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Department of Geosciences


Bess B. Ward

Associate Chair

Thomas S. Duffy

Departmental Representative

Adam C. Maloof

Director of Graduate Studies

S. George H. Philander


Michael L. Bender 

Thomas S. Duffy 

Gerta Keller 

François Morel 

Tullis C. Onstott 

Michael Oppenheimer, also Woodrow Wilson School 

S. George H. Philander 

Allan M. Rubin 

Jorge L. Sarmiento 

Daniel M. Sigman 

Jeroen Tromp, also Applied and Computational Mathematics 

Bess B. Ward 

Associate Professor

Satish C. B. Myneni

Adam C. Maloof

Frederik J. Simons

Assistant Professor

Stephan A. Fueglistaler

John A. Higgins

Jessica C.E. Irving

David M. Medvigy

Blair Schoene

Associated Faculty

Michael A. Celia, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Peter R. Jaffé, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Denise L. Mauzerall, Woodrow Wilson School, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Catherine A. Peters, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe, Civil and Environmental Engineering

James A. Smith, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Eric F. Wood, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences


Jorge L. Sarmiento

Executive Committee

Michael L. Bender, Geosciences

Thomas L. Delworth, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Leo J. Donner, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Stephan A. Fueglistaler, Geosciences

Stephen T. Garner, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Robert W. Hallberg, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Isaac M. Held, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Larry W. Horowitz, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Ngar-Cheung Lau, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Sonya A. Legg, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Geosciences

David M. Medvigy, Geosciences

Yi Ming, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Michael Oppenheimer, Woodrow Wilson School, Geosciences

S. George H. Philander, Geosciences

Venkatachalam Ramaswamy, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Jorge L. Sarmiento, Geosciences

Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences

Associated Faculty

Denise L. Mauzerall, Woodrow Wilson School, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Michael Oppenheimer, Woodrow Wilson School, Geosciences

Stephen W. Pacala, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

James A. Smith, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Mark Zondlo, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The intellectual excitement of modern geosciences is fueled by our exploration of the dynamic forces and delicate balances that mold our planet and have rendered it conducive to life for much of its history. Our landscape is continually reshaped by the movement of cold continents atop the hot, viscous mantle, and our lives are altered by the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that attend their collision. Rocks that cover the Earth's surface sink to great depths and transform under enormous temperatures and pressures, perhaps to be uplifted as mountains and exposed to future generations by the forces of erosion. The ocean and atmosphere engage in a continuous and complex dialogue that controls the Earth's climate. Chemical reactions operating within microorganisms and on a variety of mineral and other natural surfaces are integrated into large geochemical fluxes, which distribute the resources needed for life, and life in turn alters these fluxes. This process operates within the framework of biological evolution, in which diverse organisms appear, evolve, and vanish, sometimes leaving a transfigured world in their wake. All of these processes influence our daily lives in profound and surprising ways.

Many of the great challenges to humanity, today and in the future, involve processes that are studied by Earth scientists, leading to a rapidly increasing role for the field in issues of environmental regulation and public policy. A background in the Earth sciences is an essential component of contemporary education. Practicing geoscientists study nature both in the field and in the lab. To an ever-increasing degree, they must quantify observations with the aim of not only describing the past but also predicting the future of our planet, often with the aid of rigorous laboratory and field experiments, and intensive computation and modeling. The diversity of processes that characterize the Earth as a whole requires geosciences to be an extraordinarily interdisciplinary field with direct connections to mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science. As a result of these connections, the geosciences department frequently draws students from many backgrounds. Many of our most successful graduates begin their undergraduate careers in subjects ranging from physics to English. The Department of Geosciences welcomes this intellectual variety, and our undergraduate program allows flexibility while stressing the importance of a sound understanding of the basic sciences.


