Geosciences

Program Offerings

Offering type
A.B.

Geosciences is a unique blend of lab experiments, field observation, data analysis and computer modeling. Courses in geosciences apply principles of biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and mathematics to real Earth problems, deal with length scales from global to atomic and consider timescales from billions of years to less than a second. The flexible academic program allows students to develop individualized courses of study.

Undergraduates studying geosciences often pursue careers in basic research, the energy industry and education. Geosciences also provides a foundation for careers in applied research, environmental consulting, engineering, public policy, conservation, resource economics, environmental education and general consulting.

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 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 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 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.

 

Goals for Student Learning

The field of geosciences is central to many of the most pressing issues of today’s world: Earth resources and energy; natural hazards; human/environment interaction; and climate change. Through diverse coursework, small class sizes and strong field and laboratory programs, the Department of Geosciences empowers students to understand how the Earth works and how to solve real-world problems.

Coursework and research in geosciences (GEO) can center on theory, numerical modeling, lab work and/or field observations. The geosciences often involve studying the properties of rock, soil, water, air, fossils and/or living microbes. Such studies require learning to observe the natural world using a combination of human senses and instrumentation, and recently have taken Princeton undergraduates on field expeditions around the world. A geoscience major has the opportunity to probe the samples they collect using a variety of state-of-the-art laboratory techniques, from mass spectrometry to synchrotron beamlines, from DNA probes to chemostats, from electron microscopes to serial giga-imagers. In the classroom, junior colloquium and PI labs, students learn to apply a range of quantitative approaches including statistics, numerical modeling, machine learning, new computational theory and super computing. Students may apply these methods to explore potential solutions to policy problems such as climate change and water/air pollution.

Communication also is a central part of the geosciences curriculum. Poster sessions, oral presentations and written work in both coursework and research build on what students learn as first-year students in the writing seminars about the values held in common across disciplines — e.g., articulating a compelling question or problem, making an argument based on evidence and analysis, and engaging responsibly with sources. Students are encouraged to build on these experiences by presenting their work at Princeton Research Day (PRD) and international disciplinary conferences.

Prerequisites

Prerequisites for declaring the geosciences major vary by track, but all require MAT 104, COS 126 or SML 201 and either GEO 202 or GEO 203.

The microbiology (MB), environmental geochemistry (EC), and oceans, atmosphere, and climate (OA) tracks all require GEO 202. The geology and earth history (GE) and geophysics (GP) tracks require GEO 203. 

By the end of junior year, students in every specialization must satisfy the statistics requirement by taking GEO 422 (or substituting ORF 245, ECO 202, PSY 251, or SPI 200).

If a student meets one set of prerequisites but would like to switch specializations, accommodations can be made with a member of the Undergraduate Work Committee (UWC).

Independent Work

Please begin by examining the Geosciences Junior Paper and Senior Thesis Guide (link is external).

Junior Independent Work

All juniors are required to conduct independent research in both the fall and spring terms. Each term, this work includes a written progress report, final written report and a poster presentation of the student's final JP work.  Faculty members will evaluate student poster presentations and submit feedback and grades. Although geoengineers are not required to conduct JP research, some geoengineers have conducted independent research in geosciences or engineering for course credit.

Different research topics are available in any given year and some ideas are 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 JP project. If students have other exciting ideas for possible JP projects, they are encouraged to consult their faculty advisers to discuss the feasibility of pursuing them.

The fall JP consists of a research proposal. The proposal includes a statement of the hypothesis you are proposing to test, a literature review that motivates your work, and preliminary data collection (i.e., fieldwork, laboratory analysis and/or data mining) and analysis that convinces the reader you will be able to test your central hypothesis. The fall JP is introduced as a poster presentation to the geosciences department prior to submitting a final written report.

The spring JP project is a full scientific research paper. A student may choose to work on the same topic they proposed in the fall or on a completely new topic with a new adviser. All spring JP work must include original data analysis; a literature review by itself does not qualify as a JP project. Many opportunities for collecting data are available, either through the student's own efforts (including fieldwork, 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 spring JP is presented as a poster to the geosciences department prior to submitting a final written report.

Proposals for funding to support independent work are due in late September/early October for the fall JP, and mid-February for the spring JP (but please see the ST/JP Guide for details each year as the due dates are subject to change). Part of the JP grade is awarded based on two reports submitted at two different milestones during the semester. The final grade for both fall and spring independent research is based on the quality of the research and the written and oral work of the student.

