Courses

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Fall 2024

Undergraduate Courses

Climate: Past, Present, and Future (SEN)
Subject associations
GEO 102A / ENV 102A / STC 102A

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 past 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, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.

Instructors
Climate: Past, Present, and Future (SEL)
Subject associations
GEO 102B / ENV 102B / STC 102B

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 past 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, while providing a comprehensive overview appropriate for all students.

Instructors
The Habitable Planet (QCR)
Subject associations
GEO 203 / ENE 203

This course introduces solid Earth system science, quantifying 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, including feedbacks and tipping points as recorded in the geologic record. Topics include stellar and planetary formation, plate tectonics, seismology, minerals/rocks, the geologic timescale, natural resources, the hydrologic cycle and sedimentation, paleoclimatology, and the "Anthropocene." Students will apply these topics to the recent past to assess human impact on the environment.

Instructors
Environmental Chemistry: Chemistry of the Natural Systems (SEN)
Subject associations
GEO 363 / CHM 331 / ENV 331

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.

Instructors
Climate and Weather: Order in the Chaos (SEN)
Subject associations
ENV 354 / GEO 368

This course focuses on the relationship between climate and weather events: each weather event is unique and not predictable more than a few days in advance, large-scale factors constrain the statistics of weather events, those statistics are climate. Various climatic aspects will be explored, such as the geographic constraints, energy and water cycling, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation, solar heating, the El Niño phenomenon, ice ages, and greenhouse gases. These climate features will be used to interpret the statistics of a number of weather events, including heat waves, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and floods.

Instructors
Global Geophysics (SEN)
Subject associations
GEO 371 / PHY 371

An introduction to the fundamental principles of global geophysics. Four parts, taught over three weeks each in an order allowing the material to build up to form a final coherent picture of (how we know) the structure and evolution of the solid Earth: 1. Gravity and 2. Magnetism: the description and study of the Earth's magnetic and gravitational fields. 3. Seismology: body waves, surface waves and free oscillations. 4. Geodynamics: heat flow, cooling of the Earth, and mantle convection. The emphasis is on physical principles including the mathematical derivation and solution of the governing equations.

Instructors
Mineralogy (SEN)
Subject associations
GEO 378 / MSE 348

Minerals are the fundamental building blocks of the Earth. Their physical, chemical, and structural properties determine the nature of the Earth and they are the primary recorders of the past history of the Earth and other planets. 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.

Instructors
Methods of Chemical and Isotopic Analysis in the Earth Sciences (SEL)
Subject associations
GEO 402 / ENV 402

An intensive introduction to isotopic analyses in the Earth sciences. Students will learn the fundamentals of isotope abundance and isotope ratio mass spectrometry through lectures and laboratory rotations with hands-on training in a wide range of analytical techniques. The course is oriented towards upper-level undergraduate students interested in pursuing laboratory research in geological, biological, and environmental sciences as part of their JP or ST as well as graduate students in the natural and applied sciences.

Instructors
A Practical Guide to Atomistic Modeling
Subject associations
GEO 421 / MSE 421

This course covers atomistic modeling fundamentals and the applications to the study of material properties. Topics include intro to clusters, quantum mechanics basics, Hartree-Fock, density function theory, molecular dynamics, and machine learning potential. Each topic contains both theory and hands-on software tutorials of deriving material properties using available softwares (e.g., VASP, PySCF, LAMMPS, DeePMD-kit). Students gain experience applying atomistic modeling to their individual areas of research interest. Individual projects are developed by students throughout the semester. No prior quantum mechanics background is required.

Instructors
Introduction to Ocean Physics for Climate
Subject associations
GEO 425 / MAE 425

The study of the oceans as a major influence on the atmosphere and the world environment. The contrasts between the properties of the upper and deep oceans; the effects of stratification; the effect of rotation; the wind-driven gyres; the thermohaline circulation.

Instructors
Mitchell C. Bushuk
Paul Yi
Biological Oceanography
Subject associations
GEO 428

Fundamentals of Biological Oceanography, with an emphasis on the ecosystem level. We will consider the organisms in the context of their chemical and physical environment; the properties of seawater, atmosphere and ocean dynamics that affect life in the ocean; primary production and marine food webs; global cycles of carbon and other elements; current research approaches. In addition to lectures by the professors, the course will delve deeply into the current and classic literature of oceanography and students will be expected to participate in seminar type presentations and discussions.

Instructors

Graduate Courses

Atmospheric Radiative Transfer
Subject associations
AOS 527 / GEO 527

Structure and composition of terrestrial atmospheres. Fundamental aspects of electromagnetic radiation. Absorption and emission by atmospheric gases. Optical extinction of particles. Roles of atmospheric species in Earth's radiative energy balance. Perturbation of climate due to natural and antropogenic causes. Satellite observations of climate system.

Instructors
David Paynter
Venkatachalam Ramaswamy
Fundamentals of the Geosciences II
Subject associations
GEO 506

A survey of fundamental papers in the Geosciences. Topics include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, Earth structure and mechanics, and seismicity. This is the core geosciences graduate course.

Instructors
Rock Fracture
Subject associations
GEO 543

Application of fracture mechanics to a wide range of geologic processes, including dike and hydrofracture propagation, fault and joint growth and earthquake rupture. Topics include engineering fracture mechanics, analytic solutions for cracks in elastic media, numerical boundary element methods, and applications to geologic examples including observed fracture paths and patterns, small-scale structures associated with faults and dikes, and interpretation of geodetic data and seismological data.

Instructors
Geodynamics Seminar: Origin and Evolution of the Continental Lithosphere
Subject associations
GEO 556

Despite its volumetric insignificance on Earth, the continental lithosphere is an immensely important geochemical reservoir, hosts the terrestrial biosphere, and impacts plate tectonics and therefore mantle convection. This course surveys how and why continental lithosphere is formed, preserved, and destroyed throughout Earth history. We tap into datasets collected using structural geology, geochemistry and petrology, radiogenic and stable isotopes, seismology, gravity, and heat flow, all of which are used to inform numerical and theoretical models.

Instructors
Theoretical Geophysics
Subject associations
GEO 557

Geophysical applications of the principles of continuum mechanics; conservation laws and constitutive relations and tensor analysis; acoustic, elastic, and gravity wave propagation are studied.

Instructors