All concentrators are required to take one introductory Geoscience course: GEO 202 or GEO 203, or Geosciences Freshman Seminar with permission of the Undergraduate Work Committee (UWC). Students with adequate preparation may proceed directly to GEO 300-level courses with the consent of their GEO adviser, but this cannot substitute for one of the eight upper-level geosciences courses. Other introductory geosciences courses, such as GEO 102, 103, 107, and 197 (formerly 297), are intended primarily for non-science concentrators and are not ideal for students who anticipate a concentration in the geosciences. Please note that no other GEO 200-level courses or other courses satisfy this requirement.

General Requirements

The following courses are required for graduation (with at most one pass/D/fail). AP credit may be used to place into a more advanced math or science course, but it does not provide credit toward the geosciences concentration.

Mathematics: Mathematics Prerequisite: MAT 104 or MAT 175 or one more advanced course in math. AP credit does not fulfill this requirement.

Geosciences Core Science Requirements: Students must complete two of the following core science requirements at Princeton; PHY 104, CHM 202, COS 226, and MOL 214. AP credits do not fulfill this requirement, but students with AP credit may choose to substitute a more advanced course to satisfy a core science requirement. For example, CHM 215 or CHM 301 could substitute for CHM 202.

Students interested in graduate school are encouraged to take more than these minimum basic science requirements.

Departmental Requirements

Concentrators are required to take eight upper-level geosciences courses (300 level or higher) not including GEO 499 and GEO 503.

Upper Level Science Courses: Up to two of the following courses may be substituted for GEO 300-level or above courses. Students may substitute other advanced science courses not listed below with permission of the UWC: CHM 301, CHM 302, CHM 305, CHM 306, CEE 306, CEE 323, COS 323, EEB 306, EEB 309, EEB 312, EEB 320, ENV 302, MAE 305, MAE 306, MAE 328, MSE 301, MSE 302, PHY 301, PHY 304, PHY 305, and WWS 350.

Students are urged to consult with the departmental representative or their junior or senior adviser before choosing departmental courses outside geosciences. In general, the department is flexible about course selections and requirements; however, we must ensure a degree of coherency in the curriculum of each student.

Junior Colloquium. This is a weekly luncheon meeting, convened during the fall term, to acquaint juniors with research and career opportunities. This is mandatory for all geosciences majors (including those in the geological engineering program).

Program of Study

A set of informal programs (tracks) of study is designed to help students interested in different areas of geosciences, and to provide basic course plans that allow students to develop a strong foundation in those areas. These areas of focus include:

Geology and Geophysics (GPG). This track focuses on the structure and evolution of the Earth as a physical system, by theory, experiment, field work, and numerical simulation. The emphasis is on geological processes of global relevance, the history of the Earth, and life in the rock record. The quantitative concepts and techniques covered in class are also relevant to applied sciences and industry.

Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate (OAC). This track specializes in the study of the coupled ocean and atmosphere system as it interacts with life to set the physical and chemical conditions of the Earth's surface. Students with backgrounds in subjects as diverse as chemistry, biology, physics, public policy, and economics who have an interest in climate and global environmental conditions will find this track a challenging and relevant addition to their coursework.

Environmental Biogeochemistry (EBG). This track focuses on the understanding of chemical and biological processes modifying the Earth's surface (atmosphere, soils, sediments, oceans), and how their interactions alter the behavior of elements or molecules responsible for different environmental processes, such as climate change, and the transport and bioaccumulation of anthropogenic contaminants.

Certificate Programs. The department offers a certificate program in geological engineering in collaboration with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, which is described in the entry for the Program in Geological Engineering. The department also cooperates in the certificate programs in environmental studies, materials science and engineering, planets and life, and teacher preparation. Several geosciences courses fulfill the requirements of these certificate programs.

All students considering a concentration in the department should see the departmental representative. They are encouraged to consult as soon as possible, even as first-year students, to aid in the design of a course of study. The department offers an open house in both the fall and spring terms to introduce prospective students to departmental courses, faculty, students, and research interests.

