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GLG101: Introductory Geology

Textbook: Exploring Geology, Reynolds, Johnson, Kelly, Morin, and Carter, 2nd ed. McGraw- Hill, 2009. 

Material covered is consistent with standard introductory Geology courses designed for non-majors. The class is delivered as a hybrid lecture-online course, with 2 hours of lecture and 1 hour of online activities per week. Online activities vary, but center around developing a spirit of engagement and discussion not usually possible in a 225-seat classroom. Students are subdivided into 20 groups of ~10. Weekly online activities include discussion forums, wiki page development and review, and online quizzes. Discussion forums are employed to involve students in developing lists of key questions to be answered in lecture and reading on each major topic. Forums are also used for open discussion and debate of controversial topics. The course opens with the topic of global environmental change. In lecture and in readings students learn about the climate system and about the clear distinction between science and politics. In discussion forums they engage in a debate about what are the questions that the public needs scientists to answer. This naturally leads to the need to understand the geologic record and provides a powerful segue to more traditional geology 101 topics. Similar mechanisms are used on topics such as natural hazards, energy resources, and evolution. Wiki page development is used as an online alternative to independent research and report preparation, and trains students in collaborative work and critical evaluation of other’s work.

GLG108: Water Planet

Textbook: Principles of Water Resources: History, Development, Management, and Policy, Cech, 3rd ed. Wiley, 2010.

This course offers an overview of the processes that control water supply to natural ecosystems and human civilizations. The course is broken into two parts: Part I is an introduction to the basic science that helps us understand the water planet: Including the hydrologic cycle, glaciers and ice; rivers, oceans, and natural hazards associated with water such as flooding, landsliding and tsunamis. Part II is an overview of some of the management and resource allocation topics that face humanity today: Including droughts, groundwater contamination, impacts on fisheries, conflicts over water, patterns of water use, and effects of global climate change on future water supplies. Throughout the course, water issues facing Arizona and California will be used as examples. Course includes weekly laboratory exercises.

GLG362/GLG598: Geomorphology

Textbook: Geomorphology: The Mechanics and Chemistry of Landscapes, Anderson and Anderson, 1st ed. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

The Earth’s near surface environment has been termed the “critical zone” as this is the zone that supports most life and because the Earth’s surface is the dynamic interface where much of the geologic record is produced. We now know that we face rapid climate change and the consequences of changes in landuse, water resources, and ecosystems. But how will changes to the environment manifest themselves in the critical zone – in the form and function of the Earth’s surface (landforms, water resources, soils, natural hazards, ecosystems) – and how will these changes impact us? Critical to planning a response to, or mitigation of, environmental change is an understanding how the Earth surface works – the interaction of physical, chemical and biotic processes in shaping the surface and determining fluid, solute and sediment fluxes.This course offers a quantitative introduction to the form and function of the Earth’s surface including the essentials of hydrology (runoff, groundwater), rivers, weathering, soil formation, erosion, slope stability, sediment transport, alluvial and coastal landforms, and ice sheet stability. This project-based course includes GIS analysis, interpretation of remotely sensed imagery, and field investigation (2 weekend trips) of geomorphic phenomena. Lessons learned are directly applicable to investigations of other planetary surfaces.Taught primarily for upper division undergraduates, but open to graduate students interested in a quantitative but introductory class in surface processes and landform evolution. Expectations will differ for graduate students.

GLG490/598: Geomorphology Seminar

Discussion of current research or advanced topics in landscape evolution, surface hydrology, mechanics of sediment transport, basin analysis, or experimental geomorphology. Advanced instruction in process geomorphology.

GLG490/598: Advanced Geomorphology

Surface processes (e.g., soil formation, runoff, sediment transport, river incision and deposition, glacial erosion and deposition) not only govern the evolution of the landscapes around us, but also constitute the dynamic link between the geologic record and environmental conditions (climate, lithology, vegetative cover, tectonics). In addition, the study of surface processes is essential to understanding natural and environmental hazards in the landscape.The course offers a quantitative introduction to mechanics of fluvial, hillslope, and glacial processes, with emphasis on long-term landscape evolution. Essentials of weathering, soil formation, runoff, erosion, slope stability, sediment transport, river incision, and glacial erosion. System responses to climatic and tectonic forcings, including: glaciation, sea level change, uplift, subsidence, and isostatic rebound. The course stresses field investigation of geomorphic phenomena and the writing of scientific reports. Additional instruction in: computer modeling (Matlab) in the study of surface processes and GIS analysis of digital elevation data. Taught at an advanced level, but open to undergraduates as well as graduate students. Expectations will differ for undergraduates.

GLG490/598: Tectonic Geomorphology

This advanced course emphasizes the interaction of tectonics and surface processes in sculpting landforms and develops tools for extracting information about tectonic history from encoded in landforms. Topics covered range in timescale from co-seismic rupture to the deformation of orogenic belts over millions of years, and in spatial scale from the grain-scale to 100-1000s of kilometers. In addition we discuss both the study of deformation patterns recorded in “static” landforms (e.g., abandoned river terraces) and the study of “dynamic” landforms that constantly adjust to prevailing tectonic and climatic conditions (e.g., river and hillslope profiles).

GLG490/598: Image Interpretation Seminar

This seminar emphasizes methods of geological interpretation of remotely sensed image data. Students are challenged with a series of images from which the group must, with guidance, draw relevant conclusions about the geology/geomorphology of the area represented. Images selected may include topographic or bathymetric maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, seafloor side-scan sonar images, scenes from Mars, the moons of Jupiter, etc., and include both printed and digital formats -- emphasis is on general principles rather than specific applications. Methods of digital image enhancement are discussed.

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