Senior Independent Work

The senior research thesis project involves a more in-depth study in the chosen topic and is a full-year effort. Students should budget their time accordingly. Each geosciences senior will choose an appropriate faculty member as their senior thesis adviser in consultation with the departmental adviser and the faculty members who 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/postdoctoral fellows.

The department publishes a shopping guide, which lists some research topics that the geosciences faculty members currently are 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 adviser 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 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 (due in late September or early October) 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 oral 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 oral presentation.

Additional Requirements

General Requirements

The major in geosciences requires 14 courses. In addition to the three prerequisites and the statistics requirement, each specialization in the geosciences major requires four core math and science requirements, two core GEO requirements and four GEO electives. The particular requirements are determined by the student's track of study.

Microbiology (MB) track:

Core math and science requirements are EEB 211, MOL 214, CHM 201, and CHM 202; core GEO requirements are GEO 363 and GEO 417. Students then choose four electives from the following list: GEO 362, GEO 416, GEO 418, GEO 428, MOL 345, MOL 380.

Environmental Geochemistry (EC) track:

Core math and science requirements are MOL 214, CHM 201, CHM 202, and PHY 103; core GEO requirements are GEO 363 and GEO 360. Students then choose four electives from the following list: GEO 361, GEO 369, GEO 370, GEO 417, GEO 418, GEO 428, GEO 470, FRS, CHM 301, CEE 311, CEE 306/307, CEE 471.

Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate (OA) track:

Core math and science requirements are MAT 201, MAT 202, CHM 201, and PHY 103; core GEO requirements are GEO 361 and GEO 425. Students then choose four electives from the following list: GEO 362, GEO 363, GEO 366, GEO 367, GEO 368, GEO 427, GEO 428, GEO 203, FRS, MAE 305.

Geology and Earth History (GE) track:

Core math and science requirements are MAT 202, CHM 201, CHM 202, and PHY 103; core GEO requirements are GEO 362 and GEO 464. Students then choose four electives from the following list: GEO 378, GEO 372, GEO 370, GEO 373, GEO 365, GEO 202, FRS, MAE 305, MAE 221.

Geophysics (GP) track:

Core math and science requirements are MAT 201, MAT 202, PHY 103 or 105, and PHY 104 or 106; core GEO requirements are GEO 371 or GEO 422 and MAE 305.  Students then choose four electives from the following list:  GEO 419, GEO 424, GEO 441, GEO 422, GEO 464, GEO 370, GEO 202, FRS.

In addition to these courses, the Junior Colloquium is a weekly luncheon meeting, convened during the fall term, to teach juniors basic techniques in proposal writing and analytical computing. This one-hour colloquium is mandatory for all geosciences majors.

All students considering a major in the department should see the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). Students 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 department's website.

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
  1. Written thesis: Quality and clarity of writing, proper organization and citations, illustration of results, interpretation, and discussion, originality, and commitment to doing the best possible lab-, field-, or model-based research. Grade determined by adviser and second reader.
  2. 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, the relevance and degree of difficulty of course load, junior research papers and senior thesis. If the student has taken more than the required courses, then the courses with the highest grades that satisfy the major 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 the student has made 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.

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 specializations are encouraged to take advanced chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and computer science courses. More specific information on graduate education can be obtained from the director of undergraduate studies or other faculty members.

Additional Information

Field Programs

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

Geological Field Camp

After their first year, sophomore, or junior year, many of our students enroll in a geosciences summer field camp (students should consult their faculty adviser in the November before they plan to attend summer field camp). Other students choose to work with a faculty member 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 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 DUS if interested in participating in field programs.

Financial Assistance

Grants for fieldwork 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 fieldwork 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 High Meadows Environmental Institute. Students seeking assistance from any of these funds should present a proposal (two pages of research description) by February 15 to the DUS.

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.

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.

Geosciences Advisers

Each geosciences junior and senior is assigned an adviser, who is a faculty member and part of the Undergraduate Work Committee. Students are expected to meet regularly with their advisers for discussions on curriculum, course selection, choice of junior and senior 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 also should be discussed and approved by the adviser or the DUS. At the beginning of each academic year, students will be informed who their geosciences advisers are.