For full details, see the department's website.

Junior Advisers

Each geosciences junior is assigned an adviser, who is a faculty member and part of the Undergraduate Work Committee. Students are expected to regularly meet with their advisers for discussions on curriculum, course selection, choice of junior research paper topics, study abroad plans, and the like. Once the courses have been selected in consultation with the adviser, students turn in their signed fall and spring course worksheet to the undergraduate coordinator. Any course changes should also be discussed and approved by the adviser or the undergraduate chair. At the beginning of each academic year, students will be informed who their geosciences advisers are.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. All juniors are required to conduct independent research in both the fall and spring terms. Students are also required to submit written reports for both the fall and spring terms. During the fall term juniors will give a 10 minute oral presentation (with a five minute question and answer period) on their independent research (JIR) to the department faculty and to the students. Undergraduates are advised to stay through all talks of the session and are advised to attend senior talks in the spring term. In the spring, junior oral talks will be posters. Faculty members will evaluate the posters and submit feedback. Although geoengineers are not required to conduct JIR some geoengineers have conducted independent research in geosciences or engineering for course credit.

Different research topics are available in any given year and listed in the Shopping Guide, which students obtain from the undergraduate coordinator. Students are encouraged to consult with their faculty advisers for suggestions regarding selection of the JIR project. If students have other exciting ideas for possible JIR projects, they are encouraged to consult their faculty advisers to discuss the feasibility of these projects.

JIR projects for both the fall and spring terms typically involve literature reviews, data collection (i.e., field work, laboratory analysis, and/or data mining), and original data analysis. A student may choose to work on the same topic for the full year, or on two different topics, but the fall semester JIR must stand alone as a full project and will be judged on its own merits. All JIR work must include original data analysis. A literature review by itself does not qualify as a JIR project. Many opportunities for collecting data are available, either through the student's own efforts (including geological field work, experiments conducted in any of the several laboratories in the department, and computer simulations) or by accessing databases made available by and for the scientific community at large. The department and the faculty adviser can provide the necessary funding to conduct this independent research. The final grade for both fall and spring independent research is decided based on the quality of the research, the written report and the oral presentation of the student.

Senior Independent Work. The senior research thesis project involves a much more in-depth study in the chosen topic and is a full-year effort. Students should therefore budget their time accordingly. Each geosciences senior will choose an appropriate faculty member as senior thesis adviser in consultation with the departmental adviser and the faculty members that support the student's interests. The student is expected to conduct research in the adviser s laboratory and work closely with the adviser and/or graduate students.

The department publishes a Shopping Guide, which lists research topics that the geosciences faculty members are currently pursuing. The Shopping Guide is a good starting point to identify a list of topics and research advisers from which students can select a topic and adviser for their senior independent research in consultation with the departmental adviser and faculty members. Students interested in pursuing a topic that is not part of the Shopping Guide are encouraged to approach their departmental advisers to discuss the feasibility of conducting the research either under the supervision of a faculty member in the department or in another department in the University. Many students select their projects early, in consultation with the faculty adviser, and begin the research during the summer preceding the senior year. The department and the faculty adviser usually provide the necessary funds to conduct the independent research.

The department requires that a student submit a thesis proposal and several interim research progress reports, including the fall semester progress report, a rough draft of the thesis for feedback, and the final thesis. The goal of the interim reports is to facilitate timely adviser-student feedback, help minimize the unavoidable thesis rush at the end of the year, and ensure that the final product of the thesis is of the highest quality. In addition to writing their theses, all students give poster presentations to the faculty and students of the geosciences department. The grade for the thesis is based on the quality of the research, the written report, and the poster presentation.

Senior Departmental Examination

The comprehensive examination in the department consists of an oral examination based on the senior thesis and related topics.

Grading and Honors

Senior Thesis: You will be graded on (1) your thesis research plus written report and (2) oral presentation plus answers to questions.

