earth was far warmer than today. We discuss the evidence for each event, and examine its cause by analyzing interactions between the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. The course integrates fundamental topics in paleoclimate, including biogeochemistry and stable isotope geochemistry. Three lectures.Michael L. BenderDanielle M. Schmitt
GEO 372Rocks(STL)This course serves as an introduction to the processes that govern the distribution of different rocks in the Earth. We learn to make observations from the microscopic to continental scale and relate these to theoretical and empirical thermodynamics. The goal is to understand the chemical, structural, and thermal influences on rock formation and how this in turn influences the plate tectonic evolution of our plant.Blair Schoene
GEO 417/CEE 417/EEB 419Environmental MicrobiologyThe study of microbial biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. Beginning with the physical/chemical characteristics and constraints of microbial metabolism, we will investigate the role of bacteria in elemental cycles, in soil, sediment and marine and freshwater communities, in bioremediation and chemical transformations.Bess Ward
GEO 430Climate and the Terrestrial BiosphereEarth's climate is tightly coupled to the terrestrial biosphere. In this course, we will explore the key mechanisms that link climate (e.g., cloudiness, rainfall, and temperature) with the terrestrial biosphere, and how these mechanisms are altered by humans. We will review land-atmosphere exchanges of energy, water and carbon dioxide. We will then analyze the processes controlling the land carbon sink, with a strong focus on seasonality. We will investigate the potential impacts of climate change on vegetation seasonality and the land carbon sink. Assignments will include analysis of observational datasets and climate model simulations.David M. Medvigy
GEO 441/APC 441Computational GeophysicsAn introduction to weak numerical methods, in particular finite-element and spectral-element methods, used in computational geophysics. Basic surface & volume elements, representation of fields, quadrature, assembly, local versus global meshes, domain decomposition, time marching & stability, parallel implementation & message-passing, and load-balancing. In the context of parameter estimation and 'imaging', will explore data assimilation techniques and related adjoint methods. The course offers hands-on lab experience in meshing complicated surfaces & volumes as well as numerically solving partial differential equations relevant to geophysicsJeroen Tromp
GEO 470/CHM 470Environmental Chemistry of SoilsFocuses on the inorganic and organic constituents of aqueous, solid, and gaseous phases of soils, and fundamental chemical principles and processes governing the reactions between different constituents. The role of soil chemical processes in the major and trace element cycles, and the biogeochemical transformation of different soil contaminants will be discussed in the later parts of the course.Satish C. Myneni

Undergraduates are able to take graduate courses (500+) with permission from course professor.

Graduate Studies

AOS 537/GEO 537Atmospheric ChemistryNatural gas phase and heterogeneous chemistry in the troposphere and stratosphere, with a focus on elementary chemical kinetics; photolysis processes; oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen chemistry; transport of atmospheric trace species; tropospheric hydrocarbon chemistry and stratospheric halogen chemistry; stratospheric ozone destruction; local and regional air pollution, and chemistry-climate interactions are studied.Larry W. Horowitz
GEO 505Fundamentals of the Geosciences IA year-long survey, in sequence, of fundamental papers in the geosciences. Topics in 505 (Fall) include the origin and interior of the Earth, plate tectonics, geodynamics, the history of life on Earth, the composition of the Earth, its oceans and atmospheres, past climate. Topics in 506 (Spring) include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. A core course for all beginning graduate students in the geosciences.Jeroen TrompMichael L. BenderBess WardAdam C. MaloofJorge L. SarmientoTullis C. OnstottDavid M. Medvigy
GEO 506Fundamentals of the Geosciences IIA survey of fundamental papers in the Geosciences. Topics include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. This is the core geosciences graduate course.Tullis C. Onstott
GEO 507/MSE 547Topics in Mineralogy and Mineral Physics: Multidisciplinary Studies of the Deep EarthThis course will survey the structure and properties of the deep earth, including the lower mantle and core. Seismology, mineral physics and geodynamics will be used to explore different facets of the deep earth, and the interiors of other planets, with an emphasis on fundamental and cutting edge literature.Thomas S. DuffyJessica C. Irving
GEO 520Stable Isotope Geochemistry With An Environmental FocusExamines the use of stable isotope measurements to investigate important biogeochemical, environmental, and geologic processes, today and over Earth history. Introduction to terminology, basic underlying principles, measurement techniques, commonly used analytical and computational approaches for analyzing data, followed by a review of typical applications of the isotope systems of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements. Lectures by the instructor, problem sets, numerical modeling assignments, student presentations and a final student paper based on readings from the scientific literature.Daniel M. Sigman
GEO 523/CEE 572GeomicrobiologyHigh throughput sequencing has transformed environmental microbiology, but dealing with the massive datasets is daunting. This course familiarizes students with the approaches used in assembly and annotation of metagenomes, single-cell genomes and metatranscriptomes, metaproteomes and how to utilize the processed data to address phylogenetic and functional diversity in the environment. The course uses a combination of lectures, readings drawn from the literature, and hands-on processing of genomic datasets using MG RAST, IMG, MetaVelvet, MetaIDBA, MOTHUR, MEGAN etc. among othersTullis C. Onstott
GEO 534Geological Constraints on the Global Carbon CycleThis course explores global geochemical cycles through the use of simple numerical models. Topics covered range from box models of the geologic carbon and oxygen cycles, planetary thermostats, and atmospheric oxygenation, to box models of Cenozoic seawater chemistry (Mg and Ca), to 1D diffusion-reaction modes of the dynamics of carbon and oxygen in sedimentary systems. Previous coursework in differential equations and MATLAB are highly desirable but not absolutely necessary.John A. Higgins
GEO 539Topics in Paleoecology, Paleoclimatology, and Paleoceanography: Mass Extinctions and Ocean AcidificationThis course investigates biological and environmental effects of Deccan volcanism 66 m.y. ago in India that led to the KT mass extinction and delayed biotic recovery. Investigations include climate and environmental changes, weathering, ocean acidification and its effects on calcareous marine microplankton and the observed high-stress marine assemblages. The timing of major volcanic eruptions and the time elapsed between individual lava flows will be investigated based on red bole layers.Gerta Keller