Program of Study

 

 

Faculty

  • Chair

    • Thomas S. Duffy
  • Associate Chair

    • Blair Schoene (fall)
    • Frederik J. Simons (spring)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • Satish C. Myneni
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • John A. Higgins
  • Professor

    • Curtis A. Deutsch
    • Thomas S. Duffy
    • Stephan A. Fueglistaler
    • John A. Higgins
    • Adam C. Maloof
    • Satish C. Myneni
    • Michael Oppenheimer
    • Allan M. Rubin
    • Blair Schoene
    • Daniel M. Sigman
    • Frederik J. Simons
    • Jeroen Tromp
    • Gabriel A. Vecchi
    • Bess Ward
  • Assistant Professor

    • Jie Deng
    • Elizabeth Niespolo
    • Laure Resplandy
    • Xinning Zhang
  • Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    • Venkatachalam Ramaswamy
  • Lecturer

    • Thomas L. Delworth
    • Leo Donner
    • Stephen T. Garner
    • Stephen M. Griffies
    • Robert W. Hallberg
    • Larry W. Horowitz
    • Yi Ming
    • Rong Zhang

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Courses

GEO 102A - Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also ENV 102A/STC 102A) Not offered this year SEN

Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the impact of former and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering. Two 80-minute lectures per week. D. Sigman

GEO 102B - Climate: Past, Present, and Future (also ENV 102B/STC 102B) Not offered this year SEL

Which human activities are changing our climate, and does climate change constitute a major problem? We will investigate these questions through an introduction to climate processes and an exploration of climate from the distant past to today. We will also consider the impact of former and ongoing climate changes on the global environment and on humanity. Finally, we will draw on climate science to identify and evaluate possible courses of action. Intended to be accessible to students not concentrating in science or engineering. Two 80-minute lectures per week and one three-hour laboratory per week. D. Sigman

GEO 103 - Natural Disasters Spring SEL

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. Two lectures, one three-hour laboratory. B. Schoene

GEO 202 - Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate (also ENV 326) Spring SEN

The ocean and the atmosphere control Earth's climate, and in turn climate and atmospheric changes influence the ocean. We explore the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere, their chemical compositions and their interactions that make up the climate system, including exchanges of heat and carbon. We then investigate how these circulations control marine ecosystems and the biological and chemical cycles of the Earth system. The final part of the course focuses on human impacts, including changes in coastal environments and acidification and warming that result from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. One weekly precept complements lectures. B. Ward

GEO 203 - The Habitable Planet (also ENE 203) Fall QCR

This course introduces solid Earth system science, quantifying the underlying physical and chemical processes to study the formation and evolution of Earth through time. We discuss how these processes create and sustain habitable conditions on Earth's surface, including feedbacks and tipping points as recorded in the geologic record. Topics include: stellar and planetary formation, plate tectonics, the geologic record, natural resources, the hydrologic cycle and sedimentation, paleoclimatology, and the "Anthropocene". Students will apply these topics to the recent geologic past to assess the impact of humans on their environments. E. Niespolo

GEO 255 - Life in the Universe (also AST 255/CHM 255) Fall QRSN

GEO 300 - Summer Course in Geologic Field Methods Spring SEL

Introduction to modern geologic field methods, with local and regional problems studied from a residential base camp. One option is the five week University of Houston-Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) course based in Red Lodge, Montana, run by the University of Houston. Alternatively, students may attend field courses offered by other institutions after obtaining approval from the Undergraduate Work Committee of the Department of Geosciences. Financial aid is available through the Geosciences Department. A. Maloof, L. Goodell

GEO 308 - Engineering the Climate: Technical & Policy Challenges (also ENE 308/MAE 308)

GEO 311 - Global Air Pollution (also CEE 311/CHM 311/ENE 311) Spring

GEO 360 - Topics in Environmental Justice in the Geosciences (also ENV 356) Spring SEL

Humans have profoundly altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil. This course explores these changes with an emphasis on the analytical techniques used to measure the human impact. Topics include the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) in Earth's atmosphere and the contamination of drinking water at the tap and in the ground. Students will get hands on training in mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of air, water, and soil and will participate in an outreach project aimed at providing chemical analyses of urban tap waters to residents of Trenton, NJ. J. Higgins