Thesis Grade:

  • (i) Research: Quality, originality, and commitment to doing the best possible lab-, field-, or model-based research. Ability to interpret results. Grade determined by adviser.
  • (ii) Written thesis: Quality and clarity of writing, proper organization and citations, illustration of results, interpretation, and discussion. Grade determined by adviser and second reader.
  • (iii) Oral presentation: Based on quality and clarity of presentation in lecture and illustrations as well as facility in answering questions pertaining to research results. Grade determined by the entire faculty.

The final thesis grade will be set only after a meeting of the faculty to discuss and rank all theses. In general, an A on a senior thesis means that the work and write-up submitted have sufficient merit to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. The final thesis grade is reported to the registrar and appears on the student s transcript.

Academic Honors:

The department awards academic honors (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors) based on a combination of factors, including the overall grade point average (GPA), departmental GPA, junior research papers, and senior thesis. To compute the departmental GPA, all grades from required classes for the particular track are used. If the student has taken more than the required courses, then the courses with the highest grades that satisfy the concentration and breadth requirements are used in the calculation. For the senior thesis and junior research papers, the assigned grades will be used. In addition to grades, dedication to research, academic participation, and the overall impressions made by the student on the faculty are taken into consideration in the honors calculation. To ensure that the quality of honors remains consistent from year to year, the faculty compares student achievements with those from previous years.

Guidelines to Calculation of Honors:

  • Overall GPA...20%
  • Difficulty and relevance of course load...10%
  • Departmental GPA, including outside classes required for majors...30%
  • Junior independent research paper #1...7.5%
  • Junior independent research paper #2...7.5%
  • Senior thesis and oral defense...25%

Preparation for Graduate Study

Specialization in any one of the Earth sciences today requires graduate study. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in any of the tracks are encouraged to take advanced chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology courses. More specific information on graduate education can be obtained from the departmental representative or other faculty members.

Field Programs. Since experience in field geology is an important aspect of professional training, students are encouraged to take a course in field methods in geology and oceanography.

Geological Field Camp. Many of our students take the YBRA (Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association) field course in Red Lodge, Montana, after their sophomore or junior year. Other students choose to work with a faculty member (e.g., Maloof, Schoene, Onstott, and Keller) or a graduate student in the field, and may conduct independent research for junior or senior independent research as part of this opportunity. Geosciences facilitates student enrollment in these field opportunities by providing financial aid.

Experience at Sea. Students interested in ocean studies can participate in ongoing studies at sea or at the Bermuda Biological Station. The department tries to make available opportunities to interested undergraduates, particularly to those electing the OAC and EBG tracks, to participate in an oceanographic cruise at some time during their undergraduate years.

Information on other opportunities for field experience is made available annually. The student should consult the departmental representative if interested in participating in field programs.

Financial Assistance. Grants for field work in geology are available through the Tony Conway '36 Memorial Scholarship Fund. Grants for field and museum studies and research in natural history during the summer are available to students of high scholastic standing from the John Boyd '43 Memorial Fund and the Glenn L. Jepsen '27 Fund. Grants are available from the Erling Dorf '33 Fund for field work and the field course. The Howard T. Vaum Jr. '78 Fund supports studies in geological engineering in a field study program. Grants for environmental studies are available from the Princeton Environmental Institute. Students wishing assistance from any of these funds should present a proposal (two pages of research description) by February 15 to the departmental representative.

Funds are available from time to time for qualified undergraduates to serve as research assistants to faculty members during the regular academic session as well as during the summer months.

In some instances summer employment for qualified students can be arranged with governmental, commercial, or academic field parties.


