GEOLOGY 3923H - EARTH SYSTEMS SCIENCE

SYLLABUS - SPRING SEMESTER, 1998

A Brief History of This Course
Notes on Reading Assignments
Notes on Internet Exercises
Notes on Writing Assignments
Notes on Grading Policy
Great Expectations

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INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Stephen K. Boss, Department of Geology, University of Arkansas

OFFICE HOURS: 202 Ozark Hall, Mondays or Fridays, 3:00 - 4:30 pm OR BY APPOINTMENT

Phone: 575-7134 or 575-3355

e-mail: sboss@comp.uark.edu

 

WEEK 1 - WHERE DO WE BEGIN?

1/12 Mon THE SECRETS OF MY SUCCESS
    Policies & Procedures in GEOL 3923H
     
1/14 Wed EL SENDERO LUMINOSO (THE SHINING PATH)
    An Introduction to Earth Systems Science
    Read:
     
1/16 Fri INTO THE ABYSS
    Appreciating Deep Time
    Read:
     
1/19 Mon 60 MINUTES
    Internet Exercise: Geologic Time Scale & Earth History
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1: A Personal Metaphor of Geologic Time

WEEK 2 - IN THE BEGINNING...

1/21 Wed WE ARE STARDUST
    Formation of the Earth
    Read:
     
1/23 Fri THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN
    Differentiation of the Earth & Evolution of Earth Systems
    Read:
1/26 Mon BRAVE NEW WORLD
    Internet Exercise: Tools and Jewels for Earth Systems Research
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2: The Learning Curve

WEEK 3 - THE WANDERERS

1/28 Wed IMMOVABLE OBJECTS MEET IRRESISTIBLE FORCES
    Origin of Plate Tectonics
    Read:
     
1/30 Fri WALTZ OF THE CONTINENTS
    Features of Plate Boundaries
    Read:
2/02 Mon SLIP SLIDING AWAY
    Internet Exercise: Dynamic Earth
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #3: Reconstructing Plate Motions

WEEK 4 - THE HEAT IS ON

2/04 Wed SUNRISE, SUNSET
    The Radiation Balance of Earth
    Read:
     
2/06 Fri DEBITS & CREDITS
    Influences on Earth's Radiation Budget
    Read:
2/09 Mon STARVE A COLD, FEED A FEVER
    Internet Exercise: Radiation Balance of the Earth
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #4: Understanding Annual Variation in Solar Radiation

WEEK 5 - WINDS OF WAR

2/11 Wed A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
    Introduction to Earth's Atmosphere
    Read:
     
2/13 Fri BLOWIN' IN THE WIND
    Atmospheric Circulation
    Read:
2/16 Mon AN ILL WIND THAT BLOWS NO GOOD
    Internet Exercise: Observing Earth's Atmosphere
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #5: Analysis of Global Winds

WEEK 6 - HOT & COLD RUNNING WATER

2/18 Wed WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE...
    Introduction to the Hydrosphere
    Read:
     
2/20 Fri AS THE WORLD TURNS
    Ocean Circulation
    Read:
2/23 Mon "THERE IS A RIVER IN THE OCEAN..."
    Internet Exercise: Observing Ocean Dynamics
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #6: Mapping Ocean Currents

WEEK 7 - THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

2/25 Wed GREEN SLIME
    An Introduction to the Biosphere
    Read:
     
2/27 Fri SCUM OF THE EARTH
    Microbes and Earth Systems
    Read:
3/02 Mon CREEPY CRAWLIES
    Internet Exercise: Biodiversity
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #7: Biodiversity and Global Change
     

WEEK 8 - WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND

3/04 Wed ASHES TO ASHES
    The Global Carbon Cycle
    Read:
     
3/06 Fri OUT OF THE FRYING PAN...
    The Greenhouse Effect
    Read:
3/09 Mon ...INTO THE FIRE
    Internet Exercise: Carbon Dioxide & Global Warming
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #8: Tracking Evidence of Global Change
     

WEEK 9 - LOVE YOUR MOTHER

3/11 Wed YOUR MAMA
    The Gaia Hypothesis
    Read:
     
3/13 Fri THE GOLDILOCKS SYNDROME
    Gaia Versus Earth Systems Science
    Read:

WEEK 10 - YIPPIE!

3/16 Mon NO CLASS - SPRING BREAK!
     
3/18 Wed NO CLASS - SPRING BREAK!
     
3/20 Fri NO CLASS - SPRING BREAK!
     

WEEK 11 - THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE

3/23 Mon NEXT OF KIN
    Internet Exercise: Comparative Planetology
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #9: The Earth-like Planets
     
3/25 Wed ARE WE ALONE?
    The Case for Life on Mars
    Read:
     
3/27 Fri WAR OF THE WORLDS
    The Martian Meteorite - ALH84001
    Read:
3/30 Mon TO BOLDLY GO...
    Internet Exercise: The Mars Pathfinder Mission
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #10: Mars & Earth
     

WEEK 12 - TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

4/01 Wed THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
    El Nino & the Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
    Read:
     
4/03 Fri WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS
    Global Impacts of ENSO
    Read:
4/06 Mon THE BAD SEED
    Internet Exercise: The 1997-98 El Nino Event
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #11: El Nino & the Southern Oscillation
     

WEEK 13 - STILL WATERS RUN DEEP

4/08 Wed FEAST OR FAMINE
    El Nino & Africa
    Read:
     
4/10 Fri DAYS OF WINE & ROSES
    Impact of El Nino on Natural Resources
    Read:
4/13 Mon TONIGHT, BEKE WILL GO TO BED HUNGRY
    Internet Exercise: Famine Early Warning System
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #12: The African Sahel

WEEK 14 - THE BIG CHILL

4/15 Wed THE ICEMAN COMETH
    Earth & the Ice Ages
    Read:
     
4/17 Fri THE ENDLESS SUMMER
    Earth's Climate Stability
    Read:
4/20 Mon WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
    Internet Exercise: A Personal Journey Through the Earth System
     

WEEK 15 - ALL THE WHOs IN WHOVILLE

4/22 Wed E PLURIBUS UNUM
    An Examination of Human Population
    Read:
     
4/24 Fri THE FAT LADY SINGS
    Climate Change & Land Use
    Read:

WEEK 16 - REPENT! THE END IS NEAR!

4/27 Mon OPEN MICROPHONE
    Summary Discussions of Our Place in the Cosmos
    Read:
     
4/29 Wed IT'S ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING
    Course Review & Evaluations
     
5/01 Fri NO CLASS - DEAD DAY
     

 

Th 7 May 1998 FINAL EXAM 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

NOTES ON GRADING POLICY FOR THIS COURSE

Your grade for this course will be determined primarily by your performance on the Internet Exercises and the summary Writing Assignments based on them. Each week there will be an Internet Exercise to be followed by a short written summary to describe the work you completed and its significance to the subject matter. In total, there will be 13 Internet Exercises and 12 Writing Assignments. Each Writing Assignment should be short - no more than 3 pages text with figures derived from data used for that week. The Writing Assignments will constitute 60% of your grade for the course.

An additional 30% of your grade will be based on your participation in class discussions (based on the assigned reading material for each topic).

Finally, there will be a final examination in essay format which will constitute 10% of your overall grade.

You may expect that your grade for this course will be determined according to the following formula:

A 90% or better
B 89% - 80%
C 79% - 70%
D 69% - 60%
F 59% or below

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