GEO 361 - Earth's Atmosphere (also CEE 360/ENV 361) Fall SEN

This class discusses fundamental aspects of Earth's climate with a focus on the fundamental atmospheric processes that render Earth "habitable," and how they may respond to the forcing originating from natural (such as volcanoes) and anthropogenic (such as emission of carbon dioxide and ozone-depleting gases) processes. S. Fueglistaler

GEO 362 - Earth History (also ENV 362) Spring SEN

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. J. Higgins

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

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 365 - Evolution and Catastrophes Not offered this year SEN

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. Staff

GEO 366 - Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation, Policy (also ENE 366/ENV 339/SPI 451) Spring SEN

An exploration of the potential consequences of human-induced climate change and their implications for policy responses, focusing on risks to people, societies, and ecosystems. As one example: we examine the risk to coastal cities from sea level rise, and measures being planned and implemented to enable adaptation. In addition, we explore local, national, and international policy initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The course assumes students have a basic background in the causes of human-induced climate change and the physical science of the climate system. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial M. Oppenheimer

GEO 369 - Environmental Materials Chemistry: Researching in Field and Laboratory (also ENV 388/MSE 369) Spring SEN

The course covers concepts related to the chemistry of inorganic and organic materials found in the pristine and contaminated settings in the Earth surface environments, with an introduction to the modern field sampling techniques and advanced laboratory analytical and imaging tools. Different materials characterization methods, such as optical, infrared, and synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy and microscopy, will also be introduced. Field sampling and analysis of materials from diverse soil and coastal marine environments will be the focus during the second half of the semester. S. Myneni

GEO 370 - Sedimentology (also CEE 370/ENV 370) Spring SEN

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, required spring break field trip, students do lab work as groups on their own time A. Maloof

GEO 371 - Global Geophysics (also PHY 371) Fall SEN

An introduction to the fundamental principles of global geophysics. Taught on the chalkboard, 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. Two 90-minute lectures. F. Simons

GEO 372 - Rocks Spring SEL

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, one lab and a required Spring Break fieldtrip. Prerequisite: One introductory GEO course and GEO 378. B. Schoene

GEO 373 - Structural Geology Fall SEL

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 lab and a required Fall Break fieldtrip. B. Schoene

GEO 374 - Planetary Systems: Their Diversity and Evolution (also AST 374) Not offered this year SEN

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. Staff

GEO 375 - Environmental Fluid Mechanics (also CEE 305/ENE 305) Fall SEN

GEO 378 - Mineralogy (also MSE 348) Spring SEN

Minerals are the fundamental building blocks of the Earth. They are the primary recorders of its past history. A knowledge of minerals and their properties is an essential underlying component of most other disciplines in the geosciences. This course will provide a survey of the properties of the major rock-forming minerals. Topics include crystallography, crystal chemistry, mineral thermodynamics and mineral occurrence. Emphasis will be on the role of minerals in understanding geological processes. Laboratories will focus on hand specimen identification and modern analytical techniques. T. Duffy

GEO 417 - Environmental Microbiology (also CEE 417/EEB 419) Fall

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) Spring

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. A. Kraepiel-Morel

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

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 QCR

This course is for students who want to turn observations into models and subsequently evaluate their uniqueness and uncertainty. Three main topics, taught on the chalkboard, are elementary statistics (inference), heuristic time series (Fourier) analysis, and model parameter estimation via matrix inverse methods. Prerequisites: MAT 201 and 202. Theory lectures and classroom Matlab instruction in alternating weeks. Two 90-minute lectures/classes. F. Simons

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

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 Ocean Physics for Climate (also MAE 425) Fall

The study of the role of and mechanisms behind oceanic transport, storage and exchange of energy, freshwater and momentum in the climate system. Exploration of ocean circulation, mixing, thermodynamic properties and variability. Understanding the physical constraints on the ocean, including Coriolis-dominated equations of motion, the wind-driven and thermohaline circulations, and the adjustment of the ocean to perturbations. El Niño, oceans and global warming & sea ice. Three 50-minute classes. G. Vecchi and S. Legg G. Vecchi

GEO 428 - Biological Oceanography Fall

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 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 - Quantifying Geologic Time Spring

Theory and methodology of radiogenic isotope geochemistry with a focus on geochronology 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/ENV 472) 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 (also CEE 471/URB 471) Fall SEN