GEO 102A Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also ENV 102A)   Fall STN

An introduction to the processes and conditions that control Earth's climate; an overview of past climate evolution from the time of Earth's origin to the period of human history; and an investigation of ongoing climate changes and those predicted for the future, including the capacity of human activities to alter climate and the impacts of climate change on environment and society. Intended primarily for students not concentrating in science or engineering. Three lectures. M. Bender, D. Sigman

GEO 102B Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also ENV 102B)   Fall STL

An introduction to the processes and conditions that control Earth's climate; an overview of past climate evolution from the time of Earth's origin to the period of human history; and an investigation of ongoing climate changes and those predicted for the future, including the capacity of human activities to alter climate and the impacts of climate change on environment and society. Intended primarily for students not concentrating in science or engineering. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory. M. Bender, D. Sigman

GEO 103 Natural Disasters   Spring 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 some discussion of relevant policy issues. Principal topics: Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, hurricanes, floods, meteorite impacts, global warming. Intended primarily for non-science majors. Three lectures, one three-hour laboratory. A. Rubin

GEO 197 Environmental Decision Making (also ENE 197)   Fall QR

Use of scientific data and arguments in formulating environmental policies, international development, poverty reduction, economic growth, conflict, and risk assessment. Class format consists of case studies for which students analyze the scientific arguments, evaluate the data upon which they are based, and determine the scientific credibility, political feasibility, and economic consequences of the various decisions. One three-hour seminar. G. van der Vink

GEO 202 Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate   Spring 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. Two lectures, one three-hour laboratory. J. Sarmiento

GEO 203 Fundamentals of Solid Earth Science (also ENE 203)   Fall QR

A quantitative introduction to Solid Earth System Science, focusing on the underlying physical processes and their geological and geophysical expression. Topics include basic physical conservation laws, examples of constitutive relationships, waves, transport phenomena, geopotential fields, geologic time, basic thermodynamics and mineralogy. Single variable calculus is a prerequisite. The course serves as a prerequisite for several upper-level GEO and CEE courses. Two 90-minute lectures, two 50-minute preceptorials. J. Higgins, J. Irving

GEO 207 A Guided Tour of the Solar System (also AST 207)   Not offered this year QR

Examines the major bodies of our solar system, emphasizing their surface features, internal structures, and atmospheres. Topics include the origin of the solar system, habitability of planets, and the role of impacts in planetary evolution. Terrestrial and giant planets will be studied as well as satellites, comets, and asteroids. Recent discoveries from planetary missions are emphasized. This course is aimed primarily at non-science majors. Three lectures, this course is normally taught in the fall. T. Duffy

GEO 255A Life in the Universe (also AST 255A/EEB 255A/CHM 255A)   Fall STN

Introduces students to Astrobiology, a new field where scientists trained in biology, chemistry, astrophysics and geosciences combine their skills to unravel life's origins and to search for extraterrestrial life. Topics include: the astrophysical prerequisites for life, the RNA world, the evolution of metabolism and photosynthesis, microbes in extreme environments, and the search for life within our solar system and in nearby solar systems. Two 90 minute lectures. Track A will be required to take a mid-term exam during Fall break. Prerequisite: one geoscience, chemistry, biology or astronomy class or instructors' permission. T. Onstott, E. Turner, L. Landweber

GEO 255B Life in the Universe (also AST 255B/EEB 255B/CHM 255B)   Not offered this year STL

Introduces students to Astrobiology, a new field where scientists trained in biology, chemistry, astrophysics and geosciences combine their skills to unravel life's origins and to search for extraterrestrial life. Topics include: the astrophysical prerequisites for life, the RNA world, the evolution of metabolism and photosynthesis, microbes in extreme environments, and the search for life within our solar system and in nearby solar systems. Two 90 minute lectures and field training in Yellowstone National Park over Fall break is required. Prerequisite: one geoscience, chemistry, biology or astronomy class or instructors' permission. T. Onstott, E. Turner, L. Landweber

GEO 300 Summer Course in Geologic Field Methods   Spring STL

Introduction to modern geologic field methods. Local and regional problems studied from base camp at Red Lodge, Montana. Five weeks during summer usually following sophomore year. Prerequisite: one year of college geology. L. Goodell

