Courses

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LISTINGS

Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2022

All That Glitters: The Science of Diamond and Gemstones
This course will provide an overview of the scientific study of gemstones. Topics covered will include crystallography, crystal structures, and optical properties of gems. Diamonds and gems will be used to illustrate geological concepts such as plate tectonics and our planet's deep interior. The course will also examine recent analytical advances for constraining the provenance of historical gems as well as new applications of gemstones in modern technology. The course will make use of Princeton's large gem collection for hands-on demonstrations and activities and will include a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History.
Instructors: Thomas Duffy
Natural Disasters
An introduction to natural (and some society-induced) hazards and the importance of public understanding of the issues related to them. Emphasis is on the geological processes that underlie the hazards, with discussion of relevant policy issues tied to reading recent newspaper/popular science articles. Principal topics: Earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunami, hurricanes, floods, meteorite impacts, global warming. Intended primarily for non-science majors.
Instructors: Allan Rubin
Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate
The ocean and the atmosphere control Earth's climate, and in turn climate and atmospheric changes influence the ocean. We explore what sets the temperature of Earth's atmosphere and the connections between oceanic and atmospheric circulation's including exchanges of heat and carbon. We then investigate how these circulation's control marine ecosystems and the cycling of chemicals in the ocean. The final part of the course focuses on human impacts, including changes in coastal environments and the acidification resulting from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Instructors: Laure Resplandy
Topics in Environmental Justice in the Geosciences
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.
Instructors: John Higgins
Environmental Materials Chemistry: Researching in Field and Laboratory
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.
Instructors: Satish Myneni
The Physics of Glaciers
Glaciers and ice sheets are important elements of Earth's global climate system. This course introduces undergraduate and graduate students to the history of ice on Earth, contemporary glaciology, and the interactions between climate, glaciers, landforms, and sea level. Drawing from basic physical concepts, lab experiments, numerical modeling, and geological observations, we tackle important physical processes in glaciology, and equip students with data analysis and modeling skills. Students will gain an appreciation for the importance of ice sheets for the global climate system, and the large gaps that remain in our understanding.
Instructors: Ching-Yao Lai, Adam Maloof
Microbial Life - A Geobiological View
Microbes were the first life forms on Earth and are the most abundant life forms today. Their metabolisms underpin the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and other important elements through Earth systems. This course will cover the fundamentals of microbial physiology and ecology and examine how microbial activities have shaped modern and ancient environments, with the goal of illustrating the profound influence of microbial life on our planet for over 3 billion years.
Instructors: Xinning Zhang
Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry
Application of quantitative chemical principles to the study of natural waters. Includes equilibrium computations, carbonate system, gas exchange, precipitation/dissolution of minerals, coordination of trace metals, redox reactions in water and sediments.
Instructors: Anne Kraepiel-Morel
Biological Oceanography
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: Bess Ward
Computational Geophysics
An introduction to weak numerical methods, in particular finite-element and spectral-element methods, used in computational geophysics. Basic surface & volume elements, representation of fields, quadrature, assembly, local versus global meshes, domain decomposition, time marching & stability, parallel implementation & message-passing, and load-balancing. In the context of parameter estimation and 'imaging', will explore data assimilation techniques and related adjoint methods. The course offers hands-on lab experience in meshing complicated surfaces & volumes as well as numerically solving partial differential equations relevant to geophysics
Instructors: Jeroen Tromp
Quantifying Geologic Time
This course explores the theory and application of the different ways that the vastness of geologic time is quantified and applied to understanding the rates and sequences of events in Earth history. It focuses on radiogenic isotope geochemistry and geochronology but also will cover other methods such as astrochronology and the geomagnetic polarity timescale. We apply these methods to understanding processes such as the origins of Earth and the Solar System; the causes of mass extinctions and climate change; plate tectonics, magmatism, and super eruptions; animal evolution; and archeology.
Instructors: Elizabeth Niespolo, Blair Schoene

Graduate Courses

Spring 2022

Chemical Oceanography
The chemical composition of the oceans and the nature of the physical and chemical processes governing this composition in the past and present. The cycles of major and minor oceanic constituents, including interactions with the biosphere and at the ocean-atmosphere and ocean-sediment interfaces.
Instructors: Curtis Deutsch
Responsible Conduct of Research in Geosciences (Half-Term)
Course educates Geosciences and AOS students in the responsible conduct of research using case studies appropriate to these disciplines. This discussion-based course focuses on issues related to the use of scientific data, publication practices and responsible authorship, peer review, research misconduct, conflicts of interest, the role of mentors & mentees, issues encountered in collaborative research and the role of scientists in society. Successful completion is based on attendance, reading, and active participation in class discussions. Course satisfies University requirement for RCR training.
Instructors: Thomas Duffy, Frederik Simons
Fundamentals of the Geosciences
A yearlong survey, in sequence, of fundamental papers in the geosciences. Topics in 505 (Spring) include the origin and interior of the Earth, plate tectonics, geodynamics, the history of life on Earth, the composition of the Earth, its oceans and atmospheres, past climate. Topics in 506 (Fall) include present and future climate, biogeochemical processes in the ocean, geochemical cycles, orogenies, thermochronology, rock fracture and seismicity. A core course for all beginning graduate students in the geosciences.
Instructors: Thomas Duffy, John Higgins, Satish Myneni, Allan Rubin, Daniel Sigman, Frederik Simons, Jeroen Tromp
The Physics of Glaciers
Glaciers and ice sheets are important elements of Earths global climate system. This course introduces graduate students to the history of ice on Earth, contemporary glaciology, and the interactions between climate, glaciers, landforms, and sea level. Drawing from basic physical concepts, lab experiments, numerical modeling, and geological observations, we tackle important physical processes in glaciology, and equip students with data analysis and modeling skills. Students gain an appreciation for the importance of ice sheets for the global climate system, and the large gaps that remain in our understanding.
Instructors: Ching-Yao Lai, Adam Maloof