GEO 311 Global Air Pollution (see CEE 311)

GEO 361 Physics of Earth, the Habitable Planet (also ENV 361/CEE 360)   Fall STN

The habitability of our planet depends critically on the motion of the oceans and atmosphere, which determines our weather and climate. Associated phenomena include hurricanes, tornadoes, the Jet Streams, the Gulf Stream, El Nino, La Nina, and the recurrent Ice Ages of the past million years. The course includes the use of an idealized computer model to study how these phenomena depend on the Earth's rotation and sphericity, and to explore the predictability of weather and of long-term changes in climate, including future global warming. Prerequisites: MAT 201, PHY 104 or equivalent. Two 90-minute lectures. S. Philander

GEO 362 Biogeochemistry of the Ocean and Atmosphere (also ENV 362)   Not offered this year STL

The chemical cycles of ocean and atmosphere and their interaction with Earth's biota. Topics include: the origin of the ocean's salt; the major and biologically active gases in the atmosphere and ocean; nutrients and ocean fertility; the global carbon cycle; the reactive chemistry of the atmosphere. Prerequisites: CHM 201/202 or higher; GEO 202 and/or GEO 361; or permission of the instructor. Three lectures, one laboratory. D. Sigman

GEO 363 Environmental Geochemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems (also CHM 331/ENV 331)   Fall STN

Covers topics including origin of elements; formation of the Earth; evolution of the atmosphere and oceans; atomic theory and chemical bonding; crystal chemistry and ionic substitution in crystals; reaction equilibria and kinetics in aqueous and biological systems; chemistry of high-temperature melts and crystallization process; and chemistry of the atmosphere, soil, marine, and riverine environments. The biogeochemistry of contaminants and their influence on the environment will also be discussed. Two 90-minute lectures. Prerequisite: one term of college chemistry or instructor's permission. S. Myneni

GEO 364 Earth Chemistry: The Major Realms of the Planet (also CHM 364)   Spring STN

The chemical composition of the major realms of the planet: core, mantle, continents, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. Topics include the synthesis of the chemical elements in stars, the origin of the solar system and Earth, and the chemical differentiation of Earth's core, mantle, crust, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. Also explores the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other biologically important elements, their interactions with the geosphere, and their evolution through time. Prerequisites: CHM 201, or equivalent; MAT 103, or equivalent. Three lectures. M. Bender, D. Sigman

GEO 365 Evolution and Catastrophes   Fall STN

This course introduces students to the evolution of life and mass extinctions based on a broad survey of major events in Earth history as revealed by the fossil record. Concepts and techniques of paleontology are applied to all aspects, including colonization of the oceans, invasion of land, mass extinctions and evolutionary radiations. The roles of major catastrophes in the history of life are evaluated, including meteorite impacts, volcanism, climate change, and oceanic anoxia. One three-hour lecture. Prerequisite: One 200 level or higher GEO course. G. Keller

GEO 366 Climate Change: Scientific Basis, Policy Implications (also ENV 339/WWS 451/ENE 366)   Not offered this year STN

An exploration of the causes and potential consequences of human-induced climate change, and their implications for policy responses. By studying the climate system and how it is influenced by human perturbation, the class will develop themes that should constrain public policy, including time-scales of change, irreversibility, lags, limits, uncertainty, and surprise. Prerequisites: MAT 101-102 and either CHM 201-202 or PHY 101-102; or permission of instructor. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. M. Oppenheimer

GEO 370 Sedimentology (also ENV 370/CEE 370)   Spring STL

A treatment of the physical and chemical processes that shape Earth's surface, such as solar radiation, i.e., deformation of the solid Earth, and the flow of water (vapor, liquid, and solid) under the influence of gravity. In particular, the generation, transport, and preservation of sediment in response to these processes are studied in order to better read stories of Earth history in the geologic record and to better understand processes involved in modern and ancient environmental change. Prerequisites: MAT 104, PHY 103, CHM 201, or equivalents. Two lectures, two laboratories. A. Maloof

GEO 371 Global Geophysics (also PHY 371)   Fall STN

An introduction to the fundamental principles of global geophysics. Taught in four parts, the material builds up to form a final coherent picture of (how we know) the structure and evolution of the solid Earth: gravity, magnetism, seismology, and geodynamics. The emphasis is on physical principles including the mathematical derivation and solution of the governing equations. Prerequisites: MAT 201 or 203, PHY 103/104 or PHY 105/106, or permission of the instructor. Two 90-minute lectures, one class. F. Simons

GEO 372 Earth Materials   Not offered this year STL

This course serves as an introduction to the processes that govern the distribution of different rocks and minerals in the Earth. Students 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 and mineral formation and how this in turn influences the plate tectonic evolution of our planet. This course has two lectures and one lab. Prerequisite: GEO 203. B. Schoene

GEO 373 Structural Geology   Spring STL

The nature and origin of the deformed rocks composing the crust of Earth considered at scales ranging from atomic to continental. Tectonics and regional geology of North America. Two lectures, one three-hour laboratory. A. Maloof, B. Schoene

GEO 374 Planetary Systems: Their Diversity and Evolution (also AST 374)   Spring STN

Examines the diversity of recently discovered planetary systems in terms of fundamental physical and chemical processes and what this diversity implies about the origin and evolution of our own planetary system. Topics include: the formation and dynamics of planets and satellites, planetary migration, the evolution of planetary interiors, surfaces and atmospheres, the occurrence of water and organics, and the habitability of planets and planetary systems. Recent discoveries from planetary missions and extrasolar planet observations are emphasized. Prerequisites: GEO 207, 255, or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures. T. Onstott

GEO 375 Environmental Fluid Mechanics (see CEE 305)

GEO 417 Environmental Microbiology (also CEE 417/EEB 419)   Spring

The 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. Prerequisites: One 300-level course in chemistry or biology, or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute classes, this course is normally offered in the Spring. B. Ward

GEO 418 Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry (also CHM 418)   Fall

Application of quantitative chemical principles to the study of natural waters. Includes equilibrium computations, weathering and diagenetic processes, precipitation of chemical sediments, and pollution of natural waters. Two lectures. Prerequisite: one year of college chemistry. Previous or concurrent enrollment in CHM 306 recommended. F. Morel

GEO 419 Physics and Chemistry of Earth's Interior (also PHY 419)   Spring

The Earth is a physical system whose past and present state can be studied within the framework of physics and chemistry. Topics include current concepts of geophysics and the physics and chemistry of Earth materials; origin and evolution of the Earth; and nature of dynamic processes in its interior. One emphasis is to relate geologic processes on a macroscopic scale to the fundamental materials properties of minerals and rocks. Three lectures. Prerequisites: one year of college-level chemistry or physics (preferably both) and calculus. Offered alternately with 424. T. Duffy

GEO 420 Topics in Earth Science  

These courses cover one or more advanced topics in modern Earth science. They are offered only when there is an opportunity to present material not included in the established curriculum; the subjects vary from year to year. Three classes or a three-hour seminar. Staff

GEO 422 Data, Models, and Uncertainty in the Natural Sciences   Fall QR

This course is designed for students who want to turn observations into models and subsequently evaluate their uniqueness and uncertainty. Three main topics are elementary statistics, heuristic time series analysis, and model parameter estimation via matrix inverse methods. F. Simons

GEO 423 Dynamic Meteorology (also CEE 423)   Spring

This course provides the rigorous introduction to the moving atmosphere needed to understand Earth's weather and climate. The fundamental forces of the atmosphere (pressure gradient, gravity, and Coriolis) and conservation laws (mass, momentum, energy) will be developed. Approximations relevant to Earth's large-scale circulation and regional-scale extreme events will be discussed. Important consequences of atmospheric turbulence will also be covered. Throughout, connections between dynamical equations and atmospheric observations will be strongly emphasized. D. Medvigy

GEO 424 Introductory Seismology (also CEE 424/ENE 425)   Spring STN

Fundamentals of seismology and seismic wave propagation. Introduction to acoustic and elastic wave propagation concepts, observational methods, and inferences that can be drawn from seismic data about the deep planetary structure of the Earth, as well as about the occurrence of oil and gas deposits in the crust. Prerequisites: PHY 104 and MAE 305 (can be taken concurrently), or permission of the instructor. Two 90-minute classes. J. Tromp

GEO 425 Introduction to Physical Oceanography (also MAE 425)   Fall

The study of the oceans as a major influence on the atmosphere and the world environment. Ocean circulation and the oceans' properties. The Coriolis-dominated equations of motion, the thermocline, wind-driven and thermohaline-driven circulation, and oceanic tracers. Three lectures. Prerequisite: MAT 202 or equivalent. G. Vecchi

GEO 428 Biological Oceanography  

Fundamentals of biological oceanography, with an emphasis on the ecosystem level. The course will examine organisms in the context of their chemical and physical environment; properties of seawater and atmosphere that affect life in the ocean; primary production and marine food webs; and global cycles of carbon and other elements. Students will read the current and classic literature of oceanography. Prerequisites: college-level chemistry, biology, and physics. Two 90-minute classes. B. Ward

GEO 440 Advanced Mineralogy (also MSE 440)   Not offered this year

An advanced survey of the structure and crystal chemistry of major rock-forming minerals. Topics include: crystallography, physical properties of minerals, mineral thermodynamics, lattice dynamics, phase transformations, defects, and kinetics. Prerequisites: GEO 372 or MSE 301, or instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures. T. Duffy

GEO 441 Computational Geophysics (also APC 441)   Spring

An introduction to weak numerical methods used in computational geophysics. Finite- and spectral-elements, representation of fields, quadrature, assembly, local versus global meshes, domain decomposition, time marching and stability, parallel implementation and message-passing, and load-balancing. Parameter estimation and "imaging" using data assimilation techniques and related "adjoint" methods. Labs provide experience in meshing complicated surfaces and volumes as well as solving partial differential equations relevant to geophysics. Prerequisites: MAT 201; partial differential equations and basic programming skills. Two 90-minute lectures. J. Tromp

GEO 442 Geodynamics (also PHY 442)   Fall

An advanced introduction to setting up and solving boundary value problems relevant to the solid Earth sciences. Topics include heat flow, fluid flow, elasticity and plate flexure, and rock rheology, with applications to mantle convection, magma transport, lithospheric deformation, structural geology, and fault mechanics. Prerequisites: MAT 201 or 202. Two 90-minute lectures. A. Rubin

GEO 464 Radiogenic Isotopes   Fall

Theory and methodology of radiogenic isotope geochemistry, as applied to topics in the geosciences, including the formation and differentiation of the Earth and solar system, thermal and temporal evolution of orogenic belts, and the rates and timing of important geochemical, biotic, and climatic events in earth history. Two 90-minute lectures. B. Schoene

GEO 470 Environmental Chemistry of Soils (also CHM 470)   Spring

Focuses 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. Prerequisites: GEO363/CHM331/ENV331, or any other basic chemistry course. Two 90-minute lectures. S. Myneni

GEO 471 Introduction to Water Pollution Technology (see CEE 471)

GEO 499 Environmental Change, Poverty, and Conflict (also ENV 499)   Fall

Evaluate the environmental, political, social and economic impacts of climate change on development, poverty-reduction, civil violence, and conflict. Students work in teams integrating climate prediction models with environmental, social, and economic parameters to identify fragile populations that are becoming increasingly at risk due to climate change. Class results will be submitted for publication and presented to policy-makers and/or business leaders. One three-hour seminar. G. van der Vink